April 7, 2023: Good Friday Music and Meditation

Easter Week 2023

Reverend Dr. Desi Larson

Organ: A Lenten Suite, by Charles Callahan
Jesus Lover of My Soul, by Lyndall Leatherman
Lacrymosa (A Requiem), by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Piano: Jesus Walked This Lonesome Valley, by Jack Schrader
When I Survey the Wondrous Cross, by Chuck Marohnic
What Wondrous Love Is This? by Mark Hayes
Death of the Christ; Good Friday, from Holy Week Piano Suite, by Chuck Bell

Organ: My Spirit Dry as Desert Land, by James E. Clemens
Canticle of Promise, by Gabriel Faure

Donna Grubbs, Pianist
Pauline Olsen, Organist

Good Friday

Today we commemorate the crucifixion of Jesus and his death at Calvary during this time for meditation. Observed during Holy Week as part of the Paschal Triduum (Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday), we invite you to participate in silent meditation which includes a self-guided Stations of the Cross.


Contemplative music (see insert); organist Pauline Olsen and pianist Donna Grubbs

Stations of the Cross

The Stations of the Cross or the Way of the Cross, also known as the Way of Sorrows or the Via Crucis, refers to a series of images depicting Jesus Christ on the day of his crucifixion and accompanying prayers. The stations grew out of imitations of the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem, which is a traditional processional route symbolizing the actual path Jesus walked to Mount Calvary. The objective of the stations is to help the Christian faithful to make a spiritual pilgrimage through contemplation of the Passion of Christ. It has become one of the most popular devotions, and the stations can be found in many Western Christian churches, including those in the Roman Catholic, Lutheran, Anglican, and
Methodist traditions.

Good Friday Self-Guided Meditations

Adapted “Walking Meditations,” Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, Brookfield, CT

Following each reflection is a set of questions that will hopefully help you do some self-examination and deepen your relationship with God, as you contemplate Jesus’ path from “family meal” to the cross. Blessings to you on this Good Friday….

The Betrayal and Arrest of Jesus

Matthew 26:47-52, 57, 59-66

47 While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the twelve, arrived; with him was a large crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people. 48 Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man; arrest him.” 49 At once he came up to Jesus and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed him. 50 Jesus said to him, “Friend, do what you are here to do.” Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and arrested him. 51 Suddenly, one of those with Jesus put his hand on his sword, drew it, and struck the slave of the high priest, cutting off his ear. 52 Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword… 57 Those who had arrested Jesus took him to Caiaphas the high priest, in whose house the scribes and the elders had gathered…59 Now the chief priests and the whole council were looking for false testimony against Jesus so that they might put him to death, 60 but they found none, though many false witnesses came forward. At last two came forward 61 and said, “This fellow said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and to build it in three days.’” 62 The high priest stood up and said, “Have you no answer? What is it that they testify against you?” 63But Jesus was silent. Then the high priest said to him, “I put you under oath before the living God, tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.” 64 Jesus said to him, “You have said so. But I tell you, From now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.” 65 Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “He has blasphemed! Why do we still need witnesses? You have now heard his blasphemy. 66 What is your verdict?” They answered, “He deserves death.”


It’s easy, when we read this part of the story, to focus on Judas, on his great betrayal of Jesus. It can be easy to speculate about his motives and to condemn him as the worst sinner of all time. But we need to keep reading. We need to remember that, in spite of all they had heard along the way from their Master Jesus, “the Prince of Peace” himself, the disciples still took his advice and brought swords to the garden – and one fell to the temptation to meet violence with violence (although not terribly effectively, as only the guard’s ear was removed). Judas’s betrayal was the most flashy, Peter’s denial later is very well remembered. But other disciples were not entirely trusting in God’s protection that last night on the Mount of Olives. Thus, it was not only Judas who betrayed their teacher Jesus. Standing up for Christ’s Way of Peace, especially when that position is unpopular among our friends, is a hard choice to make.
Questions for Reflection: When have you witnessed to your faith with others who find faith unpopular? What was that experience like? What gives you (or would give you) the courage to witness to your faith regularly?

Peter’s Denial of Jesus

Matthew 26:69-75

69 Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. A servant-girl came to him and said, “You also were with Jesus the Galilean.” 70 But he denied it before all of them, saying, “I do not know what you are talking about.” 71 When he went out to the porch, another servant-girl saw him, and she said to the bystanders, “This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.” 72 Again he denied it with an oath, “I do not know the man.” 73 After a little while the bystanders came up and said to Peter, “Certainly you are also one of them, for your accent betrays you.” 74 Then he began to curse, and he swore an oath, “I do not know the man!” At that moment the cock crowed. 75 Then Peter remembered what Jesus had said: “Before the cock crows, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.


What would have happened if Peter had said yes? “Yes, I know him. Yes, I’m one of his followers.” Would he have been arrested too? Would he have been tried and tortured and crucified too? Perhaps it was simple expediency that kept him silent. After all, how could Jesus’ work continue if his disciples were all dead too? Maybe Peter was hoping to keep Jesus’ movement alive with this act of denial. Maybe he was just trying to stay alive. Whatever was behind the words, “I do not know the man,” they led Peter to repentance. It’s easy to think we know what he should have done. But when it’s our turn to speak up and confess our love of Jesus, or to stay silent, what do we do?
Questions for Reflection: Have you ever denied knowing or having a relationship with God? What helps you to build your relationship with God as you journey through life…especially through the difficult times?

Jesus Brought before Pilate

Matthew 27:1-2, 11-14

1 When morning came, all the chief priests and the elders of the people conferred together against Jesus in order to bring about his death. 2 They bound him, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate the governor. 11 Now Jesus stood before the governor; and the governor asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus said, “You say so.” 12 But when he was accused by the chief priests and elders, he did not answer. 13 Then Pilate said to him, “Do you not hear how many accusations they make against you?” 14But he gave him no answer, not even to a single charge, so that the governor was greatly amazed.

Reflection: The Paradoxical Commandments

People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered. Love them anyway.

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives. Do good anyway.

If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies. Succeed anyway.

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable. Be honest and frank anyway.

The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds. Think big anyway.

People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs. Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight. Build anyway.

People really need help but may attack you if you do help them. Help people anyway.

Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth. Give the world the best you have anyway.

© Copyright Kent M. Keith 1968

Questions for Reflection:

Jesus knew that what he was doing and teaching could win him enemies and lead him toward potential accusations and danger, and yet he did it anyway. Which of the commandments above is the easiest for you to follow? Which is the hardest? Why?