Wednesday, 8 April 2020

Marsden Road Good Friday Service

Good Friday 10th April 2020
Marsden Road Uniting Church

Walking in the Light
10th April 2020
        Good Friday in the year of Matthew 9.30am
Gathering God’s People


TIS Hymn 350: There is a green hill faraway
                          (Tune - Horsley)   
TIS Hymn 787: Longing for Light, we wait in darkness
                       (Tune – Christ be our Light)
TIS Hymn 350: There is a green hill faraway
                          (Tune - Horsley)   
                       (Tune – Lord of the Dance)
TIS Hymn 800: In the bulb there is a flower
                          (Tune – Hymn of Promise)


The First Reading:                                            Isaiah 52.13 – 53.12
The Gospel Reading:                                        Matthew 27:2426, 4554

Acknowledgement of First Peoples

We acknowledge the first people who have cared for this Land, where we worship, the Wallumedgal. 
May our worship join with the voices of the First Peoples of this Land.

Call to Worship


Our way through Lent has brought us to this hour.
During our journey of forgiveness and restoration, we have faced old habits and explored new possibilities.
We have felt God’s protection.
We have heard about God’s plans for our lives.
We have renewed our friendship with God.
We have experienced God’s gifts of silence and introspection.
We now experience the passion of Jesus, who suffered and died this day.
Let us worship God together, as we remember the meaning of Jesus’ death, and embrace the new life to come.
We have gathered in our homes this Good Friday to remember the betrayal, humiliation, and crucifixion of Jesus. We have gathered to experience anew the events that would change the world. May we experience all the pathos of that day, and may we participate in its meaning together.

TIS Hymn 350: There is a green hill faraway
                          (Tune - Horsley)

1.  There is a green hill far away,
without a city wall,
where our dear Lord was crucified
who died to save us all.

2.  We may not know, we cannot tell,
what pains he had to bear,
but we believe it was for us
he hung and suffered there.

3.  He died that we might be forgiven,
he died to make us good,
that we might go at last to heaven,
saved by his precious blood.

4.  There was no other good enough
to pay the price of sin,
he only could unlock the gate
of heaven and let us in.

5.  dearly, dearly has he loved!
And we must love him too,
and trust in his redeeming blood,
and try his works to do.

Text: Cecil Frances Alexander, 1818–1895
Music: William Horsley, 1744–1858    

Opening prayer


O God, when our lives ache with pain, and we feel alone, we long for your presence. We feel the empty longing of the psalmist and of Jesus:
“My God, my God, why do you desert me? We cry desperately for help, but it does not come.” We feel scorned and abused by those closest to us. Like a pack of dogs, evil people close in on us. They surround us and   tear at us. Stay close to us, O God, and we will praise your power to all people! In the midst of the congregation, we will praise you. Amen.

A Prayer of Confession

Just as Judas betrayed Jesus out of good intentions, thinking he could force Jesus’ hand against the Romans, we too betray Jesus out of good intentions, thinking he will take our side and fight for us.

Just as Caiaphas sacrificed Jesus out of good intentions, believing it better for one man to die for the people, we too sacrifice others out of good intentions, convincing ourselves of the justness of our cause, and that our actions are for the greater good.

Just as Peter denied Jesus three times when asked if he knew the Nazarene, we too deny Jesus many times when strangers ask us about our faith.

Just as Pilate washed his hands of responsibility of doing what he knew to be right, we too have condemned the innocent and let the guilty go free.

Forgive us, kind Jesus, and help us never again betray or deny you. Amen.

Declaration of Forgiveness

Hear the words of Jesus, “Abba, forgive them. For they do not know what they do.” Out of Christ’s anguish, we shall see light. Out of Christ’ suffering, we shall touch the mystery of love and grace that pours from the inexhaustible heart of God.

Thanks, be to God!

TIS Hymn 787: Longing for Light, we wait in darkness
                       (Tune – Christ be our Light)

        Longing for light, we wait in darkness. Longing for truth, we turn to you. Make us your own, your holy people. Light for the world to see

        Christ, be our light. Shine in our hearts, shine through the darkness. Christ, be our light. Shine in your church, gathered today

        Longing for peace, our world is troubled. Longing for hope, many despair. Your word alone has pow'r to save us. Make us your living voice

        Longing for food, many are hungry. Longing for water, many still thirst. Make us your bread, broken for others, shared until all are fed

        Text and music copyright 1993, 2011, Bernadette Farrell. Published by OCP

The First Reading:                                            Isaiah 52.13 – 53.12
The Gospel Reading:                                        Matthew 27:2426, 4554

       Readings from the NRSV Translation of Scripture

Isaiah 52.13 – 53.12
     he shall be exalted and lifted up,
     and shall be very high.
14 Just as there were many who were astonished at him
     —so marred was his appearance, beyond human semblance,
     and his form beyond that of mortals—
15 so he shall startle many nations;
     kings shall shut their mouths because of him;
for that which had not been told them they shall see,
     and that which they had not heard they shall contemplate. 
53 1 Who has believed what we have heard?
     And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
2 For he grew up before him like a young plant,
     and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
     nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected by others;
     a man of suffering and acquainted with infirmity;
and as one from whom others hide their faces
     he was despised, and we held him of no account.
4 Surely he has borne our infirmities
     and carried our diseases;
yet we accounted him stricken,
     struck down by God, and afflicted.
5 But he was wounded for our transgressions,
     crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the punishment that made us whole,
     and by his bruises we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray;
     we have all turned to our own way,
and the Lord has laid on him
     the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
     yet he did not open his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
     and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
     so he did not open his mouth.
8 By a perversion of justice he was taken away.
     Who could have imagined his future?
For he was cut off from the land of the living,
     stricken for the transgression of my people.
9 They made his grave with the wicked
     and his tomb with the rich,
although he had done no violence,
     and there was no deceit in his mouth.
10 Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him with pain.
When you make his life an offering for sin,
     he shall see his offspring, and shall prolong his days;
through him the will of the Lord shall prosper.
11 Out of his anguish he shall see light;
he shall find satisfaction through his knowledge.
     The righteous one, my servant, shall make many righteous,
     and he shall bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will allot him a portion with the great,
     and he shall divide the spoil with the strong;
because he poured out himself to death,
     and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
     and made intercession for the transgressors.
Matthew 27:2426, 4554

24 So when Pilate saw that he could do nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took some water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood;[a] see to it yourselves.” 25 Then the people as a whole answered, “His blood be on us and on our children!” 26 So he released Barabbas for them; and after flogging Jesus, he handed him over to be crucified.

45 From noon on, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. 46 And about three o’clock Jesus cried with a loud voice, ‘Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?’ that is, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ 47 When some of the bystanders heard it, they said, ‘This man is calling for Elijah.’ 48 At once one of them ran and got a sponge, filled it with sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink. 49 But the others said, ‘Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him.’ 50 Then Jesus cried again with a loud voice and breathed his last. 51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, and the rocks were split. 52 The tombs also were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised. 53 After his resurrection they came out of the tombs and entered the holy city and appeared to many. 54 Now when the centurion and those with him, who were keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were terrified and said, ‘Truly this man was God’s Son!

Preaching of the Word - Walking in the Light

As we journey through Holy Week, we are invited into some of the darkest and most troubling
moments in Jesus’ life. Surely today’s story is the darkest and most troubling of all. A holy man
of God, who spent three years of his life preaching and teaching, healing and caring, is put to
death. Not a very fitting end to a life of compassion and kindness, is it?

Yet that ending is too often the story of so many who bring light to our world. It is almost as if
the very light that they bring offends and must be snuffed out. We could compose long lists of
the early church martyrs who followed in Jesus’ footsteps as people offering compassion and
healing only to face brutal deaths. In modern times, great leaders like Martin Luther King Jr.
and Mahatma Gandhi have been assassinated cruelly.

When we think of such deaths, we are
tempted to think that the assassins and the politicians who would cause such deaths are evil or crazy, nothing like the rest of us. Likewise, when we read the stories of this last week of Jesus’
life, we are tempted to think that disciples who betray and deny are weak willed or filled with
evil sinfulness, nothing like the rest of us. The gift of this Holy Week journey is to remember not
only Jesus’ story but also the story of the disciples and the politicians. For in this story, we are
invited to learn valuable lessons from each person’s place on this journey.

On the disciples’ journey, we see fear ruling the day. Judas betrays, Peter denies, others fall
asleep or hide. Betrayal and denial and fear are not unfamiliar themes in today’s world. If we
each took a few minutes; I suspect all of us could come up with several stories in our own lives
when we betrayed or were betrayed, when we denied someone’s importance in our lives or were denied by someone important to us. Living up to our relationship commitments with unwavering loyalty is no easy task.

Living up to our ethical and spiritual commitments with similar dedication is a mighty challenge. On this journey to the cross, I am reminded of many places where I need forgiveness for betraying and denying. On this journey of life, fear too often haunts my steps and guides my actions. These are the aspects of my life that need Christ’s forgiveness, coupled with the Spirit’s strength if I am to walk as a disciple of Jesus with steadfast faithfulness.

When I journey as a follower of Christ with that steadfast faithfulness, however, I run right into
the alltoofamiliar theme of being light in a dark world that too often wants to thrive on that
darkness. I love thinking I might occasionally be a bit Christlike in my life. After all, that is a major
goal of the Christian journey, is it not? But being extinguished doesn’t sound inviting, and having
our light extinguished is not something that only happens to great saints of God. Even everyday disciples like you and me run the risk of being an affront to people who are frightened of the light.

We are called to be the light of Christ in this dark world. But shining light into dark closets or
shadowy corners where people hide their fears and inadequacies, their darkest secrets and sins, is
dangerous work. For light that reveals truth is never an easy light to face. Even light that reveals
love and forgiveness where we are harbouring anger and hate can seem offensive.

Knowing all of this, Jesus went on preaching and teaching, healing on the Sabbath, and including the excluded. We are challenged as followers of Christ to do the same. Knowing the painful death, he would face, Jesus journeyed to Jerusalem even as that journey ended at the cross. We are challenged on this day to find the strength to walk this journey with Jesus. We are promised that we can walk this journey because of Christ’s compassion and love for us. When we betray or deny, when we accuse or crucify, we are still invited into the brilliant light of God’s forgiveness.

When we are afraid or want to hide, God’s Holy Spirit offers us strength and courage to endure whatever may transpire on this journey. When we live this journey as disciples who walk all the way to the cross, who truly strive to walk in the way of Christ Jesus, we make this Friday truly good. We make Jesus’ teachings come alive. We make Christ’s sacrifice a worthwhile gift rather than a tragic demise.

May we walk as disciples who are steadfast and true, who are filled with light and love, and
who offer forgiveness and compassion as readily as we receive these gifts. May we trust in the Easter joy of new life and hope even as we embrace the reality of Friday’s death and despair.

Hymn 242: Lord of the dance
                  (Tune – Lord of the Dance)

I danced in the morning when the world was begun,
and I danced in the moon and the stars and the sun,
and I came down from heaven and I danced on the earth,
at Bethlehem I had my birth.

Dance, then, wherever you may be,
I am the Lord of the Dance, said he,
and I'll lead you all, wherever you may be,
and I'll lead you all in the Dance, said he.

I danced for the scribe and the pharisee,
but they would not dance and they wouldn't follow me.
I danced for the fishermen, for James and John -
they came with me and the dance went on.

Dance, then, wherever you may be,
I am the Lord of the Dance, said he,
and I'll lead you all, wherever you may be,
and I'll lead you all in the Dance, said he.

I danced on the Sabbath and I cured the lame;
the holy people said it was a shame.
they whipped and they stripped and they hung me on high,
and they left me there on a Cross to die.

Dance, then, wherever you may be,
I am the Lord of the Dance, said he,
and I'll lead you all, wherever you may be,
and I'll lead you all in the Dance, said he.

I danced on a Friday when the sky turned black;
it's hard to dance with the devil on your back.
They buried my body and they thought I'd gone,
but I am the Dance, and I still go on.

Dance, then, wherever you may be,
I am the Lord of the Dance, said he,
and I'll lead you all, wherever you may be,
and I'll lead you all in the Dance, said he.

They cut me down and I leapt up high;
I am the life that'll never, never die;
I'll live in you if you'll live in me -
I am the Lord of the Dance, said he.

Dance, then, wherever you may be,
I am the Lord of the Dance, said he,
and I'll lead you all, wherever you may be,
and I'll lead you all in the Dance, said he.

Words © 1963 by Stainer & Bell Ltd. (admin. by Hope Publishing Co., Carol Stream, IL 60188).
All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Intercessory Prayers

This material was first published by Redemptorist Publications

Jesus, though crucified, is raised from the dead and now draws alongside us as we offer prayers to God for the world, the church and all for whom Jesus died on the cross.
We pray for the church of God on this Good Friday that all who are disciples of Jesus will be given the grace and strength they need to walk in the way of the cross speaking words of love and truth in places of hatred and lies.
We pray for God’s world on this Good Friday that the dying Jesus on the cross and the living Jesus of resurrection will draw all people to himself, the source of eternal reconciliation and salvation.
We pray for the communities in which we live, work and worship that bonds of love within families and between friends will be healed where they are broken and strengthened where they are weak.
We pray for all those who are experiencing their own Good Friday darkness that all who suffer pain of body or mind will be held by the hands of Jesus which bear the marks of his pain and the promise of restoration and resurrection.
Heavenly Father, at the foot of the cross on which Jesus died we offer you these prayers in hope, trusting in your promise to hear us and in your power, which raised Jesus from the dead. Let your grace, mercy, love and peace surround us and all those for whom we have prayed in the name of your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours now and for ever. Amen.

TIS Hymn 800: In the bulb there is a flower
                          (Tune – Hymn of Promise)

1.In the bulb there is a flower;
   in the seed, an apple tree;
   In cocoons, a hidden promise:
   butterflies will soon be free!
   In the coldness of the winter
   there’s a spring that waits to be,
   Unrevealed until its season,
   something God alone can see.

2.There’s a song in every silence,
seeking word and melody;
There’s a dawn in every darkness,
bringing hope to you and me.
From the past will come the future;
what it holds, a mystery,
Unrevealed until its season,
something God alone can see.

3.In our end is our beginning;
in our time, infinity;
In our doubt there is believing;
in our life, eternity,
In our death, a resurrection;
at the last, a victory,
Unrevealed until its season,
something God alone can see.

Natalie Sleeth (1930-1992)
Words and Music 1986 Hope Publishing Company

Lord Jesus Christ,

the story of your suffering is written on our hearts, and the salvation of the world is in your outstretched hands. Keep your victory always before our eyes, your praise on our lips, your peace in our lives.    Amen.

Now that the Cross will have been draped with black cloth all over the world and people everywhere are extinguishing the Christ candle. The minister and people depart as all go into reflective silence as we await the days to go by until the Resurrection on Easter Morn.

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