Materials for Worship on Good Friday

O Lord, look with mercy on this your family, for which our Lord Jesus Christ was willing to be betrayed, given up into the hands of sinners, and to suffer death upon the cross; who lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.

First reading: Isaiah 52.13-53.3, 11 read by Ruth

Sing along or read the words as David plays the tune of ‘When I survey the wondrous cross’

When I survey the wondrous cross,
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.
Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ, my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.
See, from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?
Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.
Isaac Watts

The Gospel of the Passion: Mark 14.1-15.47 read by Anthony

Peter writes: If I needed to give directions to anyone coming to St Ursula’s Church in Bern, I would tell them that, after they left the Autobahn, they should follow the sign to the city centre and then take the turning marked Entsorgungshof, which means “rubbish dump”. Sure enough there was one about 50 metres from the church and our house. Fortunately it was for glass, broken crockery, old mattresses etc – nothing smelly. On our walks Shareene and I used to pause and look to see what people were discarding. The word entsorgen means “to discard, get rid of” and it comes from sorgen, literally “to worry” or “care”. So, once you have got rid of stuff you don’t want or need, you don’t have to worry about it any more.

Is this what was happening on Good Friday? (Some scholars think that the hill of Calvary was actually next to the city rubbish dump.) On Palm Sunday the crowd had hailed Jesus as the Messiah but soon they decided he wasn’t the sort of Messiah they wanted after all, so their reaction was “Let’s dump him”. And did Pilate, the soldiers on duty that day, and the temple authorities say to each other: “Thank God that’s over. We’ve got rid of that trouble-maker and we don’t need to worry about him any more.” With the stone firmly in place over the mouth of the tomb they had achieved closure: out of sight, out of mind.

Is that what many people think about God today? “We don’t do God: we have no need of him and we’ve dumped him somewhere where we don’t need to bother about him.” Things often end up on the skip because people have replaced them with something else that looks more modern or prettier. Do these things really satisfy their needs, do they answer the fundamental questions of life? Or are they a means of avoiding these issues? A bit like the beauty products that claim to cover up the signs of ageing perhaps. A few years back a slogan appeared on the side of buses: “There’s probably no God, so stop worrying”. If you have got rid of him, then you don’t need to worry about the demands that faith puts on you. There have always been people who didn’t care that all your fellow men and women are created in the image of God, that creation is not there for our own selfish ends, that we are responsible for our words and actions. Examples of the consequences of such attitudes are not far to seek. (Of course there are people of other faiths and none who sincerely believe in human rights and environmental Pissues, and our response should be “they are not far from the kingdom of God”. The centurion at Calvary is but one of the characters in the Gospels who comes into this category.)

There is also something else that needs to be discarded, however; something that affects people of faith and those with none. It is spelled out in two of Jesus’ words from the cross: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” And “It is finished”. The first, from Psalm 22, has been echoed by many who felt that God had discarded them; that he had not done what they counted on him to do for them. In an Easter sermon, Dietrich Bonhoeffer turns this round, saying that, on the cross, it is a fantasy God who is being forsaken, got rid of. What we are seeing there is the end of the illusion that God is some sort of superhero who will intervene at the last minute or is there to do our bidding. Christ on the cross is proof that simplistic ideas about God’s power have to be discarded and that we need to replace them by the message of Easter.

On the cross we see that “death’s dark powers have done their worst”. In 1940 Bonhoeffer wrote “God puts … love in place of hate, the Holy One in place of the sinner. There is no longer any denial of God, any hate, any sin which God has not taken upon himself, suffered and atoned.” The powers of evil have shot their last bolt, been found wanting and put on the rubbish dump.

Prayers of Intercession
You are invited to spend time in silent prayer after each bidding.

Let us pray for all bishops, priests and deacons, and especially Ian our Bishop Let us pray also for this congregation, whether present in church or worshipping at home.

Let us pray for the rulers of the nations and all who serve the common good.

Let us pray for those preparing to be baptised at Easter.

Let us pray for those in need; for those weighed down with sickness in body, mind or spirit; for the vulnerable and the lonely.

Let us pray for those who do not acknowledge the Lord our God that, following what is right, in sincerity of heart, they may find the way to God’s own self.

Let us pray for all our brothers and sisters who believe in Christ, that God would grant peace and unity to all Christian people.

Let us pray to Almighty God, the creator of heaven and earth, for the whole of creation.


To finish your time of worship you may wish to sing along or read the words as David plays the tune of ‘My song is love unknown’.

My song is love unknown,
My Savior’s love to me,
Love to the loveless shown
That they might lovely be.
Oh, who am I
That for my sake
My Lord should take
Frail flesh and die?
He came from His blest throne
Salvation to bestow;
But men made strange, and none
The longed-for Christ would know.
But, oh, my friend,
My Friend indeed,
Who at my need
His life did spend!
Sometimes they strew His way
And His sweet praises sing;
Resounding all the day
Hosannas to their King.
Then “Crucify!”
Is all their breath,
And for His death
They thirst and cry.
Why, what hath my Lord done?
What makes this rage and spite?
He made the lame to run,
He gave the blind their sight.
Sweet injuries!
Yet they at these
Themselves displease
And ‘gainst Him rise.
They rise and needs will have
My dear Lord made away;
A murderer they save,
The Prince of Life they slay.
Yet cheerful He
To suff’ring goes
That He His foes
From thence might free.
6 In life no house, no home
My Lord on earth might have;
In death no friendly tomb
But what a stranger gave.
What may I say?
Heav’n was His home
But mine the tomb
Wherein He lay.
Here might I stay and sing,
No story so divine!
Never was love, dear King,
Never was grief like Thine.
This is my friend,
In whose sweet praise
I all my days
Could gladly spend!

Samuel Crossman