Holy Friday – 4/2/21

Holy Friday – 4/2/21

McPherson Church of the Brethren
Holy Friday – Stations of the Cross | Friday, April 2, 2021


The Light of Jesus | Mark 15: 2-15

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.

Those who loved him, those who hated him, those who knew him and those who did not – they all joined in the
chorus to condemn him, shouting, “Crucify!” and a little of the light that had come into the world went out.

Centering Music | “When I Survey” | arr. David Shipps
Deb, Grace & Kaitlyn van Asselt, vocal; Ellen Gilbert, piano

Station I | Jesus is Condemned to Death
Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. And the soldiers wove a crown of thorns and put it on his head
and they dressed him in a purple robe. They kept coming up to him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” and
striking him on the face….So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe.
Pilate said to them, “Here is the man!” John 19:1-3,5  NRSV

As you see the crown with its thorns, imagine it being placed on Jesus’ head.
Consider Jesus’ experience; physically, emotionally and spiritually.

Holy God, Jesus was born of human flesh, just like me. Jesus lived in this world just as I do.
Now I journey into the experience of his death; be with me and guide me each step of the way.

Station II | Jesus Takes up his Cross
They cried out, “Away with him! Away with him! Crucify him!” Pilate asked them, “Shall I crucify your King?”
The chief priests answered, “We have no king but the emperor.”
Then he handed him over to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus; and carrying the cross by himself,
he went out to what is called The Place of the Skull, which in Hebrew is called Golgotha. John 19:15-17 NRSV

Imagine rubbing your hand against the roughness of the wood,
imagine how it felt as it was placed against Jesus.
Consider the weight of the cross, far heavier than the weight of this simple piece of wood.

Merciful God, Jesus carried the cross with humility and an enduring love for humanity.
I pray that I will always be ready and willing to ‘pick up my cross’ and follow in the footsteps of Jesus.

Station III | Jesus Falls the First Time
(kneel, if possible)
Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard
equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in
human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of
death — even death on a cross. Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above
every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the
earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:5-11 NRSV

The creation stories of the Old Testament tell of humanity being formed from the, “dust of the ground”.
Taking the soil in your hand, consider what it was like for Jesus, the son of God, to become human himself.

(as you remain kneeling)
Almighty God, Jesus, in human form, emptied himself and became a servant.
You have elevated the name of Jesus above every name in heaven and on earth.
As I contemplate the death of Jesus, I to, humbly esteem him and pray in his name.

Station IV | Jesus Meets his Afflicted Mother
And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me
blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. His mercy is for those who
fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his mighty arm; he has scattered the proud
in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he
has filled the hungry with good things and sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in
remembrance of his mercy, according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to his descendants forever.” Luke 1:46-55 NRSV

Imagine feeling and smelling the hay in your hand, think about the first time Mary looked upon Jesus’ face in a
stable in Bethlehem. She must have thought back to that moment of birth as she witnessed his death.

Loving God, you chose Mary to be your servant and birth the infant Jesus into the world.
I pray to have a willing spirit, as Mary had,
to do what you have called me to do even though it may be difficult or even painful.

Station V | The Cross is laid on Simon of Cyrene
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. Mark 15:21 NRSV

Then he said to them all,
“If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.”
Luke 9:23 NRSV

Visualize lifting the cross upon which Jesus was put to death. Imagine how heavy it would have been.
Consider the ways in which God may be calling you to take up a ‘cross’ and follow in the footsteps of Jesus.

Jesus, in your passion and death, you have shown me how to live. Help me to understand what it means to
take up my own cross and follow you. Grant me the strength to carry the cross where you want me to go.  Like
Simon of Cyrene, allow me to share in the fellowship of your journey; both your life and death.

Station VI | A Woman Wipes the Face of Jesus
Who has believed what we have heard? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? For he grew up
before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look
at him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by others; a man
of suffering and acquainted with infirmity; and as one from whom others hide their faces.
He was despised, and we held him of no account. Isaiah 53:1-3 NRSV

While he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at the table, a woman came with an
alabaster jar of very costly ointment of nard, she broke open the jar and poured the ointment on his head. . .
But Jesus said, “Let her alone; why do you trouble her? She has performed a good service for me. . . . She has
done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for its burial. Truly, I tell you, wherever the good
news is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in remembrance of her.” Mark 14:3, 6, 8-9 NRSV

“Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.” Matthew 25:45 NRSV

As you see the towel, consider those throughout Jesus’ life who served him with kindness –
the woman at the well, Zacchaeus, the woman who anointed his feet, Mary and Martha.
Imagine the smell of the olive oil. Imagine the soothing oil between your fingers. Such oil might have been
used to anoint Jesus’ head.

Gracious God, every day I encounter Jesus in the faces of those I meet. Help me to see them as you would.
I pray that my heart might be open to all your children, responding to them with love and friendship.

Station VII | Jesus Falls a Second Time
Surely he has born our infirmities and carried our diseases;
yet we accounted him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted.
But he was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the punishment that made us whole, and by his bruises we are healed.
All we, like sheep, have gone astray; we have all turned to our own way,
and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. Isaiah 53:4-6 NRSV

As you hear the gravel rub together,
consider the pressure Jesus endured as he fell down before the angry crowd of people.
They looked upon him as cursed, yet at that very moment he continued to love them and live his life for them.

Gracious Jesus, no matter my iniquities, you continued to love me. Even as you went to your death, you
reminded me, through your actions, that nothing could separate me from the love of God.
I cannot imagine living so completely in the light of the Creator. I can only give you thanks for your life.

Station VIII | Jesus Meets the Women of Jerusalem
A great number of the people followed him, and among them were women who were beating their breasts and
wailing for him. But Jesus turned to them and said,
“Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; but weep for yourselves and for your children.” Luke 23:27-28 NRSV

You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your record? Psalm 56:8 NRSV

This bowl of salt water represents the tears shed the day Jesus died
and the tears shed over the years in response to the story of Jesus’ crucifixion. Imagine the taste of salt water
and consider Jesus’ words that we should weep not for him, but for ourselves.

My heart longs to release its tears.  My soul wishes to cry out.
I pray that my tears may be accepted as a sign of my commitment to live the life and love of Jesus.

Station IX | Jesus Falls a Third Time
Since, then, we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us
hold fast to our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our
weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin.
Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness,
that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in every time of need. Hebrews 4:14-16 NRSV

In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to the one who
was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.
Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered; and having been made perfect,
he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him. Hebrews 5:7-9 NRSV

This large rough rock helps us imagine Jesus as he fell on the cobblestone roads, his hands and knees must
have scraped against rock. Was the pain only physical or was it also emotional? Yet, Jesus walked on.

Compassionate God, I experience no pain that you do not understand. You know what it is to lose your footing
and fall down. You understand the shame that comes with failure. In you I find a friend who has empathy for
me in the hardest moments of my life. Thank you, Jesus, for enabling me to see your love beyond the pain.

Station X | Jesus is Stripped of his Garments
When they came to the place that is called the Skull, they crucified Jesus there with the criminals, one on his
right and one on his left. Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”
And they cast lots to divide his clothing. And the people stood by, watching; but the leaders scoffed at him
saying, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Messiah of God, his Chosen One!” The soldiers also
mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!”
There was also an inscription over him, “This is the King of the Jews.” Luke 23:33-38 NRSV

And 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?” When some of the bystanders heard it, they said, “This man is calling for Elijah.”
At 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.
Matthew 27:46-48 NRSV

This bottle of vinegar and wine has a sharp sour aroma.
Imagine asking for water out of a desperate thirst and receiving this instead.

Gracious God, Jesus committed no crime. No one could make any charge against him.
Yet, he submitted himself to the powers and principalities of the day. I confess that I have fallen short, I have
committed sins of both intention and oversight. I humbly accept your gift of grace.

Station XI | Jesus is Nailed to the Cross
Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him with pain. When you make his life an offering for sin, he shall see his
offspring, and shall prolong his days; through him the will of the Lord shall prosper. Out of his anguish he shall
see light; he shall find satisfaction through his knowledge. The righteous one, my servant, shall make many
righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will allot him a portion with the great, and he shall
divide the spoil with the strong; because he poured out himself to death, and was numbered with the
transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. Isaiah 53:10-12 NRSV

See this nail. Imagine this final part of Jesus’ death.
After humiliation and exhaustion, the criminal was nailed to the wood.

Jesus, you endured punishment and wounds; and yet you loved.
These nails remind me of our world that seems to have more pain and injuries than love and compassion.
Mold me according to your will that I may follow you with my life –
that I may act out of love for others as you have done for me.

Station XII | Jesus Dies on the Cross
It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, while the sun’s
light failed; and the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Then Jesus crying with a loud voice, said,
“Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” Having said this, he breathed his last. Luke 23:44-46  NRSV

In the silence, hands emptied, try to feel the complete self-giving of this moment.
As you sense your own breathing, feel the force of air as Jesus utterly exhaled.
As you feel the beating of your own heart, focus on the impact as his heart stopped.

Blessed Jesus, you died from this life and yet you live.
Allow me to always remember and never forget, the height and width and depth of your love for me.
I pray that I may walk in humility, thankfulness, obedience and trust.

Station XIII | The Body of Jesus is removed from the Cross
Now there was a good and righteous man named Joseph, who though a member of the council, had not
agreed to their plan and action. He came from the Jewish town of Arimathea, and he was waiting expectantly
for the kingdom of God. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then he took it down,
wrapped it in a linen cloth, and laid it in a rock-hewn tomb where no one had ever been laid. It was the day of
Preparation, and the Sabbath was beginning. The women who had come with him from Galilee followed, and
they saw the tomb and how his body was laid. Then they returned, and prepared spices and ointments.
On the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment. Luke 23:50-56 NRSV

The symbol of this time in the story is the cross draped in the shroud. The shroud is lifted and placed over the
cross. Consider how Joseph of Arimathea, a follower of Jesus, must have felt taking Jesus off the cross. The
cloth is removed from the cross. Think about that day. Jesus’ followers must have thought this was the end.

Surprising Creator. Remind me that when I think it is all ended, when there are no more options and there is no
more hope – remind me that you are a God of the unexpected, the  miraculous; a God of love and life. Words
are not enough to express my gratitude. Create in me a thankful and receptive heart.

Station XIV | Jesus is laid in the Tomb
Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?
Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead
by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. Romans 6:3-4 NRSV

Linen is soft and yet a very simple cloth. Imagine Jesus’ body wrapped tight in burial cloth made of linen.
Imagine smelling the incense, imagine the spices the women prepared to anoint his body.
Those who loved Jesus best, at this moment, thought they were saying goodbye forever.
Their hope lay encased in a tomb.

Loving Jesus, you were placed on the bed of death in the darkness of the tomb.
Yet the tomb was borrowed and the spices that were meant to cover your body were never used.
Enter now the tomb of my heart and proclaim the message of new life.

Closing Words
and so – we enter into mourning and silence

Sending Music | “O Savior Blest” | J. S. Bach
Ellen Gilbert, organ