What Is A Good Friday Service?

Vaughn Harris and I have had some technical difficulties last week pertaining to our email communications. Therefore, we are about a week behind in our blog posts. That being the case, we plan to do some catching up this week.

For those of you who did not attend the Good Friday service last weekend at CrossPoint, I have decided to post the blog I wrote the night before. Although the information is dated, I still think it is helpful.

Based on the reaction of those who participated, we will continue the tradition of this service. We estimate more than 300 adults and children participated.

What is a Good Friday Service?

Last night I made several phone calls to our first time guests from last weekend. I make these weekly contacts so that our guests know how excited we were they chose to worship with us. Additionally, I used the conversation last night to invite them to our Resurrection weekend of services and celebrations.

During one particular call a guest said they would be coming to our Good Friday Service because they had never heard of such a service. It was at that point I decided I should write something about the service on my daily blog.

So, what is a Good Friday Service?

Well, I am glad you asked.

In the ancient church, the Easter celebration from Thursday of Holy Week through the great vigil Saturday night (which ended on Sunday morning) was one ongoing service with occasional breaks.

On the morning of Good Friday, the people paid tribute to the wood of the cross, the instrument upon which our salvation was attained. A casket containing a cross was often placed on a table covered with a linen cloth. The bishop stood behind the table as the people filed by touching and kissing the cross and sometimes bowing before it or lying prostrate in front of it. This was not a worship of the cross but a worship of God, who sent His Son to die on the cross for the salvation of the world.

At noon the people gathered until three o’clock to hear Scripture readings about the passion of our Lord. Scripture readings were taken from the Psalms, the prophets, the Epistles, Acts, and the Gospels. In between these readings, there were prayers and sermons to help guide the devotion of people as they observed the hours when Jesus hung on the cross. At three o’clock the passage from John’s Gospel regarding the death of Christ was read.

In the evening, the Christians gathered again to hear the story of the burial of Christ read. Usually a great crowd remained there in vigil all night long.

While these practices are not observed today in the same way they were in the ancient traditions, a new emphasis has emerged stressing the importance of Good Friday as a day of worship.[1]

As in ancient times, our particular emphasis will focus on the cross of Christ. As the worship progresses we will be reading from each of the seven recording in Scripture when Christ spoke from the cross.

Provided below are the seven last words of Christ from the cross:

And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
Luke 23:34

And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”
Luke 23:43

When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then he said to the disciple, Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home. John 19:26-27

And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
Matthew 27:46

After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.”
John 19:28

When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
John 19:30

Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last.
Luke 23:46

In addition to reading the previous passages, there will be a very serious moment when we will pass around the room a crown of thorns for each person to hold in their hands. We want each of us to have a split second when we consider the great cost of Christ’s pain and suffering.

The focus on the cross, the reading of Christ’s last words, the handling of a crown of thorns, along with the observance of the Lord’s Supper we believe will work together to enable us to reflect on Christ’s sacrifice.

At the outset it must be emphasized that the veneration of the cross WILL NOT BE a part of CrossPoint’s Good Friday Service. We are gathering on Friday to remember our Lord, the suffering and indignities He faced and to prepare for Resurrection morning.

This will not be a typical CrossPoint worship celebration. Do not be surprised to find this a somber service. Expect the worship center to be dark and quiet when you enter the room. Also, prepare to leave the worship center sad, if not emotional. If you do, then the service will be a success. We want every person leaving our campus Friday afternoon wanting the Easter celebration to come and come soon.

I am particularly stirred by the potential of our Good Friday Service and Resurrection worship. We are looking to the Good Friday Service as a time of preparation—a service to prepare us for Easter. And we are looking to Easter as a time of celebration.

I hope to see you Friday.
[1] Adapted from Robert Webber’s The Complete Library of Christian Worship: The Services of the Christian Year, Volume 5 (Nashville, Tennessee: Star Song Publishing, 1994)

4 Responses to “What Is A Good Friday Service?”

  1. 1 Vaughn
    April 9, 2007 at 12:30 pm

    And what an emotional service it was!! I left with a deep sadness and a heavy heart over the reality that I caused Him to suffer. It hurt me to think of the fact that the crown that that gently sat in the palm of my hand had been forced on and completely consumed by His head. I couldn’t wait until Sunday, cause Sunday came!!

  2. 2 Ryan
    April 9, 2007 at 4:05 pm

    Vaughn, I was so ready for Sunday as well. That one service took more out of me than all four the Resurrection services combined. it was an emotional time.

  3. 3 JenB
    April 9, 2007 at 6:52 pm

    Beginning with the Good Friday service and an Easter Drama I attended on Friday evening, I was hungry for Resurection Sunday all weekend. It couldn’t come soon enough. Thank you, Ryan, for leading us in that service on friday…preparing us for a TRUE celebration on Sunday! It was a great weekend!

  4. 4 Anonymous
    April 10, 2007 at 9:52 am

    Friday was a very worshipful service. I thought about it all weekend. The video at the end was very fitting. I thought the service was very well thought out and meaningful. I hope we have begun a new tradition. Gay

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