Reflections, prayers and family activities for Good Friday
March Team Ministry
 April 10th, 2020
 News for the parishes of St John, St Mary, St Peter and St Wendreda

We are offering a meditation each day for this very strange and exceptional Holy Week. 

We are offering a meditation each day for this very strange and exceptional Holy Week. Good Friday, a strangely named day, is one of the most important days in the Christian Calendar, for we remember it as the day when Jesus hung on the cross. Traditionally this was for three hours, from 12noon until 3pm, so perhaps giving these three hours for focussing on the significance may be possible for you this year.

The Good Friday service contains four elements, which again, you may wish to include in your own way. Firstly, there is the reading of the Passion narrative: Jesus trial and death. Secondly, there is contemplation and prayers at the foot of the cross. Thirdly, there is the sacrament in which we recall and remember that Jesus Christ suffered death upon the cross for our own redemption; he made there (by his one oblation of himself once offered) a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction, for the sins of the whole world. Lastly, we remember that Jesus’s body was placed in a rock tomb; in church we go to the stone font, where in baptism we die and rise with Christ.

You will also find a few activities for those of you with children (and even some of those without might like to have a go!)

Rev'd Andrew

Good Friday
Today's Gospel reading explores the Passion of Christ according to John, Chapters 18 and 19. 
If you don't have a Bible to hand, you can find the reading by clicking the below button.
Read here
 A Reflection from Revd. Andrew...
 “What I have written, I have written.”

In the major crisis in his life, the event for which he will be remembered, where stubbornness might have been a virtue, Pilate gives in to the pressure of the people. And when he chose to be courageous it was too late. His word was not brutal or thoughtless; unfortunately, it was too late.

Early in the morning, when those who were accusing Jesus brought him to Pilate’s palace, he greeted them with the usual courtroom question: “What charges do you bring against this man?” The accusers reply testily that they would not have brought Jesus to trial if he were not guilty of a crime. Their irritation perhaps indicates how uncertain they were of their ground. Often, we are irritable and impatient when not sure of ourselves. Pilate answers in the same sparring mood, and asks Jesus if he is indeed the King of the Jews.

We don’t know his tone; was he conducting a forensic legal interrogation, or goading the Jews and playing power games. After being pressed, Jesus replies “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth.”
The evidence shows Pilate was a man of conscience, and that he had a sense of responsibility for the laws of his empire. He could see no reason to sentence Jesus to death. He invents a clever ruse, giving them the choice of the healer teacher Jesus, or the bandit Barabbas. So, he asks the crowd if he should release Jesus, but they cry out for Jesus’s crucifixion. Perhaps to satisfy them, he has Jesus whipped, so Jesus is whipped and ridiculed.

Pilate then announces that he still finds no fault, and presents this bleeding mutilated absurdly garbed man to the crowd. Perhaps this would gain the crowds sympathy, but instead they seem to have tasted blood; instead of being moved by compassion they become more vengeful and wish further indignity and cruelty.
Pilate becomes increasingly upset; he pleads with Jesus to defend himself, but Jesus refuses to speak or declare his innocence. At last Pilate makes one more attempt to bring about Jesus’s release; but when he does the accusers go straight for his jugular; “If you release this man, you are no friend of the emperor. Everyone who claims to be a king sets himself against the emperor.”

Pilate knew his position was precarious; there had been complaints before, there had been riots before, Judea was a troublesome province, and emperors could be cruel more often than forgiving. So, with more than a touch of sarcasm, Pilate points to the shattered body standing beside him “Here is your King!” They cry out, ‘Away with him! Away with him! Crucify him!’

Pilate tries once again; it’s almost pathetic to see this ruler, appointed by a dominant empire, trying like a child to desperately save the day. Whether he was insensitive to the Jewish people, or whether it was a psychological ploy, he asks, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priest, of all people answers, “We have no king but Caesar.” Perhaps, Pilate now symbolically washes his hands. as he hands him over for execution.
Pilate has not finished, as required the crime has to be posted on the cross above the criminal’s head. Pilate makes sure that everyone knows, for it is posted in three languages, “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.” Perhaps Pilate is even drawn to go and witness the crucifixion, for there is an animated conversation with the religious leaders who point angrily at the sign, but Pilate’s answer is curt, succinct and final: “What I have written I have written.”

What a poor show of courage ! When they challenged the sign he would not budge, yet a few hours earlier, when courage would have mattered, he backed down time and time again to these same people ! When human life was at stake, and justice too, he caved in ! Now it was too late to make a difference ! Now he was immovable, now the die was irredeemably cast, now he had obstinate valour, but when the same qualities would have made a difference, he acquiesced !

And we understand Pilate - you and I - of course we do. If we have a measure of self insight, and the humility to confess it, we understand his failure because we have walked the same path. Pilate has the right instincts, a proper sense of justice, and perhaps even a good measure of courage. But he was LATE. He said a good word, but it was after it no longer mattered. 20/20 vision in hindsight is all too easy. Afterwards we know what we should have said, after a crisis is past, we know what we could have done.

Yes, we know, yes, we know too well.

People who have deep convictions, but never share them until later. People who mean to say things to people, but never get around to it. Yes, we should find it easy to understand Pilate, I really do think he meant well, but his action was too late.

There’s another tragedy in Pilate’s story, in some ways worse than his being late. You remember the sign he prepared read; “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.” Pilate was glad, whether out of spite or courage, to call Jesus the King of the Jews. What he ought to have done was to make Jesus the King of Pilate. He was ready enough to declare others under the lordship of the Man from Nazareth, but when the crisis demanded he acknowledge Jesus for himself, Pilate said nothing.

He had had the chance to do business, eternal business, when Jesus said, “Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” But it was also a very threatening situation for him, for as long as Jesus was the prisoner in the dock and Pilate the judge on the bench, Pilate was comfortable. Jesus statement swapped them over, Pilate now in the dock, on trial. Seeming to be more than he could handle, Pilate tries to turn it into a philosophical debate, “What is truth?” – keeping Jesus at a distance, just as we want to raise clever questions, intellectualise, or resort to religious language. The question Jesus asks is “Will you let me be your King?” and Pilate replies like a college student “What is Truth” when the Truth is standing so close he can touch him.

We have to buy truth for ourselves, we cannot make him King for someone else, we cannot simply debate, psychologize or manoeuvre. If he is my King or your King, you and I have to decide. We cannot wash our hands.

So, it is not surprising that Pilate was ready to declare Jesus “King of the Jews” rather than his King. But I understand Pilate, I feel for him. I am impressed by the effort trying to give Jesus a fair trial, more than most would do. I recognise myself in him, when he announces, “What I have written I have written.” because most of my best moments come when the issue is already past. But the good word that he spoke was too late, and a good word too late is no better than no word at all. And, when Pilate finally spoke it, he tried to speak for someone else; but when you speak to the cross, you must always, always speak for yourself.

Poor Pilate! It is so easy to be like him.

                                                                                            God Bless, Andrew   
To read and/or print the full Reflection, Gospel reading and prayers please click here      
A Good Friday Message from Bishop Dagmar...
To watch or listen to Bishop Dagmar's Reflection for Good Friday, please click the below button to be taken to the Diocese of Ely YouTube channel.
Watch here
Kids' Corner... 
Here are today's activities and worship resources for Good Friday - have a go - we would love to see how you get on..!
Feel free to tag one of our churches (@StJohnsMarch, @StPetersMarch, @StWendredasMarch) or tag Operations Manager @RebeccaMarchChurches to keep us updated!
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