Welcome to Crete United Church’s online Good Friday Worship Service on the 7 Last Words, or phrases Jesus spoke from the cross. Each are followed by a meditation or prayer in which to participate. Sources for this service have been gathered from a variety of resources, many have been amended. May God bless this time and your worship on this holy day.
A Good Friday Service for Worship at Home
I have a story to tell
of one who reached inside himself
and took a handful of love
like a pile of stardust
and said: this is for you
it is all you need
it is all you will ever need
there is enough here
to change the whole world
many laughed at him
and ignored the invitation
but some dared to take it
and those who did
noticed something about this love
they found they could do what the gift-giver could do
they could stand with the lost
welcome the traveler
eat with the hungry
they found themselves doing what the man first did to them
give something of themselves to others
they became like the man
and as they offered themselves
others took the invitation
and many still do
and many still trust
it is enough to change the whole world.
The Crucifixion of Jesus: John 19:16b-19
So they took Jesus; and carrying the cross by himself, he went out to what is called The Place of the Skull, which in Hebrew is called Golgotha. Here they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, with Jesus between them.
The Seven Last Words
Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.
Before you die, Jesus Christ,
and the world goes into deep darkness,
take from our lives,
from our souls,
from our consciences
all that has offended you,
all that has hurt others,
and the intransigence
which has made us numb to the plight
of those whom we could help or heal.
Today you will be with me in paradise.
One of the criminals who were hanged there kept deriding[a] him and saying, “Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed have been condemned justly, for we are getting what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” He replied, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” Luke 23:39-43
not for our impressive accomplishments,
nor for things we occasionally display
or for any credit
we think we have in our moral account.
as one of the criminal community
who hung at your side,
and if life will not let us be in paradise
with you today,
keep a place for us tomorrow.
Mother, there is your son …
When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, “Mother, there is your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home. John 19:26-27
Let us pray for our families,
where they are open, loving, supportive,
that their joy might be kept safe.
For our families,
where they are tense, troubled, fragmented,
seething with suspicion,
that they may find a way through pain,
not a path away from it.
If there is one of my family
for whom I should care more fondly,
Lord, direct my gaze to them.
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
by your cry of desperate honesty,
rid us of superficial faith
which is afraid of the dark.
Not so that we might be justified pessimists,
but so that we might discover profound joy,
give us, when we need it,
the courage to doubt,
to rail against heaven
until we know we are heard.
We ask for a sense of your solidarity,
that will be enough
to let us know
that we do not walk or cry alone;
that will enable us to go through the dark
and find light again in the morning.
I am thirsty.
You have made us for yourself.
We know it, even if we cannot name it.
We have had these bodies and these minds
long enough to learn to live with our limitations.
Yet despite this,
something in us longs, yearns, thirsts
for something better,
which we know is there.
So thank you for this incompleteness,
thank you for this yearning,
thank you for this thirst.
Thank you for giving us enough of you
to want more,
and so to sense the fullness of eternity
within the limits of time.
It is finished.
Now, Lord Jesus,
you can let go of us.
You have convinced us of our sin
and you have forgiven it.
You have convinced us of your way
and have engaged us in it.
You have shown us a foretaste of heaven
and have made us members of its commonwealth.
You can let go of us now.
Having overcome the sin of the world,
death will be a small obstacle.
Just as you foretold
that you would be handed over to be crucified
and this has to come true;
also as you foretold,
on the third day,
you will rise again.
And we will be your witnesses.
Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.
Those whom he left behind saw nothing but his corpse. He was not a teacher anymore. He had become a teaching instead–a window into the depths of God that some could see through and some could not. Those who held out hope for a strong God, a fierce God, a God who would brook no injustice–they looked upon a scene where God was not, while those whose feet Jesus had washed, whose faces he had touched, whose open mouths he had fed as if they were little birds–they looked upon a scene in which God had died for love of them. He had put his own body between them and those who meant to do them harm. He had demolished the rock around their hearts. He had shown them a dangerous new way to live.
It was dark by the time they got him down and found a place to lay him. It was the Sabbath, his turn to rest. His part was over. His work was done.
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Home Worship for Holy Thursday
Jesus and his disciples had stayed in Bethany on Wednesday of Holy Week. That Wednesday night, a woman came to him and anointed him with costly perfume. Jesus tells his disciples this was to prepare him for burial. On Thursday, around noon, Jesus sends his disciples Peter and John to Jerusalem to secure a room and make preparations for the Passover feast. Worship services on Holy Thursday (also called Maundy Thursday) usually focus on events that occurred that night in the upper room where Jesus celebrated the Passover feast with his disciples and the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus prayed, was betrayed by Judas and arrested.
Thursday's events are recorded in Matthew 26:17–75, Mark 14:12-72, Luke 22:7-62, and John 13:1-38.
You may wish to create a worship space in your home as a place of focus with lit candles and items that represent events of this night. For example, you may wish to have a basin and towel in your worship space. In John’s Gospel, Jesus washed the disciples’ feet, taking on the role of a servant and saying that his followers must emulate him with lives of servanthood. There could be bread and a cup, remembering that Jesus gave us the Lord’s Supper on this night. Jesus was betrayed by Judas for 30 pieces of silver, so coins could be a part of your worship space. Creating the space for worship can be an act of worship. Chose a variety of images from this night that are meaningful to you. Below are resources to aid you in your Holy Thursday worship at home. They come from a variety of sources; many I have amended. Some I have retained in the plural voice as a reminder that though we are worshipping in our homes, others are doing the same and that we are together in spirit.
A Service for Worship at Home
Tonight, I Will… (centering for worship, to be said in the plural if worshipping as a family)
Tonight, I will remember the love of Jesus,
gathered at table with his friends.
I will remember the bread of life and the cup of blessing he gives.
I will remember the tender service Christ offers at the disciples’ feet;
and will receive the challenge of the new commandment: to “Love one another.”
I will contemplate the many temptations
of a world that would entice me, like Judas,
to betray the trust of a suffering God.
I will travel with Jesus in the way of the Cross,
so that the Easter “alleluia” will take on new meaning.
I will worship and reflect upon the life of Christ,
that I might remember
what discipleship may cost,
and what it may reap.
In the Upper Room
Jesus Washes the Disciples’ Feet: John 13:1-20
Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. The devil had already put it into the heart of Judas son of Simon Iscariot to betray him. And during supper Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus answered, “You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” Jesus said to him, “One who has bathed does not need to wash, except for the feet, but is entirely clean. And you are clean, though not all of you.” For he knew who was to betray him; for this reason he said, “Not all of you are clean.”
After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. Very truly, I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them. I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen. But it is to fulfill the scripture, ‘The one who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.’ I tell you this now, before it occurs, so that when it does occur, you may believe that I am he. Very truly, I tell you, whoever receives one whom I send receives me; and whoever receives me receives him who sent me.”
A Prayer of Response:
You knew your hour had come.
You knew your betrayer. You knew your enemies.
You knew that the straw vote would not be in your favor.
But you loved unto the end.
Thank you for loving us, even unto death.
Teach us to love like you love.
Teach us to love each other, to love even our enemies,
like you loved us.
You took on the form of a servant,
washing the feet of those whom you discipled.
You defined humility and servanthood.
You are he who was surely sent from God.
Thank you for serving for us.
Teach us to be servants without fail;
to make humility our constant companion
and to seek no glory for ourselves.
Remind us when we forget.
On that solemn evening,
you surrounded yourself with friends and enemies,
persons of faith and persons of ill-will.
Help us to be able to always emulate you
when we are surrounded by our friends
and especially when we are surrounded by our enemies.
You have established a “new commandment;”
help us to live it out in every moment,
in every aspect of our lives,
in our families, in our churches, in our communities,
and throughout the world.
On this Holy Day, we gather to remember again
the miracle that you performed in our lives.
You have brought us into the marvelous light.
At great cost to you,
you have given us new life and life eternal. Amen.
Jesus Gives a New Commandment John 13:33-35
(Jesus said) Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come.’ I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
A Prayer of Confession
Holy God, you are God of all people,
and my heart is too narrow.
My perspectives are too small.
I reject those who are not like me—
those with different political opinions,
those who struggle with mental illness,
those who disagree with me.
I forget that all are your beloved children,
and I neglect your call to love one another.
Forgive me, O God,
for the many ways I have failed
to love as you have loved me.
Show me how to be more caring.
Teach me how to love without boundaries and conditions,
and make me your faithful disciple. Amen.
In the Garden of Gethsemane
The Garden of Gethsemane: Mark 14:32-42
And they went to a place called Gethsemane. And he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I
pray.” And he took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be greatly distressed
and troubled. And he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death. Remain here
and watch.” And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were
possible, the hour might pass from him. And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible
for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” And he came and
found them sleeping, and he said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not watch one
hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but
the flesh is weak.” And again he went away and prayed, saying the same words. And
again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy, and they did not know
what to answer him. And he came the third time and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and
taking your rest? It is enough; the hour has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of
sinners. Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.”
Jesus Prays for His Disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane (read slowly)
(This prayer uses a combination of John and Mark’s versions of Jesus’ prayer in Gethsemane)
Sit here while I pray.
The sorrow in my heart is so great, it almost crushes me.
Stay here and keep watch with me.
Father, I have shown your glory on earth;
I have finished the work you gave me.
I have given my disciples your message
And the world … it hated them.
Yet I don’t pray that they may be taken out of the world.
I pray that they may be kept from evil.
(Sound of snoring)
Can you not even keep awake for an hour?
Father, I pray not only for my friends,
but for all who believe their words.
I pray that they may be one,
just as you and I are one.
Father, the world does not know you,
But I know you and they know you.
So that the world may believe that you sent me,
May they be one … may they be one.
(Sound of snoring)
Peter, keep watch and pray.
Don’t be drawn by temptation.
The spirit is willing, but, oh, the flesh … the flesh is weak.
Father, if it is possible…
take away his cup of suffering from me…
take away this cup of suffering from me…
but let it not be what I want.
let it be what you want.
(Sound of snoring)
Are you still sleeping?
Are you still at your ease?
The hour has come for the Son of Man
to be handed over to sinful people.
Get up, let us go!
Look, here comes the one who is to betray me….
The Betrayal and Arrest of Jesus: Mark 14:43-50
Immediately, while he was still speaking, Judas, one of the twelve, arrived; and with him there was a crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders. Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man; arrest him and lead him away under guard.” So when he came, he went up to him at once and said, “Rabbi!” and kissed him. Then they laid hands on him and arrested him. But one of those who stood near drew his sword and struck the slave of the high priest, cutting off his ear. Then Jesus said to them, “Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest me as though I were a bandit? Day after day I was with you in the temple teaching, and you did not arrest me. But let the scriptures be fulfilled.” All of them deserted him and fled.
Jesus is Arrested, a Personal Reflection and Prayer
If I were arrested and held this night
what would I be found guilty of?
That I made friends with people
irrespective of their color, creed or class?
That I shared my bread with the poor?
That my words… and actions… brought healing and forgiveness?
That I made justice and didn’t count the cost?
That I sought the truth and then spoke of it?
That I recognized my neighbor
and loved them as my very self?
That I met God along the way
in the healing and forgiveness I received?
That I accepted hospitality at many different tables?
That I was changed by the lives of others
…and often repented my arrogance and foolishness
in encountering their wisdom?
That I never sought out suffering
…but journeyed with it to the best of my ability?
That the love of those about me
taught me to love myself before God?
You call me out of brokenness
to mend and remake me.
Grant me the courage to stay
with all those who are held captive this night.
In the name of Jesus who is good news. Amen.
A Closing Prayer of Thanksgiving for Others
For all those who have gone before me,
walked the path I tread,
and, by their example,
wise words and teaching
led others into your Kingdom,
I offer my grateful thanks.
For all who, through their actions
put others before self,
demonstrating the meaning
giving from their riches
and also from their poverty,
I offer my grateful thanks.
This I pray in the name of Jesus Christ,
who gave everything, that we might
understand the true
riches of this life,
and the one to come
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Wednesday of Holy Week
So far, two momentous days have passed: On Monday there was Jesus’ cleansing of the Temple and his lament over Jerusalem. On Tuesday we saw teachings by Jesus, Jesus being interrogated by his opponents and Jesus’ response.
Today, Wednesday, Jesus stays in Bethany. In the background on this day, we learn that the chief priests and elders are meeting with the high priest to develop a plan to arrest Jesus secretly and kill him.
Jesus and the twelve disciples spend a quiet sort of day in Bethany, at the home of Simon the Leper. Two events are remembered today. The first is Jesus’ anointing by a woman. (All four gospels report an anointing of Jesus but who was doing the anointing and why and when all differ. It may be that Jesus was anointed more than once.) This is how Matthew records it:
A woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she
poured on his head as he was reclining at the table. When the disciples saw this, they
were indignant. “Why this waste?” they asked. “This perfume could have been sold at a
high price and the money given to the poor.” Aware of this, Jesus said to them, “Why
are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will
always have with you, but you will not always have me. When she poured this perfume
on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is
preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her”
The second event remembered today is that it was on Wednesday night that Judas decides to betray Jesus. Matthew, Mark and Luke all agree on this day. This is how Matthew records it:
Then one of the Twelve—the one called Judas Iscariot—went to the chief priests and asked, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver him over to
you?” So they counted out for him thirty pieces of silver. From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over (Matt 26:14-16).
So ends the Wednesday of Holy Week. It was a calmer day, a day spent among friends, yet a day when Jesus knows he’s been anointed for his burial and his betrayal is set in motion.
Beginning Words for Your Wednesday Home-Worship and Devotions:
(I’ve retained the language in the plural as a way of affirming that though we are separated in body, we are together in spirit. These worship resources have been adapted from the Iona Community)
We will remember the soothing, and not forget the jarring.
We will remember the sweetness, and not forget the sour.
We will remember the jagged desperateness of Judas, and own it. It is our story, too.
We will remember the passion of love, the smell of perfume,
The pain of rejection, the stench of blood money.
And to help us on the journey, to help us hold the tensions,
to help us face both the delight and the difficulty,
We will say yes, to God’s generosity in creation,
We will say yes to God’s judgement poured out on humankind,
We will say yes to God’s justice in Jesus.
It was on Wednesday that they called him a wasteful person. The place smelled like the perfume department of a big store. It was as if somebody had bumped an elbow against a bottle and sent it crashing to the floor, setting off the most expensive stink bomb on earth.
But it happened in a house, not a shop. And the woman who broke the bottle was no casual afternoon shopper. She was the poorest of the poor, giving away the only precious thing she had.
And he sat still while she poured the liquid all over his head … as unnecessary as aftershave of a full crop of hair and a bearded chin.
And those who smelled it, and those who saw it, and those who remembered that he was against extravagance, called him a wasteful person. They forgot that he also was the poorest of the poor.
And they who had much and who had given him nothing, objected to a pauper giving him everything.
Jealousy was in the air when a poor woman’s generosity became an embarrassment to their tight-fistedness …
That was on the Wednesday, when they called him a wasteful person.
I Will Give What I Have: Poem in the voice of the woman who anointed Jesus
From a high, secret shelf, I take what I hid myself –
Perfume, precious and rare, never meant to spill or spare.
This I’ll carefully break, this I’ll empty for his sake:
I will give what I have to my Lord.
Though the action is crude, it will show my gratitude
for the truth that I’ve learned from the one who’s heaven-sent;
for this life once a mess which his beauty can express,
I will give what I have to my Lord.
With his critics around, common gossip will abound.
They’ll note all that they see to discredit him and me.
Let them smirk, let them jeer, say what people want to hear;
I will give what I have to my Lord.
It’s because he’ll receive, that I believe
God has time for the poor. He has shown us heaven’s door.
Be it perfume and care, be it anger or despair,
I will give what I have to my Lord.
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Tuesday of Holy Week:
During Holy Week, I am offering as daily
Face your fears with faith.
Examine your assumptions in light of the facts.
Attack your anxieties with action.
Release your cares to God.
These four steps can be helpful in confronting our fears at this time of uncertainty. Last week, I focused on the first practice: Face your fears with faith. Today, we’re looking at the second: Examine your assumptions in light of the facts.
Last week I made a lot of phone calls to offer my care and support. I called people from the church, and people from the community of Crete. I called friends, and colleagues and family members. I asked how they were coping with this new reality of Covid-19. I learned that many of them were staying apprised of new developments but putting limits on how often they checked the news (usually one or two times a day). They were aware of what the national and state orders and guidelines were for social distancing, sheltering in place, personal hygiene, etc., and they were following them to the best of their ability.
But I also became aware of two extremes. On the one hand, some of the folks I talked to believed the severity of the coronavirus was being over-blown, it was not as contagious and not as deadly as they thought we were being led to believe. Their way of dealing with the coronavirus appeared to me to be carrying on with life much as they had in the past, with few personal restrictions. On the other side of the spectrum, there were folks who thought the coronavirus was being under-blown and their behavior seemed to indicate that belief.
Wherever we are on this spectrum (and we may find ourselves occasionally moving from one to another), one thing that may help is to examine the facts. Facts can be allies in combating our fear, as Adam Hamilton says. This practice of examining our assumptions in light of the facts “recognizes that feelings often begin with thoughts, and those thoughts are sometimes distorted, based on inaccurate information, faulty assumptions, overly negative views of oneself or the world, or mistaken beliefs---what some call ‘stinkin’ thinkin’” It is “a process that is used to identify faulty thinking or assumptions and replace those thoughts with more accurate and more positive thinking, which in turn offers relief from the problematic feelings.” p.45
As we try to examine our assumptions in light of the facts, I see two things that make this practice particularly hard at this time. First, we live in a time when our national confidence in facts are at an all time low. A recent poll from the Pew Research Center () reported that “half of U.S. adults say made-up news and information is a very big problem in the country today, and about two-thirds say it causes a great deal of confusion about the basic facts of current issues and events. They also say made-up news and information has a big impact on Americans’ confidence in government (68%) and in each other (54%)”.
(It might be helpful to fact check what you are hearing on the news or online sources with the World Health Organization [a specialized agency of the United Nations responsible for international public health] and the CDC [The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the US agency charged with tracking and investigating public health trends].)
The second problem is that we are trying to determine the facts in a context where the facts are rapidly changing. For example, yesterday morning we woke to the news that President Trump has extended the order for social distancing from Easter to the end of April.
With this being said, I hope you will find this be a helpful tool in these days of the coronavirus and in the days beyond it for this too shall pass.
I pray for you courage in these days. I leave you with these words from Psalm 27:I, 14
The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? . . . Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!
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Monday of Holy Week
The Monday of Holy Week is the day when Jesus overturned the money stalls in the Temple, called it a house of prayer for the nations, healed the sick and praised the children who sang to him.
This is how Matthew records it:
Then Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who were selling and buying in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves. He said to them, “It is written,‘My house shall be called a house of prayer’; but you are making it a den of robbers.”
The blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he cured them. But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the amazing things that he did, and heard the children crying out in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they became angry and said to him, “Do you hear what these are saying?” Jesus said to them, “Yes; have you never read, ‘Out of the mouths of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise for yourself’?” He left them, went out of the city to Bethany, and spent the night there. Matthew 21:12-17
It was on Monday that religion got in the way.
An outsider would have thought that it was a pet shop’s fire sale. And the outsider, in some ways, wouldn’t have been far wrong. Only, it wasn’t household pets, it was pigeons that were being purchased. And it wasn’t a fire sale; it was a rip-off stall in the holy temple bartering birds for sacrifice. And the price was something only the rich could afford. No discounts for students, pensioners, those on social security.
Then he, the holiest man on earth, went through the bizarre bazaar like a bull in a china shop. So the doves got liberated and the pigeon sellers got angry. And the police went crazy and the poor people clapped like mad, because he was making a sign that God was for everybody, not just for those who could afford him. He turned the tables on Monday … the day that religion got in the way.
A Prayer of Confession:
If we have used your house for our purposes as if you did not mind or it did not matter, Lord, forgive us.
If we have cosseted your house in tradition, rather than hallowed it by prayer, Lord, forgive us.
If we have made it a house for one nation, or part of a nation, or for part of the Church, Lord, forgive us.
And if we can see clearly the misuse others make of your house and are blind to our own malpractices, Lord, forgive us.
Kindle in us and in all your people the desire to make all your sanctuaries the shop windows of heaven, rather than religious theme parks of earth. We ask this for your own name’s sake. Amen.
A Prayer for Ourselves and Others:
On the Monday of Holy Week, the crippled and the blind came to Jesus in the Temple and he healed them. So let us pray for those who are crippled by disease or anxiety. You are invited to pause and pray in your own words following each intercession.
We pray for those who are crippled in body or in mind or in spirit;
…those who are blind to beauty, love and peace;
…those who are blind to what they must do now or do next;
…the church in places where it has the possibility of healing the wounds of the nations;
…and for ourselves we pray, that we may discern a clear vision of your kingdom; and that we may steadily walk your path, Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Some resources have been used from Stages on the Way from the Iona Community
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