Friday Five: Good Friday


Sally from RevGals hosts this week’s Friday Five:

It seems almost irreverent to post a Friday Five on Good Friday, so I will try to treat it with some respect. I am still mulling over the darkness of last nights Tenebrae Service, the silence as we left was profound, and although I travelled home with others we did not speak, there was a holiness about it…..and yet we know that holiness was born of horror!

So as we enter into this darkest of days I offer you this Friday Five:

1. Of all the gospel accounts of the crucifixion, which one stands out for you, and why?
John speaks to me because the writer includes the very human frailties of the disciples and even his mother. He shows how they do not understand what Jesus is doing, or why God seems to have suddenly “changed” directions. Their doubts, questions and confusion ring tanglibly in my own.

2.Do you identify with any people in this account, how does that challenge you?
Like Peter – I let my doubts run away from me, and pull me from God.
Like Mary – I want more than what God has planned
Like Pilate and the Pharisees – I don’t want my privately ordered world to be re-arranged or shaken up.
Like the soldiers – I am callous and indifferent to the suffering around me — until God gets my attention with a thunderclap
Like the disciples – I struggle with my  fears and unbelief in the face of that much love and sacrifice.

3. Hymns or silence?
I usually use a combination. Music to get me focused. Silence to be quiet in the Presence. Today on pray-as-you-go I was drawn into prayer by the music of Antonio Lotti — the piece Crucifixus from Exultate Deo is lovely, haunting and a soft reminder of the suffering Christ went through for my sin.

4. Post a poem or a quote that sums up Good Friday for you?
The words to Orlando Gibbon’s Drop, drop slow tears speak to me. I posted a music video of them here

Drop, drop, slow tears, and bathe those beauteous feet,
which brought from heaven the news and Prince of Peace.
Cease not, wet eyes, His mercies to entreat;
to cry for vengeance sin doth never cease.
In your deep floods drown all my faults and fears;
nor let His eye see sin, but through my tears.

5. Is there a tradition you could not be without, a tradition that makes Good Friday, Good Friday?

Not being on church staff this year, I find it a bit difficult. Also being from a non-liturgical church, there seems to be little to make this day any different from the rest of the calendar. We will be gathering with friends for dinner tonight, which seems altogether appropriate. I have spent more time in reflection and writing this morning… the promise of Spring, of Easter morning, is shining outside my window this morning.

Glory be to God for the marvelous work of the cross!
I am blessed and encouraged.



We adore you Oh Christ 
and we praise You
because by Your holy cross 
You have redeemed the world.
Amen.

Good Friday

This is my Good Friday homily – I don’t have a pulpit to preach it in, but it’s what is on my heart today…

“Do you now believe?” Jesus replied. “A time is coming and in fact has come when you will be scattered, each to your own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me. I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed:

“Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.”

John 16:31-17:5

There are times I am very grateful I do not know everything that is going to happen in my life. And then there are times when I desperately want a peek into the future. I guess that I am in good company, as the men and women who were with Jesus as he walked and taught in Galilee. They faced the same issues. They wanted to be given privileged positions and confirmed answers to their questions.

This passage always chills me a little, as Christ was given a spiritual insight into the hearts and lives of the disciples and the tests ahead of them. Yet Jesus’ prayer was focused on the work he was about to do on the cross, and moved by the Spirit to ask for the strength to be obedient until his death.

It’s one thing to pray for answers to the questions you have for the future. It’s quite another to pray, knowing what you must give up in order for God’s will to be done. The wrenching that must have been in Jesus’ heart as he prayed must have been exquisite.He believed in the ultimate best for them all – and desired above all else to bring glory to God.

This particular prayer of Jesus came at the end of a week that started with joy and triumph and proclamations of the Kingdom of God. And it came on the precipice of a painful weekend, when the hard truth of death and the pain of loss would be keenly felt. Those who ran away from the cross and the persecution of the Christ had no clue that God had already made a way. That is the message of the Cross – that God has made a way.

We may be in a rocky Good Friday in our lives, when everything we’ve hoped and believed is crashing down around our heads…

  • It might be a financial disaster.
  • It might be a relationship that seems broken beyond repair.
  • It might be emotional pain that exceeds anything you have ever faced.
  • It might be a diagnosis that sends you into a panic.
  • It might be the realization that you have made a huge error, and have to ‘fess up to it, facing the consequences.

I have been in those moments. It is beyond scary. It seems impossible.

Jesus quoted the words of David in Psalm 22 as he hung on the cross:

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?

Words of pure pain. Raw emotion. Doubt. Maybe even anger. Jesus knew these feelings intimately.

That same Psalm bursts into words of faith and promise a few verses later:

All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations shall worship before you. For kingship belongs to the Lord, and he rules over the nations.

Words of faith. Hope. Trust. They are true for us today.

There is nothing that is beyond the reach of Grace. Nothing that can’t be lived out with God’s love motivating you. Good Friday and Silent Saturday are hard stretches, believe me, I know. The pain is real — and if you are living there, I do not want to minimize it. God seems far away. The answers are not easy, when you do finally hear them. And no amount of positive thinking will take away the pain of sin in the human race. Only Grace does that.

But Easter has come. Hope is there.

I have walked in some pretty rough spots, seeing the empty cross and tomb in front of me. But I have also seen God’s faithfulness.

Perhaps you are in that place of worry or fear or just exhaustion. The love of God is real and tangible. It was given center stage almost 2000 years ago in the birth and death of Jesus, the Christ. It comes to us, new, fresh and real every morning. After long, dark nights of waiting.

I will watch and pray with you – and believe for you if you are in a space that makes belief difficult. If you look around you and ask for confirmation of God’s love and care for you, the evidence will come pouring into your life. In fact, here’s my challenge to you —

Take a moment – grab a piece of paper – and write down all the good things in your life. If you need help, try the alphabet. A is for apples and Aunt ___ — B is for buds on the trees… keep going. (Good luck with Q and X!)

It sounds simple, but when we are in these moments of worry or fear or living with what seems to be insurmountable odds, reminding ourselves of God’s faithfulness can build a swell of hope in our hearts. Hope builds our faith. And faith helps us keep walking – towards the sunrise of Easter morning.

Let us pray:

God,
We who often beg for answers are scared when we finally receive them.
Walk with us in the dark stretches of Good Fridays and Silent Saturdays.
Show us the pinprick of light that is the reality of Easter Sunday.
We believe in your love.
We thank you for your Son, Jesus, the Christ,
Who died, and rose again and lives again with you – One God, Father, Christ, Holy Spirit…
Amen.

Friday Five: Five for Good Friday

RevHRod from RevGalBlogPals writes:

As a child the designation “good” for today confused me. How could we call such a somber day, good? Holy, yes. Blessed, yes. But, good?

As an adult I understand the meaning of good for this day. It is a solemn day of remembrance but it is also a time for us to stop and recall the great gift of love that we received this day. And that is most certainly good.

Our worship today will differ from place to place. Some services will focus on the great litany of prayers. Others will use the seven last words of Jesus. Some of us will walk the stations of the cross. Others will participate in a Tennebrae service of shadows and light.

I hope that this Friday Five will be a meaningful part of your Good Friday. God’s blessings to you on your journey.

  1. Our prayer concerns are as varied as we are this day. For whom would you like us to pray? Please pray for my co-worker, Richard (he really does need that pill from Dr. McCoy.)
  2. Are there things you have done or will do today to help the young ones understand this important day in our lives? Mostly, we continue the conversation of life, reality, and Jesus. Our kids are not so “young” any more (16 and 12).
  3. Music plays an important part in sharing the story of this day. Is there a hymn or piece of music that you have found particularly meaningful to your celebrations of Good Friday? See my previous post… “On My Cross” reminds me that the sacrifice was for me, for the world, for the reconciliation of the Creator with the Creation.
  4. As you hear the passion narrative, is there a character that you particularly resonate with? Mary Magdalene. Forgiven much. Faithful in spite of fears and worries about what was happening to her Lord. And stayed and watched Him die with a faithful few when many of the men had left. (The picture with this post is of the sculpture by Donatello — at the Duomo Museum in Florence.)
  5. Where have you seen the gracious God of love at work lately? In my own life… becoming more aware of His changing love within me. Now if I can just live it.

Below is part of Henri Nouwen’s Good Friday prayer:

Dear Lord Jesus,

You, “the image of the unseen God, the first-born of all creation, for whom all things are created in heaven and on earth, everything visible and everything invisible,” you hang dead on a cross. You have just spoken your last words, “It is fulfilled,” and given up your spirit.

*****

I look at your dead body on the cross. The soldiers, who have broken the legs of the two men crucified with you, do not break your legs, but one of them pierces your side with a lance, and immediately blood and water flow out. Your heart is broken, the heart that did not know hatred, revenge, resentment, jealousy or envy but only love, love so deep and so wide that it embraces your Father in heaven as well as all humanity in time and space. Your broken heart is the source of my salvation, the foundation of my hope, the cause of my love. It is the sacred place where all that was, is and ever shall be is held in unity. There all suffering has been suffered, all anguish lived, all loneliness endured, all abandonment felt and all agony cried out. There, human and divine love have kissed, and there God and all men and women of history are reconciled. All the tears of the human race have been cried there, all pain understood and all despair touched. Together with all people of all times, I look up to you whom they have pierced, and I gradually come to know what it means to be part of your body and your blood, what it means to be human.

*****

As I look, my eyes begin to recognize the anguish and agony of all the people for whom you gave yourself. Your broken heart becomes the heart of all of humanity, the heart of all the world. You carry them all: abandoned children, rejected wives and husbands, broken families, the homeless, refugees, prisoners, the maimed and tortured, and the thousands, yes millions, who are unloved, forgotten and left alone to die. I see their emaciated bodies, their despairing faces, their anguished looks. I see them all there, where your body is pierced and your heart is ripped apart. O compassionate Lord, your heart is broken because of all the love that is not given or received.

*****

Blood and water flowed from your broken heart. Lord Jesus, help me to understand this mystery. So much blood has flowed through the centuries: blood of people who did not even know why they were trampled underfoot, mutilated, tortured, slain, beheaded and left unburied; blood caused by swords, arrows, guns and bombs, tainting the faces of millions of people; blood that comes forth from angry, bitter, jealous, vengeful hearts, and from hearts that are set on hatred, violence and destruction. From the blood of Abel killed by his brother to the blood of the Jews, the Armenians, the Ukrainians, the Irish, the Iranians and Iraqis, the Palestinians, the South Africans and the countless nations and ethnic groups victimized by the evil intentions of their sisters and brothers in the human race, blood has been covering the earth, and cries have gone up to heaven: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken us?”

*****

Let the blood and water that flow from your heart give me a new heart to live a new life. I know that in this world water and blood will never be separated. There will be peace and anguish, joy and tears, love and agony. They will be there always—together—leading me daily closer to you who give your heart to my heart.

Miserere…

Good Friday: On My Cross

“On My Cross” by FFH

God sent Christ to be our sacrifice. Christ offered his life’s blood, so that by faith in him we could come to God. And God did this to show that in the past he was right to be patient and forgive sinners. This also shows that God is right when he accepts people who have faith in Jesus.
[Romans 3:25-26 CEV]