April 2, 2021 - Good Friday Worship

Welcome & Announcements: Please enjoy this service at your own leisure on Good Friday or feel free to join us via ZOOM invite.

 

Jennifer Parks-Snyder is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Good Friday

Time: Apr 2, 2021 07:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

 

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Call to Worship:

Leader: And this is the judgment, that the light has come into this world, and we loved darkness rather than light.

Liturgist: God is light, in whom there is no darkness at all.

Leader: For God sent His Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.

Liturgist: Every one that does evil hates the light and does not come to the light.  But all who do what is true come to the light because of your love.

Leader: Come, let us worship in spirit and truth. 

Liturgist: Come, let us worship in peace and in love.

 

Opening Hymn: In the Cross of Christ, I Glory (verses 1,4,5)

https://soundcloud.com/jennifer-parks-snyder/in-the-cross-3-verses

 

1 In the cross of Christ I glory, towering o'er the wrecks of time;
all the light of sacred story gathers round its head sublime.

 

4 Bane and blessing, pain, and pleasure, by the cross are sanctified;
peace is there that knows no measure, joys that through all time abide.

 

5 In the cross of Christ I glory, towering o'er the wrecks of time;
all the light of sacred story gathers round its head sublime.

 

Opening Prayer: Almighty God, to You all hearts are open, all desires known, and from You no secrets are hidden. Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of Your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love You, and worthily magnify Your Holy Name, through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

 

1st Lesson: Zephaniah 3:14-20

14 Sing, Daughter Zion; shout aloud, Israel!
Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, Daughter Jerusalem!
15 The Lord has taken away your punishment, He has turned back your enemy.
The Lord, the King of Israel, is with you; never again will you fear any harm.
16 On that day they will say to Jerusalem,
“Do not fear, Zion; do not let your hands hang limp.
17 The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you; in His love He will no longer rebuke you,
but will rejoice over you with singing.”

18 “I will remove from you all who mourn over the loss of your appointed festivals,
which is a burden and reproach for you.
19 At that time I will deal with all who oppressed you.
I will rescue the lame; I will gather the exiles.
I will give them praise and honor in every land where they have suffered shame.
20 At that time I will gather you; at that time I will bring you home.
I will give you honor and praise among all the peoples of the earth
when I restore your fortunes before your very eyes,” says the Lord.

 

Hymn of Preparation: What Wondrous Love is This 292 (first 2 verses)

https://soundcloud.com/jennifer-parks-snyder/what-wondrous-love-2-verses

 

1 What wondrous love is this, O my soul, O my soul?
What wondrous love is this, O my soul?
What wondrous love is this that caused the Lord of bliss
to bear the dreadful curse for my soul, for my soul,
to bear the dreadful curse for my soul?

 

2 When I was sinking down, sinking down, sinking down,
when I was sinking down, sinking down,
when I was sinking down beneath God’s righteous frown,
Christ laid aside His crown for my soul, for my soul,
Christ laid aside His crown for my soul.

 

Pastoral Prayer:

Tonight, Jesus, You did not hide Your face from shame and spitting.

Tonight, Jesus, You were mocked, struck by unbelievers, and crowned with thorns.

Tonight, Jesus, You laid down Your life on the cross, and were crucified with robbers, and had nails driven through Your hands and feet.

Tonight, You were laid in a guarded tomb.

Tonight, O Savior Jesus, put an end to our sins, and bring us closer to God. Amen

 

Gospel Lesson: Matthew 27:11-26 

11 Now Jesus stood before the governor; and the governor asked him, ‘Are you the King of the Jews?’ Jesus said, ‘You say so.’ 12But when He was accused by the chief priests and elders, He did not answer. 13Then Pilate said to Him, ‘Do You not hear how many accusations they make against You?’ 14But He gave him no answer, not even to a single charge, so that the governor was greatly amazed.

 

15 Now at the festival the governor was accustomed to release a prisoner for the crowd, anyone whom they wanted. 16At that time they had a notorious prisoner, called Jesus* Barabbas. 17So after they had gathered, Pilate said to them, ‘Whom do you want me to release for you, Jesus* Barabbas or Jesus who is called the Messiah?’* 18For he realized that it was out of jealousy that they had handed him over. 19While he was sitting on the judgement seat, his wife sent word to him, ‘Have nothing to do with that innocent man, for today I have suffered a great deal because of a dream about Him.’ 20Now the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowds to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus killed. 21The governor again said to them, ‘Which of the two do you want me to release for you?’ And they said, ‘Barabbas.’ 22Pilate said to them, ‘Then what should I do with Jesus who is called the Messiah?’* All of them said, ‘Let Him be crucified!’ 23Then he asked, ‘Why, what evil has He done?’ But they shouted all the more, ‘Let Him be crucified!’

 

24 So when Pilate saw that he could do nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took some water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, ‘I am innocent of this man’s blood;* see to it yourselves.’ 25Then the people as a whole answered, ‘His blood be on us and on our children!’ 26So he released Barabbas for them; and after flogging Jesus, he handed Him over to be crucified.

 

Sermon Title:  Who Would You Choose?

 

In our Scripture lesson we are at the point where Jesus is far from being safe and secure, He is being presented for His sentencing. That means Judas already betrayed him and hung himself. Peter already denied his association with Jesus three times, and most of the other disciples fled out of fear.

 

And as Jesus is being presented before Pilate, we sense Pilate is unsure of what this is all about.

 

Further his wife has been struggling as she knows Jesus is innocent. The text says she has been suffering a great deal that day due to some dreams about him.

 

And the nightmare is just beginning for Jesus, he is going to be condemned; he is going to suffer; he is going to die.

 

How did it come to this? How did this man who started a great change in Israel three years prior end up here?

 

I mean this was the man who went around and healed people with His touch. This was the man who went around and healed people with His words. This was the man who inspired men to leave their nets and follow Him, while at the same time inspired sinners to repent and sin no more.

 

How could this man be in trouble?

 

He was in trouble because He was not the Messiah we expected or rather He was not the Messiah we thought we needed.

 

 Oh yes God had promised that one day God would send a Savior to redeem the Israelites and make their nation known. This Savior would be the anointed one of God – He would be God with us. 

 

Prophecies had been given time and time again that reminded the Israelites of this promise.  Including one we read in Zephaniah in chapter 3 when the Lord says,

I will remove disaster from you,* so that you will not bear reproach for it.
19 I will deal with all your oppressors at that time.
And I will save the lame and gather the outcast,
and I will change their shame into praise
and renown in all the earth.
20 At that time I will bring you home, at the time when I gather you;
for I will make you renowned and praised among all the peoples of the earth,
when I restore your fortunes before your eyes, says the Lord.

 

The Messiah would save God’s people. And more than likely this person would be like King David, a man who was after God’s heart. David was handsome, charming, a man for the people, fighting the good fight to protect and save their kingdom. David went to battle for the people; surely The Messiah would do the same.

 

But this guy, Jesus of Nazareth, a carpenter, said He was the One, said He was the Messiah sent to set the captives free and bring sight to the blind. And how was He doing this? With compassion and with grace.

 

Further He claimed if everyone would do the same, show mercy, kindness, be good Samaritans, then that would prove how God is saving us. God is saving us, helping us, coming closer to us, when we love and come closer to each other.

 

This guy must be wrong. That’s not how it’s supposed to go, is it?

 

So, He is taken to Pilate and you and I read in the text that what follows is a decision, a decision the crowd makes. Tradition had it on high holidays one prisoner could be set free.

 

But there is something in this passage that I believe we tend to overlook. While we all know that the other man that Pilate presents to be released the day of Jesus’ trial is Barabbas, but did you know his full name is actually “Jesus Barabbas”?

 

Matthew tells us 27: 15 Now at the festival the governor was accustomed to release a prisoner for the crowd, anyone whom they wanted. 16At that time they had a notorious prisoner, called Jesus* Barabbas. 17So after they had gathered, Pilate said to them, ‘Whom do you want me to release for you, Jesus* Barabbas or Jesus who is called the Messiah?’*

 

Barabbas, according to Luke and Mark was part of an insurrection, where they tried to overthrow the Roman authorities. And according to Luke and Mark Jesus Barabbas committed murder in that insurrection.

 

So, do you see the decision that was being presented? Do you see the choice the crowd had to make?

 

Jesus Barabbas stood for overthrowing the Romans, reclaiming your tax money, and restoring the Jewish kingdom with sword, with a fight.

 

Jesus the Messiah stood for loving your oppressors, praying for your persecutors, and knowing that you are blessed with a heavenly kingdom if you suffer for what is true and right.

 

Pilate gave the crowd an offer, let Jesus Barabbas the fighter be the one set free to lead and to guide or let Jesus of Nazareth, called the Messiah, who wants us to love others, be our leader, be our guide.

 

Who would you choose? Every Good Friday, I confess, have been struggling with this one.

 

Let’s imagine we are in that crowd of deciders and we have a choice to release one who is willing to fight for our protection and guarantee personal results, would I pick that one?

 

Or would I choose the one who tells us to love and pray for our enemies, that their hearts might be lightened. And tells us to pay our taxes, regardless of cost. And that we should love and care for each other, even though I barely can support my own family. Who would you choose?

 

I know who I would choose. I would choose the one who would fight to protect me and my family, doing more for me, rather than the people as whole. And that troubles me to say that. That troubles me because I recognize how far I have to go in becoming a better follower of Christ.

 

I mean I know Jesus was not weak, He was strong, He was brave, and He died innocently FOR ME.

Further I know the rest of the story. I know God has raised Him from the grave to prove the amazing power Jesus truly had, the power of God’s love, a love that not even death will keep us separated from.

 

So why when I am faced with this choice am I hesitant?

 

Friends, Good Friday is given its name because Jesus died for the good of all. Do we get that? That means when we gather, when we hear the texts and sing the songs of His amazing sacrifice, He didn’t do it just for me, He did it for you, He did it for homeless downtown, He did it for the imprisoned, and the aliens sneaking into our land, He did it for the persecutors of our faith.

 

So that if and when we truly comprehend that act, shouldn’t it humble us? Shouldn’t it break our selfish hearts so that if given the choice between fighter and savior, we should fall on our knees, thankful for a God who loves each and everyone of us that He gave Himself up in His Son, to die, to redeem us, for our petty sins. And not just yours and mine, but the sins of the homeless, the imprisoned, the aliens, the persecutors?

 

Some of you may be familiar with the book or the movie, The Shack. It tells the story of Mack, who experiences a tragedy when his youngest daughter is taken and brutally murdered in an abandoned shack deep in the Oregon wilderness. Four years later in the midst of his great sadness, Mack receives a suspicious note, from God, aka “Papa”, inviting him to that shack for a weekend. Against his better judgment he arrives at the shack on a wintry afternoon to meet The Holy Trinity to deal with the question, "Where is God in a world so filled with unspeakable pain?"

 

The scene I want to share with you now is a scene of judgement.

https://youtu.be/hUiW7bOqGPA

 

“You’ve judged your children, worthy of love. Even if it costs you everything. Now you now Papa’s heart.”

 

Friends, God chose to offer Godself in Jesus, for you and for me, for all, so we do not have to choose. Jesus chose for us, by offering Himself with salvation for all.  And so the only choice we need to make is, will we receive that gift of love?

 

As the Apostle Paul puts it is a love that never fails. It never ceases, but it bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. God’s love never ends.

 

On this Good Friday night, may we all prepare our hearts and minds to choose God’s love to be our inspiration, to be our guide, to be the way that saves us all.

 

Prayer:

O God, You have ordered this wonderful world and You know all things on earth and in heaven. Give us such faith that by day and by night, at all times and in all places, we may without fear commit ourselves and those dear to us to Your never-failing love, in this life and in the life to come. Amen.

 

Hymn: How He Loves Us by LUMC Praise Band

https://soundcloud.com/jennifer-parks-snyder/how-he-loves-us-gf

 

He is jealous for me
Love's like a hurricane, I am a tree Bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy

 

When all of a sudden I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory
And I realize just how beautiful You are And how great Your affections are for me

 

And oh, how He loves us, oh
Oh how He loves us
How He loves us all   (repeat all of above)

 

Yeah, He loves us
Oh how He loves us
Oh how He loves us
Oh how He loves

 

And we are His portion and He is our prize.  Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes
If His grace is an ocean, we're all sinking
And heaven meets earth like an unforeseen kiss And my heart turns violently inside of my chest
I don't have time to maintain these regrets When I think about, the way...

He loves us
Oh how He loves us
Oh how He loves us
Oh how He loves

 

Yes He loves us
Oh how He loves us
Oh how He loves us
Oh how He loves

 

He loves us
Oh how He loves us
Oh how He loves us
Oh how He loves

 

It’s Friday:

https://youtu.be/8gx6_rGLz20

 

Benediction:

Surely Christ has borne our infirmities and carried our diseases. By His bruises, we are healed. By His love, we are made whole. By His sacrifice, we are free.

People: Thanks be to God.

 

Postlude: Triple Amen by Donna Farver

 

https://soundcloud.com/jennifer-parks-snyder/triple-amen

 

 Amen. Amen. Amen.

 

 
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