Call to Worship: Today we walk with Jesus to Golgotha. We remember the pain that he suffered. We remember the triumph of his death – that didn’t look much like triumph to anyone. And today we remember what it really means to say we are “taking up our cross” and “following Jesus.”
We are going to move together, as we did during Lent, through the words Jesus spoke as he hung on the cross – and we are going to move together through the last hours of Jesus, and with him into the tomb. As we move through each phrase that Jesus spoke from the cross, we will blow out one of our Lenten candles – and we will have a short time of silence. After the seventh word, I will ask you all to blow out your candles, and we will share a longer moment of silence in relative darkness.
Come, let us worship together.
*Opening Song: O The Deep, Deep Love of Jesus – vs 1, 2, 3
Reader 1: Jesus we come – to walk the road with you – to follow you to the cross. We prepare ourselves now to follow your footprints in the dust. To understand how you died. To understand how we die. To understand how you lived. To understand how we should live.
Reader 2: John 18:28-19:18
Reader 3: Luke 23:32-34
Reader 1: You forgave even those who took your hands and feet and drove nails into solid wood. Who, straining, lifted up the cross that held you and dropped it into place. You have forgiven them. When we ask for mercy, we are amazed to find that it has already been extended. You have forgiven us.
1st Candle blown out – short Silence
*Congregational Response: What Wondrous Love Is This – vs1, vs2
Reader 3: Luke 23:35-43
Reader 1: In your darkest hour, you turned to reassure the man beside you – a stranger. You extended eternity to him, even as you died. When we suffer, we find your hand extended to us – we find strength in the life you give us.
2nd Candle blown out – short Silence
*Congregational Response: O Sacred Head Now Wounded – vs. 1, 2
Reader 2: John 19:19-24
Reader 3: John 19:25-27
Reader 1: You turned, in your suffering, to care for those who cared for you. You turned those you loved toward each other, and asked them to give each other the status of family. You have called us your sisters, your brothers.
3rd Candle blown out – short Silence
*Congregational Response: O Sacred Head Now Wounded – vs. 3
Reader 3: John 19:28-29
Reader 1: You were fully human – thirsty as you hung there, in the hot sun. You felt the urgent need of a parched throat and a dry tongue. You have quenched our thirst with your living water.
4th Candle blown out – short Silence
*Congregational Response: You Are My King – vs, ch, vs
Reader 3: Mark 15:33-34
Reader 1: You were abandoned by God, alone in your suffering. You withstood what we could not, and promised to never leave or forsake us.
5th Candle blown out – short Silence
*Congregational Response: How Deep the Father’s Love For Us – vs1
Reader 3: John 19:30
Reader 1: You finished the work you came into the world to complete, at great cost to yourself. At great cost to yourself, you completed, and will complete, the world in which you came to work. At great cost you have completed and will complete your work in us.
6th Candle blown out – short Silence
*Congregational Response: How Deep the Father’s Love For Us – vs2, 3
Reader 3: Luke 23: 44-46
Reader 1: After all. After everything. After the pain, the rejection, the sorrow – you entrusted your spirit to your heavenly father. Although you felt the forsakenness of sin in its fullest, you trusted your father. Now you entrust us to your heavenly Father – sitting at his right hand, and interceding for us. The curtain was torn, our separation from God is ended – in this moment. May we trust. May we learn, in the darkness, the extent of your faithfulness. May we entrust ourselves to you.
In a moment, as I blow out the seventh candle, I will ask you, also, to extinguish the light on your table. We will take a moment together to grieve, and to feel the weight of Christ’s sacrifice, of the Father’s sacrifice. As we sit in silence, and as we sit in the dark, we will also fill our hearts with stillness, as we seek to understand the cross – and as we seek to take up our own cross.
Lord Jesus, we ask that you would teach us to understand this great and terrible mystery. Please accept now our silent worship.
7th Candle blown out – Long Silence
*Congregational Response: Beneath the Cross of Jesus – vs1, 2, 1
Reader 2: John 19:31-42
Benediction: And so we wait. Through the night, through the long, silent Saturday in the tomb. The battle is already won. Jesus has already declared his work finished – but we wait. We wait for the glimmer of dawn in the darkness. For the sliver of hope that lightens despair. We wait for the empty tomb. We wait for Christ to return.
In a moment, we are going to share a meal together. Communion, as it was first celebrated, was the sharing of a meal. Jesus did not sit with his disciples the night of his betrayal and offer them only a bite of bread and a sip of wine – he sat with them around a table that contained a feast. Take a moment before you eat, to bow your head and remember. As you eat this food that many hands have prepared, hold in the back of your mind the words of Christ: “Take and eat. This is my body.” And as you drink, hold in the back of your mind the words of Christ: “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”
And as you wait, as you eat and drink, may the darkness of waiting make the light shine brighter. May the pain you experience intensify your joy. And may your night, gradually, gloriously, give way to morning.