Lent -- Good Friday

See! Now Is the Acceptable Time!
Part II: Good Friday noon prayer service

            This service is planned as an approximately half-hour-long prayer service for noontime, assuming that most people are not able to extend their lunch hour or take off the afternoon from work, as once was the case.

Setting the Scene

            A bare altar/communion table is traditionally appropriate for a Good Friday service.  You may wish to cover the table with a simple fabric and plain cross to create a striking visual statement.

 

Call to Worship

            Leader: The Lord be with you.

            All:      And also with you.

 

            Gather the people by asking them, “What is Good Friday and why are

            we gathered here?” 

            It is a day of contradictions, to be sure. 

            Now is the “acceptable time” of which Paul spoke on

            Ash Wednesday (2 Corinthians 6:2).

            We are always dying and rising to new life, but especially on this day. 

            We are all the actors in this story: the people shouting “Crucify him!”

            and the women who stand vigil at the foot of the cross,

            the soldiers who cast lots for his tunic

            and Joseph of Arimathea who gave his own tomb for Jesus’ burial.        

            Today we lament the pain of this world and we face our complicity

            in that pain;  

            We seek to be witnesses to--and participants in--God’s power

            over the evil of this world.

            Now is the acceptable time – the time when Christ’s death sets us free

            to choose life. 

 

Hymn                                   Beneath the Cross of Jesus                                        TNCH 190

 

Lament      based on Psalm 22:1-21a

 

Leader: My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far away?

            I cry out to you by day, but you do not answer;

            and at night, I find no rest.

            I am scorned and despised, all who see me mock me and shake their heads.

 

People: My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

 

            Our ancestors trusted in you, cried out to you, and you delivered them. 

            They enthroned you with praise.

 

            My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

 

            Yet you took me from the womb, and from my birth you have been my God. 

            Do not be far from me, for trouble is near. 

            My troubles surround me like lions ready to pounce.

 

            My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

            I am poured out like water, and all my bones are dust; my heart is like wax,

           melting inside; my tongue is dry and I cannot speak; my limbs are nothing,

           and my ribs are bare.

 

            My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

 

            My enemies encircle me; they stare and gloat;

            they divide my clothes among themselves, and for my clothing they cast lots.

 

            My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

 

            But you, O Savior, do not be far away! 

 

            O my Help, come quickly to deliver me!

 

 

Proclamation of the Word

 

Scripture: John 18:1-19:42 

Read some or all of the Passion scripture.  It is a long piece, so you may wish

to have several readers share it.            

If your congregation is comfortable with liturgical drama, you may find a

dramatic reading very powerful.           

There are several readings available online, or you could use the script provided in

The New Handbook of the Christian Year;

Hoyt L. Hickman et al; Nashville, Abingdon Press; 1986/1992 p.181


Meditations at the Cross

 

Remind your congregation again that they are a part of the story of Good Friday,

and invite them to imagine themselves at the foot of the cross. 

Which part do they each play? 

Which part does the whole Church play?    

How might this be the “acceptable time” in each person’s life,

or in the life of the Church? 

What are we "accepting,” and/or what are we hoping will be “acceptable?”

           

Prayers of Confession and Intercession for the Affliction of the World

This prayer is meant to be customized for the community in which your

congregation is situated. For example, the neighborhood or street where

your community’s homeless population is most visible?  Name that

neighborhood or street.  If you have a particular relationship with a

congregation in a developing country, name that congregation. 

Invite your congregation to add their own voices in a “popcorn” prayer to         

after each intercession.

 

       Between after each refrain of How have we forsaken you, O God?”

      insert an appropriate-length moment of silence.

 

       Leader:  How have we forsaken you, O God? 

                   Where there is suffering, we turn our eyes. 

                   Where there is exclusion, we turn our backs. 

                   Where there is need, we turn our hearts. 

                   And yet, we know that you are among the injured,

                   and the lonely, and the hungry, and the poor.

 

 

       People: How have we forsaken you, O God?                        Silence

 

                   For the people of countries who have experienced distress, Holy One,

                   we pray: Haiti, Chile, Japan, etc.

 

                   How have we forsaken you, O God?                        Silence

 

                   For those whose lives are torn apart by war, the civilians

                   and the soldiers and the families who are waiting for loved ones

                   to come home, Holy One, we pray: people of

                   Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, American and

                   international military personnel,

                   Mexican drug cartel victims, Sudanese and Congolese

                   and Rwandan and Eritrean refugees, etc.

 

                   How have we forsaken you, O God?                        Silence

 

                   For those whose stomachs ache with hunger, Holy One, we pray:

                   refugee communities without food, children whose only

                   meal is school lunch, etc.

 

                  How have we forsaken you, O God?                        Silence

 

                   For those whose bodies have no shelter from the elements, Holy One,

                   we pray:

                   people living in tent cities in Haiti, the homeless sleeping under bridges,

                   stray and abandoned animals, etc.

 

                   How have we forsaken you, O God?                        Silence

 

                   For those who are imprisoned, justly or unjustly, Holy One, we pray:

                   prisoners of war, residents of Guantanamo Bay,

                   inmates in the local prison, people awaiting sentencing, people on                                   

                   death row, those who cannot be released even though

                   their time has been served, etc.,

 

                   How have we forsaken you, O God?                        Silence

 

 

                   For those whose minds or spirits seek comfort and cannot find it, Holy One,

                   we pray: those who are grieving, in transition, mentally ill, jobless, etc.,

 

                   How have we forsaken you, O God?                        Silence

 

Leader:        Now is the acceptable time!                 

                   Help us to be your hands, Holy One,

 

People:        reaching out to heal the hurting of this world. 

 

                   Help us to be your ears, Holy One,

 

                   hearing and understanding to the cries for justice and mercy. 

 

                   Help us to be your arms, Holy One,

 

                   embracing the sorrow and offering comfort. 

 

                   Help us to be your feet, Holy One,

 

                   walking with those who suffer and guiding the journey toward peace. 

 

                   Let us not forsake you any longer, O God.

 

                   Now is the acceptable time!

 

 

Hymn                  What Wondrous Love Is This                                          TNCH 223

 

Words of Hope  based on Psalm 22:21b-31

 

Leader:        The Righteous One has not hidden from us,

                   but has heard our cries and come to our aid.

 

People:        You who stand in awe of our God, shout for joy!

 

                   Our Rescuer saves us from mouth of the lion and the horns of the wild oxen.

 

                   You who stand in awe of our God, sing praises!

 

                   The poor shall eat and be satisfied; those who seek comfort shall find it.

 

                   You who stand in awe of our God, tell of God’s goodness!

 

                   The ends of the earth, the families of nations, will worship our Deliverer.

 

                   You who stand in awe of our God, bow down and rise up!

 

                   Proclaim deliverance to all generations, saying that God has done this!

 

                   Thanks be to God!

 

 

 


 

See! Now is the Acceptable Time: Part II: Good Friday Noon Prayer Service was written by the Rev. Mary Nelson Abbott , Pastor of Malletts Bay Congregational Church UCC in Colchester, VT, and the Treasurer of the 2030 Clergy Network.

Copyright 2010 Local Church Ministries, Congregational Vitality and Discipleship Ministry Team, United Church of Christ, 700 Prospect Avenue, Cleveland, OH  44115-1100.  Permission granted to reproduce or adapt this material for use in services of worship or church education.  All publishing rights reserved. 

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CONTACT INFO

Rev. Susan A. Blain
Minister for Worship, Liturgy and Spiritual Formation
700 Prospect Ave.
Cleveland,Ohio 44115
216-736-3869
blains@ucc.org