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Jesus' Journey to the Cross

A Good Friday Service with Handwashing and the Lord's Supper

At Bethel Christian Reformed Church, we planned a Good Friday service incorporating elements of handwashing, the Lord’s Supper, and the carrying of the cross. The handwashing ceremony, which occurred at the entrances of the sanctuary, recalled Jesus washing the disciples’ feet. The Lord’s Supper was celebrated early in the service, where it fit into the narrative of the Last Supper before the crucifixion of Christ. As Scripture passages were read throughout the service, a cross was carried slowly to the front of the sanctuary and placed there to symbolize Golgotha. Lights in the sanctuary were gradually dimmed as the songs were sung. At the end of the service, the congregation gathered at the front around the cross for a time of silent reflection in a dimmed environment.

The service engaged the congregation visually, through movement, with singing, and in silence.

Gathering with Handwashing Ceremony at Entrances

Sanctuary entrances are limited and kept closed until a few minutes before the service starts (amount of time depends on number of guests).

Place handwashing stations at each entrance. As guests enter, a handwasher pours water on hands and gently rubs them together, saying, “As Christ washed the disciples’ feet, so I am washing your hands.” Guests move to the person drying hands and then continue into the sanctuary.

Elders and pastor(s) stand at doors and pass out Lord’s Supper elements as guests enter a fully lit sanctuary and find seats. (You may need to provide some cue for congregants not to partake of the elements until later in the service.)

Appropriate instrumental music is playing in the sanctuary to welcome people and offer them the opportunity for quiet reflection until all are gathered.

Materials

  • Pitchers of warm water
  • Large bowls to collect water
  • Towels, or paper towels and a wastebasket
  • People to wash and dry hands
  • Lord’s Supper elements
  • Portable cross and carrier
  • Adjustable lighting (optional)
  • Extra chairs in front of the pews

Opening Prayer

God of Love,
as we come to remember the events of this poignant night,
open our eyes to see the beauty of Jesus’ self-giving love,
and by your Spirit work in our community a desire and commitment
to serve each other and our hurting world.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.
—Reprinted by permission from The Worship Sourcebook, Second Edition © 2013, Faith Alive Christian Resources, adapted

Reading: John 13:1–17

Celebration of the Lord’s Supper

Song: “Behold the Lamb” Keith and Kristyn Getty & Stuart Townend

The Denial

Carry the cross toward the front of the sanctuary while Scripture is read. Pause the movement after the reading. Turn off balcony lights or dim lights slightly after song.

Reading: John 13:31–38

Reflection: “Jesus’ Journey and Ours”

Song: “How Deep the Father’s Love for Us” Stuart Townend (vs. 1–3)

The Journey

Carry the cross toward the front of the sanctuary while Scripture is read. Pause the movement after the reading. Turn off lights from the back toward the front of sanctuary or dim lights slightly after each song.

Reading: John 14:15–31

Song: “Go to Dark Gethsemane” LUYH 161 (vs. 1–3), PsH 381, WR 272

Reading: John 15:1–17

Song: “Lamb of God” (vs. 1–3) Twila Paris

Reading: John 16:17–33

Prayer Based on Jesus’ prayer in John 17:
As the disciples prayed with Jesus then, we continue to pray with him now:
Lord Jesus Christ,
who prayed for your disciples that they might be one,
even as you are one with the Father;
draw us to yourself,
that in common love and obedience to you
we may be united to one another,
in the fellowship of the one Spirit,
that the world may believe that you are Lord,
to the glory of God the Father. Amen.
—written by William Temple (1881–1944), public domain

Reading: John 8:1–11, 28–40

Song: “Oh, to See the Dawn/The Power of the Cross” LUYH 177

(For ideas on how to interpret and sing the hymn, and for a descant, see Reformed Worship 110, page 16.)

At the Foot of the Cross

While Scripture is read, carry the cross to the front of the sanctuary to a spot symbolizing Golgotha. When the cross is at the front, turn off lights at the front of the sanctuary or darken the sanctuary, leaving only a spotlight on the cross. Congregation moves forward and gathers around the cross as they sing. The solo can be sung from the balcony or the back of the sanctuary.

Reading: John 19:1–16

Song:When I Survey the Wondrous CrossLUYH 175, PH 100/101, PsH 384, TH 252, WR 261, GtG 223

Song: “Were You There” LUYH 166, PH 102, PsH 377, TH 260, WR 283, GtG 228

Reading: John 19:17–30

Solo (a cappella): “I Remember You” Gene Eugene

Alternatively, the people may sing “Beneath the Cross of Jesus” LUYH 167, TH 251, GtG 216, WR 255 softly or without accompaniment, or musicians may play “At the Cross (Love Ran Red)” Chris Tomlin as they gather around the cross.

Silent Reflection

Congregants can spend as much time as they desire at the front of the sanctuary and then depart in silence.

Pastor Dan Kinnas, Hannah Rottschafer, Wendy Kragt, Pat De Haan, Nicole Compagner, and Jessica Rottschafer—the worship team at Bethel Christian Reformed Church in Zeeland, Michigan—created this Good Friday service.