Welcome to the online Good Friday Day of Prayer. We want to encourage you to find a quiet place in your home, car or outside – a place of comfort, putting aside the concerns of the day and preparing yourself to meet with God as you contemplate the story of Good Friday.
We call it Good Friday, but the story we read today isn’t a happy one. There are songs and hymns to sing, but they aren’t joyful, and we don’t have the urge to clap our hands. It is the story of Jesus’ last hours, and the story of perhaps his most human time on earth.
On that Friday, the human Jesus suffered the worst humankind can suffer – ridicule, physical pain, rejection, hateful vilification, social rejection, and the worst of all, that last moment on the cross when he cried out against feeling lost and forsaken, and then death itself.
We are here today to meet with God in prayer and take into ourselves the story of that Friday and follow it through to the end, to the part that only Jesus will ever know – the moment when he became the bearer of all our sins.
God of unconditional sacrificial love, we struggle to fully grasp the significance of this Friday that we have come to call “good.” We call this Friday good, but it is the day on which Jesus was crucified and died. We call this Friday good, but it is a day on which we are reminded of how we fall short of who you call us to be. We call this Friday good, but wonder how that can really be. Yet we know, loving God, that even in the midst of Lent we are Easter people. We can call this Friday good because we know how the story ends. Let us not, however, be too quick to jump to Easter and to miss the significance of this day. Let us not be too quick to celebrate the good news of the resurrection that we forget to acknowledge the realities of pain and suffering and death in our world. We pray to you today, gracious God, for all of those who are hurting and struggling in our families, in our community of faith and around the world. We have great hope, that by your love all who hurt might find healing and that all who struggle might find peace. And we have this hope, because of who you are, because of your son Jesus, and because of what happens on this Friday we call good. AMEN.
As you examine Jesus' suffering on Good Friday, you may see a place where his suffering mirrors your own, or that of someone near to you. If you do, stop and invite the Holy Spirit to come and help you join with Jesus in that suffering and know that you are not alone, and that the end of the story of Good Friday can be the beginning of your story of hope and healing.
Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, "Sit here while I go over there and pray…" Then he said to them, "I am deeply grieved, even to death…" and going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed, "My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me, yet not what I want but what you want.” -Matthew 26:39
Jesus knows grief, and fear, and dread. Do you have grief, fear and/or dread to share with Jesus?
Now the Betrayer (Judas) had given them a sign, saying "The one I will kiss is the man, arrest him.” At once he came up to Jesus and said, "Greetings, Rabbi!" and kissed him. Jesus said to him, "Friend do what you are here to do." Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and arrested him. -Matthew 26:48-50
Now the chief of priests and the elders persuaded the crowds to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus killed. The governor again said to them "Which of the two do you want me to release to you?" and they said, "Barabas." Pilate said to them, "Then what should I do with Jesus who is called the Messiah?" All of them said, "Let him be crucified." Then he asked, "Why, what evil has he done?" and they shouted all the more, "Let him be crucified." -Matthew 27:21-23
Jesus knew what it was like to be rejected, even by people you thought were your friends. He knew what it was like to literally have the whole world turn against you. Knowing he will understand, what feelings of betrayal or rejection can you share with Jesus?
Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor’s headquarters…They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him and after twisting some thorns into a crown, they put it on his head. They put a reed in his right hand and…mocked him…They spat on him and took the reed and struck him on the head. After mocking him and beating him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him. -Matthew 27:28-31
Jesus suffered physical and emotional abuse at the hands of the soldiers who not only beat him and whipped him, but stripped him, and mocked him throughout the beating. If you have suffered emotional or physical abuse, does this make it easier to share your experience with Jesus and ask for healing? Take your story to him in prayer.
The soldiers brought Jesus to Golgotha. They offered him wine mixed with myrrh (a mild painkiller), but he wouldn’t take it. And they nailed him to the cross…They nailed him up at 9 o’clock in the morning…. at noon the sky became extremely dark. The darkness lasted 3 hours. -Mark 15:25, 34
Many experts have written about the unbearable pain of this horrific way of execution. Already beaten and bleeding, Jesus then spent hours hanging on the cross. If pain is a constant part of your life, you can speak the truth about it to Jesus, and know that he understands.
At three o’clock, Jesus groaned out of the depths, crying loudly… "My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?" -Mark 15.34 The Message
One author spoke of this as “…that awful thing which Christ touched in that last moment on the cross: the dark night of the spirit.”* Have you experienced that moment when all seems dark and God seems very far away? Tell God about that experience, even if you are in the midst of it now, knowing that Jesus felt this pain, also.
Jesus said, "It is finished." Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. John 19:30
We will all face death, and we will all face the death of someone near and dear to us. Death is mysterious and frightening, but we see here that Jesus experienced that, too and so we know we can share our fears and grief with him, knowing he understands.
What Wondrous Love is This?
What wondrous love is this, O my soul, O my soul
what wondrous love is this, O my soul!
What wondrous love is this that
caused the Lord of bliss to bear the dreadful curse for my soul,
for my soul, to bear the dreadful curse for my soul.
United Methodist Hymnal #292
There is one aspect of the cross that none of us will ever know – praise God! We will never know what it means to be the sin-bearer. Jesus alone experienced that. He experienced the one thing that none of us should have escaped and the one thing which Jesus need never have known. He became the sin-bearer and thereby took suffering that was truly yours and mine.
*excerpted from Celtic Daily Prayer©2002
We have beautiful outdoor prayer walks available at our Leawood and West (Olathe) locations, and we encourage you to stroll through these sacred spaces. Each stop on the prayer walks has guided prayers available, or you may want to simply reflect on the past year in anticipation of the new day that is coming.
13720 Roe Ave.
Leawood, KS 66224
24000 W. Valley Pkwy
Olathe, KS 66061
1601 Grand Blvd.
Kansas City, MO 64108
601 NE Jefferson St.
Blue Springs, MO 64014
8412 W. 95th St.
Overland Park, KS 66212
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