Good Friday Meditation 

We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you;
by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world.
God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong.
We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you.
We preach Christ crucified,
the power of God and the wisdom of God.
By your holy cross, you have redeemed the world.
God forbid that I should glory,
save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.
We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you;
by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world.

Hymn: When I survey the wondrous Cross 

Lord Jesus Christ
Son of the Living God
We confess that like your first disciples we have failed you
We ask for your mercy and seek your help
We have run away 
when we should have stayed
Lord forgive us
Christ have mercy
We have blamed others 
and excused ourselves
Christ forgive us
Lord have mercy
We have stored up treasure on earth 
and ignored the treasure of your way
Lord forgive us
Christ have mercy.
The Collect for Good Friday:
Eternal God, in the cross of Jesus
we see the cost of our sin,
and the depth of your love:
in humble hope and fear may we place at his feet
all that we have and all that we are,
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Mockery: Matthew 27:27-31
Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor’s headquarters, and they gathered the whole cohort around him. 28They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, 29and after twisting some thorns into a crown, they put it on his head. They put a reed in his right hand and knelt before him and mocked him, saying, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’ 30They spat on him, and took the reed and struck him on the head. 31After mocking him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.

Psalm 22.11–16
Do not be far from me, 
    for trouble is near and there is no one to help.

Many bulls surround me; strong bulls of Bashan encircle me.
Roaring lions tearing their prey open their mouths wide against me.
I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. 
My heart has turned to wax; it has melted away within me.

My strength is dried up like a potsherd, 
    and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; 
    you lay me in the dust of death.

Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, 
   they have pierced my hands and my feet

Crucifixion: Matthew 27:32-44
32 As they went out, they came upon a man from Cyrene named Simon; they compelled this man to carry his cross. 33And when they came to a place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull), 34they offered him wine to drink, mixed with gall; but when he tasted it, he would not drink it. 35And when they had crucified him, they divided his clothes among themselves by casting lots;36then they sat down there and kept watch over him. 37Over his head they put the charge against him, which read, ‘This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.’
38 Then two bandits were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left.39Those who passed by derided him, shaking their heads 40and saying, ‘You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.’ 41In the same way the chief priests also, along with the scribes and elders, were mocking him, saying, 42‘He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down from the cross now, and we will believe in him. 43He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he wants to; for he said, “I am God’s Son.” ’ 44The bandits who were crucified with him also taunted him in the same way.

The Approach of Death: Matthew 27:45-50

Psalm 88.3–6
For my soul is full of trouble and my life draws near the grave.
I am counted among those who go down to the pit; 
    I am like a man without strength.

I am set apart with the dead, like the slain who lie in the grave, 
    whom you remember no more, who are cut off from your care.

You have put me in the lowest pit, in the darkest depths.
45 From noon on, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon.46And about three o’clock Jesus cried with a loud voice, ‘Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?’ that is, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ 47When some of the bystanders heard it, they said, ‘This man is calling for Elijah.’ 48At once one of them ran and got a sponge, filled it with sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink. 49But the others said, ‘Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him.’50Then Jesus cried again with a loud voice and breathed his last.

Reflection: Losses, Darkness and Silence
As I re-read the whole of Matthew’s account of the passion this  Holy Week there have been several verses which have stood out for me.  Firstly Jesus, at supper with his friends, sharing bread and wine with them says ‘I will never again, drink of the fruit of this vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s Kingdom’

There is a hint of the promise of renewal and celebration to come, but there is also a leave-taking, an anticipated departure. Celebration overshadowed by the prospect of loss. The disciples have been following the time-honoured and precious rituals of the Passover, that give shape and meaning to their faith and their lives.  But this will take on a new meaning when seen through the lens of the crucifixion. First though, the loss that has to be borne…  

Later on, at prayer in Gethsemane, with the darkness closing in around him, Jesus tells his disciples ‘I am deeply grieved even to death, remain here and stay awake with me’. He needs to know the companionship and support of his friends, but this is a grief that he bears alone: his friends fall asleep, exhausted and disturbed, overwhelmed and fearful.  Has that been our experience during these past weeks when everything familiar and known to us has been thrown up in the air?

And then ‘let this cup pass from me’.  Jesus feels the weight of all that is to come, and yet knows that he has to walk this path of suffering.  And so comes that act of surrender, ‘yet not my will’ – another kind of letting go. He becomes a figure that has things done to him, no longer in charge of events. This involves a letting go of whatever plans and dreams he might have had, whatever path he could have chosen.  
So much that has to be let go of… What are we being asked to let go of this week?

At the moment of his arrest, ‘all the disciples deserted him and fled’.  How often are we tempted to abandon our path of discipleship when it gets hard.  The pain of desertion – isolation – aloneness is perhaps the greatest psychological pain there is – is there no solidarity in the midst of suffering?  We pass by on the other side – we fear contamination, not from the coronavirus necessarily, but from the uncomfortable realization that suffering, mortality, questions of meaning, feelings of abandonment, are ones which assault us all.  We crave easy answers. And sometimes there are none.

In Matthew’s account Jesus utters very few words from the cross.  There is the physical darkness which engulfs the scene, and Jesus in from his place of pain cries out that eternal ‘why?’.   ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’  At the point of death there are no further words, no shout of triumph, just a wordless cry as he gives up his spirit.

And then, I imagine a profound silence….even the birds stop singing.  
Everything stops.  
No words.

What do we do with the stark facts of suffering and death….?

Are we prepared to face the fact, ‘that there are some aspects of living and dying that are truly appalling for some people?’ (Joanna Cullicot).  Do we rush to find words to construct some kind of meaning as Job’s so-called comforters did, or are we prepared to sit and wait, in the silence? And this is not an act of faithlessness; no: the cry from Jesus’ lips is a prayer of lament rooted in the Scriptures.
If we are not prepared to sit and endure the darkness, as Jesus did, how can we begin to offer hope?  Sometimes we need simply to recognize the silence and wait.  
In the face of death and bereavement, there are no words….

Burial:  Matthew 27: 57-61
57 When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who was also a disciple of Jesus. 58He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus; then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. 59So Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth 60and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn in the rock. He then rolled a great stone to the door of the tomb and went away. 61Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb.

Dear Lord, you gave up alyou had,
that I might gain alyou lost,
you emptied yourselfthat I might be full,
you entered into darkness, that I could be surrounded by light
you became weak, that I could become strong, 
You entered into death,that I might enter intlife.
Lord, intyour hands I commend my spirittoday, and every dayAmen
Suzanne Pattle, 08/04/2020