God’s hands are tied – a liturgy for Good Friday




The Lord be with you.

And also with you.


Introit: 339 O sacred head sore wounded


Eli Eli – by Judith Wright




(Read slowly, reflectively)

When I read the poem by Judith Wright, I think of Jesus – tied to the cross – watching helplessly as humankind chooses not to respond to his message, but to continue down its path of self-destruction.

I remember too that figuratively or literally, God gave humankind the freedom to choose from the moment of creation. God must have known the outcome of this decision but God knew that true service and love must result from freedom to choose that love and service.

For centuries God watched – helplessly but not hopelessly – as his creation misused his trust –perpetrating acts of genocide, allowing whole nations to live with hunger, disease and poverty and destroying the environment, not to mention the daily pettiness of jealousy, anger and greed.

God’s solution to the problem is not (as we might expect) to rain down fire and brimstone or to bend out will to his. Instead, in Jesus, God comes himself – placing himself completely in the hands of his flawed creation. There is no compulsion for us to respond, only a hope on God’s part that we will see that a life aligned to God is so much better than a life that chooses to go its own way.

Nowhere is God so vulnerable, so impotent, so unable to compel obedience than on the cross. Given the choice – humanity has chosen to go its own way, to destroy the love held out to it.

In the poem, Jesus watches soldiers, children and women in the river and does not intervene – because it must be our choice to turn to him.

Jesus knows that it is humankind that has built the barriers between the human and divine. He knows too how much heartache and pain results from that separation. Jesus’ real grief in the poem lies in the fact that he knows that the separation is not necessary.

There is no river – only a separation caused by our own determination to go our own way and God’s unwillingness to force us to return. The choice is ours. The irony is that in aligning our wills to that of God we would discover that we are not bound or limited, not coerced or compelled and that having given our lives back to God we with Jesus will be raised to newness of life – set free from the restraints and limitations of our human nature – truly alive and truly free.

Therein lies Jesus’ pain. Our failure to see, our determination to go our own way, our failure to see that there is no river, causes more pain than the cross itself, but Jesus will not force us to see, we must come to that ourselves.


Let us pray:

Liberating God, {God of freedom}

as you made yourself vulnerable for our sake,

so may we make ourselves vulnerable for yours.

As you allowed yourself to be dependent on us,

so may we  learn to depend entirely on you.

As you gave your life for us,

so may we give our lives over to you.

As we ponder the mystery of your passion,

may we understand that you withhold nothing from us.


The only thing that separates us from you is ourselves. Amen.


Creator God,

who chose restraint over control

and who trusts us to choose between good and ill.

Help us to understand the cost to you of our freedom,

to learn to choose wisely,

and to know that it is in you and you alone that true freedom lies.


Ministry of the Word

Isaiah 52:13 – 53:12

Psalm 22

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me:

            why are you so far from helping me

            and from the words of my groaning?

My God, I cry to you by day, but you do not answer:

            and by night also I take no rest.

But you continue holy;

            you that are the praise of Israel.

In you our forebears trusted:

            they trusted and you delivered them.

To you they cried and they were saved:

            they put their trust in you and were not confounded.

But as for me, I am a worm and no man: 

            the scorn of all and despised by the people.

Those that see me laugh me to scorn:

            they shoot out their lips at me

            and wag their heads, saying,

“He trusted in the Lord – let him deliver him:

            let him deliver him, if he delights in him.”

But you are he that took me out of the womb:

            that brought me to lie at peace on my mother’s breast.

On you have I been cast since my birth:

            you are my God, even from my mother’s womb.

O go not from me, for trouble is hard at hand:

            and there is none to help.

Many oxen surround me:

            fat bulls of Bashan close me in on every side.

They gape wide their mouths at me:

            like lions that roar and rend.

I am poured out like water,

and all my bones are out of joint:

            my heart within my breast is like melting wax.

My mouth is dried up like a potsherd:

            and my tongue clings to my gums.

My hands and my feet are withered:

            and you lay me in the dust of death.

For many dogs are come about me:

            and a band of evildoers hem me in.

I can count all my bones:

            they stand staring and gazing upon me.

They part my garments among them:

            and cast lots for my clothing.

O Lord, do not stand far off:

            you are my helper, hasten to my aid.

Deliver my body from the sword:

            my life from the power of the dogs;

O save me from the lion’s mouth:

            and my afflicted soul from the horns of the wild oxen.

I will tell of your name to my companions:

            in the midst of the congregation will I praise you.

O praise the Lord, all you that fear him:

            hold him in honour, O seed of Jacob,

            and let the seed of Israel stand in awe of him.

For he has not despised nor abhorred

the poor man in his misery:

            nor did he hide his face from him,

            but heard him when he cried.

The meek shall eat of the sacrifice and be satisfied:

            and those who seek the Lord shall praise him –

            may their hearts rejoice forever!

Let all the ends of the earth remember

and turn to the Lord:

            and let all the families of the nations worship before him.

For the kingdom is the Lord’s:

            and he shall be ruler over the nations.

How can those who sleep in the earth do him homage:

            or those that descend to the dust bow down before him?

But he has saved my life for himself:

            and my posterity shall serve him.

This shall be told of my Lord to a future generation:

         and his righteousness declared to a people yet unborn, 

         that he  has done it.

1 Corinthians 1:18-31

Hymn: 350 There is a green hill far away

.The Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Mark Chapter 15 beginning

at verse 21.

Glory to you Lord Jesus Christ.

For the Gospel of the Lord.

Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ.

Hymn: 345 Were you there when they crucified the Lord?

(During the hymn a collection will be taken up for the Anglican Diocese of Jerusalem)


God of freedom,

be with all those whose lives are circumscribed

by disease, poverty, violence and oppression.

Give to all world leaders a desire for peace and justice,

and to all people a willingness to share equitably the resources of the earth.

God who sets us free.

Hear our prayer.

God of love,

give us an openness to your love,

a willingness to trust in your direction,

a hopefulness for the future.

God who sets us free.

Hear our prayer.

Compassionate God,

encourage all those in our community who feel lost and alone,

those who are house-bound, those who suffer from mental illness

or any form of addiction.

Be with the victims of violence,

especially those who suffer violence at the hands of those who proclaim love for them.

God who sets us free.

Hear our prayer.

God of  Grace

comfort and sustain all those in need of your healing power

give them confidence for the future and a firm trust in your love.

God who sets us free.

Hear our prayer.

Living God,

Open us to your presence that is always with us,

Help us to trust you in good times and in bad,

And to come at last with all your saints to life everlasting.

Lord’s Prayer: Accept our prayers through Jesus Christ our Lord,

who taught us to pray.

            Our Father in heaven,

                        hallowed be your name,

                        your kingdom come,

                        your will be done,

                        on earth as in heaven.

            Give us today our daily bread.

            Forgive us our sins

                        as we forgive those who sin against us.

            Save us from the time of trial

                        and deliver us from evil,

            for the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours

                        now and forever. Amen.



At creation, God gave us freedom, so that we could choose how to live.

In the Incarnation, Jesus showed us what that freedom could look like.

On the cross, God willingly submitted to the choices we had made.

We have abused and misused the freedom God has given us, and still God withholds the power to control and direct our lives. Let us therefore confess our sins, accept our failure and trust in God’s infinite love and goodness.

God of freedom

we confess before you

and before each other,

that we have used our freedom for ourselves,

and have trusted ourselves and not you

with our fate and the fate of the world.

Free us from the desires and constraints of this world.

Forgive our self interest, our greed and our absence of vision.

Transform and heal us by your spirit with us.

Renew and encourage us by your life in us.

Give us a trust in your goodness, a willingness to submit our lives to you, and a commitment to share with you a love for all creation. Amen.


On the cross, Jesus affirmed our freedom.

Use that freedom wisely, for yourself,

and more especially for others.

Know in God’s forbearance, the deep love God has for you.

Understand that you are forgiven and extend that forgiveness to others

for Christ’s sake. Amen.

Recognition of the cross:  341 (During the singing of the hymn you might like to come forward and acknowledge the cross. Alternately you are welcome to sit or stand in quiet reflection.)



Hymn: 344 Glory be to Jesus

Please leave the church in silence

Copyright. Marian Free , 2011


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