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March 25, 2005 – Good Friday

        Revised Common Lectionary Readings

        Isaiah 52:13–53:12

        Psalm 22

        Hebrews 10:16-25 or Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:7-9

        John 18:1–19:42

Good Friday

*Call to Worship

There is our God,

with arms spread wide in vulnerability,

embracing the whole of our life

in its every deathly reality.

There is the Christ, our God.

Gathered in those outstretched arms

is all that we are in our humanness –

all our failures and guilty secrets,

all our shame and responsibility

for the wounding to death of the innocent

in ourselves and in others.

There is the Christ, our God.

We stand in silent awe

before the power of costly life.

*Prayer of Invocation

On this day, we hardly dare to call you closer,

O Christ.

In our trembling humanity,

we fear that we may have killed you.

It is faith alone that brings our prayer

for your presence among us.

It is trust in your grace, grace which we

have rarely deserved, that emboldens us

to pray that you will come, Christ Jesus,

come to us. Be known among us as we

gather today. Amen.

*Prayer of Confession       

O God, we can never simply stand

and watch the events of Good Friday

as though they are a story

belonging to someone else

in years gone by.

We know with grief

that we are there in your story.

We are present,

bringing with us all that was there long ago.

We, too, betray you

when things become hard or costly.

Silent reflection.

For our every betrayal, forgive us, Jesus Christ.

Forgive us and restore our life this day.

We, too, turn our faces away

from those suffering injustices.

Silent reflection.

For our every participation in injustice,

forgive us, Jesus Christ.

Forgive us and restore our life this day.

We, too, absolve ourselves from responsibility

for the well-being of others.

Silent reflection.

For our every denial of responsibility,

forgive us, Jesus Christ.

Forgive us and restore our life this day.

We, too, are part of the violence and abuse

suffered by the innocent.

Silent reflection.

For our every silence in the face of violence

to others, forgive us, Jesus Christ.

Forgive us and restore our life this day.

Death is dealt in the name of our nations,

O God,

death in war, death through need and starvation,

and death through tyrants of oppression.

Silent reflection.

For all death that is done in our name,

forgive us, Jesus Christ.

 

Forgive us and restore our life this day.

For we bow in grief before your goodness

and pray that you will not do unto us that

which we did to you. Amen.

*Words of Assurance       

Even as he approaches his death,

the Christ cries out into the world

that we are forgiven.

Let us pause in silence

to honor this amazing gift.

A silence is kept.

We are forgiven.

Thanks be to God.

 

*Prayer of Thanksgiving   

Our hearts are almost too full to pray, O God,

overcome by the overwhelming grace

that flows from Jesus Christ.

We can hardly believe that this could be so,

that we are not condemned

as the one who comes in grace,

hangs painfully before us

surrounded by our death.

All we can do is to whisper our gratitude,

and hold still in awe at the majesty of this day.

Receive our thanks, O God, we pray.

Amen.

*Stewardship Thought      

The story of the death of Jesus is, in one sense, not a story of someone choosing death. It is a story of someone choosing to live. Of course, to live with that level of faithfulness to life is often to bring yourself into a deep and dangerous encounter with all the deathliness that lies in human life. It was so as those around Jesus made deathly decisions about their own journey. They chose to betray, to be violent, to deny their relationship with Jesus, to attack and torture, to avoid responsibility, to mock vulnerability, to steal, and finally to kill an innocent person. The truth of Good Friday is that the abundant life of God inevitably comes into encounter with everything that is of death. It stands its ground with arms wide open in vulnerability, choosing to be open to death rather than to give up true life.

*Offertory Sentence                           

Our offering will be received

as we reflect on all that we owe to God

and to others this day.

*Offertory Prayer                                

We can never give as you have given,

but receive all that we bring today

in love for you.

Take our gifts and gather them

into your hopes for the world. Amen.

*Prayer of Intercession      

O God, the Christ who has given everything

for us and for all people,

what more can we ask of you today?

There is nothing that we lack

when we remember your gift of life.

Silent reflection.

In humble faith we simply ask

that your will gather again into your body,

made frail by its incarnate journey here,

all that is vulnerable in us,

and all that struggles of human existence.

 

Hold all our deaths

within your death, O Christ.

Carry into your anguished body

all who feel rejected by life

and by those around them,

that they may be held close to your weeping

and know that someone weeps with them.

Hold all our deaths

within your death, O Christ.

As your wounded side bleeds in distress,

open the eyes of those

who are attacked and destroyed

by the injustices and violence of our life,

that they may see the God

who knows all that they suffer.

Hold all our deaths

within your death, O Christ,

as we wait in fragile hope

for the day of risen life. Amen.

*Commissioning                                 

Go silently from here,

for there are no words that will speak of this moment in the life of God.

*Benediction                                       

Go blessed by the company of God,

who dies rather than leaves us alone.

Go blessed by the faithfulness of Christ,

who chooses life in the face of death,

and go as those who stay with truth,

even as we wait for Easter Day. Amen.

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