"This is Good Friday – God’s Friday. Today we bear witness to the life, to the death of Jesus Christ, our Lord. And in his light we see ourselves with new eyes…"
Then these scriptures were read out, and projected over a modern painting of the crucifixion…
Ephesians 1: 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our sins, according to the riches of his grace.
1 Peter 1: 18 You know that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your ancestors, not with perishable things like silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without defect or blemish.
Hebrews 9: 11 … when Christ came as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation), 12 he entered once for all into the Holy Place, not with the blood of goats and calves, but with his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption. 13 For if the blood of goats and bulls, … sanctifies those who have been defiled so that their flesh is purified, 14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to worship the living God!
Ephesians 2: 11 So then, remember that at one time you Gentiles by birth, called “the uncircumcision” by those who are called “the circumcision” … 12 remember that you were at that time without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us. 15 He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, 16 and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it.
Revelation 1: 5b …To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, 6and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
and then this prayer…
Holy, Lord God Almighty. Gather us as a hen gathers her chicks, and teach us your peace. Make our eyes our ears our hearts and minds open today to share in the passion of our Lord Jesus Christ.
ELizabeth then sang the first three verses of "O Sacred Head Sore Wounded," unaccompanied. Like all the readers throughout the service, she remained out of sight, using a microphone from the back seat.
We then watched the "Bitter Journey" slideshow.
After this the ‘Reproaches’ were read aloud and displayed on the screen, again, superimposed on a painting of the crucifixion. We responded to each reproach with the antiphon
Holy God, holy and merciful,
holy and just, have mercy upon us
and this was followed by the "Prayer of Confession" from the New Zealand Prayer Book.
Instead of the usual words of absolution at the end, however, the following was said:
The forgiveness of God is free to all those who enter into the death, and thus the life, of his son, Jesus Christ. In that death we discover the bitter pain, the loss of our separation from our heavenly father. In his life we discover our own lives made new. You are invited to remain here, in the shadow of the cross. God is present also in darkness. Consider the place of this cross, and all that lies beyond, in your own life; then, when you are ready, make your departure beneath the outstretched arms of Jesus Christ our Lord. Do not hurry away. If you need to pause at the foot of the cross, you will not be pushed aside.
In the silence that followed two men took a ladder and nails, and with heavy blows nailed to the wood crimson strips of silk and cotton that hung in tatters from the cross-beam. Then, the readers who had each read one of the ‘Reproaches’ spoke again, reciting the seven sayings from the cross;
1. Father forgive them, for they know not what they do
· 2 Today you will be with me in paradise
· 3 Behold your son: behold your mother
· 4 My God, My God, Why have you forsaken me?
· 5 I thirst
· 6 It is finished
· 7 Into your hands I commit my spirit
At the sixth saying the candle was snuffed. At the seventh the service concluded. We sat awhile in silence, then made our way out, the crimson draperies brushing our faces and bodies as we passed beneath the cross. Several of us stayed in the auditorium, kneeling at the cross or sitting facing it in the back pews which had been turned to face the cross and its grisly clothing.
Finally we left, and at the door we were given a leaflet with a picture of the Pieta on one side and the question "Must it End in Darkness", and on the other the statement:
No! The darkness of Good Friday is swallowed up in the joy of the resurrection, which we will celebrate together on Sunday morning at 10.30, with a service of Holy Communion. Because of the bitterness of Friday, we can come to Sunday knowing that God’s love and truth does not whitewash the evil and sin that we wrestle with constantly – in Jesus Christ he has taken all our sickness and sin into himself on the cross, and has suffered death in our place. For this reason we can celebrate his victory over death on Sunday. Because we are joined to him by his Holy Spirit, His victory becomes ours!
And so concluded our Good Friday service.