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RECORDED REFLECTIONS FROM HOLY WEEK

                                A Service of Readings, Reflection and Prayers for Good Friday                                                                                                    Revd Martin B Cox                                                                                                                         

                                       Team Rector

The Gathering

You are worthy, O Lamb for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed for God saints from every tribe and language and nation; you have made them to be a kingdom and priests serving our God.

We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you; by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world.

To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and made us a kingdom of priests to stand and serve before our God; to him who sits upon the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honour, glory and might, for ever and ever. Amen.

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of Glory died
My richest gain I count but loss
And pour contempt on all my pride

And pour contempt on all my pride

 

See from His head, His hands, His feet
So much sorrow and love flow mingled down
Did e'er such love and sorrow meet
Or thorns compose so rich, so rich a crown

Or thorns compose so rich, so rich a crown

 

Were this whole realm of nature mine
That were an offering far too small
Love so amazing, so divine
Demands my soul, my life, my all
Demands my soul, my life, my all

Reflection

As a child and young adult I lived with my parents and younger sister not too far from Trentham Gardens.

One Sunday morning aged 16, as a member of a youth group that met in the town of Burslem some 7 miles from our home, I walked to Stoke to catch a bus to Burslem. I did so in order that I could be taken by car with others to a village in South Cheshire. Singing was part of my youth and I was part of a small choir formed to assist in a mission service that crisp, spring morning. The hymn we were to sing was the deeply personal hymn by Isaac Watts that we know as When I survey the wondrous cross.

Isaac Watts wrote "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross" in preparation for a communion service in 1707. Originally, the hymn was titled "Crucifixion to the World by the Cross of Christ," following the practice of the day which was to summarize a hymn's theme in the title. To this day many hymnologists consider "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross" to be one of the finest Christian hymns ever written, and the very best hymn in the English language. It’s said to be the first known hymn to be written in the first person, introducing a personal religious experience rather than limiting itself to the musical exposition of doctrine. Watt’s hymn-writing reshaped the future of church music, and inaugurated what is considered the golden age of hymn-writing.

Though Watts also followed the tradition of his day and put many psalms to music, he also believed that it was possible to compose hymns that reflected your own thoughts and feelings. These hymns were termed “hymns of human composure” and they stirred up great controversy. Thankfully Watts did not respond to the critics of his day, or we might not have other hymns for his repertoire, such as “Joy to the World!”, or, “Our Help in Ages Past”.

I remember that walk to Stoke, the bus journey to Burslem and the choir I was part of that Sunday morning every time I hear and sing When I Survey the Wondrous Cross. I wonder what comes to mind for you when you hear the words of the hymn? I wonder too what crosses you are called to bear in your life, which you can only do through the love and strength of God you gain from meditating on the wondrous cross on which the saviour died?

 

A reading from John’s Gospel, chapter 19

The Crucifixion of Jesus                                                                                                                                         So they took Jesus; 17 and carrying the cross by himself, he went out to what is called The Place of the Skull, which in Hebrew[d] is called Golgotha. 18 There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, with Jesus between them. 19 Pilate also had an inscription written and put on the cross. It read, ‘Jesus of Nazareth,[e] the King of the Jews.’ 20 Many of the Jews read this inscription, because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew,[f] in Latin, and in Greek. 21 Then the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, ‘Do not write, “The King of the Jews”, but, “This man said, I am King of the Jews.”’ 22 Pilate answered, ‘What I have written I have written.’ 23 When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his clothes and divided them into four parts, one for each soldier. They also took his tunic; now the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from the top. 24 So they said to one another, ‘Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see who will get it.’ This was to fulfil what the scripture says,

‘They divided my clothes among themselves,
    and for my clothing they cast lots.’

25 And that is what the soldiers did.

Meanwhile, standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, here is your son.’ 27 Then he said to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.

28 After this, when Jesus knew that all was now finished, he said (in order to fulfil the scripture), ‘I am thirsty.’ 29 A jar full of sour wine was standing there. So they put a sponge full of the wine on a branch of hyssop and held it to his mouth. 30 When Jesus had received the wine, he said, ‘It is finished.’ Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

 

Let us pray                                                                                                                               

God sent his son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. Therefore let us pray to our heavenly Father for people everywhere according to their needs.

Good Friday Collect                                                                                                         

Almighty God, we pray you graciously to behold this your
family, for whom our Lord Jesus Christ was willing to be
betrayed, and given into the hands of sinners, and to suffer
death upon the cross; who now lives and reigns with you and
the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer

Standing at the foot of the cross, with Christians north and south, east and west, Protestant, Orthodox and Catholic, as our saviour taught us so we pray.

Please join me in praying the Lord’s Prayer in its traditional form.

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever.
Amen.

Most merciful God, who by the death and resurrection of your Son Jesus Christ delivered and saved the world: grant that by faith in him who suffered on the cross we may triumph in the power of his victory; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


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