What We Do: Good Friday

What We Do: Good Friday March 21, 2013

This is my first in occasional posts about the church that I am privileged to serve as a pastor. First Presbyterian Church of Bend has been in Bend, Oregon for over 100 years. In the last seven years, it has doubled in size and continues to grow. We are diverse theologically, politically, and generationally. Our community includes lifelong Presbyterians, agnostics bordering on atheism, refugees from many faith traditions, and the spiritual but not religious. We continue to live out a long history of justice and outreach while seeking to go deeper in our experience of God. We don’t claim to be brilliantly innovative. We just try to act from grace and see what happens. I hope what we do helps what you do.

Our Good Friday is focused on a series of prayer stations. Last year and this year, we are using the last words of Christ to give direction. We are changing a few things this year but for the most part, sticking to the formula from last year.

The service opens by ringing 33 bells on the organ to mark the 33 years of Jesus’ life and is followed by a traditional Good Friday hymn, O Sacred Head, Now Wounded. Next, a corporate Call to Worship from the Iona Community that includes pauses for silence as we remember the suffering of people all over the world and the choir sings, What Wondrous Love.

The congregation is then invited into prayer stations that are described in the photos below. I apologize for the photography. The signs for each prayer station should explain what was invited at each station.

Surrender through body prayer at “Into Your Hands I Commit My Spirit”

Hammering nails into a Wooden Cross at “Father Forgive Them for They Don’t Know What They’re Doing”
The sound of the nails being pounded into the cross echoes throughout the sanctuary, increasing the drama and impact of the night’s meaning.

Consider the grief of Mary and all who grieve at “Dear Woman, Here is Your Son”

Look into the eyes of convicts at “Today You Will Be With Me in Paradise”

Taste vinegar at “I am thirsty”

Remembering those who are abandoned at “My God, Why Have You Forsaken Me?”

Show your love at “It is Finished”

The choir sings to call the congregation back to their seats and we say the Lord’s Prayer together.

In silence, 4 children walk up to the cross and tenderly wrap the rose petals into the white cloth around the cross. They carry the cross down the center aisle and out the sanctuary. They are led by a single violinist who is playing a mournful tune of What Wondrous Love is This. They are followed by someone carrying the extinguished Christ candle. The music floats out of the sanctuary and into the hallway as everyone sits in silence.

When the sound is finally gone, the altars are covered in black cloth and the congregation leaves in silence.

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