Were You There? A 21st Century Worship Resource for Good Friday

Based on John 19, NRSV

Readers and Singers needed

Congregation:
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
Oh! Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?

Reader:
They stood on that day; it was the day to prepare for Passover. The crowd heard Pilate say: "Here is your king!" But they protested. They demanded his execution. They cried out "crucify him!" Pilate was incredulous. He tried to get them to relent; but they insisted that Jesus did not belong to them. He was not their king. He deserved to be executed. So Pilate handed him over.

The crowd took Jesus; John says he carried his own cross to Golgotha, the Place of the Skull. He was crucified there, hanging between two others; all of them killed that day; executed, nailed and hanged to a tree….

Congregation:
Were you there when they nailed him to the tree…
Were you there when they nailed him to the tree…
Oh! Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble
Were you there when they nailed him to the tree…

 

Reader:
Pilate insisted that Jesus' be identified; an inscription was put on his cross. "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews." Many say it, translated in three languages -- Hebrew, Latin, and Greek; many protest. Chief religious leaders demanded: "Change the sign. Say, 'he says he is king of the Jews.'" But Pilate did not relent. He said, "I will not change what I have written."

The soldiers executed him, then took his clothes and divided them among the four of them. The gambled for his tunic, so that it would be kept intact, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled: "They divided my clothes among themselves, and for my clothing they cast lots," the psalmist had said. And so, the soldiers fulfilled Scripture without even knowing it.

In the crowd were women who had followed Jesus all his ministry: his mother, and her sister, and the woman from Magdala, all named Mary. Jesus, in pain, looked from the cross, and saw his mother and one of his favorite disciples, a man he loved deeply. Dying, he cared for them. "Your son, woman; your mother, man," he said, forever making family more than blood. And the disciple took her into his home and treated her like mother from that day on.

He had taken care of the last bit of business when he provided for his mother; his time on earth over, he said only two more things: "I am thirsty," and they gave him wine from a sponge on a hyssop branch. He held it to his mouth. Then, he said, "It is finished," and lay his head bowed and released his spirit.

 

Congregation:
Were you there when the sun refused to shine?
Were you there when the sun refused to shine?
Oh! Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble
Were you there when the sun refused to shine?

 

Reader:
It was coming on Sabbath, and Jewish leaders did not want bodies hanging in full view. How holy would that be? They asked that the execution be expedited; break the legs of those not already dead, they said. And, the soldiers did break the legs of the ones hanging beside Jesus. But Jesus was already dead, so there was no need. Instead, they pierced his side, and blood and water rushed out (there were eye witnesses whose testimony can be trusted). And so, the Scriptures were fulfilled again: "None of his bones will be broken," and "they looked on the one whom they have pierced."

Congregation:
Were you there when they pierced him in the side
Were you there when they pierced him in the side
Oh! Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble
Were you there when they pierced him in the side…

 

Reader:
Joseph of Arimathea, a wealthy man, a disciple of Jesus, came to claim Jesus' body. He was a secret disciple, for he had been fearful to follow openly. Pilate let Joseph take his body. Another wealthy man, Nicodemus -- the one who came by night to Jesus, also came and brought spices for his body. He brought a hundred pounds of myrrh and aloe. Together, they wrapped his body in linen, to give him a kosher burial. And they took him to the garden and lay his body in a new tomb in order to hurry in honor of the day of Preparation for Sabbath.

 

Congregation:
Were you there when they laid him in the tomb…
Were you there when they laid him in the tomb…
Oh! Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble
Were you there when they laid him in the tomb…

 

 


 

Tony Peterson is an acquisitions editor for Thomas Nelson and a former staff member of Discipleship Ministries.
Valerie Bridgeman, Ph.D., Biblical Studies (Hebrew Bible), teaches preaching, worship, and Hebrew Bible at Lancaster Theological Seminary in Lancaster, PA.

Source: The Africana Worship Book for Year B. Copyright Discipleship Resources. Used with permission.

Categories: Worship, Worship Planning, Lectionary Calendar, Services and Liturgies, 21st Century Africana, 21st Century Liturgy, Lent - Easter - Holy Week, Holy Week, Holy Week