On Good Friday I went to our chapel for our special meditation service where we imagined how those witnesses of our Lord Jesus’ last moments reacted to his death. The Good Friday Reflections were based on ‘Voices from the crowd’ and read by members of our congregation. We began as we sang the full 5 verses of the Lenten Candle Liturgy hymn, ‘Tree of life.’
‘Tree of life and awesome mystery, in your death we are reborn, though you die in all of history, still you rise with every morn.
Seed that dies to rise in glory, may we see ourselves in you, if we learn to live your story, we may die to rise anew.
We remember truth once spoken, love passed on through act and word, every person, lost and broken wears the body of our Lord.
Gentle Jesus, mighty Spirit, come inflame our hearts anew, we may all your joy inherit, if we bear the cross with you.
Christ you lead and we shall follow, stumbling though our steps may be, one with you in joy and sorrow, we the river you the sea.
© 1984 GIA Publications (modified) Marty Haugen
We are never to doubt the meaning of Lent when Jesus walked upon this earth. He practised a ministry of radical inclusivity, drawing to himself all the despised and rejected members of society. He lived what he taught: a life of justice and love, of profound compassion for all people. He lived a life acceptable to you, O God. His death terrifies us, because it reveals how committed the world is to its own way, and the price the world exacts from those whose commitment is to you.’ Those words were followed by silence before the final candle was extinguished, as we acknowledged the darkness and pain of all the children in the world who suffer in body, in mind or in spirit. Together we said, ‘What we contemplate this day is beyond words, beyond understanding. May the Holy Spirit intercede for us and give voice to what, for us, is inexpressible. Amen.’
The thoughts of voices in the crowd, beginning with the House Owner’s words were now read, followed by a period of silence which was ended as we responded with these words, ‘He was wounded for our transgressions. He was crucified by our wrongdoing.’ Each of the voices was introduced by the narrator who was our minister Trevor Dixon. The house owner had met Jesus when Jesus had challenged him about his wealth and now he had provided his front room for Jesus and his disciples to have the last supper together. He now wished he had spoken up for Jesus and then maybe he would not have been killed. The second voice was that of the servant girl in the courtyard where she saw Jesus after his arrest and remembered how he had healed her little sister. She could not do her work as the place was packed with crowds and she saw the way Jesus was beaten and ill treated and wished she had spoken up for him and maybe the outcome would have been different.
The third voice was Barabbas, who had been waiting on death row for his part in the killing of many Romans, and was astonished to find he was chosen to be released and Jesus was condemned to die on the cross. He recognised that he had deserved to die, but that Jesus had done nothing wrong but died in his place. The fourth voice was Simon who was commanded to carry Jesus’ cross, when Jesus kept falling. Simon knew why he had been picked out as he was a black man and he stood out in the crowd. He was a travelling salesman and had heard about Jesus and seen the reaction of the crowds and wished he could have spoken out in support of Jesus. The fifth voice was the Roman soldier. It was his turn to do the duty of nailing the condemned to the cross. After all he was only doing his job as he had been ordered and had no choice. The final voice was that of Mary who recalling the words of Simeon who had predicted the day when a sword would pierce her heart, realised its fulfilment was this day. It is the ultimate pain of a mother to watch her son die in such a terrible way.
Trevor then led the prayers of intercession remembering the sufferings of others as we contemplated the sufferings of Jesus on that day and concluded with these words, ‘Jesus, laid to rest in the dark tomb, have mercy on us that we might have the courage never to deny in the darkness of pain, the light of your resurrection. Jesus, have mercy, and rise up in me today and every day, Amen. We then said the Lord’s Prayer together, before worship was concluded when we sang ‘Meekness and Majesty’ Graham Kendrick. Copyright © 1986 Kingsway’s Thank you Music.
The text of this service was taken from Stages on the Way, Wildgooose Worship Group, and If they could speak, John D Powers. It was a really poignant worshipful service.