Good Friday (Year C): Litany for Entering the Shadow

Hello! Today I’m making this year’s Good Friday litany publicly available. Most litanies appear in my Patreon for subscribers, but I try to make one or two per month available here. Please consider joining my Patreon, especially if you or your community are using my work regularly - by doing that you help make this work sustainable for me and my family. $1 - $3 is all it takes for your community to get access to my weekly offerings.

Hopefully you’ve been immersed in the journey of Lenten self-reflection. In Lent we clear space for exploring our inner selves, light and shadow, our complicities in systemic injustice, our addictions and unhelpful behaviors. This is all leading up to Good Friday, when Christ himself enters the shadow; when together we observe holy silence in following him on that journey.

I’m deriving this litany primarily from the John 19 narrative, which is the Lectionary prescription. But Pilate washes his hands in Matthew 27 and not in John 19.


God, today we remember the crucifixion of Christ,
His betrayal, suffering, death, and burial.
As we contemplate the narrative of Christ’s trial,
We imagine ourselves within it.

As we realize the ways we, like Peter, have denied the Christ,
In thought, in word, and in deed;
We observe a holy silence.

- Silence is kept -

As we observe the ways we, like Pilate, have washed our hands in pretense
But been complicit in evil’s unfolding;
We observe a holy silence.

- Silence is kept -

As we contemplate the ways we, like the mob, direct retribution toward one: a scapegoat,
And refusing personal responsibility,
e observe a holy silence.

- Silence is kept -

As Christ went down into darkness and shadow,
A breathless tomb, a soundless silence,
We follow faithfully, into shadowy places inside ourselves
We leave no stone unturned; no tomb unexamined.

We give way to the silence, and to conviction,
Waiting in hope of redemption.
We wait,
And we remember.

Amen



Good Friday (Year B): Litany for Christ's Work

I encourage everyone to read the lectionary passages for Good Friday, Year B, before reading this litany.

God, we know that in our darkest hour, when we feel like you have forsaken us
You are with us.
There, in the darkness and pain,
You are with us.
In the grief and disappointment,
You are with us.

We know that the pain is never unending,
Although it consumes us in the moment.
We know that the end of the story is never death
Although we often feel it is.
We know that the darkness of a tomb is never our ultimate home,
Although when we’re there we feel we will never leave.
We know that the Savior, God Incarnate, went willingly to pain, death, and tomb,
To show us the end of suffering.

And in his suffering,
We find hope.
In his going down to darkness,
We find light.
In his succumbing to death,
We find life.

Christ allowed the powers of this world to do their dirty work on him,
So he could teach us about redemption.
And it is on this work, Christ’s work, that we meditate,
To learn something precious.

Amen

Good Friday: Litany for Scapegoats and Surprises

The texts for Good Friday (Year A) are expansive and rich. In the end, I had to veer away from them specifically to get a better overall picture. I could have written a whole litany on Peter resorting to violence (scolded by Jesus) and then denying Jesus. I could have written a whole litany with imagery from Psalm 22, which Jesus quotes in his last breath. I could have written a whole litany on "approaching the throne... with boldness" from Hebrews 10. It was just too much to pull together into a bite-sized congregational litany. Alas.

Hallelujah to the Lamb of God
Who was sacrificed;
Who was Scapegoat,
Who willingly went to death,
Who gave himself over to principalities and powers
So that they could be undone.

Everything we thought we knew about justice,
Everything we thought we knew about God
All our expectations of power and force
Our preconceived notions of victory
Were overturned in Christ
The old ideas are shadows.

Christ, who went to death
To prove life;
Who went to defeat
To prove victory;
Who went to darkness
To prove light.
Who went to pain
To prove joy.

We wait with you, Son of God, in mourning and quiet,
In the darkness of Good Friday,
Until the day dawns
And the Morning Star surprises our hearts. (1)

Amen

(1)2 Pet 1:19

Lent Series: Litany for Good Friday, "Death"

Great God, we acknowledge that we are not always able to recognize Your ways as good
We confess that we are, at times, confounded;
As on Good Friday, when we commemorate the death of one so dear to us
The Savior, Christ the King.

As a seed must pass through death to sprout new life,
So Jesus Christ has passed into death.
Taking the nature of a human, a servant
He made himself nothing
He humbled himself by becoming obedient to death
Even death on a cross!

For three days, we wait with him, for death to accomplish its purpose;
For Christ’s sacrifice to be made meaningful;
For Christ to re-imagine death.
We grieve, even while we are hopeful.

We wait, and as the stones seal Christ’s body in the tomb, even then we say:
“Oh Death, Where is Your sting? O Grave, Where is your victory?”
And we acknowledge Your good way, the confounding way of obedience to death
That brings us toward Life and Hope.

Amen