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Good Friday

The Celebration of Christ’s Passion

This service, which is normally celebrated in the afternoon, is a continuation of the Maundy Thursday liturgy and hence begins in silence as the night before ended in silence.

Traditionally the holy table is completely bare until covered by a clean white cloth for the Ministry of the Sacrament. All hangings are removed.

This service normally consists of four parts:

1. The Ministry of the Word, with a focus on the Passion.

2. The Solemn Intercession.

3. The Meditation on the Cross of Jesus.

4. The Ministry of the Sacrament.

An alternative order could be 1,3,2,4 following the Ambrosian rite (which however had no communion).

Communion or not?

Having no communion on Good Friday is the most ancient tradition. In the early church, receiving communion would have been regarded as breaking the fast that lasted from Good Friday until the Easter Eucharist.  Among the Orthodox, during Lent the Eucharist is celebrated on Saturdays, Sundays, and feast days. On other days the liturgy of the presanctified is celebrated (this is akin to receiving from the reserved Sacrament), but not on Good Friday, unless this falls on March 25, the feast of the Annunciation.

From the time of the seventh century, the custom developed in the West of receiving communion (both bread and wine) from the Sacrament reserved after the Maundy Thursday Eucharist.

Celebrating the Eucharist on Good Friday forms a third possibility. This follows the insight that the Eucharist is particularly a celebration and proclamation of Christ’s death (1 Corinthians 11:26).

Liturgical colour: Red.

The Ministry of the Word

The service is normally without instrumental music except if needed to accompany congregational singing. The ministers enter in silence. All kneel for silent prayer. When all are standing the presider may greet the people with the following:

Blessed be our God, for ever and ever.
Amen.

Let us pray.

Silence

Holy and everliving God,
look graciously on this your family
for which our Saviour Jesus Christ
was willing to be betrayed,
and to suffer death upon the cross;
and grant us to grow
into the fullness of new life in Christ
who now is alive and glorified
with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.

The Readings.

Isaiah 52:13-53:12

Psalm 22:1-18

Refrain (after every two verses): My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

Hebrews 10:16-25

or Hebrews 4:14-16;5:7-9

The Passion Gospel is announced in the following manner.

The Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ according to John.

The customary Gospel responses are omitted at the reading of the Passion.

John 18:1-19:42

Roles may be assigned to different people and the congregation. The congregation may be seated until the verse which mentions the arrival at Golgotha (John 19:17) at which time all stand. A moment of silence is appropriately kept at Christ’s death (after John 19:30).

The term “the Jews” in St. John’s Gospel whilst generally at that time a title for Judeans, applies in this context to particular individuals rather than the whole Jewish people. Insofar as we ourselves turn against Christ, we are responsible for his death.

The Sermon

The Solemn Intercession

The biddings which follow may be adapted as appropriate. The people may be directed to stand or kneel. The biddings may be read by a deacon or other person appointed. The presider says the collects. After each time of silence there may be a versicle and response such as, God of love grant our prayer.

Let us pray for the one holy catholic and apostolic Church of Christ throughout the world:

for its unity in witness and service,
for all bishops and other ministers
and the people whom they serve,
for N our bishop, and all the people of this diocese,
for all Christians in this community,
for those about to be baptised (particularly…),
that God will confirm the Church in faith, increase it in love, and preserve it in peace.

Silence

Faithful and compassionate God,
your Spirit guides the Church and makes it holy;
hear the prayers we offer,
that in the particular ministry
to which you have called us,
we may serve you faithfully,
through Jesus Christ our Saviour. Amen.

Let us pray for all nations and peoples of the earth,
and for those in authority among them:
for N the Prime Minister
and for the government of this country,
for N our mayor
and those who serve with him/her on the council,
for all who serve the common good,
that by God’s help they may seek justice and truth,
that all might live in peace and harmony.

Silence

Faithful and compassionate God,
kindle, we pray, in every heart
the true love of peace,
and guide with your wisdom those in authority,
that justice, peace, and freedom may increase,
until the earth is filled with the knowledge of your love;
through Jesus Christ our Saviour. Amen.

Let us pray for all who suffer:
for the hungry and the homeless,
the deprived and the oppressed,
for the sick, the wounded, and the handicapped,
for those in loneliness and in fear,
for those in confusion, doubt, and despair,
for the sorrowful and bereaved,
for prisoners,
and all at the point of death,
that God’s love will comfort and sustain them, and that we may be stirred up to minister to them.

Silence

Faithful and compassionate God,
the comfort of all who sorrow,
the strength of all who suffer,
hear the cry of all who call on you in any trouble,
grant them the joy
of receiving your help in their need,
and give us, we pray, the strength to serve them,
through Jesus Christ our Saviour. Amen.

Let us pray for all who do not believe the gospel of Christ:
for those who have never heard the message of
salvation,
for those who have lost their faith,
for those who are indifferent to Christ,
for those who actively oppose Christ by word or deed,
and persecute Christ’s disciples,
for those who in the name of Christ have persecuted others,
that God will open their hearts to the truth, and lead them to faith and obedience.

Silence

Faithful and compassionate God,
you create and love all the peoples of the earth;
may your good news be so lived and proclaimed,
that all are brought home to your presence,
through Jesus Christ our Saviour. Amen.

Let us commit ourselves to God,
and pray for the grace of a holy life,
that with all who have died in the peace of Christ,
and with those whose faith is known to God alone,
we may enter the fullness of life
in the joy of Christ’s resurrection.

Silence

God, our refuge and strength,
accept the fervent prayers of your people,
and bring to fulfilment your plan for all creation,
through Jesus Christ your First?]born,
who is alive with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.

The service may be concluded here with the singing of a hymn, the Lord’s Prayer, and the concluding prayer below.

The Meditation on the Cross of Jesus

If desired, a wooden cross may now be brought into the church and placed in the sight of the people. The following may be sung or said (three times if desired):

Behold the cross,
on which hung the Saviour of the world.
Come let us worship.

Appropriate devotions may follow, which may include suitable hymns, anthems, and the following:

My people, what wrong have I done to you?
How have I offended you? Answer me!
Through baptism, I led you from slavery to freedom,
but you lead your Saviour to the cross.

Holy God, holy and merciful,
holy and just, have mercy upon us.

I led you through the wilderness.
I fed you with the bread of life,
the manna from heaven,
but you lead your Saviour to the cross.

Holy God, holy and merciful,
holy and just, have mercy upon us.

I planted you as my fairest vineyard,
I grafted you into the one true vine,
I gave you the water of salvation,
but you give me gall and vinegar to drink,
and leave me thirsting upon a cross.

Holy God, holy and merciful,
holy and just, have mercy upon us.

I gave you a royal sceptre,
but you give me a crown of thorns.
I raised you up to newness of life,
but you raise me high upon a cross.

Holy God, holy and merciful,
holy and just, have mercy upon us.

What more could I have done for you?
I gave you my peace and my truth,
but you fight in my name,
and divide my Church.

Holy God, holy and merciful,
holy and just, have mercy upon us.

I come in your brother and sister,
hungry, yet you give me no food,
thirsty, yet you give me no drink,
a stranger, and you do not welcome me,
naked, and you do not clothe me,
sick and in prison, and you do not visit me.

Holy God, holy and merciful,
holy and just, have mercy upon us.

A hymn extolling the cross is sung.

The service may be concluded here with the Lord’s Prayer, and the concluding prayer below.

The Ministry of the Sacrament

In places where the Eucharist is to be celebrated, the service continues with the Preparation of the Gifts from any of the Eucharistic Liturgies.

Variation/Addition to the Great Thanksgiving: Passiontide.

In places where Holy Communion is to be administered from the reserved Sacrament, the holy table having been covered with a clean white cloth, and the Sacrament having been brought and placed on the altar, the service may continue at the Communion in any of the Eucharistic Liturgies.

The service may conclude with the following. No blessing or dismissal is added, and the ministers depart in silence.

We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you.
By your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

God of our redemption,
abundantly bless your people
who have devoutly recalled the death of Christ;
grant us forgiveness, renew us, strengthen our faith,
and increase in us the fullness of life;
we ask this through Christ our Saviour. Amen.

Alternative introduction to the Lord’s Prayer:

Let us pray for the forgiveness of our sins as Jesus taught us.

Or

Let us ask God to forgive our sins
and to help us forgive those who sin against us.

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Rev. Bosco Peters

Welcome to this ecumenical website of resources and reflections on liturgy, spirituality, and worship for individuals and communities. It is run by Rev. Bosco Peters.

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