Good Friday – April 2

Tenebrae: Service of Shadows
Good Friday
April 2, 2021

This service may be very simply adapted for use online.  The pastor may extinguish candles as called for, or may delegate different participants to do so.  Taped music may be played as transitions between the scripture stories.

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

The altar table is bare except for seven taper candles spaced out evenly on the table. After each scripture reading, one candle will be extinguished until the final candle in the center remains lit. When the speaker says, “Jesus is dead. It is finished.” The center candle which represents Christ will be extinguished. As the candles are extinguished throughout the service, the lights of the sanctuary are gradually dimmed as well until there is minimal light in the sanctuary when the minister and congregation depart in silence at the end of the service.

Call to Worship
and it breaks our hearts every time.
For Jesus’ death occurs every time someone
is ignored, mistreated, oppressed.


First of the Shadows                                                       
John 18:1-12           Jesus is Arrested
Extinguish the first candle

Hymn          O Sacred Head, Now Wounded                     The New Century Hymnal  226


Second of the Shadows                                           
John 18:13-18; 25-27 Peter denies Jesus
Extinguish the second candle

A Prayer of Reconciliation for Good Friday
Ever-present God, on this Good Friday night,
our whole world is engulfed in shadows
as we remember the story of Jesus’ death.
We confess that we want to push the fast-forward button on this familiar story
because it hurts so much.
It hurts to think of the betrayal and arrest of Jesus.
It hurts to imagine Jesus abandoned and suffering on the cross
with only a faithful few watching him breathe his last breath.
It hurts to watch your light overtaken by the shadows of the world.

But we must find our place in this crucifixion story and feel the pain that is there:
The pain of the world,
of faithless decisions; of betrayal; of injustice.
Jesus entered that pain out of faithfulness to you and to us,
to witness to the Truth that is Justice, Wholeness and Love.
We confess, we are afraid to enter this pain with Jesus.
Strengthen us with your courage;
offer glimpses of hope in the shadows of death;
let us know you are present with us here in this moment of pain;
now as always.

Assurance of Blessing
Beloved followers of Jesus, it is okay to feel hurt and uncomfortable
as you enter into this story and imagine your place in it.
Know that God meets you in the story,
with comfort as well as challenge; with courage as well as love.


Third of the Shadows                                                     
John 18: 28-38                 Trial of Jesus before Pilate
Extinguish the third candle

Hymn                   What Wondrous Love is This (verses 1-2)                      TNCH 223


Fourth of the Shadows                                        
John   18: 38-19: 16a          Jesus is Condemned to Death   
Extinguish the fourth candle

Hymn           When I Survey the Wondrous Cross (verses 1-3)                       TNCH 224


Fifth of the Shadows                                     
John   19:16b-27              From the Cross, Jesus Calls Forth Beloved Community
Extinguish the fifth candle

Ever Present God,
we are amazed that Jesus, nearing his death,
reached out to comfort and empower those dearest to him.
At the foot of his cross,
he called his mother and his beloved disciple into a new community.
Give us the grace and courage to join them there,
welcoming all who struggle and grieve
into this new covenant of love and grace.

For whom shall we pray,
in our world, our community, our family,
under the shadow of the cross? 
(Invite prayers from the people)     


Sixth of the Shadows                                                      
John 19: 28-30                                 Jesus Dies
Extinguish the sixth candle

3 loud knocks come from the back of the sanctuary to represent the death of Jesus


Special Music    “Were You There?” 


Jesus is dead…It is finished.
Extinguish the seventh candle
Seventh of the Shadows

         John 19: 38-42                 Jesus is Laid in the Tomb

Prayerful Recess
Jesus is laid in the tomb, and his followers leave him to God, in the silence and rest of Sabbath. The minister will lead the congregation out of the sanctuary in silence, except for a reprise of singing “Were You There?” a cappella. 

You are invited to leave into the shadows of this night.

Tenebrae: Service of Shadows, Prayers for Good Friday was written by the Rev. Dr. Ginny Brown Daniel, Conference Minister for Missouri Mid-South, UCC.

Copyright 2021 Justice and Local Church Ministries, Faith INFO 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.