How do you best help people reflect on the importance and meaning of Good Friday? One traditional way of doing this has been by using the ‘Seven Last Words’, the seven things that the gospels report the Jesus said when he was on the cross. Between them, they sum what the good news of Easter is all about.
To help people reflect on the Seven Last Words and on Good Friday, we set up seven prayer stations around Hartshorne church, which people went round as part of a Good Friday service, along with some songs and prayers. (I did/borrowed the words and Rachel did the interesting, creative stuff!) The prayers and poems that we put with some of the prayer stations were taken from the excellent Lent and Easter resource book Let Justice Roll Down. I began the service with the Alternative Collect for Good Friday and ended with the Collect for Easter Eve.
Whilst people were using the prayer stations, we also had Good Friday and Seven last words images showing through the projector. The instructions we put with the prayer stations can be downloaded as a pdf, as can the seven last words.
Seven Last Words prayer stations
A tray with sand in it.
There are times when we need to be forgiven and God forgives us. There are times when we need to forgive. God gives us the strength to forgive.
Is there something you wish to bring to God to ask forgiveness? Write or draw it in the sand.
Ask forgiveness. Then pass your hand through the sand, obliterating the words or images as a symbol of receiving God’s forgiveness.
Is there something which you should forgive? Write or draw it in the sand. Ask God for the strength to forgive. Smooth the sand as a symbol of this.
A bowl of (individually wrapped!) sweets
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
God loves you!
Take a sweet and as you eat it say thank you to God for God’s love and all the good things he gives us.
Globe, map of the parish, newspaper headlines (from national and local papers) cut into the shape of a heart, paper hearts to write on, pens
Spend some time looking at the map of Hartshorne and the globe.
Thank God for the love and compassion that Jesus showed. Ask God for you to know that love and compassion.
On one of the heart shapes write the name or initials of a person, place or situation where God’s love is needed.
Ask God to help you show his love and compassion.
Black scratch crosses (card with coloured crayon overpainted with black paint), cocktail sticks to scratch off the black paint, Bibles.
Read Psalm 22
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
“He has not despised or disdained the suffering of the afflicted one;
He has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help.”
Take one of the black crosses and scratch out patterns, pictures or words.
As you do so, ask God to reveal his light shining into the darkness.
Jugs of water, cups
Jesus said “whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:14)
Pour a glass of water and as you do so watch and listen to the water flowing.
Spend some time looking at the water you have poured. Thank God for his refreshing Spirit.
Take a drink and ask God to fill you afresh.
A lit candle, tealights, foil covered tray or similar to put lit candles on
Lighting a candle is, in itself, a prayer. It acts as a sign of God’s presence among us, a light in the dark. It shows our concern. It symbolises our commitment: the candle only produces its light by burning itself and shows the sacrificial nature of love. When joined by candles lit by others, they become a visible sign of our combined prayers.
Light a candle and place it on the cross.
Thank God for Jesus, for shining as a light for us.
Stable and manger, crosses, ikons/pictures of Jesus and family.
Reflect on all that Jesus did for us:
(we used the poem from Heart2heart by John Birch, p83 Your life was a journey…).