Friday, March 23, 2012

Good Friday B (April 6)

Bible readings: Isaiah 52:13-53:12, Psalm 22, Hebrews 10:16-25 or Hebrews 4:14-16,5:7-9, John 18:1 -19:42

About the Images:
This is is my photo of an evening in the Victorian High country. The cross is a digital addition. If you want to see more of our beautiful high country, then visit Please feel free to use this image for worship and related activities.
Right: This image comes from This site no longer updates (you will see the sad reason why when you visit) however the artist, Don da Silva, has left a legacy of wonderful images and templates via the site archives.

N.B. Good Friday needs to be treated rather differently from many services. It is a special time. I usually divide the Easter story up (i.e. some of the stations of the cross) and separate each section with the solemn sound of a gong that has the capacity to reverberate through the silence of the worship space. I use a home made tubular bell which is excellent (email me if you would like instructions on how to make one). At the very least I use a Bible reading, an image either projected or placed in a prominent position and a symbol for each section of the story. A responsive song such as "Jesus, remember me" works well too at the end of each section. Have a large wooden cross at the front of the church.

This year:
I am going to place the cross in the middle of the church where the coffin usually sits at a funeral. I will place the Christ candle on it and people will be encouraged to come out and light a candle as a response to any of the stations/sections.

Various options specific to each section are as follows:

1. Jesus is arrested.
Symbol: Chains or rope
Prayer: What do You Say?
By Dom Helder Camara
and found in Resources For Preaching and Worship Year B compiled by Hannah Ward and Jennifer Wild, Westminster John Knox Press, 2002, ISBN 100664224776, page 115 (pictured at left).

2. Jesus is Questioned
Symbol: Gavel
Biblical Reflection: The Pharisee
From Eggs and Ashes by Ruth Burgess and Chris Polhill, Wild Goose Publications, 2004, ISBN 1901557871, page 193 (pictured at right).
Biblical Reflection: The Priest
From Eggs and Ashes (as above) page 192.

3. Peter denies Jesus
Smashed alarm clock or feathers.
Listening Song: I Can't Take the Pain
By Third Day on their album, Time (pictured at left).
Story: Crucifix
By G. A. Studdert-Kennedy and found in Resources For Preaching and Worship Year B, as above, page 114.

4. Peter Denies Jesus
Symbol: whip or bowl of water
Meditation: Stations of the Cross (part of it)
From Eggs and Ashes (as above), page 166. All fifteen stations are dealt with in this book and can be used as a whole, however can also be used in "stand alone" situations; for example, I used the meditation and prayer from Station 1 for this part of my service.
Sermon based on The Death of Innocence
Found in The Song of Jesus: Reflections on the Life of Jesus of Nazareth by Ron O'Grady, JBCE, Melbourne, 1984, page 70.

5. The Death Sentence
Crown of Thorns or a scarlet/purple robe.

Reading: Why is he Getting Wrong?
By Ruth Burgess and Kirsty Langlands (aged 10) in Eggs and Ashes (as above), page 166
Silent Responsive Prayer:
Based on section 5 of The Easter Labyrinth in Multi- Sensory Church by Sue Wallace, Scripture Union, 2002, ISBN 1859996671, page 53 (pictured at right). Sue Wallace has at least seven of these multi-sensory books and they are excellent.

6. Jesus is nailed to the Cross
Symbols: hammer and nails, dice, sponge.
Listening Song: Our God Who Weeps
By Kate Scull on the compilation album, Tune In (pictured at left). This album can be ordered from and is well worth getting with the song book. There are some really new, refreshing and wonderful congregational songs in this book and on this CD.
Meditation: When Jesus Died
In Stages on the Way by Wild Goose Worship Group, 1998 (pictured in an earlier blog) page 168. This is quite long but can be broken up or only used in part.

Symbolic prayer:
Touch the items as you pray.
Here are dice,Lord, to remind us that you lost everything for us. Help us to be generous with our lives as well as with our belongings. Help us to see need.

Here is a sponge, Lord, to remind us of your thirst. Help us to thirst for justice and peace and freedom and for your kingdom here in earth.
Here are nails, Lord, to remind us of your forgiveness given to the men who nailed you to the cross. Help us to forgive those who hurt us as generously as you forgave them.

7. The Death of Christ
: Blow out the Christ candle

Film clip:

Play the crucifixion scene from any good quality film about Jesus, however turn off the sound and instead play Everything I Do, I Do It For You b
y Bryan Adams on his album, The Best of Me (pictured at left).

8. Jesus is buried
Symbol: cover communion table with a black cloth.
Symbolic action:
Place one very small but exquisite flower on the black cloth and say:
This flower is not a symbol of grief or death,
it is not part of a funeral wreath.

It is a symbol of hope.
This story is not yet over.
It is indeed Friday today
But Sunday is coming.
This small beautiful flower will stay here as a symbol of hope
until we return.

Not sure where I got this idea - if somebody owns it, please let me know so I can acknowledge you. You can do the same thing with a tiny candle and talk about the darkness never putting out the light.

9. Conclusion
Drama and Response Activity:
Guilty as Sin
Found in Mega Drama 3 by Verena Johnnson, Open Book, 2002 (pictured in an earlier blog). Use as a lead in to everyone coming forward and hammering a nail into the large wooden cross. Permission is given in this book to adapt the dramas to fit the circumstances and so I left out the narrator at the beginning and had the people in the drama say their words from their seats, come forward to hammer in their nail and then return to their seats. This gave the rest of the people permission to come forward when they were asked to do so.

Listening Song: Barber's Adagio for String
By William Orbit on the
Open Space album (pictured at right).