Worship Materials: Good Friday

From the Festive Worship collection

THEME: The mystery of suffering

  1. When love and hatred engage in mortal conflict it is love which suffers most; but love has the final victory.
  2. The cross is witness to the golden incandescence at the heart of life which neither death nor suffering can destroy.
  3. The vulnerable strength and the strength of vulnerability. The greatest strength is the strength that allows itself to be vulnerable, for it knows that nothing can destroy the mystery of which we are a small but significant part.
  4. The price of God’s non-intervention is the pain that God experiences when we do not use the power which God has given us in a wise and loving way.
  5. Crucifixion can be the onset of death or the forerunner of new life.
  6. Only those with a deep faith can face crucifixion with hope.
  7. The real test of faith is not whether you can wear a Jesus smile but whether you can bear a Jesus cross.
  8. We begin to see God in all things once we have discerned light in our darkness and darkness in our light.
  9. A demon disowned is a demon conquered. Therefore disown evil as your true nature and let divinity own you.
  10. We create our own demons and then proceed to blame them for our misdoings.
  11. The way of the cross and the way of the dance are but two parts of the one Way; without the dance there is not life – without the cross there is no healing.
  12. Two thousand years later we are still crucifying prophets who announce good news for the poor, liberation for the oppressed, insight for the indoctrinated and life for the lifeless.
  13. Forgiving our persecutors is never easy; however they will retain their hold over us until we have let go of our animosity toward them.
  14. Seeing our betrayer as a child of God allows us to let go of resentment.
  15. The suffering of God has many faces.
  16. The Breaking is the herald of breakthrough, Chaos the source of new ideas and Death the seedbed of new life.
  17. To fully hear the pain of God, we need to listen to the cries of the oppressed and the cries of the earth.
  18. Suffering and solitude are twin gateways to new life.
  19. Pain is a seed out of which compassion can flower.
  20. Only suffering love can resist the corruption of power.
  21. Jesus was crucified by people who took their obsessions to their   logical conclusions.
  22. The cross speaks of straight line destructiveness, the circle the stone that rolls away to reveal resurrection.
  23. The cross is a symbol of death, the circle a symbol of life but life and death belong together hence the value of the Celtic cross.
  24. The cross is the clearest image of a God who grieves for us even more than we grieve for ourselves.


  1. O God, whose broken heart we perceive on Calvary, in the strength of your compassionate love give us the courage to acknowledge both our inner pains and the pains of the world and to surround them all with the transforming power of your love.


  1. O God of all wisdom, help us not only to see the good in all people but also to discern the many ways in which individuals, groups and institutions manipulate others for selfish gain, and what we see in others, may we also have the grace to admit in ourselves through the power of your love.


We need a cross. (BL)

“Weep not, weep not for me”. (BL)
When love flies on the wings of sacrifice

Why has God forsaken me?


I wash my hands.

Your cross provides a window, Christ. (STS1)

Many people die in anguish. (STS1)

When the temple veil is torn in two. (STS1)

Christ Jesus praying from the cross. (STS2)

Singing the Sacred, Vol 1 2011, Vol 2 2014, World Library Publications



The Anointing John 12:1-8 From economics to beauty

Losing Life/Gaining Life John 12:20-26 From survival to letting go

Jesus and the Crowd John 12:27-36 From simplification to complexity

Judas and Jesus. Luke. 22/47-48 From commitment to betrayal

The Scourging. Matt.27/27-31 From adulation to mockery

The Crucifixion. Luke 23/34 From brutality to forgiveness

Christ’s Mother John 19:25-27 From suffering to concern for others

Words from the Cross Matt.27:46 From abandonment to absolute trust

Death and Resurrection Matt.27:45-46 and Matt. 28:9-10a From dark night to new dawn


Almost all the crosses

I have ever seen

seem much the same

despite their differing

size, shape, texture ‑

some are empty

others bear

cosmetic Christs

but few

if any


the crosses

of our world

crosses of plants and animals

under threat of extinction,

crosses of people suffering

unjust imprisonment,

starvation, torture,

personal and institutional


Sometimes I wish

I could place

real bodies

upon those crosses

bodies of dead whales,

dead native birds and trees,

bodies of dead,



and mutilated people;

for at the intersection

of the horizontal

and vertical

elements of life

there is always

a body

and in the Body of Christ

I see

all the bodies of this world.


Good Friday’s cross

stood on the altar skeleton

shrouded in black,


as anaesthetized

death ‑

as if

we could not face




but wished

their annihilation

behind unseeing veil

and choir’s


of the torn body

and spilt blood

of the One

whose life

is sign and symbol

of all the

calculated obscenities

people endure

in the name of God

of anyone else

for that matter.

  1. If suffering is a mystery for which there is no simple explanation, what attitude of mind can I adopt which will enable me to face it with quiet hope and with a willingness to learn the lessons which it can teach me?
  2. The conflict between good and evil, right and wrong, is never as simple as it often appears on the surface. Within the so-called “good” people there are always elements of evil and within the so-called “evil” people there are always elements of good. That is why we need to be as harmless as doves and as wise as serpents. If we were so ideologically correct as to choose as allies only “the absolutely good – the perfect” we would never do anything. Effective action is always based on compromise between moral rectitude or purity of ideology on one hand and on the other an astute pragmatism.
  3. In what ways do my beliefs prevent me from effective cooperation with other people?

Text and image © William Livingstone Wallace but available for free use.

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