Good Friday liturgy for the prisons

These are just some random bits from the good friday stuff. It basically follows John’s telling of the story, with short reflections between the bible readings. The reflections are below, the full liturgy can be downloaded here: goodfridayprison.pdf

[the recorded music includes Johnny Cash’s “Hurt”, and Sufjan Stevens “O God, where are you now”, with Gorecki’s symphony no. 3 being played at the beginning and end]

Reflection 1:

What makes 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 unloveable, 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 they won’t.
And this day is good for you.

Reflection 2: [after reading John 19:1-16a]

I wonder, Jesus, what it took for you not to back down.
You could have changed your mind at any time, answered the questions differently. Pilate wanted you to go free. The judge was on your side. Were you mad?

But it seems you knew that to deny who you were in front of Pilate would mean turning your back on all those who discovered freedom and wholeness through the way you had lived your life.

It would destroy all the love they had encountered.

So you knew you had no choice.

We confess now that we choose differently…

For every time we have chosen not to love
forgive us

For every time we have chosen not to do what is just
forgive us

For every time we have betrayed another because it would be dangerous not to
forgive us

For every time we have turned our back on what is right
forgive us

For every time we have not trusted the completeness of your love
forgive us

Turn us around so that we face the cross alongside you –
choosing only love
in the face of every option.

Reflection 3: [after reading John 19:16b – 30]

Whenever injustice wins
you are crucified again
Whenever the truth is betrayed
you are crucified again
Whenever fear overwhelms hope
you are crucified again
Whenever peace is overturned by hate
you are crucified again
Whenever love is not our choice
you are crucified again

Reflection 4: [after reading John 19:31-37]

The story continues. Jesus was wrapped in burial clothes and laid in a tomb. The creeds tell us he descended into hell.

One of the hardest parts of our faith is to believe that Jesus descends into the hell of our lives.

If you would like, write the story of your hell onto the fabric [card]. No-one else will be able to read it, but know that Jesus is your company in it.

[Play: Sufjan Stevens, ‘O God Where Are you Now?’ as this happens]

ending out

We leave here in the darkness.
people tell us rumours of light,
of resurrection,
of a new day
but it seems too hard to believe them:

they cannot know the death and hell we know.

we wonder what can be resurrected from this.

We leave here waiting, confident only in the company of Jesus, in our lives, our fear, our hell and our hope.

Go in the uneasy peace of this Good Friday.


  1. Pip

    Wish I could be there.

    Btw I printed off and have been carring with me the text starting “These are the things we have faith in, even though we often doubt them” …Thanks for continuing to speak words of hope over and over and over.


  2. Cheryl

    thanks pip. i often think i write them to try and convince myself. sometimes it even works!

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