Wednesday, 31 March 2021

MRUC Worship for Easter Sunday - 03 April 2021


Marsden Road Uniting Church Carlingford


Look Again,

Sunday 04th April 2021

Easter Day - year of Mark 9.30am 

Gathering God’s People     

 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. 


The candle is placed on the table with these words: 

Alleluia! Christ is risen!

Christ is risen indeed!

This is the day that that the Lord has made

Let us rejoice and be glad in it. 

Call to Worship - (Abingdon 2013)

        When grief holds sway and you feel lost and abandoned... join Mary and the women in the garden, as they cast aside their funeral spices to rejoice in awe and wonder. Fear is healed by hope this day. Death is swallowed up in victory. 

Hear the good news: Christ is Risen!

But we watched him die.

Sing the good news: Christ is alive!

But we saw him buried in the tomb.

Share the good news. Death has lost its sting!

We will sing with the angels and laugh with the saints of God. 

Hymn TIS 368: This is the day the Lord has made.

                        (tune – Arlington) 

     Opening prayer

     God of mystery and might, when we dread the dawn of grief and pain, surprise us with the light of your wondrous love. We come to the tomb expecting death but find life instead. As we behold the glory of our salvation, take us back to that moment of faith when fear was healed by hope and death was swallowed up by life. In the holy awe of Easter morning, may our hearts rest in silent gratitude before they shout that Christ is alive and has called us by name. Amen 

      A Prayer of Confession

During the week of his passion and death, we turned away from your Son, O God.

Even after Christ shared table with us, offering us the bread of heaven and the cup of salvation, we shrank into the shadows and drank the dregs of our regret.

Even after Christ urged us to keep the faith, lest we succumb to temptation in the time of trial, we fell asleep while he prayed in the garden and ran when the soldiers arrived.

But we are here now, Merciful One. As we profess the depth of our gratitude for being called as your disciples, may our living help heal the pain of Christ’s dying. Amen. 

Declaration of Forgiveness

God, who raised Jesus from the dead, offers us life with Christ and forgiveness in his name.

Thanks, be to God! 

The Peace

See the peace of Christ in your brothers. Be the peace of Christ for your sisters. Share the peace of Christ with one another as we celebrate the Prince of Peace this day.

The peace of Christ be with you.

The peace of Christ be with you always.

 (You may like to exchange a sign of peace with those around you.) 

A Word with The Young People

Theme: The Resurrection of Jesus Christ

Object: A small juice glass half-filled with juice.

As you can see, I have a glass with some juice in it. There are two ways of looking at this glass of juice. Some people would look at the glass and say it is half empty. There are others who would look at the glass and say it is half full. (Drink all of the juice in the glass.)

Well, we solved that problem, didn't we? Now everyone who looks at this glass would say that it is empty, but guess what? Everyone still wouldn't look at the glass in the same way. Some would look at the glass and grumble and complain because it empty. Others would look at the glass and see it as a glass just waiting to be filled with good things to drink. I guess there are always different ways to look at any situation.

On the Sunday morning after Jesus was crucified, a woman named Mary went to visit the grave where the body of Jesus had been laid. When she got there, she found that the stone had been rolled away from the tomb. She ran to find someone to tell them what she had seen. She found two of the disciples, Peter and John, and she said to them, "They have taken our Lord out of the tomb and we don't know where they have put him."

The three of them immediately ran to the tomb. When they got there, they all saw the same thing, but they didn't all look at it in the same way.

Peter looked and was curious. The Bible says Peter went in the empty tomb and looked around. He saw strips of linen laying around and the cloth that Jesus had been buried in folded neatly and placed where the body had been. "Hmmm, very interesting," Peter might have said to himself.

Mary looked and was sad. The Bible tells us that Mary didn't even go inside the empty tomb. She just stood outside the tomb and wept because she feared that someone had stolen the body of Jesus.

John looked and believed. The bible says that John went inside the tomb and he saw and believed. Now, I don't know exactly how much John understood, but I think he believed that Jesus had risen from the grave just as he said he would.

Three people -- they all saw the same thing -- one was curious, one was sad, and one believed. I think that is pretty much the same way people react to the story of Jesus today. Some people hear the story, and they are curious, others hear it and think it is sad, others hear it and believe. How do you look at it? 

Offering Prayer

God of joyful surprises, with laughter in our hearts and songs on our lips, may our lives reflect the glory of this day. You offer abundance of life and fullness of grace to all who turn to you and seek your blessing. Receive our tithes and offerings in the name of your Son, the source of our joy and strength, that they may be for the world your Easter light and life. Amen. 

Hymn TIS 362: Jesus Christ is risen today.

                       (tune – Easter Hymn) 

                                     The Service of Holy Communion 

The Great Thanksgiving

The Lord be with you.

And also, with you.

Lift up your hearts.

We lift them to the Lord.

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.

It is right to give our thanks and praise. 

Living God, on this most joyous day we offer our thanks and praise to you, creator of heaven and earth, creator and lover of all humanity. Even when we turned away from you, you never rejected us. You spoke words of mercy and love through the prophets; promising to swallow up death forever and to host a banquet for all people; a feast of life-giving sustenance. And so, with your people on earth and all the company of heaven we praise your name and join their unending hymn:

Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might, Heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest!

Holy God, this meal which we share today is indeed the celebration that death has been defeated forever. We celebrate also how the language of your love became audible through the Word made flesh, Jesus Christ, your beloved Son, our beloved Lord; and how the nature of your love became visible through his life and sacrificial love. He graced lives with healing and hope, with compassion and power and as if that were not enough, he gave his very life for us. On the night of his betrayal, as he sat at the table and broke bread with his friends, he said:

'Take and eat; this is my body which is broken for you. Remember me each time you do this.'

After they had eaten, he took the cup, and said:

'Remember me as you drink from this, for it is my life, poured out for you - the beginning of a new relationship with God.'

Christ has died.

Christ is risen.

Christ will come again!

God of all power breathe your Holy Spirit upon us, and upon these gifts of bread and wine, that they may be for us the life of Christ and that we may make that life visible through our faithful witness to him. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen

Blessing and honour and glory and power are yours for ever and ever. Amen.     

The Breaking of the Bread

We break this bread and take this cup so that we can all share in the life of Christ. God's gifts for God's people. Thanks, be to God. 

Lamb of God

Lamb of God you take away the sins of the world,

have mercy on us.

Lamb of God you take away the sins of the world,

have mercy on us.

Lamb of God you take away the sins of the world,

grant us peace. 

Invitation to Communion

Jesus says: ‘The bread that God gives is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.’
(Thanks be to God.)
Come, everything is ready.

Prayer after Communion

This has been no ordinary meal. It has been one in which we have been fed and nourished with the life of Jesus, our crucified and risen Lord. May we go from this table, refreshed and eager, to share that life with others. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen. 

The Service of the Word 

First Reading:                                            1 Cor 15:1-11

The Gospel Reading:                                Mark 16:1-8 

                               After the final reading the reader will say For the Word of the Lord

                               Please respond by saying                 Thanks be to God. 

Readings: NRSV Translation 

1 Corinthians 15:1-11

1 Now I should remind you, brothers and sisters, of the good news that I proclaimed to you, which you in turn received, in which also you stand, 2 through which also you are being saved, if you hold firmly to the message that I proclaimed to you—unless you have come to believe in vain. 3 For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, 4 and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as to someone untimely born, he appeared also to me. 9 For I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace towards me has not been in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them—though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. 11 Whether then it was I or they, so we proclaim and so you have come to believe. 

Mark 16:1-8

1 When the sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. 2 And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. 3 They had been saying to one another, ‘Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?’4 When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back. 5 As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. 6 But he said to them, ‘Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. 7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.’ 8 So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.  

Preaching of the Word - Look Again,

In the darkness on the third day after their rabbi’s execution, three women check one last time to make sure they have everything they need. Followers of Jesus in his lifetime, they want to be faithful to their teacher in death. Jesus had been robbed of a proper Jewish burial as his death came right on the verge of the Sabbath. The women intend to make this one thing right in a universe turned hopelessly away from God. The Twelve are hiding in a locked room with other disciples for fear they will be found out as followers of Jesus. Meanwhile, the women prepare to be at the tomb as dawn breaks.

In purely human terms, the story of the would-be Messiah from Nazareth in Galilee has come to a brutal end. For the Roman colonial government, Jesus is a minor statistic, yet another Jewish revolutionary crucified in Rome’s ongoing efforts to preserve the peace in Palestine. The ringleader, Jesus, has been publicly and cruelly killed. His disciples have vanished for fear of a similar fate. For the keepers of the status quo, this has been a successful Passover festival. Jesus’ movement is buried with its leader.

The women arrive at the tomb and looming large is an insurmountable obstacle between them and their task. The women know they don’t have the strength to budge the great stone blocking the entrance to the tomb. As they walk to the garden, they wonder, “Who will roll the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?”

Our Gospel reading for this morning tells us that the women then looked up. The original Greek text [anablepo] for this can also mean the women looked again. The women come upon the tomb and as they expected, the stone is rolled in front of the entrance. They don’t stand a chance of getting near Jesus on their own. Then they look again, or perhaps do a double take, and realise that the stone has been rolled away.

Our writer of Mark has already prepared us for this need to do a double take. It works something like bi-focal vision in this Gospel. Twice in the Gospel, Jesus has healed blind men and allowed them to see again. The word used to describe the two blind men seeing again is the same one used here, to look again [anablepo]. Already in those stories of healing the blind, there was a sense in which spiritual healing allowed the men to see again with physical sight.

In Mark’s Gospel, faith gives us the ability to see the world as God sees it. We gain bifocal vision. When we look with the eyes of the world, we see the obstacles and problems. The stone blocks our path, and it is too large for us to even budge. We look with the eyes of faith and a different picture comes into focus. God has already removed the obstacles that we could not remove by our own power.

This is seen most clearly in the Easter story. The three women are blocked by an obstacle, which they stood no chance of removing on their own. They ask one another, “Who will roll away the stone?” Yet, when they look again through the eyes of faith, they see that the stone has already been rolled away. The Greek here is in the perfect tense. The stone that blocks their way is already long gone when they do the Easter double take and see the world as God sees it.

What are the stones that need to be rolled away in our lives? Is the obstacle one of relationships that can’t be made right? Or is our path blocked by an addiction to alcohol, drugs, or some other destructive cycle from which we don’t have the power to break free? All of us can find our way blocked by obstacles too big to budge. The story of Easter tells us that God offers the ultimate leverage to remove the obstacles in our way.

If you rely on your own might, your own abilities, your own wisdom, the stone in your way will be more than you can face. Full Stop. But, when you have the courage to admit you don’t have the power to remove the obstacle, you can turn the problem over to God. Then with the eyes of faith, you may come in time to see that the insurmountable obstacle has been rolled away.

Yet, that is not the end of the Gospel reading. Scripture is if nothing else, the most realistic of books, and today’s reading is no exception. The women enter the tomb to find an angel, a divine messenger, with the news that Jesus has been raised from the dead and has gone ahead of his disciples to Galilee. It would be wonderful to report that the women were immediately filled with joy.

Instead, we are told that Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome fled from the tomb seized by terror and stricken with awe. Rather than spreading the joy of resurrection, we are told, “They said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.”

It is there that the reading ends. The Gospel we call Mark offers the challenge of a circular story. The Gospel begins with Jesus in Galilee challenging people to come and follow him; at the close of the story, Jesus has once more gone ahead into Galilee holding out the offer of discipleship to any who will come and follow him.

So, what about you? Would you have the courage to leave the empty tomb and go back to Galilee to take up the task of being Jesus’ disciple now that you know the way of discipleship led to the cross and the grave? Even with the triumph of Easter, we can fearfully retreat now that we know the cost of discipleship.

The Gospel, the Good News offers a dual challenge this Easter. The first is to look at the very real obstacles in your life with the eyes of faith. The things that you are powerless to change are not obstacles to God. Through grace, you can see that God has already removed the problems plaguing you, if you have the faith to push ahead on the journey of life and journey through them.

But the second prong of the challenge of the Gospel, the Good News comes when you push ahead. Just as the women found the stone rolled away only to be struck dumb with terror and awe at the news of Jesus’ resurrection, we too can lose our focus and stop seeing the world as God sees it. The second challenge then is the harder one. Once you have seen that God can remove the obstacles blocking your way, then we are called and invited to follow where Jesus leads.

The three women that morning did break free from fear. We know that they were all active in the earliest Christian church. They found the courage to follow Jesus even after they had learned the cost, they might have to one day pay for their faith in him.

Jesus enables the removal of the obstacles from our paths if we stop trying to remove them only by your own might. Then he will give us the grace to continue the journey. The path is open to each of us. Jesus is still out there beckoning, “Follow me” to those who listen. We only need respond by faith and say yes to the invitation.

For Alleluia! Christ is risen.
The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia!

Hymn TIS 380: Yours be the glory.

                        (tune – Maccabeus)   

Intercessory Prayers - Easter – Year B

Praise and honour to you, Jesus Christ, for you have triumphed gloriously.

We pray for your world: for the welfare of all your people and for your creation entrusted to our care; for all in positions of authority; for men and women in their daily work.

Roll away the stones of hatred and greed. Transform us with your spirit of justice and righteousness, that all your people may share in the freedom of your risen life.

Risen God, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Praise and honour to you, Jesus Christ, for you have cancelled the power of sin.

We pray for your worldwide church: for our brothers and sisters in Christ, for the people of this congregation and for all wherever they are in the world who make or renew baptismal vows today. Roll away the stones of discord and unbelief. Transform your church with your spirit of wisdom.

and truth, that we may be in the world a witness to your risen life.

Risen God, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Praise and honour to you, Jesus Christ, for you show us the mighty power of love.

We pray for the communities in which we live and work; for our families, our friends and all whom we love; for the forgotten and undervalued people of society. Roll away the stones of apathy and selfishness. Transform our lives with your spirit of love and forgiveness, that we may share in the joy of your risen life.

Risen God, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Praise and honour to you, Jesus Christ, for you bring us hope when all seems lost.

We pray for all who suffer for the hungry and homeless, the lonely and friendless; for the sick and the sorrowing and all who care for them. Roll away the stones of pain and despair. Transform the Iives of all who suffer with your comfort and balm, that they may share in the hope of your risen life.

Risen God, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Praise and honour to you, Jesus Christ, for you have broken the bonds of death.

We give you thanks for your faithful people of every age; for Mary Magdalene, Peter and John and for all who have seen you and believed. May we, following their example and yours, cast off all that binds us in death. Transform our lives by your risen power, that we, with all your saints, may come to share forever in the glory of your risen life.

Risen God, in your mercy, hear our prayer. 

The Lord's Prayer

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. Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours now and for ever. Amen 

Hymn TIS 755: You shall go out with joy.

                       (tune – Trees of the Field)      


       Christ is Risen! Go forth in joy.

       From darkness and despair, we go to share Christ’s hope

       and joy.

       Christ is Risen! Go forth in faith.

       From doubt and betrayal, we go to walk in faith and


       Christ is Risen! Go forth to live.

       From suffering and death, we go to heal a broken world.

       Christ is Risen. Alleluia! Christ is risen!

       Christ is risen indeed!

       This is the day that that the Lord has made.

       Let us rejoice and be glad in it. 

Hymn TIS 778: Shalom to you.

                       (tune - Somos Del Senor)

Tuesday, 30 March 2021

MRUC Worship for Good Friday - 2 April 2021


Marsden Road Uniting Church Carlingford


Let Your Idols Fall

02nd April 2021

Good Friday - year of Mark 9.30am 

Gathering God’s People       

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

        Walk with Jesus as he takes his final earthly steps. Observe the ordinary people who cared for the body of the Word made flesh. Find yourself in faith’s most difficult hour.

O God, our God, in you our ancestors trusted, to you they cried aloud.

Since before our mothers bore us, you have been our God.

Do not be far from us, for trouble is near.

Source of refuge come quickly to our aid.

Lest we forget the cost of discipleship, let us remember faith’s hardest story to bear.

With humble and open hearts, let us worship our God. 

We have gathered 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. 

Hymn TIS 356: Here hangs a man discarded.

                       (tune – Shrub End) 

     Opening prayer

Give us strength, O God, to bear the cross with you this day. Comforted by your faithfulness and encouraged by the presence of sisters and brothers around us, lead on, O Jesus. Amen. 

      A Prayer of Confession

O God, our comforter in life and death, Jesus’ last day reminds us of your embodied love and of our own power to do and permit harm. For our sins of commission and omission, we ask your forgiveness, in Christ’s name. Amen. 

Declaration of Forgiveness

Beloved, know that God walks with us and remains in covenant with us, saying: “I will put my laws in their hearts and write them in their minds; I will remember their sins no more.” God’s loving heart is greater than any of us can imagine. Know that you are loved. Know that you are forgiven. Amen.

Thanks, be to God! 

Hymn TIS 344: Glory be to Jesus.

                       (tune –  Caswall; Wem In Leidenstagen                                  

 The Service of the Word 

The First Reading:                                            Isaiah 52.13 – 53.12

The Gospel Reading:                                        Mark 14:53 – 15:47 

Isaiah 52.13 – 53.12

52 13 See, my servant shall prosper; 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.

Hymn based on TIS 345: Were You There

          (verse sung after each Gospel of Mark reading)

                      (tune – Were You There) 

     Mark 14:53-63

     53 They took Jesus to the high priest; and all the chief priests, the elders, and the scribes were assembled. 54 Peter had followed him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest; and he was sitting with the guards, warming himself at the fire. 55 Now the chief priests and the whole council were looking for testimony against Jesus to put him to death; but they found none. 56 For many gave false testimony against him, and their testimony did not agree. 57 Some stood up and gave false testimony against him, saying, 58 “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and in three days I will build another, not made with hands.’” 59 But even on this point their testimony did not agree. 60 Then the high priest stood up before them and asked Jesus, “Have you no answer? What is it that they testify against you?” 61 But he was silent and did not answer. Again, the high priest asked him, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?” 62 Jesus said, “I am; and ‘you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power,’ and ‘coming with the clouds of heaven.’”         63 Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “Why do we still need witnesses? 

     Hymn: “Were You There” ... when they came to take my


     Mark 14:64-72

     64 You have heard his blasphemy! What is your decision?” All of them condemned him as deserving death. 65 Some began to spit on him, to blindfold him, and to strike him, saying to him, “Prophesy!” The guards also took him over and beat him. 66 While Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant-girls of the high priest came by. 67 When she saw Peter warming himself, she stared at him and said, “You also were with Jesus, the man from Nazareth.” 68 But he denied it, saying, “I do not know or understand what you are talking about.” And he went out into the forecourt.[b] Then the cock crowed.[c] 69 And the servant-girl, on seeing him, began again to say to the bystanders, “This man is one of them.” 70 But again he denied it. Then after a little while the bystanders again said to Peter, “Certainly you are one of them; for you are a Galilean.” 71 But he began to curse, and he swore an oath, “I do not know this man you are talking about.” 72 At that moment the cock crowed for the second time. Then Peter remembered that Jesus had said to him, “Before the cock crows twice, you will deny me three times.” And he broke down and wept. 

     Hymn: “Were You There” . . . when denial came from


     Mark 15:1-15

     15 As soon as it was morning, the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council. They bound Jesus, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate. Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” He answered him, “You say so.” Then the chief priests accused him of many things. Pilate asked him again, “Have you no answer? See how many charges they bring against you.” But Jesus made no further reply, so that Pilate was amazed. Now at the festival he used to release a prisoner for them, anyone for whom they asked. Now a man called Barabbas was in prison with the rebels who had committed murder during the insurrection. So the crowd came and began to ask Pilate to do for them according to his custom. Then he answered them, “Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?” 10 For he realized that it was out of jealousy that the chief priests had handed him over. 11 But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release Barabbas for them instead. 12 Pilate spoke to them again, “Then what do you wish me to do with the man you call the King of the Jews?” 13 They shouted back, “Crucify him!” 14 Pilate asked them, “Why, what evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Crucify him!” 15 So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released Barabbas for them; and after flogging Jesus, he handed him over to be crucified. 

     Hymn: “Were You There” … when they stood my Lord on 


     Mark 15:16-26

     16 Then the soldiers led him into the courtyard of the palace (that is, the governor’s headquarters); and they called together the whole cohort. 17 And they clothed him in a purple cloak; and after twisting some thorns into a crown, they put it on him. 18 And they began saluting him, “Hail, King of the Jews!” 19 They struck his head with a reed, spat upon him, and knelt down in homage to him. 20 After mocking him, they stripped him of the purple cloak and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him. 21 They compelled a passer-by, who was coming in from the country, to carry his cross; it was Simon of Cyrene, the father of Alexander and Rufus. 22 Then they brought Jesus[d] to the place called Golgotha (which means the place of a skull). 23 And they offered him wine mixed with myrrh; but he did not take it. 24 And they crucified him, and divided his clothes among them, casting lots to decide what each should take. 25 It was nine o’clock in the morning when they crucified him. 26 The inscription of the charge against him read, “The King of the Jews.” 

     Hymn: “Were You There” . . . when my Lord was beat


     Mark 15:27-32

     27 And with him they crucified two bandits, one on his right and one on his left. 29 Those who passed by derided him, shaking their heads and saying, “Aha! You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, 30 save yourself, and come down from the cross!” 31 In the same way the chief priests, along with the scribes, were also mocking him among themselves and saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. 32 Let the Messiah, the King of Israel, come down from the cross now, so that we may see and believe.” Those who were crucified with him also taunted him. 

Hymn: “Were You There” ... when the soldiers mocked my Lord? 

     Mark 15:33-41

     33 When it was noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. 34 At three o’clock Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” 35 When some of the bystanders heard it, they said, “Listen, he is calling for Elijah.” 36 And someone ran, filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink, saying, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down.” 37 Then Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last. 38 And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. 39 Now when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was God’s Son!” 40 There were also women looking on from a distance; among them were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome. 41 These used to follow him and provided for him when he was in Galilee; and there were many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem. 

Hymn: “Were You There” . . . when they crucified my


Preaching of the Word - Let Your Idols Fall

This is really not a day for words. When we grieve, all words are too much.

It is much better for us to take in the facts about how Jesus was treated: the injustice, the spiritual blindness, the narrow thinking, the positioning for power. It is better that we just sit with that grief and blackness, make a space inside of ourselves for the death of Jesus; and just abide in it.

We must abide with Good Friday, not because it leads quickly to the empty tomb, but because Jesus did die. It is better that we do not fill it with too many words and instead marvel at this death and consider our part in it.

In this lengthy Passion narratives, we are not spared any detail. There is a great deal here but the scene when Pilate asks the chief priests if he shall crucify their king is very interesting. The priests answer, “We have no king but the emperor.”

Here we see that the powers-that-be have no compunction with violating their very identities to get what they want. Two things are happening here, and both have to do with idolatry.

The first thing that is happening is that the priests are telling the Empire, manifest in Pilate, that their only king is the emperor. This is in direct violation of God’s explicit dislike of kings. Hundreds of years prior to this scene the people of Israel had asked God for kings so that they can be like the other people in the region.

God warned them then that kings would take their sons for soldiers, tax them to death, and all the other things that come with human kings. God’s desire was that he would be their king; that is what would have distinguished them from the other people in the region. But when the people persisted God allowed kings to rise among the Israelites, provided they carried God’s anointing.

God, it seems, is in the habit of taking a bad situation and improvising some good out of it. But today, in our readings from the Gospels, these priests are denying God’s choice for a king and they are putting their faith in the Roman Emperor so that they can make the political alliance necessary for the assassination of their enemy Jesus.

Along with this political posturing is the fact that since the chief priests have allied themselves with the Emperor for their peace and security, they have replaced God with the Emperor. This is idolatry. Idolatry is when a created thing is put in place of the uncreated source of life and love. Idolatry is when we find our security, power, identity in anything other than God. The priests have committed the sin of idolatry.

Idolatry is the most pervasive and insidious. If Good Friday teaches us anything it is that our notions of what God is and can do need to be cast down like the idols they are.

In the life of the spirit the casting down of personal idols usually follows a pattern. The first idol that needs casting down is the idol of things: thinking that the things that surround you make you a worthy person. You are not your things; our things do not give us worth. Only God gives us worth. That’s why God is worshipped, and things are not.

The next idol that needs casting down is the ego. You are not that great. You are also not all that bad either. Self-deprecation, too, is an activity of the ego. The ego: not the healthy bit that makes you a person, but the ego that manipulates people, things, and facts for your own purposes and power. This idol must come down.

In the life of the spirit these idols have been well within the bounds of good advice and general spirituality.

The next idols that need destruction are within the particular purview of the Abrahamic faiths, and, I think, are especially Christian.

The first of these idols is the idolatry of faith. The idolatry of faith is when we begin to use the story and beliefs of God to judge and separate others, to be exclusive and not inclusive. This is when we carve in stone the stories of our tradition as reality to such a level that we lose sight that they are a chronicle of people’s encounters with our God of love and turn the activity of faith into the judgement seat of faith, separating those who are in and those who are out. The idolatry of faith is broken by true faith, which is trust, trust the stories and traditions about God, they are not God themselves, but instead urge us into truth faith, pointing to God.

The next idol does not have a hold on everyone, but it is still a powerful idol.

This is the idol of doubt. This idol tells us that only doubt and suspicion of the stories of God can bring us closer to the true God. It is an idol that says, “If you would simply think like I think about God, then you will perceive the truth.” None of us possess the full knowledge of the unknowable God, and some beliefs should be doubted, but when doubt becomes the enemy of faith instead of its steward, then it has become an idol.

The final idol that needs to come down is the hardest one of all, but it is the one that Good Friday most explicitly addresses: the idolatry of God. The idolatry of God means that we have set ideas of exactly what God is and can do. If I were to use an everyday word for the idolatry of God, I suppose it would be expectation: high expectations, low expectations, horrible expectations, impossible expectations, immature expectations.

When we destroy the idol of God we truly live by faith; living fully, as one moment unfolds from the last, trusting that God is with us in love, come what may.

In Good Friday we see our image of God literally killed. Good Friday, with the death of Jesus is an enactment of the death of all idols, including, most explicitly the idol of God.

God does not die. Messiahs do not die. Yet, Jesus does die, and in the death of Jesus the final idol is destroyed, and, in this death, we are released from all idols and left with the present moment in Christ, redeemed and free.

This freedom is jarring, and it is appropriate that we commemorate the death of idols as we do today. Grieve for the loss of our idols.

Abide in stillness over the death of your grasping for anything other than God. Let our idols fall at the foot of the cross and sit awhile in death and grief and wait.

Wait, because God has a surprise in store. 

Hymn TIS 342: When I survey the Wondrous Cross.

                        (tune – Rockingham) 

Intercessory Prayers

Son of God, you died for us, with arms outstretched upon a cross: we pray for the world where you are crucified each day with the destitute, the oppressed the dispossessed.


Jesus Christ, crucified by us, have mercy upon us,

and hear our prayer.

Son of God, you died for us, falsely accused, mocked and condemned to death: we pray for all who govern, those who make and administer law, for all who are denied justice.


Jesus Christ, condemned by us, have mercy upon us,

and hear our prayer.

Son of God, you died for us, denied, deserted and rejected by those you loved: we pray for all who feel the hurt of rejected love, the pain of betrayal and abandonment.


Jesus Christ, betrayed by us, have mercy upon us,

and hear our prayer. 

Son of God, you died for us, to fulfil the words of the    prophets and bring deliverance to all your people: we pray for the Jewish people, loved by God from ancient time.


Jesus Christ, bruised for us, in your mercy,

hear our prayer.

Son of God, you died for us, to rescue your people from the power of sin: we pray for the church, for its clergy and ministers, for all who will make or renew baptismal vows.


Jesus Christ, wounded for us, in your mercy,

hear our prayer.

Son of God, you died for us, to show your steadfast love for your people: we pray for all who live or work in this community, our families, our friends and all whom we love.


Jesus Christ, broken for us, in your mercy,

hear our prayer.

Son of God, you died for us, to bring healing, wholeness and new life to your people: we pray for those in sickness, sorrow, grief or pain and for all who are close to death.


Jesus Christ, brought low for us, in your mercy,

hear our prayer.

Son of God, you died for us, with arms outstretched upon a cross: we remember all who have been condemned to die, all who have died in pain and torment. With the women who loved you and ministered to you and with the disciple whom you loved; may we stand with you this day. At our life's end, forgive us our desertions and betrayals and stretch out your arms to receive us, that, with all your saints, we may live with you in Paradise.

Jesus Christ, raised high for us, in your mercy,

hear our prayer. 

The Lord's Prayer

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. Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours now and for ever. Amen 

Hymn TIS 341: My song is love unknown V 1,2,3,4 and 7

                          (tune – Love Unknown)     

        Hold fast to hope. Hold fast to one another. For God,

        who has promised us, is faithful. The day of God

        approaches. Go in peace. 

          The Cross will be unlit, and we will extinguish the Christ

         candle. The minister and people depart in silence.