Lent -- Good Friday -- Service Prayers

Last Word
Service & Prayers for Good Friday

Isaiah 52:13-53:12; Psalm 22;
Hebrews 10:16-25, or Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:7-9; John 18:1-19:42

Call to Worship  

1st  Voice :    “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?”
ALL:          Were you there when they crucified my LORD?

2nd  Voice:    My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?
ALL:          Were you there when they crucified my LORD?

3rd  Voice:    I thirst!  
ALL:          Were you there when they crucified my LORD?

4th  Voice:    Today, you will be with me in paradise!
ALL:        O, sometimes, it causes me to tremble

1st Voice:    tremble

2nd Voice:    tremble

3rd Voice:    tremble!


4th voice:    It is finished!
ALL:          Were you there when they crucified my LORD?

Holy Jesus, we are here.  
We stand beside your cross like Mary your mother,
and the faithful women,     
and John whom you asked Mary to claim,
and we wait for your word to us.     
Claim us.  
You are here.  Speak to us in your ever-speaking voice.  
Speak again through your Holy Spirit.  
For us it is not yet finished.  
We are here.  
You are here.  
Holy Jesus, speak!
Confession (in the form of a dramatic reading)

“Simon” (by Marilyn K. Levine)

I was a proper friend,
having said so myself,
a loyal bearer of the burden,
one who understood
and needed only time
to witness to my honor.
I swore allegiance,
even when I got in over my head
more than once
and needed prompt rescue.

It was all right, I thought,
to go half the distance,
especially when so much good
could come to me
for that meager sacrifice of time
and a little sweet talk.
The miracles were a fascinating
side attraction,
icing on the cake,
a kind of glue to which I stuck.

There would be hard times, but
in a little while, not now.
Small warnings in daytime
are seldom sufficient
for the headstrong in the dark,
so present-bound are they
and hobbled by current events.

In Gethsemane, the night pealed
while I slept
and dreamed of several more miracles
and a little fever of salvation
handed out with the bread and wine.

When the roosts were still,
they came and took my friend away
to chains and other ignominies.
And I shrank within myself
and knew I had no backbone for
this debacle.

How sad, I moaned around the fire:
but still, I never knew that man.
And cockatrice shrilled
across the dark for the first time.

Repenting, I took the burden up
and meant to carry it all the way
to Pilate,
but at the water’s edge,
I paused and lost my center:
Him?  (If this is how it is)
Him I never knew.

Still face to face I came,
like fate,
dragged unwilling by those
who knew my profession
to show cause for my own pardon.
Face to face I had no choice,
with eyes as distant as the sea
and body crouched profanely,
in beggarly ways with oblique gestures,
I admitted what was obviously true:
You, I said,
I never knew you.

Ah, then cockatrice bellowed
while the earth changed underfoot.
My chest froze beneath this cloak
as I slinked away
to bide my time in random thoughts
of yesterday and broken promises.

I was a proper friend, I was:
true to myself
and false to the core.

Confession (Standard version)

Crucified and Sovereign Jesus,
we confess that we have been untrue to you.  
Like Peter, we have denied you,
stood with our neighbors and acted as though we never knew you.  You did not leave us, even when we betrayed your love and sacrifice.  We break our promises, but your word is never broken.  
Forgive us for being weak in the face of adversity and conflict,
for fleeing when the going gets tough,
for forsaking you.  
You must have the last word – and it is “Father, forgive them.”

Words of Assurance    
One:      Our denials of you, HOLY JESUS,
have not been enough to shake your love for each of us,
who like Peter, have forgotten we knew you.  
Thank you for asking us over and over again,
for never ceasing to ask us:  
“Do you love me?”  
We answer,

ALL:     “I love you, LORD,”

One:      and we know in that moment

ALL:    we are forgiven.
Offertory Prayer

Jesus, you have sacrificed all for us.  
You have given up everything – down to your last piece of clothing,
And even life itself --  
To save us and to make us your new creation.  
May your self-emptying be reflected in our giving,
As we strive to follow you in love and sacrifice.  
Indeed, because of your gracious gifts to us,
Everything we have and everything we are
Belongs to you, our rock and our hope.

Suggested Doxology:  O Love that Will Not Let Me Go (Verse 1)  TNCH 485

Offertory Dedication

Precious Jesus, your children offer these gifts in response to your gift of love.  
May their generosity serve you and your church as you would direct.  
May we, like Peter, once a denier, by your grace forever forgiven,
practice your love and feed your sheep.  

Benediction (from the Hymn “Were You There?”)

One:      Were you there when they crucified my LORD?
ALL:     We were there.

One:      Were you there when they nailed him to the tree?    
ALL:   We were there.     

One:      Were you there when they laid him in the tomb?
ALL:    We were there.  

One:      Each time, it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble!
ALL:   We are there.  And the last word is grace.  Amen.

Hymn Suggestions:
Amazing Grace TNCH;

Grace Greater Than Our Sin -- The Hymnal 201;

When I Survey the Wondrous Cross -- TNCH 224;

What Wondrous love is This? -- TNCH 223;

Pues si vivimos -- TNCH 499;

Born of God Eternal Savior  -- TNCH 542;

Rock of Ages  -- TNCH 596;

On a Hill Far Away  -- TNCH 195;

Love Divine, All Loves Excelling  -- TNCH 43; At the Cross --

Zion Still Sings 67;

Calvary -- Zion Still Sings 73-4.  


“Last Word” Service Prayers for Good Friday was written and arranged by The Rev. Marilyn Kennedy Levine, a United Church of Christ pastor, ministering to New Town United Church of Christ and Parshall Memorial Congregational Church on the Fort Berthold Reservation at Lake Sakakawea in northwest North Dakota.


Rev. Susan A. Blain
Minister for Worship, Liturgy and Spiritual Formation
700 Prospect Ave.
Cleveland, Ohio 44115