Maundy Thursday-Good Friday: “God’s Liberating Presence: Passover and Passion” Exodus 12:1-13, Psalm 22, Stations of the Cross

Photo: Rev. Kathryn M Schreiber ©2022. Worship format and original content: Rev. Kathryn M. Schreiber ©2022. A COVID-safe contemplative service for pastor, musician/s, and readers.

The service begins outside in the Courtyard. As people arrive offer individual, sealed communion elements and handout.

We Gather

“The salvation Christ brings is a salvation from every bondage that oppresses human beings.” -Archbishop Oscar Romero, Salvadorian Christian leader, 20th-century martyr

Welcome and Acknowledgements (pastor)

Welcome, Dear Ones. We are here in this sacred place on unceded Lisjan-Ohlone territory. Everyone is welcome for this contemplative service.

During Lent we’ve learned from Jesus’ ancestors about God’s guidance through important transitions. This afternoon we remember the Hebrews’ great exodus out of Egyptian slavery – God’s magnificent call to liberation. No wonder the story of Jesus Christ’s Passion begins at the Passover table.

Let us gather with kindred spirits as we extoll God’s commitment to releasing humanity from suffering offering freedom to everyone.

Song: “I Want Jesus to Walk with Me” (handouts: Chalice Hymnal #627, verses 1-3) (aas)

Liberating Passover

Beloved Community, we join Jesus and his disciples as they observe Passover – a ritual retelling of their ancestors’ salvation, a graphic reminder of God’s power over oppressors. We do so with the non-violent Jesus Christ who models for us the soul force of Big Love extended to all, including those who harm us.

These sacred stories resonate more strongly this year as oppressive violence is maiming and killing innocent people in Eastern Europe and a global pandemic is still active. God continues to respond to human cries for deliverance.

Dear Ones, as we move through this service emotions will rise. We may feel sympathy for others, be reminded of our woes, or even experience a vague, mystical carrying of anonymous suffering. Let us offer our distress to God for transformation. Feelings of devotion, wonder, and gratitude will rise, too. Let us also offer God our praise.

On Good Friday we choose to go with Jesus Christ into, through, and beyond mortal agony that we, the Beloved Community, might be transformed on Easter morning. Let us enter this living story…

The Original Passover (Reader A)

Jesus and his Disciples gather in the upper room in Jerusalem. They assemble to recall The Passover when God boldly intervened for the liberation of the Hebrew slaves and anointed sibling leaders – Moses, Aaron, and Miriam – to take their people out of Egypt.

Exodus 12:1-13

God said to Moses and Aaron while still in Egypt, “This month is to be the first month of the year for you. Address the whole community of Israel; tell them that on the tenth of this month each man is to take a lamb for his family, one lamb to a house. If the family is too small for a lamb, then share it with a close neighbor, depending on the number of persons involved. Be mindful of how much each person will eat. Your lamb must be a healthy male, one year old; you can select it from either the sheep or the goats. Keep it penned until the fourteenth day of this month and then slaughter it—the entire community of Israel will do this—at dusk. Then take some of the blood and smear it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which you will eat it. You are to eat the meat, roasted in the fire, that night, along with bread, made without yeast, and bitter herbs. Don’t eat any of it raw or boiled in water; make sure it’s roasted—the whole animal, head, legs, and innards. Don’t leave any of it until morning; if there are leftovers, burn them in the fire.

“And here is how you are to eat it: Be fully dressed with your sandals on and your stick in your hand. Eat in a hurry; it’s the Passover of God.

“I will go through the land of Egypt on this night and strike down every firstborn in the land of Egypt, whether human or animal, and bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am God. The blood will serve as a sign on the houses where you live. When I see the blood, I will pass over you—no disaster will touch you when I strike the land of Egypt.” (tm)

And so it is, that Jesus and his disciples, as had their ancestors for generations, remember the last meal eaten in bondage holding fast to a belief that God would deliver them, again.

The Last Supper

Prayer of Preparation (pastor)

When we partake of the Last Supper, a Passover seder, we come to the Table of God hungry for liberation and thirsty for justice. Mindful of so many crying out to God for protection and freedom right now, let us listen to umanity’s cries with silent, prayerful attention.

(silence)

Great Redeemer God, You hear all prayers. You care for everyone and desire the well-being of all beings. May the observance of this ritual meal strengthen our faith in Your power to deliver us, O Mighty Liberator. Amen.

Sharing the Elements (pastor)

The Eternal Christ hears us calling from the past, the present, and the future. In our midst at the Passover Table Jesus Christ proclaims the eternal reality of divine salvation.

On the night when he was betrayed Jesus took a loaf of bread, (lift) gave thanks, (thank God) he broke it, saying, (break) “This is my body that is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 

We remember Jesus Christ and the gift of his life among us. (everyone eats)

In the same way Jesus took the cup, also, after supper, (lift, thank God) saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”

We remember Jesus Christ and the offering of his life to save us. (everyone drinks)

For as often as we eat this bread and drink the cup we proclaim the Lord’s death until Jesus Christ comes again. Praise be to God.

Prayer of Thanksgiving (pastor; spontaneous)

The congregation moves inside into the Sanctuary. Music may be played.

Liberating Passion

Announcements (pastor)

Please keep your masks on at all times. We will refrain from singing until the last hymn – singing it softly. At the conclusion of the service the Sanctuary will remain available for silent prayer. Please exit quietly and save your conversations for outside. Thank you.

Invocation (pastor)

Holy Spirit, guide us as we continue this Good Friday passage with Jesus Christ whose merciful liberation is offered to all peoples seeking well-being in this world and the next.

Light The Christ Candle (pastor)

Special Music: (instrumental solo) OR Song: “Abide with Me” (Chalice Hymnal #636, 3 verses; instrumental solo as congregation reads/hums)

Stations of the Cross

Introduction (pastor)

Since the earliest of days, spiritual pilgrims have gone to Jerusalem to walk the route Jesus traveled from his trial to his entombment stopping at important locations along the way. The Via Dolorosa (Way of Sorrow), through imagery, readings, and prayers, quickly became a portable spiritual practice known as “The Stations of the Cross.”

This Good Friday we follow Jesus Christ along the Via Dolorosa pausing at each “station” for a reading or song, followed by a very short prayer and lighting of a candle, as well as silence.

worship leader: practice response to prayerPeople: O Lord, hear our prayer.

The First Station: Jesus is Condemned to Death (Reader B)

Jesus is judged and legally sentenced to death by Jewish and Roman authorities. We feel the inner tension of this outrageous injustice, even as faith proclaims Jesus’ death as a redemptive sacrifice.

Here in the US, legally, we place a larger percentage of our neighbors in prison, jail or under probation or parole than any other nation in the world. We arrest about 2,000 children daily. We are the only Western developed country that has not abolished capital punishment. As we reflect upon Jesus’ sentencing, let us hold the suffering among us because of our very large incarceration population and use of the death penalty. (fg, cdf, ai)

One: O God, take away our desire to hurt one another – criminally or punitively.

Will you repeat after me: O Lord, hear our prayer.

People: O Lord, hear our prayer.

Reader lights a candle; pause for silence.

*

The Second Station: Jesus Takes Up His Cross (Reader C)

How different is this second liberation story! Moses and his family boldly led the people out of enslavement as God performed acts of great power and violence. Jesus, however, leads alone non-violently. Jesus speaks the truth to power and is criminalized, abandoned, and publicly humiliated by both authorities and followers. The Prince of Peace offers a different path to salvation.

Rev. Greg Boyd, pastor and theologian, writes: “If the practice of refusing violence and loving enemies was consistently put into practice, we’d learn that, over the long haul (and with great sacrifice), the nonviolent way of Jesus is far more effective in combating evil than the way of violence. For while the way of violence may appear to curb evil in the short run, it always—always—produces more violence in the long run. It’s self-perpetuating. (gb)

One: O God, may Christ’s non-violent love heal that which violence has broken.

   Will you repeat after me: O Lord, hear our prayer.

People: O Lord, hear our prayer.

Reader lights a candle; pause for silence.

*

The Third Station: Jesus Falls the First Time (pastor)

Jesus falls. Our Beloved Jesus falls. Let us open our hearts to Jesus’ suffering.

Special Music (instrumental, reflective)

One: O God, may our devotional love of Jesus Christ transform us.

   Will you repeat after me: O Lord, hear our prayer.

People: O Lord, hear our prayer.

Reader lights a candle; pause for silence.

*

Fourth Station: Jesus Meets His Mother (Reader A)

Jesus’ mother, Mary, a faithful, courageous maiden is the steady matriarch tending her son and his growing religious community. Mother Mary is the first Christian, the first to believe Jesus is the Christ. On the way to his death she offers him her presence – risking her life to touch her child, her Savior.

May we pause to be in solidarity with mothers whose children are suffering. May God fortify their faith, courage, and strength. When our hearts grow weary with news of war and tragedy, may we be uplifted by ordinary human beings empowered by God to do extraordinary things.

One: O God, bless the brave ones who comfort their frightened children.

   Will you repeat after me: O Lord, hear our prayer.

People: O Lord, hear our prayer.

Reader lights a candle; pause for silence.

*

The Fifth Station: Simon of Cyrene Helps Jesus Carry the Cross (Reader B)

Roman officers force Simon of Cyrene, a Jew from north Africa, to carry The Cross. To disobey would lead to bodily harm or arrest. Though pressured to assist a condemned prisoner did Simon treasure this opportunity to alleviate Jesus’ suffering? What passes between Simon of Cyrene and Jesus of Nazareth as The Cross is lifted off one man’s back and placed upon another’s?

One: O God, grant us a genuine desire to share each other’s burdens.

   Will you repeat after me: O Lord, hear our prayer.

People: O Lord, hear our prayer.

Reader lights a candle; pause for silence.

*

The Sixth Station: Veronica Wipes Jesus’ Face (Reader C)

Veronica, a follower of Jesus, is in the crowd. Like most women she wears a face scarf. Witnessing Jesus’ distress she boldly separates herself from the crowd to offer him her veil. She reveals her face, her identity. By expressing adoration and offering physical comfort to an enemy of the State and Temple her life is at stake, too.

Her act of vulnerable, selfless compassion, writes James Finley, is transcendent: “There’s this kind of primal moment where Jesus takes her veil, and he closes his eyes and lowers his face into her veil. And in that moment, the softness of her veil is the only solace he can find in a world turned harsh. At a deeper level, the solace he finds is her compassion for him… that in the moment Jesus closes his eyes to lower his face into the veil, in closing his eyes and lowering his face, the world around him disappears. She disappears. Everyone disappears… that in that moment, Jesus, without going anywhere, descends down into the depth-like, infinite, tender mercy of God, the Father, sustaining him in that moment.” (jf)

One: O God, may we encounter You through radical acts of compassion.

   Will you repeat after me: O Lord, hear our prayer.

People: O Lord, hear our prayer.

Reader lights a candle; pause for silence.

*

The Seventh Station: Jesus Falls the Second Time (pastor)

Our Beloved Jesus falls, again. Our hearts, opened to his suffering, now expand. In his mortal fragility we see all human suffering feeling the sorrows and pains of others. We have entered a holy compassion, the Big Love which connects us to God and each other.

Jesus taught: “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.” (Matthew 25:40 NRSV)

One: O God, may we see Christ in all who suffer.

   Will you repeat after me: O Lord, hear our prayer.

People: O Lord, hear our prayer.

Reader lights a candle; pause for silence.

*

The Eighth Station: Jesus Meets the Women of Jerusalem (Reader A)

Jesus notices a cluster of his female followers weeping. His pastoral care turns toward them, saying: “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For the days are surely coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never nursed.’ Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us;’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’” (Luke 23:28-30 NRSV)

Newly up from falling a second time, Jesus experiences the fragility of human life amid violent religious and civil authorities. Jesus, like the women of Jerusalem, knows the cruelty of systemic oppression.

One: O God, we commit into Your well-being all families experiencing injustice.

   Will you repeat after me: O Lord, hear our prayer.

People: O Lord, hear our prayer.

Reader lights a candle; pause for silence.

*

The Ninth Station: Jesus Falls the Third Time (Reader B)

Our Beloved Jesus falls a third time. Our hearts continue to expand in solidarity with all who endure hardships trusting in God’s steadfastness.

Special Music: (instrumental solo) OR Song: “Precious Lord, Take My Hand” (Chalice Hymnal #628, verses 1-3; instrumental solo as congregation reads/hums)

One: O God, when humanity fails, may we place our faith in You.

   Will you repeat after me: O Lord, hear our prayer.

People: O Lord, hear our prayer.

Reader lights a candle; pause for silence.

*

The Tenth Station: Jesus is Stripped of His Garments (Reader C)

As Roman guards remove his clothing Jesus’ wounded body is revealed. His human dignity is intentionally denigrated. This authorized humiliation, however, cannot damage what is eternally good. Evil isn’t that powerful.

There are many ways to disrobe a person – to remove social dignities, to disarm and disrupt, to assault character. Jesus, stripped, reveals that what remains is original integrity.

One: O God, may we see ourselves as You see us when we are abused.

   Will you repeat after me: O Lord, hear our prayer.

People: O Lord, hear our prayer.

Reader lights a candle; pause for silence.

*

The Eleventh Station: Jesus is Nailed to the Cross (pastor)

From The Cross Jesus quotes the opening lines of Psalm 22. The first half of this psalm is a dramatic lament appealing to God. It has been suggested Jesus references this passage not to speak of his own suffering, but rather to assure those who experience inhumane treatment that God hears their cries – God hears us.

Reading: Psalm 22:2-21

God, my God,

why have You abandoned me –

far from my cry, my words of pain?

I called by day, You do not answer;

I called by night, but find no rest.

You are the Holy One enthroned,

the Praise of Israel.

Our people trusted, they trusted You;

You rescued them. 

To You they cried, and they were saved;

they trusted and were not shamed.

But I am a worm, hardly human,

despised by all, mocked by the crowd.

All who see me jeer at me, shaking their heads:

“You relied on God; let God help you!

If God loves you, let God save you!”

But You, God, took me from the womb,

You kept me safe at my mother’s breast.

I belonged to You from the time of my birth,

You are my God from my mother’s womb.

Do you not stay far off,

danger is so close.

I have no other help.

Wild bulls surround me,

bulls of Bashan encircle me,

opening their jaws against me

like roaring, ravening lions. 

I am poured out like water,

my bones are pulled apart,

my heart is wax wilting within me;

my throat baked and dry,

my tongue stuck to my jaws.

You bring me down to the dust of death.

There are dogs all around me,

a pack of villains corners me.

They tear up my hands and feet,

I can count all my bones.

They stare at me and gloat.

They take what I wore,

they roll dice for my clothes.

Lord, do not stay far off,

You, my strength, be quick to help.

Save my neck from the sword,

save my life from the dog’s teeth,

save me from the lion’s jaws,

save me from the bull’s horns.

You hear me. (ltp)

One: O God, no matter how deep the wound, You are my Liberator.

   Will you repeat after me: O Lord, hear our prayer.

People: O Lord, hear our prayer.

Reader lights a candle; pause for silence.

*

The Twelfth Station: Jesus Dies on the Cross (Reader A)

During Jesus’ lifetime crucifixion was the favored form of capital punishment. The Romans used it to torture those sentenced to death and traumatize their loved ones. These brutal, common acts of legal execution were intended to thwart public uprisings.

As Jesus surrenders his final breath he leaves behind the abusive, temporal power of Empire and Temple. Jesus, in choosing to maintain the practice of redemptive love through to his death, opens a portal to eternal freedom for everyone. Humbled by this ultimate sacrifice, we also grieve. We are pierced with pain and loss.

(long silence)

Extinguish Christ Candle

One: O God, through Jesus Christ’s sacrifice, may we dwell in Your Eternal Love.

   Will you repeat after me: O Lord, hear our prayer.

People: O Lord, hear our prayer.

Reader lights a candle; pause for silence.

*

The Thirteenth Station: Jesus is Taken Down From the Cross (Reader B)

Jesus’ executioners leave. A handful of very brave, devoted followers remain at The Cross. Hearts full of sorrow, minds traumatized, their souls guide them in blessed affection and tender care. Tearfully, they receive Jesus’ dead body. The women who most love him –

his mother Mary, Mary Magdalene, and a mother of one of the twelve disciples – hold out their arms to hold and wrap his body in soft, clean linen.

Speaking of this tender, tragic moment a clergywoman from Canterbury Cathedral offers these words: “Their tears, and enfolding in cloths, return to him his dignity through their love and through compassion. But they cannot return the breath into his mouth, the sparkle in his eye, the warmth of his touch, and the wisdom of his word.” (cc)

One: O God, when we are overwhelmed with grief, enfold us in gentle care.

   Will you repeat after me: O Lord, hear our prayer.

People: O Lord, hear our prayer.

Reader lights a candle; pause for silence.

*

The Fourteenth (final) Station: Jesus is Laid in the Tomb (Reader C)

Through acts of unexpected kindness, generosity and a little political savvy a burial place is found for the One Without Sin who died a criminal’s death. Tears bless this little house of death – a borrowed cave tomb. In a few days it will fill with The Light Eternal.

Song: “Were You There” (Chalice Hymnal #198, verses 1-3; instrumental with congregation softly singing) (aas)

One: O God, in the dying places may we believe in resurrection.

   Will you repeat after me: O Lord, hear our prayer.

People: O Lord, hear our prayer.

Reader lights a candle; pause for silence.

*

Proclamations of Faith

Psalm 22: 23-32 (pastor)

Let us be consoled by the second half of Psalm 22, a bold statement of faith in God and hope for what will come:

I will proclaim Your name to my people,

I will praise You in the assembly.

Give praise, all who fear God:

revere and honor the Lord,

children of Israel, people of Jacob.

The Lord scorns the afflicted,

never looks away, but hears their cry.

I will sing of You and the great assembly,

make good my promise before Your faithful.

The poor shall eat all they want.

Seekers of God shall give praise.

“May your hearts live forever!“ 

All people shall remember and turn,

all races will bow to the Lord,

who holds dominion over nations.

The well-fed crowd kneel before God,

all destined to die bow low.

My soul lives for the Lord!

My children will serve,

will proclaim God to the future,

announcing to people yet unborn,

“God saves.“ (ltp)

The Lord’s Prayer (everyone, led by pastor)

Benediction (pastor)

Dear Ones, we have entered the Great Mystery of Jesus’ Passion. Our hearts, minds, bodies and souls have been saturated. Let us move carefully through this liminal time. Easter is coming, but it is not here yet.

May the Peace of God which surpasses all human understanding guard our hearts and minds in Jesus Christ as we continue this Holy Week in solidarity and compassion, in courage and tenderness, in faith and great hope. Amen.

NO Postlude (may remain for silent contemplation and prayer; leave silently)

The service is concluded.

Worship Resources:

(kms) All content prepared and written by Rev. Kathryn M Schreiber, unless attributed to another source.

(aas) African-American Spirituals. The sacred music born of persons resisting white supremacy during and since legal slavery, has been used, without credit nor payment of royalties. Human compassion and moral compunction call for making reparations to organizations benefiting African-Americans and addressing racism. To learn more: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qO8NW_SKzsg

(cc) Canterbury Cathedral, Stations of the Cross videos, 2021.

(fg, cdf, ai) Statistics from 3/34/2022 postings by the Federal Government, Children’s Defense Fund, and Amnesty International

(gb) Greg Boyd. https://reknew.org/2014/11/does-nonviolence-work/

(jf) James Finley. “Turning to the Mystics” podcast. https://cac.org/podcast/turning-to-the-mystics/page/6/

(ltp) Liturgical Training Press. © 1995, Archdiocese of Chicago.

(tm) The Message. © 1993, 2002, 2018 by Eugene H. Peterson

Residency Acknowledgement: This content was written in Huichin Village, unceded territory of the Lisjan- Ohlone people, where I dwell and serve as a local church pastor. Please support indigenous rematriation efforts, the #LandBack movement, and give to Sogorea Te’ Land Trust Soghttps://sogoreate-landtrust.org/ and other non-profits that reform, balance, and heal relationships with our indigenous hosts. Thank you!

Copyright Note: Copyright laws changed in December 2020 when Congress passed the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement Act of 2020 (CASE Act). Please check with your legal counsel as to the appropriate use of licensed materials, especially print and recorded music when sharing content online. Please observe ethical use of resources and follow the publishing requirements of any broadcasting or publishing platforms you use. Protect the rights of content creators. Thank you!

Online Publishing Date: April 1, 2022.

Permission: Permission is not granted to share or distribute this resource beyond your community without additional permission from the author. Please attribute source and observe ethical use of all resources. Follow your platforms’ publishing requirements for all created content especially if publishing online or broadcasting. Thank you!

Donation: Due to the current coronavirus pandemic this content is offered free. If you’d like to support the congregation I serve as pastor – Berkeley Chinese Community Church – we’d be most grateful for your support. Please send checks to: BCCC UCC, 2117 Acton Street, Berkeley, CA 94702, Attn: Diane Huie, Treasurer. Thank you!

For Online Content: Please see Facebook pages: “Berkeley Chinese Community Church” and “Living Liturgies”; as well as my website: www.inthebiglove.com and YouTube channel: “Kathryn Schreiber”

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