Liturgy for Home Worship: Good Friday (4/10/20)
During the coronavirus outbreak, our church has decided to forego its usual corporate gathering and to worship as individuals, families, and in small groups. This liturgy is designed to help us maintain unity in our worship—even while we’re separated. To learn more about why we’re worshipping in this way, what a liturgy is, and how it works, click here. The liturgy is available for you to look at any time, but most of the videos won’t be available until Friday, 4/10/20 at 6:30 PM CST.
Tenebrae: A Service of Shadows
Since the 4th century, followers of Jesus Christ have marked Good Friday with a tenebrae (Latin for “shadows”) service. In it, worshipers recall the events that led Jesus to the cross, contemplating His suffering and death. Death in human existence has many faces, all cruel and perplexing. But Jesus, by His final sacrifice, has taken the sting from death, and the victory from the grave. Traditionally, the service begins with the lighting of seven candles. One by one, the candles are then extinguished as we trace the steps of the Lord Jesus on this momentous day. We invite you to join in this practice of lighting and extinguishing candles wherever you are as we all ponder the depth of His suffering and death. The service will end in silence and darkness—an invitation to solemnly anticipate the joy to come on Easter Sunday.
“Every death we die, Jesus died; we cannot go where He has not gone.
He companions us even in the darkness and sorrow. And He leads us to light and life again.”
– from “Mourning into Dancing” by Walter Wangerin, Jr.
Readings from the Gospels
All readings are from the English Standard Version (ESV).
The Shadow of Betrayal – The Last Supper (Matthew 26:20-29)
20 When it was evening, he reclined at table with the twelve. 21 And as they were eating, he said, “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” 22 And they were very sorrowful and began to say to him one after another, “Is it I, Lord?” 23 He answered, “He who has dipped his hand in the dish with me will betray me. 24 The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.” 25 Judas, who would betray him, answered, “Is it I, Rabbi?” He said to him, “You have said so.”
26 Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” 27 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, 28 for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”
Meditation – What Wondrous Love is This?
Listen and meditate.
Link: “What Wondrous Love”
Please extinguish the first candle.
The Shadow of Agony and Arrest – Gethsemane (Luke 22:39-48, 54)
39 And he came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him. 40 And when he came to the place, he said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” 41 And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, 42 saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”
43 And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. 44 And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.
45 And when he rose from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping for sorrow, 46 and he said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Rise and pray that you may not enter into temptation.”
47 While he was still speaking, there came a crowd, and the man called Judas, one of the twelve, was leading them. He drew near to Jesus to kiss him, 48 but Jesus said to him, “Judas, would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?” 54 Then they seized him and led him away, bringing him into the high priest’s house, and Peter was following at a distance.
Our Response – A Prayer of Confession
Merciful God and Father, we confess to You that we have not loved You with all our heart,
mind, strength and soul…
We have not loved our neighbor as ourselves…
We have not wholly trusted in Your saving grace…
Like Judas, we have betrayed You. Like Peter, we have denied You.
Like the other disciples, we have forsaken You.
Yet You have been faithful to us unto death, even death on a cross.
We plead for Your forgiveness and mercy.
And we ask for Your strength, so that we don’t turn aside, but follow You to the very end –
For we know that the final victory belongs to You. Through Christ and the Holy Spirit, we pray. Amen.
Please extinguish the second candle.
The Shadow of Denial – Peter Disowns Jesus (Matthew 26:69-75)
69 Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. And a servant girl came up to him and said, “You also were with Jesus the Galilean.” 70 But he denied it before them all, saying, “I do not know what you mean.”
71 And when he went out to the entrance, another servant girl saw him, and she said to the bystanders, “This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.” 72 And again he denied it with an oath: “I do not know the man.”
73 After a little while the bystanders came up and said to Peter, “Certainly you too are one of them, for your accent betrays you.” 74 Then he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, “I do not know the man.” And immediately the rooster crowed. 75 And Peter remembered the saying of Jesus, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.
Meditation – John Newton, former slave trader, 1779
I saw One hanging on a tree, in agony and blood;
He fixed His loving eyes on me, as near His cross I stood.
Sure, never till my latest breath, can I forget that look;
It seemed to charge me with His death, though not a word He spoke.
My conscience felt and owned the guilt, and plunged me in despair;
I saw my sins His blood had spilt and helped to nail Him there.
A second look He gave, which said, “I freely all forgive;
That blood is for your ransom paid; I die that you might live.”
Please extinguish the third candle.
The Shadow of Accusation – Trial and Mockery (Mark 15:1-15)
1 And as soon as it was morning, the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council. And they bound Jesus and led him away and delivered him over to Pilate. 2 And Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” And he answered him, “You have said so.”
3 And the chief priests accused him of many things. 4 And Pilate again asked him, “Have you no answer to make? See how many charges they bring against you.” 5 But Jesus made no further answer, so that Pilate was amazed.
6 Now at the feast he used to release for them one prisoner for whom they asked.7 And among the rebels in prison, who had committed murder in the insurrection, there was a man called Barabbas. 8 And the crowd came up and began to ask Pilate to do as he usually did for them. 9 And he answered them, saying, “Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?” 10 For he perceived that it was out of envy that the chief priests had delivered him up. 11 But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release for them Barabbas instead.
12 And Pilate again said to them, “Then what shall I do with the man you call the King of the Jews?” 13 And they cried out again, “Crucify him.” 14 And Pilate said to them, “Why? What evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Crucify him.”
15 So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.
Meditation – Panis Angelicus
Please extinguish the fourth candle.
The Shadow of Crucifixion (Luke 23:32-43)
32 Two others, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him.33 And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. 34 And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments.
35 And the people stood by, watching, but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!” 36 The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine 37 and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” 38 There was also an inscription over him, “This is the King of the Jews.”
39 One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” 40 But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
43 And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
Meditation – O Sacred Head Now Wounded
Please extinguish the fifth candle.
The Shadow of Death (Luke 23:44-49)
44 It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, 45 while the sun’s light failed. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two.
46 Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last.
47 Now when the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God, saying, “Certainly this man was innocent!” 48 And all the crowds that had assembled for this spectacle, when they saw what had taken place, returned home beating their breasts.
49 And all his acquaintances and the women who had followed him from Galilee stood at a distance watching these things.
Our Response (Adapted from a Puritan prayer)
Father God, thank You for Your Son.
Before His cross we kneel, and see our iniquity,
Our sin that caused Him to be “made a curse.”
We see the crown of thorns, the pierced hands and feet,
The bruised body, the dying cries…
But through that cross, we are forgiven, reconciled to You, dear Father.
The power of evil is broken, and we are thankful. AMEN.
Please extinguish the sixth candle.
The Shadow of Burial (John 19:38-42)
38 After these things Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus, and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took away his body.39 Nicodemus also, who earlier had come to Jesus by night, came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds in weight.
40 So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews. 41 Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid.
42 So because of the Jewish day of Preparation, since the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there.
Meditation – When I Survey the Wondrous Cross
Please extinguish the Seventh Candle
We close our worship together quietly. We are united with each other, though we are temporarily apart. We grieve for our suffering world during this pandemic crisis, but we do not grieve as people who have no hope.
SUNDAY IS COMING . . .
Our sincere thanks go out to Jane Niederbrach for arranging these readings, meditations, and songs, as well as all those who recorded videos for this service.