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Shadows - Good Friday Reflections by Keltie and Wayne

 Good Friday 2020 ~ “Shadows”  

Begin with six lit candles  

Introduction (Keltie):

Good Friday is the second oldest holy day of the Christian faith. The first day that early believers began to mark on a regular basis was Easter, followed closely by Good Friday. It is a day of shadows. It is the valley of death through which we travel in order to reach the light of resurrection. In the brutal, violent story of the events of this day we see the shadows of our world today and the shadows of our own lives. In order to reach the light of resurrection we must face those places of darkness, we cannot hide from them. With each selection of scripture we will face one of the shadows that darken our world and our lives. After each candle is extinguished there will be a moment of silence and music. We invite you to use that time for your own personal reflections on each shadow. We begin after the Last Supper, after Judas' betrayal of Jesus in garden of Gethsemane.  

Mark 14: 53-65 (Wayne):

53 Then Jesus was taken to the High Priest's house, where all the chief priests, the elders, and the teachers of the Law were gathering. 54 Peter followed from a distance and went into the courtyard of the High Priest's house. There he sat down with the guards, keeping himself warm by the fire. 55 The chief priests and the whole Council tried to find some evidence against Jesus in order to put him to death, but they could not find any. 56 Many witnesses told lies against Jesus, but their stories did not agree. 57 Then some men stood up and told this lie against Jesus: 58 "We heard him say, "I will tear down this Temple which men have made, and after three days I will build one that is not made by men.' " 59 Not even they, however, could make their stories agree. 60 The High Priest stood up in front of them all and questioned Jesus, "Have you no answer to the accusation they bring against you?" 61 But Jesus kept quiet and would not say a word. Again the High Priest questioned him, "Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed God?" 62 "I am," answered Jesus, "and you will all see the Son of Man seated at the right side of the Almighty and coming with the clouds of heaven!" 63 The High Priest tore his robes and said, "We don't need any more witnesses! 64 You heard his blasphemy. What is your decision?" They all voted against him: he was guilty and should be put to death.

 Reflection on Blame ~ Keltie:

The high priests clearly were not fond of Jesus. Jesus made them look bad. He questioned their faith, their loyalty to their people, their very role as religious leaders. The priests were supposed to look after and lead the Jewish people, but instead they had become supporters of the Roman oppressors. They accepted the money and authority the Romans gave them, and in return they kept the Jewish people under control. The questions Jesus raised about the priests were valid, but the priests didn’t want to hear them. Rather than accept their mistakes, they laid the blame on Jesus. He was the rebel, he was the blasphemer, he was the one who was dangerous to the people. It’s easy to look down on the high priests, to judge them as being hypocritical and vicious, but are we any different? How often do we ignore our own actions and lay the blame for difficult situations solely on others? How often do we know we have made a mistake, intentionally or unintentionally, and let someone else take the blame? Misplaced blame creates a shadow in our lives and in our world.  

~extinguish a candle


Music VU 149 When I Survey the Wondrous Cross (piano)  

Mark 14: 66-72 (Wayne)

66 Peter was still down in the courtyard when one of the High Priest's servant women came by. 67 When she saw Peter warming himself, she looked straight at him and said, "You, too, were with Jesus of Nazareth." 68 But he denied it. "I don't know . . . I don't understand what you are talking about," he answered, and went out into the passageway. Just then a rooster crowed. 69 The servant woman saw him there and began to repeat to the bystanders, "He is one of them!" 70 But Peter denied it again. A little while later the bystanders accused Peter again, "You can't deny that you are one of them, because you, too, are from Galilee." 71 Then Peter said, "I swear that I am telling the truth! May God punish me if I am not! I do not know the man you are talking about!" 72 Just then a rooster crowed a second time, and Peter remembered how Jesus had said to him, "Before the rooster crows two times, you will say three times that you do not know me." And he broke down and cried.  

Reflection on Denial (Keltie):

Peter is perhaps the person in the story who is the easiest to relate to. He believes that nothing could cause him to deny Jesus, but when Jesus is arrested, Peter crumbles. If he admits that he is a follower of Jesus he may find himself arrested and beaten alongside Jesus. And so Peter denies that he ever knew him. How often does the shadow of denial show itself in our lives? How often do we shy away from standing up for what we believe? Do we neglect to mention that we attend church, for fear we'll be laughed at or misunderstood? Do we let slide a racist or hurtful joke, for fear others will think we're prudes? Do we stand by and say nothing when people say or do hurtful things to others? We may not deny Jesus as obviously as Peter did, but it is easy to deny him and his teachings in small ways, by things left unsaid and undone. We acknowledge the shadow of denial in our world and in our lives.  

~ extinguish a candle  


Music ~ Bitter Was the Night (Keltie)  

Mark 15: 1-15 1 Early in the morning the chief priests met hurriedly with the elders, the teachers of the Law, and the whole Council, and made their plans. They put Jesus in chains, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate. 2 Pilate questioned him, "Are you the king of the Jews?" Jesus answered, "So you say." 3 The chief priests were accusing Jesus of many things, 4 so Pilate questioned him again, "Aren't you going to answer? Listen to all their accusations!" 5 Again Jesus refused to say a word, and Pilate was amazed. 6 At every Passover Festival Pilate was in the habit of setting free any one prisoner the people asked for. 7 At that time a man named Barabbas was in prison with the rebels who had committed murder in the riot. 8 When the crowd gathered and began to ask Pilate for the usual favor, 9 he asked them, "Do you want me to set free for you the king of the Jews?" 10 He knew very well that the chief priests had handed Jesus over to him because they were jealous. 11 But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to ask, instead, that Pilate set Barabbas free for them. 12 Pilate spoke again to the crowd, "What, then, do you want me to do with the one you call the king of the Jews?" 13 They shouted back, "Crucify him!" 14 "But what crime has he committed?" Pilate asked. They shouted all the louder, "Crucify him!" 15 Pilate wanted to please the crowd, so he set Barabbas free for them. Then he had Jesus whipped and handed him over to be crucified.  

Reflection on Fear (Keltie):

Pilate is a bit of a mystery to us. Did he actually feel compassion for Jesus? Or was he just out to save his own skin? Historically we know that his position as Roman governor was shaky. He had been told, no more uprisings in Israel, keep things calm and under control. Now he was being pushed to make a decision about Jesus. If he has Jesus killed, Jesus' followers may rise against the Roman oppressors. But if he sets Jesus free, the priests and Jewish leaders may challenge his own leadership position. Pilate is living under the shadow of fear. And so he makes no decision. He sees that Jesus is innocent, but he lets the crowd decide Jesus' fate. It is Pilate's fear that leads to Jesus' death. So much violence and injustice in the world is caused by fear, fear of those who are different, fear of being vulnerable, fear of losing that which is precious to us. How often do our own fears cast shadows on our lives and in our world? What are the fears that hold us back from living fully?  

~ extinguish a candle


Music VU 153 When the Son of God Was Dying (Trombone)  

Mark 15: 16-32 (Wayne):

16 The soldiers took Jesus inside to the courtyard of the governor's palace and called together the rest of the company. 17 They put a purple robe on Jesus, made a crown out of thorny branches, and put it on his head. 18 Then they began to salute him: "Long live the King of the Jews!" 19 They beat him over the head with a stick, spat on him, fell on their knees, and bowed down to him. 20 When they had finished making fun of him, they took off the purple robe and put his own clothes back on him. Then they led him out to crucify him. 21 On the way they met a man named Simon, who was coming into the city from the country, and the soldiers forced him to carry Jesus' cross. (Simon was from Cyrene and was the father of Alexander and Rufus.) 22 They took Jesus to a place called Golgotha, which means "The Place of the Skull." 23 There they tried to give him wine mixed with a drug called myrrh, but Jesus would not drink it. 24 Then they crucified him and divided his clothes among themselves, throwing dice to see who would get which piece of clothing. 25 It was nine o'clock in the morning when they crucified him. 26 The notice of the accusation against him said: "The King of the Jews." 27 They also crucified two bandits with Jesus, one on his right and the other on his left. 29 People passing by shook their heads and hurled insults at Jesus: "Aha! You were going to tear down the Temple and build it back up in three days! 30 Now come down from the cross and save yourself!" 31 In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the Law made fun of Jesus, saying to one another, "He saved others, but he cannot save himself! 32 Let us see the Messiah, the king of Israel, come down from the cross now, and we will believe in him!" And the two who were crucified with Jesus insulted him also.

Reflection on Anger (Keltie):

There is so much anger directed at Jesus in this passage. Anger from the Roman soldiers, who hardly knew him, anger from the bandits hanging from crosses on either side of him, from the priests and scribes, even from the crowd. Where does this anger come from? Is it truly about Jesus, or does it stem from circumstances in the people’s own lives, their own fears and disappointments? How often do we become angry and blame others for our losses, our disappointments, when deep down we know it's not their fault? How often do we become angry with God when we experience loss and disappointment, when deep down we know what has happened is either our own fault or unpreventable? And how often are we the target of anger that seems unfair and undeserved? Misplaced anger creates a shadow in our world and in our lives.   ~ extinguish a candle   Were You There (piano)   Mark 15: 33-41 33 At noon the whole country was covered with darkness, which lasted for three hours. 34 At three o'clock Jesus cried out with a loud shout, ["Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?"] which means, "My God, my God, why did you abandon me?" 35 Some of the people there heard him and said, "Listen, he is calling for Elijah!" 36 One of them ran up with a sponge, soaked it in cheap wine, and put it on the end of a stick. Then he held it up to Jesus' lips and said, "Wait! Let us see if Elijah is coming to bring him down from the cross!" 37 With a loud cry Jesus died. 38 The curtain hanging in the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. 39 The army officer who was standing there in front of the cross saw how Jesus had died. "This man was really the Son of God!" he said. 40 Some women were there, looking on from a distance. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of the younger James and of Joseph, and Salome. 41 They had followed Jesus while he was in Galilee and had helped him. Many other women who had come to Jerusalem with him were there also.  

Reflection on Death and Loss:

If you have ever been present when someone you loved died, then you know how those women felt when Jesus died. Even if you haven’t been physically present, if you have lost a loved one, then you know how they felt. The sense of loss is incredible. If the person is young, as Jesus was, then the sense of loss if even greater. You haven’t just lost someone you loved, you have lost your dreams for the future of that person, you have lost the hope of what it would mean to have that person in your life. Sometimes the deaths that occur in our lives aren’t those of people, they are the death of dreams, the death of relationships, the death of hope. Losses this deep are like death. At this time in our world, we are going through a time of death and loss – loss of freedom, loss of certainty, loss of health and many others. It is important to name those losses to ourselves so that we can name them to God. The loss and death of dreams, of relationships, of loved ones, create shadows in our lives and in our world.  

~ extinguish a candle  

The Reproaches (Wayne):

My friends, my disciples, I taught you to pray, but you could not watch in the garden with me one hour. You surround yourself by distractions and your attention is everywhere but on me and my Word . . . Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy.

I claimed you for my own, but with Peter, you denied you ever knew me. You place yourselves in judgment over your brothers and sisters, and make people feel guilty when they do not meet your expectations. . . . Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy. You waved palm branches crying, “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord,” and then you mocked me at my time of trial and crowned me with a crown of thorns. You claim to adore my Messiah and yet you ignore his call for mercy and justice for all . . . Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy

I came to preach liberty to the captives and to set free the oppressed, but you cried, “Crucify him, crucify him,” and condemned me to the cross, even as you have condemned whole nations to poverty and oppression. . . . Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy

I came to bring abundant life, but you brought me to death. I clothed you with peace and righteousness, yet you cast lots for my clothing. I have given you enough for all, but you are incapable of sharing . . . Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy.

When you gathered on the hillside I gave you bread, but then you gathered around the cross and watched me die . . . Lord have mercy . . .Christ have mercy  

Silent prayer . . .  Amen  

Kyrie Eleison (sung by Keltie and Paul)  

Mark 15: 42-47 42 It was toward evening when Joseph of Arimathea arrived. He was a respected member of the Council, who was waiting for the coming of the Kingdom of God. It was Preparation day (that is, the day before the Sabbath), so Joseph went boldly into the presence of Pilate and asked him for the body of Jesus. 44 Pilate was surprised to hear that Jesus was already dead. He called the army officer and asked him if Jesus had been dead a long time. 45 After hearing the officer's report, Pilate told Joseph he could have the body. 46 Joseph bought a linen sheet, took the body down, wrapped it in the sheet, and placed it in a tomb which had been dug out of solid rock. Then he rolled a large stone across the entrance to the tomb. 47 Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joseph were watching and saw where the body of Jesus was placed.  

Reflection on Despair and Hope ~ leave last candle lit:    

The despair in this reading is so strong, so heavy. Jesus has died and been buried. The dream is over. There is nothing left to do but go home and weep. And yet in the midst of the darkness and despair, there is a flicker of hope. In the death of Jesus, God also experienced death and loss. We call Jesus the son of God, but he was more than that. God’s presence in him was so strong that through him God lived the whole human experience. And that means that God directly experienced pain, fear, death. When we think of the shadows that death and loss have brought to our lives and our world, we know that God has lived in those shadows as well. God has experienced the other shadows of this day: blame, denial, fear, anger, and experienced them not just in passing, but deeply. In that knowledge there is hope. God has lived in those shadows and therefore God knows what it takes to overcome them. If there is anything we learn from the life and love of Jesus, it is that hope is stronger than blame and despair, love is stronger than fear and anger, and life is more powerful than death. And so we leave the last candle lit, as a sign of our hope in the darkness.  

Hymn 142 Jesus Keep Me Near the Cross  

Song for the Journey ~ “Jesus Remember Me”