“Is there a God?” “If there is a God, has God become silent?”  “Where is God?”

Answers to such questions don’t come easily in a world where injustice, violence and death are becoming commonplace; where insensitivity and cruelty all too often replace compassion and loving concern; where the very air we breathe and water we drink is compromised; where politicians seem to be more interested in lining their pockets with even more wealth than creating laws that will provide a better life for the people they serve.

Elie Wiesel’s account of his horrible experiences during the Holocaust, where unbelievable suffering was experienced, writes that one day when they came back from work at the concentration camp, they saw three gallows. The SS were all around with their machine guns trained. Three victims in chains – one of them was a little child. All eyes were on the child. He was lividly pale, biting his lips. The three victims mounted the chairs. The child was silent. “Where is God?” someone behind Wiesel whispered and then Wiesel heard a voice within himself answer “Where is God? God is hanging on the gallows.”

Each year, near the end of Lent on Good Friday, a sombre day of reflection, many Christians reflect on that question which intensified at Jesus’ death by crucifixion.

The following Good Friday service was written for those who would like to be part of a Good Friday service but are unable to do so and can be used either by individuals or by small groups. Try to find a quiet time, a comfortable place, a welcoming and safe space. Before entering into the service, take a few moments to centre yourself … slow, deep breaths. On the ‘inhale’, breathe in a sense of calm, healing, peace. On the ‘exhale’, breathe out anything that is causing you stress or any kind. Slowly, breathe – in, out; in, out; in, out and when ready, begin — on your own reading aloud each part or with others who share the ‘voices’ in the service.

One: Today, I experience the darkness of death and the separation between God and humanity portrayed in the death of Jesus Christ.

All:  Today, I remember the power of those things that block God’s light from surfacing: … broken promises … disobedience … fear … greed … lack of trust …

One: I can never know the depth of sufferings the man Jesus endured.  I can never fully know the sufferings of other people who have lived in the past – or of those who are living today. 

One: Yet, I am called to have sympathy for the sufferings of others.

At the end of the following Invocations, silence is encouraged. If available, the use of a gentle and unique sound (e.g. tingsha bells, rainstick, etc.) might be used.  Then silence again, before the next Invocation.)

Speaker 1 I speak for all whose minds and bodies are full of pain and cannot take care of themselves
… the lost or forgotten … the street people … the hospitalized … the refugees … those whose countries are at war …those who suffer in silence
(Silence.  The sound of the Tingsha bells is heard.  Silence.)

Speaker:   I speak for all the hurting children in the world:
… those who are – laughed at … forced to kill … insulted … excluded … bullied … abused  … sick …forced to work … abandoned … sold … abandoned  
(Silence.  The sound of the Tingsha bells is heard.  Silence.)

Speaker:   I speak for the environment:
… oceans and rivers and lakes that are being polluted … … forests that are being cut down …  plants and animals that are becoming extinct … and all species seen as valuable only if they are good for human use.   
(Silence.  The sound of the Tingsha bells is heard.  Silence.)

Speaker:   I speak for parents
… those who cannot afford food, clothing or shelter or safety for their children or themselves … those who don’t have sound parenting skills because they were not lovingly parented
(Silence.  The sound of the Tingsha bells is heard.  Silence.)

Speaker:   I speak for those who have lost loved ones
… through illness … accident … fighting … violence … addiction … suicide … gangs … wars … age … inability to get proper medical care
(Silence.  The sound of the Tingsha bells is heard.  Silence.)

Speaker: I speak for those whose minds and bodies are full of pain and who cannot take care of themselves
… the lost or forgotten … the street people … the hospitalized … the refugees … those whose countries are at war …those who suffer in silence
(Silence.  The sound of the Tingsha bells is heard.  Silence.)

One: I want to remember … that there would be no Easter without Good Friday.

All:   I want to remember … that new life follows death.

One:  I want to remember … the Psalmist’s promise that ‘my wailing will be turned into dancing; my sackcloth will be removed; and I will be clothed with Joy’.  

All: I do want to remember. But I am afraid.   

One: Even the man, Jesus, was afraid. He cried to God at the moment of his death “Why have you forsaken me?”

All: Many would like to not be afraid. But they are.
I would like to not be afraid.  But I am.

One: God knows and understands that fear.

All: With that knowledge and understanding, I go forth into this day. As the rest of the day / night unfolds, may I hold fast to God’s love until the joy of Easter enters.  Amen. “So be it.” Amen.

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© June Maffin
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