Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Blessing by Blood

Blessing by Blood is our worship theme for Good Friday, April 6, 2012. Our focus scriptures are Hebrews 10:11-25 and John 18:1-19:30.

In John 12:32 Jesus says, “When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all people to myself.” On Good Friday we gather to remember the day of his lifting up and to feel the pull of his love on our lives.

Our worship theme is “Blessing by Blood” – an odd theme since we never think of God as needing to kill Jesus in place of us. Our message is that God loves us in spite of our sins, and we certainly believe that God loves Jesus. So why does Jesus end up on the cross? Simply this: because when Jesus bleeds and dies in such a terrible way, he shows us the full depth of God’s love. For God is fully in Jesus, taking up residence with us in this world. God is there in his broken body, bleeding and dying for us. The cross is God’s love letter to us, written in Christ’s blood.There is no greater blessing.

Here are two scripture-based Calls to Worship and a Psalm Prayer. Please feel free to use or adapt anything that may be of use to you.

Call to Worship   From Isaiah 53:1-6

L: Can anyone believe the truth we discovered?
Who would expect God’s messenger to look like this?
P: For God created him a wilting plant in parched ground.
L: There was nothing attractive about him, nothing to draw us close.
P: He was despised and rejected,
a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief.
L: We turned away, pretending not to see him, caring nothing.
P: We were sure his misery was God’s punishment for his own sins.
L: But it was our sins that he carried. Our sins that did him in.
P: He bled to make us whole. He was strung up for our healing.
L: We are all like sheep gone astray.
P: We have wandered from God’s path to follow our own.
All: Yet God grew in him to carry the sins of us all.

Call to Worship    from Hebrews 10:16-25

L: “When the time comes,” God says, “I will make a new covenant with my people.
I will write my laws on their hearts and minds. Then I will forget their sins and remember their evil deeds no more.”
P: When God forgives sins once and for all, no more sacrifices are required.
L: Friends, the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross has opened a new way to God!
P: For God does not want empty rituals. God seeks to draw us close in love.
L: We can trust God, for God is faithful!
P: So on this night we dare to recall the suffering and death of Jesus,
knowing that by his death God empowers us to love one another,
to do good deeds, and to worship together.
All: And even more than this: God promises us everlasting life, even in the face of pain and death. Thanks be to God!

Psalm Prayer  (adapted for worship from Psalm 22)
When Jesus was dying on the cross, he called out, “My God, my God why have you forsaken me?” Some believe he was reciting Psalm 22, the words of which describe his situation of utter desolation.  Yet, at the same time, contained within the psalm (almost a back and forth argument) are words of reassuring hope that the Lord will hear the cry for help and bring deliverance. This psalm prayer with its honest feelings and words of both despair and hope often describes our journey of faith.

L:  My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
     Why are you so far from helping me?
P: My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer;
     and by night as well, but find no rest.
L:  Yet you are holy, praised by your people Israel. 
     Our ancestors put their trust in you, and you rescued them.             
P: But as for me, I am a worm and not human,
     scorned by others and despised by the people.
L:  All who see me mock me;
     they wag their tongues at me and shake their heads.
P: They say, “Trust in the Lord; let the Lord deliver;
     let God rescue the one in whom God so delights."
L:  You are the one who knew me from the womb;
     you kept me safe on my mother's breast.
P: From the day of my birth I have been in your care.
     Since my mother bore me you have been my God.
L:  Do not be far from me, for trouble is near,
     and there is no one to help.
P: My enemies are all around me;
     they circle like wild bulls.
L:  They are like lions, roaring and attacking.
     Their jaws are wide open.
P: I am poured out like water; my bones ache.
     my heart within my breast is like melting wax.
L:  My mouth is dried up;
     my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth;
     you have left me to die in the dust.
P: They pierce my hands and feet.
     They divide my garments;
     they cast lots for my clothing.
L:  Be not far from me, O God;
     you are my strength; come quickly to my aid.
P: Save me from the lion's mouth,
     rescue me from the wild bulls.
L:  I will tell of your name to my brothers and sisters;
     in the midst of the congregation I will praise you.
P: Praise the Lord, all who fear God;
     stand in awe and give God glory.
L:  For God does not despise those in need; 
     neither does God hide from them; 
     when they cry, God hears them.
All: All the ends of the earth
       shall remember and turn to God.
     All shall proclaim God’s salvation
     to people of future generations.

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