The Way of the Cross: A Service for Good Friday

Last year for Good Friday, we planned a service that followed a modified “stations [or way] of the cross.” Each station was framed by the traditional ancient text Adoramus te. We sang it in English in the version translated by Theodore Baker, made famous in The Seven Last Words of Christ by Theodore Dubois (see box; music can be found in The Hymnal for Worship and Celebration 597 as well as in Celebration Hymnal 230). Readings and prayers as noted are from “Prayers on the Way of the Cross” from the book Prayers by Michel Quoist (Sheed and Ward, Inc., 1963; used by permission www.rowmanlittlefield.com/sheed/). Each station was accompanied by at least one black-and-white slide with the station title; many of these were taken from a CD of religious clip art. Members of our eight-member vocal chorale also served as readers. All of the Scripture, commentary, and song texts were included in the bulletin.
—MO

The Way of the Cross

Scripture: Isaiah 52:13-15

Reading: The way of the cross is also the way to life; this a real Christian should never forget. (from Prayers)

Sung Prayer: “Christ, We Do All Adore Thee” [ensemble]

1. Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane

Hymn: “Go to Dark Gethsemane” (st. 1) PsH 381, PH 97, TWC 225

Prayer
[See suggestions in The Worship Sourcebook, section M.1.4 (Faith Alive Christian Resources)]

2. Jesus Betrayed by Judas

Scripture: John 18:1-11

3. Jesus Condemned by the Sanhedrin

Scripture: John 18:12-14

Hymn: “Go to Dark Gethsemane” (st. 2)

4. Jesus Denied by Peter

Scripture: John 18:15-23

Poem: “Judas, Peter”
because we are all
betrayers, taking
silver and eating
body and blood and asking
(guilty) is it I and hearing
him say yes
it would be simple for us all
to rush out
and hang ourselves
but if we find grace
to cry and wait
after the voice of morning
has crowed in our ears
clearly enough
to break our hearts
he will be there
to ask us each again
do you love me?

Luci Shaw, Polishing the Petoskey Stone, © 2003, Regent College Publishing, Vancouver.
Used by permision of the author.

5. Jesus Condemned by the People

Scripture: Isaiah 53:1-8

Hymn: “Ah, Holy Jesus” (st. 1-2) PsH 386, PH 93, RL 285, TH 248, TWC 231

6. Jesus Crowned with Thorns and Clothed in Purple

Sung Prayer: “Christ, We Do All Adore Thee”
[ensemble]

7. Jesus Carries the Cross

Reading
Lord, here is your Cross!
Your Cross! As if it were your cross!

You had no cross and you came to get ours, and all through your life, and along the way to Calvary, you took upon you, one by one, the sins of the world.

You have to go forward,
And bend,
And suffer.
The Cross must be carried.

Lord, you walk on silently; is it true, then, that there is
a time
for speaking and a time for silence?

Is it true that there is a time for struggling and another for the silent bearing of our sins and the sins of the world?

Lord, I would rather fight the Cross; to bear it is hard. The more I progress, and the more I see the evil in the world, the heavier is the Cross on my shoulders.

Lord, help me to understand that the most generous
deed is nothing
unless it is also silently redemptive.
And since you want for me this long way of the Cross,
At the dawning of each day, help me to set forth. (from Prayers)

8. Jesus Assisted by Simon of Cyrene

Hymn: “Christ, We Do All Adore Thee”
[ensemble; children of the congregation sang the first and last lines with the ensemble]

9. Jesus Meets the Women of Jerusalem
Scripture:
Luke 23:27-28

Reading
They weep.
They sob.
It’s easy to understand if you see what men have done
to him.
And they are helpless, they cannot interfere,
So they weep, they weep in pity.

Lord, you have seen them, you have heard them.
But you said: “Weep first for your sins.”

To pity your sufferings and the sufferings of the world
I manage very well, Lord.
But to weep for my own sins, that’s another matter.
I’d as lief bemoan those of others.
It’s easier.

I’m well up on that; the whole world passes every day before my tribunal.

I’ve found plenty of guilt: in politics, economics, slums, alcohol, movies, industry. I see it in many people: in laissez-faire Christians, in priests who don’t understand a thing, and in many others, Lord, many others.

Lord, teach me that I am a sinner. (from Prayers)

Response: “Kyrie” SNC 54
[led by the ensemble, with the congregation echoing]

10. Jesus Is Crucified

Scripture: John 19:17-24

Message: “Jesus’ Final Moments Were for You”

Hymn: “Rock of Ages,” arr. James Ward (RW 70:25; listen online at www.reformedworship.org) TH 500

11. Jesus Speaks to the Thief

Reading: “In-Group”
No one
ran up
and shook
Christ’s hand.

The only others
with that kind
of inclination

Had theirs
nailed down
too
Lionel Kearns, The Penguin Book of Canadian Verse (Penguin Books, 1958, 1967)
Song: "Thief" by Mac Powell (New Spring Publishing, INc., 1995)
[ensemble]
12. Jesus Speaks to His Mother
Scripture:
John 17:25-27
13. Jesus Dies on the Cross
Hymns: "Go to Dark Gethsemene" (st. 3)
"Ah, Holy Jesus" (st. 3-4)
14. Jesus Is Buried
Scripture:
Isaish 53:9-12; Hebrews 4:14-15
Response: "Christ, We Do All Adore Thee"
[sung by all]
Closing Prayer

Excerpt

Adoramus Te
Christ, We Do All Adore Thee

Christ, we do all adore thee,
and we do praise thee forever.

For on the holy cross thou hast the world
from sin redeemed.

Christ, we do all adore thee,
and we do praise thee forever.

Christ, we do all adore thee.

Mari Broman Olsen (mari.olsen@comcast.net) is a computational linguist in the Speech and Natural Language group at Microsoft Corporation. She’s a member of Bellevue (Washington) Christian Reformed Church, where she is a pianist, worship team member, and occasional worship planner.