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A Dramatic Service Based On The Stations of The Cross
Version Two - 2001, 2004

Based on an earlier version we posted to the Net in 1994 (V.1 1994), this service has been adapted to be even more of a dramatic service. We again look at the Via Dolorosa from the point of view of the Centurion - but with a revised script for both him and for the narrators. We now envision two narrators who, in turn, take a station and both introduce and conclude it. This sets each station apart and gives each narrator only seven stations to deal with. The Centurion of course is "on" each time.

We think that moving from station to station around the church is distracting and technically difficult (and many Protestant churches don't have them..). Our preference is to have the narrators use the lectern and the Centurion a space near the lectern. The church is, of course, draped in black. An overhead projector can show an artistic rendition of each station in turn if so desired.

One of the revisions that was made was the music. More verses were written (to well known tunes) and the remainder were selected from a single hymn book. The bulletin for the service should include the name of the station, and the chorus or verses associated with it. Nothing more should be required in the bulletin than that.

Each year we find much delight in doing our dramatic "Good Friday Services", and in fact they are now being used around the world. They help Protestant Churches in particular recover one of the most important days in our church year and to do so in a way that conveys the emotional and theological impact that this day deserves. Further Good Friday Services can be found on our Seasonal Resources page. - - Charlene Fairchild & Richard Fairchild, April 2001, 2004

A Dramatic Good Friday Service of Worship
Based on The Stations of The Cross
c-gdfrsu.y-c 928
                            THE WAY OF THE CROSS
*  Musical Prelude, Lighting of Candles & Words of Welcome

Introduction To The Service
R:     The service tonight is based on the Stations of The Cross - a devotion
       that was developed in the Middle Ages by the Franciscans as a way of
       allowing people who could not travel to the Holy Land to walk where
       Christ walked on the day of his passion.  By the end of the 17th
       century many churches had stations, or stops, ranged at intervals
       along their walls - each with a cross and under that cross a
       representation of an event in the passion narrative.  Nine of the
       fourteen stations are taken directly from scripture - the other five
       come out of the earliest traditions of the church.  

N1:    Tonight with the exception of the first hymn - we would like everyone
       to remain seated during the service.   We will proceed after that hymn
       to move through the stations of the cross.   Each station has a
       devotion wherein a narrator will speak -and then there will be a
       meditation or thought - given from the point of view of the Centurion
       who commanded the guard the day Jesus was crucified.

N2:    Following the meditation upon each Station there will be a prayer. 
       Then, immediately after the  after the prayer we ask you to sing the
       verse or verses printed in the bulletin.  It is our hope that you will
       relax - and enter into the experience of Christ's passion, that you
       may know the meaning of what our Lord has done for us.  Let us prepare
       for our worship now by standing to sing "There is  A Green Hill Far

* HYMN: "There is a Green Hill Far Away"                           - VU 152

STATION ONE: Jesus is Condemned to Death
N1     It is Friday - early in the morning.  Jesus is brought from Caiaphas
       the High Priest to Pontius Pilate, the Governor, on trumped-up charges
       of treason and is condemned to death.

R:     The cries of, "Crucify him! Crucify him!" still ring in my ears.  The
       picture of Pilate sitting on the judge's bench asking the crowd of
       leaders and people, "Shall I crucify your King?" and their response,
       "We have no king but the Emperor." is an image that haunts me.  It
       haunts me because of the callousness and injustice of it all.  The
       world is so often unjust.  But mostly it haunts me because I see this
       injustice, this callousness in myself.   How often I wonder now did I
       participate in allowing an innocent person to suffer.  Often did I
       judge and dismiss persons as unworthy - as not due my care  or
       compassion.  How often did I take part in carrying out the judgement
       of others - without question, without thought, without even a tear.   

N1:    O, Lord Jesus, when have I seen you hungry, or sick, or in prison, or
       without clothing, or alone, and not helped you?   Help me to remember
       how you came to us - and how we have so often responded to your coming
       with words of condemnation - or with silence.   Grant me, grant us
       all, the grace to reach out to you when you next come, to reach out
       with words and deeds of love and justice.

   Based on VU 144 "Were You There?"
   Were you there when they judged the Son of God?  Were you there?
   Were you there when they judged the Son of God?
   Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble
   Were you there when they judged the Son of God?

STATION TWO: Jesus Accepts His Cross
N2:    A heavy cross is thrust into Jesus' arms.  He is ordered to carry it
       to the site of His execution.  Jesus accepts the cross.  Carrying it
       by himself, he goes out to the Place of the Skull - Golgotha - to be
       crucified with two other men.

R:     He went out carrying his cross.... like so many others before him.  
       Beaten by my brothers.  Mocked  by my guard.  Bent over.  Bleeding.  A
       horrible sight that people fail to see even as they gather on the
       streets to gossip and to stare - a sight that we, his executioners,
       close our hearts to lest we somehow end up feeling the pain, the
       burden, that the one who is afflicted must carry.  Humanity is
       burdened with many crosses - war, hunger and famine, greed and
       poverty, sickness and death.  Everywhere you look there are people who
       bear those crosses - people who are afflicted, people whom we look at
       but do not see, people struggling - alone.   This Jesus - he walked
       that road of sorrow - like so many before him.  Alone.  Carrying the
       burden that he did not earn.  Without a word.  In silence.

N2:    Lord Jesus, you accepted the cross - even though it did not belong to
       you - even though you did not deserve it.   You carried the burden
       that belongs to us.  Teach us how to bear each others burdens.

   Based on VU 144  "Were You There?"
   Were you there when he took the Cross for you?  Were you there?
   Were you there when he took the Cross for you?
   Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble
   Were you there when they judged the Son of God?

STATION THREE: Jesus Falls the First Time
N1:    The cross is heavy and the road to Calvary, the road to Golgotha - the
       place of death - is long.  Jesus, weary from lack of sleep,
       loneliness, fear, and the beatings he received slumps to the ground. 
       Soldiers quickly drag him to his feet again.

R:     All around Jesus are the mockers and those who take delight in human
       misery.  It is hot and sticky in the crowded little street.  The air
       is filled with foreboding on this day of Preparation for Passover. 
       These people should have their hearts on pondering the things of their
       God.  Instead they are intent, in the name of their God, to do this
       evil that I too participate in.  The world is filled with people who
       have fallen and struggle to rise and there are no hands to help them -
       only hands to drag them ever closer to their doom.  My task was clear. 
       I did what I had to do.  My men did what they had to do.

N1:    Lord Jesus, so much of our wickedness rises out of our selfishness and
       fear.  So much happens because we know what we must do and do it -
       regardless of how it may add to your suffering.  Forgive us and
       forgive all who mock and jeer.

   V.1  VU 145  "O Sacred Head"
   O sacred head, sore wounded, with grief and shame weighed down;
   now scornfully surrounded by thorns, thine only crown:
   how art thou pale with anguish, with sore abuse and scorn;
   how does that visage languish, which once was bright as morn!

STATION FOUR: Jesus Meets His Mother
N2:    In horror - stunned, numb - Mary watches Jesus sway and stagger down
       the street.  Her son, who glances at her in his agony, is being
       dragged off to his death.

R:     The look on her face.  I could tell that she was his mother.  Such
       anguish and pain as she looked upon him, and he upon her.  I could not
       tell what they said to one another in that glance - whatever it was
       she stood there in anguish, tears pouring from her eyes.  What mother
       would not feel the agony of Mary's helplessness and sense of loss? 
       What father would not care?   Yet, In a world filled with death and
       destruction from wars and earthquakes, from riots and terror to
       drought and starvation, so many seem to have lost the ability to
       comprehend and feel compassion in the face of loss - unless it is our

N2:    Lord Jesus, help us to remember Mary your mother as she stood alone in
       grief.  Help us to remember all the other Marys of this world when
       they suffer.  May we be a true source of grace and comfort, to them -
       comforted as we are, by you.

   V. 3 & 5 VU 139 "At the Cross Her Vigil Keeping"
   Who upon that mother gazing, 
   in her anguish so amazing, 
   born of woman, would not weep?

   For his people's sins chastised 
   she beheld her Son despised, 
   scourged, and crowned with thorns entwined.

STATION FIVE: Simon Cyrene Helps Jesus Carry the Cross
N1:    Jesus is faltering under the load.  The soldiers fear that he might
       die along the way.  They seize Simon of Cyrene, put the cross on his
       shoulders as he stands behind Jesus and make him help shoulder the

R:     It was the only thing to do.  A thing we have done a hundred times.  A
       perfect stranger, coming into the city, just happened to be at the
       wrong place at the wrong time.  I demanded that he be grabbed and
       forced to take hold of the cross.  Was he reluctant?   Better to ask
       was I?  I longed to help Jesus but I was afraid.  I was relieved when
       the guards picked someone out of the crowd to help.  I was ashamed
       that I could not bring myself to step out of character, out of my
       role, to help the man.

N1:    Lord Jesus, we thank you for strangers in our midst, who often
       unwittingly, even unwillingly, show us what to do and how to do it. 
       Open our eyes and hearts; enlarge our vision, that we may be ones who
       help you - and others - to bear the unbearable load.

   V. 1 & 3 VU 561 "Take Up Your Cross"
   Take up your cross, the Saviour said, if you would my disciple be;
   deny yourself, the world forsake, and humbly follow after me.

   Take up your cross, heed not the shame, let your foolish pride bestill;
   your Saviour once accepted death upon a cross, on Calvary's hill.

STATION SIX: Veronica Wipes the Face of Jesus
N2:    As Jesus passes by, a woman - Veronica we call her - reaches out of
       the press of the crowd and lovingly, gently wipes the blood and the
       sweat from Jesus' face.

R:     I am stunned.  A woman has done what no one else has done.  She has
       reached out and helped the helpless - mopping the blood and sweat from
       his face.  Even the crowd quiets for a moment.  What she has done is
       so full of love and compassion and courage.  She has done what I have
       only thought about doing.  Would that there were more like her on this
       earth.  Are there?  Anywhere?  I fear that there are not.  I know that
       I do not have the courage - even when I flatter myself and think that
       I have the heart for it.  

N2:    Increase, O Lord our courage and our compassion.  Help us wipe away
       every tear from the eyes of those who are oppressed - even when it may
       cost us to do so.

   v. 1 & 3 VU 658  "O Love That Will Not Let Me Go"
   O love that will not let me go, I rest my weary soul in thee;
   I give thee back the life I owe, that in thine ocean depths its flow
   May richer, fuller be.

   O Joy that seekest me through pain, I cannot close my heart to thee;
   I trace the rainbow through the rain, and feel the promise is not vain
   That morn shall tearless be.

STATION SEVEN: Jesus Falls the Second Time
N1:    Jesus falls again, despite the help of the Cyrene.  He lies sprawled
       in the dirt, sweat beading on his face, mingling with the blood from
       the cuts on his forehead and the dust of these well-travelled streets. 
       The soldiers, impatient and anxious to be over this job, roughly drag
       him to his feet again, cursing him.

R:     My heart wrenches.  My stomach churns.  I feel my own sweat upon my
       brow.  I can only guess at  the agony Jesus is in.  The weight of the
       cross is too much and he is so very weak.  He is bearing a heavy
       burden - like so many others in our world - and he has been forced
       once again to his knees - like so many have before him and so many
       will after him.  I wonder - how do the spectators feel as they watch
       this?  Did they recognize their own pain?   Do they try to hide that
       pain by laughing at it, like I have done in the past?  Do they reject
       that pain by jeering at him?  Do they really know what is happening -
       how this Jesus is enduring what he should not have to endure?  How he
       is a victim of the evil that is in us all?  I fear not.  How welcome
       will the place of execution be - this road seems to go on forever.

N1:    Lord, we have offended greatly.  We have shrugged off the burdens of
       others so carelessly.  We have neglected mercy and loving kindness.  
       We think only of ourselves.  Forgive us.

   Based on VU 480  "Let Us Break Bread Together"
   He has fallen to the gro_und, on his knees,
   He has fallen to the gro_und, on his knees,
   When I fall down on my knees with my face to the rising sun,
   Oh, Lord, have mercy on me.

STATION EIGHT: Jesus Speaks to the Weeping Women
N2:    A large crowd of women have followed Jesus' path to Golgotha.  They
       are weeping and wailing in traditional mourning for this man, their
       friend.  They are overcome by their grief and by their helplessness. 
       Jesus says to them, "Don't weep for me but for yourselves and your

R:     They cry, these women who follow us, like I am crying inside.  But our
       tears are not enough.  They cannot stop the agony.  They cannot feed
       the hungry.  They cannot bring peace.  They cannot stop this evil from
       happening.  Jesus speaks to them, barely heard over their wailing.  
       "If you must weep," he says, "weep for yourselves and your children".  
       I can hardly understand what he means.  Is it a word of judgement - or
       of compassion?  Or somehow both?  I think it is the latter.  That this
       man knows what is happening to him - and that it will be over soon. 
       But that their suffering and the suffering of their children is yet to
       come.  Oh that there was another way!  There is another way.  I know
       it in my heart.  We must move beyond weeping.  We must also act.  But
       I cannot.  I am as powerless as this man bent over under his cross.

N2:    Help us Lord in our tears to remember that it is not you that we must
       weep for, but ourselves.  And show us what we may do to save our world
       - our children - from suffering as you have suffered.

   V. 2  VU 145  "O Sacred Head"
   Thy grief and bitter passion were all for sinner's gain,
   mine, mine was the transgression, but thine the cruel pain.
   Lo, here I fall, my Saviour, turn not from me thy face;
   but look on mine with favour, and grant to me thy grace.

STATION NINE: Jesus Falls the Third Time
N1:    No sleep, nothing to eat or drink since supper the eve before, the
       interrogations, the scourging, the mockery - they have all taken their
       toll.  Jesus falls again to the dust and grime of the crowded street
       of Jerusalem amidst the noise of weeping and heckling.

R:     This is almost too much.  How much more will he have to endure?  How
       much more will we have to endure?  Jesus has become a pathetic
       spectacle - just as these crucifixions are meant to be.  The laughter
       as he struggles once more to his feet is awful.  How can they laugh? 
       Can't they see he's trying?  Don't they feel any pity?  I should talk
       - no better that I don't.  My patience is wearing thin.  I long to get
       this over with and to go home.  This is proving to be much harder on
       me than I would have ever guessed it would be.  At least I can go
       home.  This poor creature, this Jesus won't.  He'll die - and from the
       looks of him - it may be sooner than normal.  For his sake I hope that
       it is.

N1:    Lord Jesus, you have put up with so much from us.  You have put up
       with so much for us.  How great your despair must have been that day. 
       Teach us Lord, from your example, to not add to the pain of this

   Based on VU 480  "Let Us Break Bread Together"
   He has fallen to the gro_und, on his knees,
   He has fallen to the gro_und, on his knees,
   When I fall down on my knees with my face to the rising sun,
   Oh, Lord, have mercy on me.

STATION TEN: Jesus is Stripped of His Garments
N2:    Finally they arrive at the God-forsaken place where Jesus will be
       crucified.  People dump their garbage very near the place known as
       Golgatha.  Hurriedly, roughly, his clothes are stripped from his back
       leaving him naked in front of the crowd - naked, exhausted and

R      We stripped him.  Our job is to make sure that there is nothing left
       to a man to mark him as a man.  To expose him.  To humiliate him.  To
       reduce him to the equivalent of the garbage that litters the shallow
       valley just below this hill.   We did our job.  Some of my men with
       more glee than others - wondering who would get his robe - a robe that
       despite the blood and the grime and the rends, might fetch a good
       price.  Jesus just stands there - swaying.  With nothing.  Is this his
       poverty? or is it ours that I see?  We took his clothes, we took his
       dignity, much like this world strips naked hundreds and thousands of
       its people every day with its' greed and its' uncaring. Yet, in some
       strange way, I find myself caring more than I ever have before.  I
       want nothing to do with taking his clothing - I will let the men
       gamble for it after we nail this Jesus to the cross.

N2:    Dear Lord, we reach out and grasp greedily for so much, searching for
       what will satisfy.  We do not know how to let go of things and let you
       in.  Even when we want to bring healing and wholeness, we get caught
       up in deeds that bring the opposite.  Forgive us.

   Based on VU 144  "Were You There"
   Were you there when they took away his clothes
   Were you there when they took away his clothes.
   Oh!  Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.
   Where you there when they took away his clothes.

STATION ELEVEN: Jesus is Nailed to the Cross
N1:    Roughly, contemptuously, the soldiers thrust Jesus down onto his
       cross.  Holding him down - some sit on him - they pound the nails
       through his hands and feet.  After he is lifted up, the soldiers throw
       dice for his clothing to fulfil the scripture, "They divided my
       clothes among themselves, and for my clothing they cast lots."

R:     The ring of the hammer on the nails, the sickening sound of flesh and
       bone crunching echo in my brain.  I'll never, never ever forget this. 
       Somehow this one crucifixion is different than all the others I've
       been to.  The torture, for that's what it was, has not stopped.  It
       still happens every day.  From utter brutality to the unkind word that
       flays the soul -it still happens.  But the nonchalance, the ease with
       which my soldiers threw the dice beneath his feet as if nothing were
       happening horrifies me today.  But then, well then it was a blessed
       distraction to hear them chattering and laughing - and to not have to
       listen to the sounds of weeping as Jesus and the others hung on their

N1:    O God, our God, we have forsaken thee, fled from the crosses you ask
       us to bear, turned to endless games and sport to numb our pain.  That
       day you did not flee.  Help us to turn to you, to embrace you and the
       yoke you have offered us.

   V. 1 & 2 VU 136  "O Come and Mourn With Me A While"
   O come and mourn with me a while; O come ye to the Saviour's side;
   O come together let us mourn: Jesus our Lord is crucified.

   Have we no tears to shed for him, while soldiers scoff and foes deride?
   Ah! look how patiently he hangs: Jesus, our Lord, is crucified.

STATION TWELVE: Jesus Dies on the Cross
N2:    The nightmare of pain and suffering, the agony of betrayal and
       loneliness come to an end.  After three mercifully brief hours on the
       cross, suspended between earth and sky, Jesus dies.  Choking on the
       hyssop dipped in wine he gasps out the words, "It is finished."  He
       bows his head and gives up his spirit. 

   - extinguish Christ Candle -

R:     The gambling didn't last long.  So I watched Jesus die.  It was
       unnaturally dark during the time he spent dying.  But I saw enough -
       more than enough.  I saw what the sign said that nailed above his
       head.  I heard what the passers-bye said about him as they mocked him.
       And I heard the words he spoke to his mother and his friend and what
       he said to the thief on the cross next to him.  I heard all his cries
       and I saw his agony.  Indeed I was there when he breathed his last
       with a great cry - and I felt the spear dig in his flesh - the spear I
       thrust into him to make sure that he was dead.  And I saw and felt the
       blood and water pour out down his side, down the spear, down my arms,
       down his legs and  to the ground.  Violence and death.  Violence and
       death.  I hung my head.  I could no longer see for the tears that
       flowed, like his blood, down my face.  And I could not stop the words,
       that came to my lips as unbidden as the tears  "Truly this man was
       God's Son!"

       Oh why did I have a hand in this?  How could I have I let it happen?

N2:    "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?  Why are you so far from
       helping me, from the words of my groaning?  Yet you are holy,
       enthroned on the praises of Israel.  I am poured out like water, and
       all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it is melted
       within my breast.  My mouth is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue
       sticks to my jaws; you lay me in the dust of death."  (Psalm 22:1, 3,

   V. 1 VU 147 "What Wondrous Love Is This"
   What wondrous love is this, O my soul, O my soul,
   What wondrous love is this that cause the Lord of bliss
   to bear the dreadful curse for my soul, for my soul,
   to bear the dreadful curse for my soul.

STATION THIRTEEN: Jesus is Taken Down From the Cross
N1:    He is dead.  His body hangs limply, heavily.  The darkness which had
       filled the sky since noon begins to fade.  A wild rumour that the
       curtain of the temple had been torn in two from top to bottom was
       circulating.  The soldiers yank out the nails to get him down. 
       Everyone, including the women who had followed him and were looking on
       from a distance, stands back awkwardly, and watches the scene before
       them.  Bleeding, broken, limp and heavy in his death - they place him
       in the arms of his mother.

R:     How did she feel?  How did she feel?  Mary, the mother of Jesus, how
       did she feel?  With infinite tenderness, she gently held him and wiped
       his bloodied brow as her tears fell on his lifeless body.  How did she
       feel?  She shoos away the hands that would have parted her from her
       son.  "Just one more moment," she whispers.  How did she feel?   Oh
       why did I have a hand in this?  How could I have I let it happen?  How
       can I comfort her?

N1:    " I cry to you, O Lord; I say, 'You are my refuge, my portion in the
       land of the living.'  Give heed to my cry, for I am brought very low." 
       (Psalm 142:5-6)

   Based on VU 144  "Were You There"
   Were you there when they took him from the cross
   Were you there when they took him from the cross
   Oh!  Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.
   Where you there when they took him from the cross.

STATION FOURTEEN: The Burial of Jesus
N2:    Relatives and friends carry his body to the tomb of Joseph of
       Arimathea, a rich man who was also a disciple of Jesus.  They lay his
       body, wrapped in a clean linen cloth, in the new tomb which has been
       carved out of the hill and then they roll a boulder across the
       entrance and silently withdraw.

R:     The place where they laid the body to rest was in a garden.  The
       garden seemed strangely silent and still as I stole into it to watch
       them.  My mind and my body were in shock.  Images registered on my
       brain but I no longer felt anything.  It was over.  This Jesus, this
       one that I for some reason had called the son of God, had died.  I 
       knew my life would never be the same - but what it would be I could
       not say.  All he knew was that he was gone.  Gone.  And I did not know
       him -  and I did not help him.  I went away and wept bitterly.

N2:    Loving God, it says in your word that you did not withhold nor spare
       even your own Son, but gave him up for all of us."   Teach us what
       this means.  Give us new hope - we ask it in his name.  Amen.

    VU 144 verse 5  "Were You There?"
   Were you there when they laid him in the tomb?  Were you there?
   Were you there when they laid him in the tomb?
   Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.
   Were you there when they laid him in the tomb?

N1&2:  Lord, when you were buried it seemed like the end of everything you
   promised and stood for.  But it wasn't, it was only the beginning.  As
   we travel tonight from the Crucifixion through the Vigil of Easter to
   the Resurrection, be with us in a special way to help us recall and
   reflect in our hearts who you are and what you have done for us. 

R: Father, send down your abundant blessing upon your people who have
   devoutly recalled the death of your Son.  Grant them pardon and bring
   them comfort.  May their faith grow stronger and their eternal
   salvation be assured.  We ask this through Christ our Lord.  Amen.
* Choral Blessing:  "Go Now In Peace"                              - VU 964

copyright - Rev. Richard J. and Charlene E. Fairchild 2001 - 2006
            please acknowledge the appropriate author if citing these sermons.

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