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Prayers, a reading and Poetry for Good Friday

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The Beautiful Mess painting by Daniel Bonne
The Beautiful Mess by Daniel Bonne

Here is the format for today’s Good Friday meditations for the two hours from noon, leading up to our Good Friday Liturgy.  This is the ‘warts and all’ version including timings and a few typos or things not edited…


Introductory Prayer

Eternal God, in the cross of Jesus 
we see the cost of our sin 
and the depth of your love:
in humble hope and fear may we place at his feet 
all that we have and all that we are, 
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

12.15pm 

Lord Jesus Christ, 
Who was lifted up on the cross
That you might enlighten the world that lay in darkness.
Gather us today to your holy cross, 
That meditating with penitence upon your great sacrifice for us,
we may be loosed from all our sins;
and entering into the mystery of your passion
we may be crucified to the vain pomp and power of this passing world;
and finding our glory in the cross alone, we may enter your eternal glory
where you, the Lamb that was slain, 
reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit
One God, now and forever.  Amen

Mark 15.25-32

 25 It was nine o’clock in the morning when they crucified him. 26The inscription of the charge against him read, ‘The King of the Jews.’ 27And with him they crucified two bandits, one on his right and one on his left.* 29Those who passed by derided* him, shaking their heads and saying, ‘Aha! You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, 30save yourself, and come down from the cross!’ 31In the same way the chief priests, along with the scribes, were also mocking him among themselves and saying, ‘He saved others; he cannot save himself. 32Let the Messiah,* the King of Israel, come down from the cross now, so that we may see and believe.’ Those who were crucified with him also taunted him.

12.30pm

Good Friday

Am I a stone, and not a sheep, 
     That I can stand, O Christ, beneath Thy cross, 
To number drop by drop Thy blood’s slow loss, 
And yet not weep?

Not so those women loved 
     Who with exceeding grief lamented Thee; 
Not so fallen Peter weeping bitterly; 
     Not so the thief was moved;

Not so the Sun and Moon 
     Which hid their faces in a starless sky, 
A horror of great darkness at broad noon– 
     I, only I.

Yet give not o’er, 
     But seek Thy sheep, true Shepherd of the flock; 
Greater than Moses, turn and look once more 
     And smite a rock.
                                                                                Christina Georgina Rossetti


12.45pm  

I saw the Sun at Midnight, 

I saw the Sun at midnight, rising red,
Deep-hued yet glowing, heavy with the stain
Of blood-compassion, and I saw It gain
Swiftly in size and growing till It spread
Over the stars; the heavens bowed their head
As from Its heart slow dripped a crimson rain,
Then a great tremor shook It, as of pain – 
The night fell, moaning, as It hung there dead.

O Sun, O Christ, O bleeding Heart of flame!
Thou givest Thine agony as our life’s worth,
And makest it infinite, lest we have dearth
Of rights wherewith to call upon Thy Name;
Thou pawnest Heaven as a pledge for Earth
And for our glory sufferest all shame.
                                                             Joseph Mary Plunkett

1.00pm

Holy God, we remember Pilate’s question:
What is truth?
Now we have seen the truth:
Jesus Christ, your Word made flesh,
betrayed, denied,
mocked and beaten,
put to death on a cross,
buried in the tomb.
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy on us.
We have seen the truth.
But there is more …
now show us the truth of your saving power;
show us the way beyond the grave;
show us the life that is everlasting;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
                                 Presbyterian Church of the USA John 18:1—19:42 / Years ABC

1.15pm 

The Agony

Philosophers have measured mountains,
Fathomed the depths of seas, of states, and kings,
Walked with a staff to heaven, and traced fountains:
But there are two vast, spacious things
The which to measure it doth more behoove:
Yet few there are that sound them: Sin and Love.

Who would know Sin, let him repair
Unto Mount Olivet; there shall he see
A man so wrung with pains that all his hair,
His skin, his garments bloody be.
Sin is that press and vice, that forceth pain
To hunt his cruel food through every vein.

Who knows not Love, let him assay
And taste that juice, which on the cross a pike
Did set again abroach; then let him say
If ever he did taste the like.
Love is that liquor sweet and most divine
Which my God feels as blood; but I, as wine.
                                                        George Herbert 

1.30pm 

Jesus is nailed to the cross

See, as they strip the robe from off his back
And spread his arms and nail them to the cross,
The dark nails pierce him and the sky turns black,
And love is firmly fastened onto loss.
But here a pure change happens. On this tree
Loss becomes gain, death opens into birth.
Here wounding heals and fastening makes free
Earth breathes in heaven, heaven roots in earth.
And here we see the length, the breadth, the height
Where love and hatred meet and love stays true
Where sin meets grace and darkness turns to light
We see what love can bear and be and do,
And here our saviour calls us to his side
His love is free, his arms are open wide.
                                                           Malcolm Guite


1.45pm  Closing Prayers 

Canticle - Saviour of the World

Jesus saviour of the world come to us in your mercy:
we look to you to save and help us.
By your cross and your life laid down you set your people free:
we look to you to save and help us.

When they were ready to perish you saved your disciples:
we look to you to come to our help.
In the greatness of your mercy loose us from our chains:
forgive the sins of all your people.

Make yourself known as our saviour and mighty deliverer: save and help us that we may praise you. 
Come now and dwell with us Lord Christ Jesus: hear our prayer and be with us always.

And when you come in your glory:
make us to be one with you and to share the life of your kingdom.
Amen.

Collect for Good Friday

Almighty Father,
look with mercy on this your family
for which our Lord Jesus Christ was content to be betrayed
and given up into the hands of sinners
and to suffer death upon the cross;
who is alive and glorified with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen

The Litany of Penitence

Let us kneel at the foot of the cross in penitence.

We have not loved you with our whole heart, and mind, and strength. 
We have not loved our neighbours as ourselves. 
We have not forgiven others, as we have been forgiven.
Lord, have mercy.

We have been deaf to your call to serve, as Christ served us. 
We have not been true to the mind of Christ. 
We have grieved your Holy Spirit.
Lord, have mercy.

We confess to you, Lord …

all our past unfaithfulness: the pride, hypocrisy, and impatience of our lives,
Lord, have mercy.

Our self-indulgent appetites and ways, and our exploitation of other people,
Lord, have mercy.

Our anger at our own frustration, and our envy of those more fortunate than ourselves,
Lord, have mercy.

Our intemperate love of worldly goods and comforts, and our dishonesty in daily life and work,
Lord, have mercy.

Our negligence in prayer and worship, and our failure to commend the faith that is in us,
Lord, have mercy.

Accept our repentance, Lord …

for the wrongs we have done, 
for our blindness to human need and suffering, 
and our indifference to injustice and cruelty,
Accept our repentance, Lord.

For all false judgments, 
for uncharitable thoughts toward our neighbours, 
and for our prejudice and contempt toward those who differ from us,
Accept our repentance, Lord.

For our waste and pollution of your creation, 
and our lack of concern for those who come after us,
Accept our repentance, Lord.

Restore us, good Lord, and let your anger depart from us;
Favourably hear us, for your mercy is great.

Accomplish in us the work of your salvation,
That we may show your glory in the world.

By the cross and passion of your Son our Lord,
Bring us with all your saints to the joy of his resurrection. Amen.