Friday, April 02, 2021

Good Friday 2021


There are some stories which are better left to speak for themselves. The story of Jesus' crucifixion is one of those. Our attempts to explain it, to understand the "whys and wherefores" are usually doomed to failure. An innocent man, who has spent all his life loving others, is killed for it. He is in the way, inconvenient, troublesome to those who would prefer to keep the status quo. And yet, there is something about love which is indestructible...

Read the story of Jesus' trial and crucifixion, pausing to listen to the music, so you can ponder as you read.

Mark 15.1-41

As soon as it was morning, the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council. They bound Jesus, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate. Pilate asked him, ‘Are you the King of the Jews?’ He answered him, ‘You say so.’ Then the chief priests accused him of many things. Pilate asked him again, ‘Have you no answer? See how many charges they bring against you.’ But Jesus made no further reply, so that Pilate was amazed.

Now at the festival he used to release a prisoner for them, anyone for whom they asked. Now a man called Barabbas was in prison with the rebels who had committed murder during the insurrection. So the crowd came and began to ask Pilate to do for them according to his custom. Then he answered them, ‘Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?’ For he realized that it was out of jealousy that the chief priests had handed him over. But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release Barabbas for them instead. Pilate spoke to them again, ‘Then what do you wish me to do with the man you call the King of the Jews?’ They shouted back, ‘Crucify him!’ Pilate asked them, ‘Why, what evil has he done?’ But they shouted all the more, ‘Crucify him!’ So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released Barabbas for them; and after flogging Jesus, he handed him over to be crucified.

Then the soldiers led him into the courtyard of the palace (that is, the governor’s headquarters); and they called together the whole cohort. And they clothed him in a purple cloak; and after twisting some thorns into a crown, they put it on him. And they began saluting him, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’ They struck his head with a reed, spat upon him, and knelt down in homage to him. After mocking him, they stripped him of the purple cloak and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him.

The Passion Chorale, from Bach's Matthew Passion, "O Sacred Head, sore wounded"
Philipp Herreweghe, conductor, Collegium Vocale Gent

They compelled a passer-by, who was coming in from the country, to carry his cross; it was Simon of Cyrene, the father of Alexander and Rufus. Then they brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means the place of a skull). And they offered him wine mixed with myrrh; but he did not take it. And they crucified him, and divided his clothes among them, casting lots to decide what each should take.

It was nine o’clock in the morning when they crucified him. The inscription of the charge against him read, ‘The King of the Jews.’ And with him they crucified two bandits, one on his right and one on his left. Those who passed by derided him, shaking their heads and saying, ‘Aha! You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself, and come down from the cross!’ In 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. Let 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.

When it was noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. At three o’clock Jesus cried out with a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?’ which means, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ When some of the bystanders heard it, they said, ‘Listen, he is calling for Elijah.’ And someone ran, filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink, saying, ‘Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down.’ Then Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. Now when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, ‘Truly this man was God’s Son!’

There were also women looking on from a distance; among them were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome. These used to follow him and provided for him when he was in Galilee; and there were many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem.

Kol Nidrei by Max Bruch
Kol Nidrei is a Jewish prayer, spoken on the Day of Atonement, asking for forgiveness for all people. At the end of the prayer come the words "And the Lord said: I have pardoned, according to your words."

Questions to ponder

  • As you read the story, which parts of it struck you most this year?
  • Who do you identify with most in the story? 
  • If you could say anything to Jesus, or to the other people in the story, what would you want to say, or to ask? 

Join us tonight for our podcast service of Compline
There will also be a service at 2.30pm in church , and a service of Compline at 8pm. 

At the end of the podcast there's a "bonus track" today, a recording of "Were you there when they crucified my Lord?" sung by Martin Clews.


Messy Church have produced a pdf with ideas for Good Friday at home. Check it out here.

There are lots of crosses to make or colour on today's Pinterest board.

If you have made an Easter Garden, put the figure of Jesus into the tomb, and talk about his friends (and his enemies!) might have felt. If you haven't made an Easter Garden, why not make one now? You can make it out of soil and plants, with a flowerpot, jar or rocks as a tomb, or you could junk model a garden, or you could make one out of Lego. Take a picture of it and send it to me, if you like (without children in it) and I will put it on our blog and social media.

Jess Heeb found these lovely ideas for talking about hot cross buns, if you can get or make some! Thank you, Jess for sharing it, and the churches of Natland, Old Hutton and New Hutton, who wrote it.

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