Our Good Friday worship begins with Stations of the Cross at noon, and ends with the Liturgy of Good Friday which begins at 2.00pm.
For the in-between bit, we have an alternative service, a liquid service. This means we don’t sit in pews and listen to meditations and sing hymns, but we wander around, doing things.
This year, we have gone back to the old Good Friday standby of the Seven Words from the Cross, which was the standard fare when I was growing up. There are all sorts of reasons for not doing it this way – particularly the pick and mix approach to Scripture – but that’s what we have done. A change from all the other liquid Good Friday services I have led on so many other themes.
Imagine it: the church hall (which is in the church) is set out with 8 tables. One is for the Introduction, and the 7 others are for each of the 7 Words from the cross.
Each table holds material relating to that particular Word: poems, hymns, prayers, readings from the saints and the wise, bible readings, images, to help people reflect. And each table contains what I call ‘active prayers’ – these are set out below. These are important, as they address the subject in a different way, and I hope will make the ideas more accessible to children and those who don’t care for words.
The idea is that people can wander around from table to table at their own pace, spending as much or as little time with each Word and each activity as they want to.
I have spent a fortnight preparing this, and I wish I had another week. I haven’t done everything I meant to. I was surprised to find that the Word for which I had gathered least material was “Woman, behold your Son …. Behold your mother”.
The active prayers (some are better than others – I was getting desperate at the end):
Father, forgive them. They don’t know what they are doing. (Luke 23:34)
Set up: Artists mannequin, Labels – coloured, pens
Instruction: Forgiveness is really difficult sometimes. You can’t always do it instantly. Sometimes it takes years. Forgiveness is a journey. If there are people who have hurt you, write their name or initials on a white label and hang it on the figure. As you do so, you hang the whole situation onto Jesus on the cross for him to deal with. If you have done things yourself which need to be forgiven, write a brief note on a yellow label – a word will do (e.g. rudeness, aggression, etc) and hang it on to the figure. When you do this, you are putting your own need for forgiveness on to Christ on the cross.
Today you will be with me in paradise (Luke 23:43)
Set up: Invitation cards, craft materials
Paradise is the garden of creation; the place where the tree of life grows.
Imagine what paradise might be like.
Imagine Jesus has invited you there to be with him.
Take one of the invitation cards and write your name in the space.
On the other side, make an image of paradise using the craft materials.
Here is your son. Here is your mother. (John 19:26,27)
Mary and John stood at the foot of the cross and Jesus gave Mary into John’s care, and John into Mary’s care. Read the story. Think about all those in your care. Pray for each one. Think about those who care for you. Thank God for them.
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me. (Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34)
Set up: Table, lining paper, scissors, paste
Look through the newspapers and magazines and find words or phrases that show something of
- How Jesus might have felt when he called out in agony to God on the cross
- the agony of our world today and how Jesus might feel about it
- How you feel when life is agony
Tear or cut out the words and phrases and paste them onto the white paper.
I thirst (John 19:28)
Set up: Water Facts Quiz, Water Aid bucket
Instructions: In our world, lots of people go thirsty. And lots of people suffer because they do not have enough clean water to drink and cook or wash themselves. Water is essential for life. See how much you know about water in our world today. The bucket under the table is for pennies for Water Aid. This money will help Water Aid provide clean safe water for more people in our world.
Set up: Table, bottle of wine, paper cups, sponge, crucifix
Reflection: Jesus said, “I am thirsty”. It was an act of mercy to give him wine in a sponge. His life was pouring away. His dying was an act of mercy for us, God pouring out his love and forgiveness. Pour yourself a little wine and drink it, remembering how Jesus thirsted, and how the shedding of his blood brings us forgiveness.
It is finished (John 19:30)
What have you accomplished? What are you justly proud of?
Which of your achievements would please God?
Could be: relationships, children, caring for others, passion for justice.
Offer them to God. Give thanks to God for his help.
Father, into your hands I commit my spirit (Luke 23:46)
Set up: image of hands, stones
What do you want to commit into God’s hands?
Situations? People? Worries and concerns?
Choose a stone to represent it / her / him and put the stone into God’s hands. God will bear the weight of it.