Good Friday for the prison

I am so late in getting this all organised…

We’re inviting the women to write some responses at each section of the service, which will be used for Holy Saturday with images of Pietas. One of the women, Tomy, is going to sing a song at the end of the service. The rest of the service goes like this:

Gathering

They call today Good Friday
but what could make this day good?

if you have ever believed that love inevitably leads to betrayal
this day says it doesn’t.
if you have ever believed that some people are unlovable, irredeemable
this day says they aren’t.
if you have ever believed that there is a limit to forgiveness
this day says there isn’t.
if you have ever believed you aren’t worth saving
this day says you are.
if you have ever believed that you don’t deserve freedom
this day says you do.
if you have ever believed that fear, anger, hate and despair will always win
this day says it won’t.
this day is good for you.

Welcome to worship

Hymn: O Sacred Head Sore Wounded
Introduction to the worship

1. Jesus before Pilate and Herod
Luke 23:1-12

It seems, even back then, that people wanted Jesus to do things
to satisfy their own desires:
to like the people they liked
to perform miracles on demand
to look after their own interests

But this is a story of how love doesn’t always do as we desire.

And this is a story of how God always takes the path of love.

Extinguish candle
Music: ‘By the rivers of Babylon’, Sinead O’Connor

What is the path of love you need to follow this easter?

2. Jesus is sentenced to death
Luke 23:13-25

It’s easy to condemn the crowd
for wanting Jesus dead,
to criticise their fickleness and stupidity

but if we’re honest
we put love on trial
all the time:

whenever we choose the easy way out
whenever we act selfishly or fearfully
whenever we take the path of least resistance
by denying what is good and holy
its right to live.

But even when our love fails, God’s love doesn’t.
And this is a story of how God always takes the path of love.

Extinguish candle

Music: ‘Out of the depths’ Sinead O’Connor

Where have you denied love the right to live?

3. The crucifixion of Jesus
Luke 23:26-43

Not much about this story makes sense.
Even though we know how it goes,
we still wish it would play out differently
that putting faith in God
might not lead to a cross.

we confess we wish that God were more judgmental towards those we find it hard to forgive
we confess we wish that love didn’t have this kind of cost
we confess we wish that God would simply step in and make everything better
we confess we wish that Jesus would stand up for himself and prove the truth about him.

And we confess that we excuse ourselves by saying ‘we’re only human’,
but this is the day Jesus shows us there is another way to be human.

This story tells us
that Jesus can only ever choose love
and that we are invited to also.

And this is the story of the path that God’s love takes.

Extinguish candle

Music: ‘Hurt’, Jonny Cash

What is the story you need to tell of God’s love?

4. The Death of Jesus
Luke 23:44-49

This is the moment when the darkness comes
there are no more words to say
because none can tell the story
of what has happened.

This is the moment when we have to acknowledge how hard faith is,
how difficult it is to live,
and how much it works against our instinct for self-preservation.

And this is the moment to celebrate the relentlessness of god
that follows love’s path
without failing or faltering
even when it leads to this end.

Music: ‘Outstretched Arms’, sung by Tomy

Blow out candle

What is the story you need to tell of God’s love?

5. Jesus is buried
Luke 23:50-56

Sometimes we have to bury the dead
even when what has died is good
and lovely.

Sometimes we have to let hopes go
even when they are the very best we have known.

Sometimes we have to wrap them with the cloth of regrets and the blessing of our tears

we have to place them in a grave
and roll the stone across

If there is a hope you need to let go,
while the music plays,
come and take a piece of the white fabric
then place it onto the cross.

Music: ‘O God, where are you now?’

Extinguish candle

Hymn: When I survey the wondrous cross

Blessing:
Today is a day when all seems lost
When nothing about Jesus makes sense
unless we see it through the eyes of relentless, unlimited love.

Go with the courage to search out that love,
and to let it take you where it will.

And go in the uneasy and difficult peace of Good Friday

amen.