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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