The BCP

Good Friday

Author: The Revd Dr Peter Toon

Collect

Almighty God, we beseech thee graciously to behold this thy family, for which our Lord Jesus Christ was contented to be betrayed, and given up into the hands of wicked men, and to suffer death upon the cross, who now liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

Almighty and everlasting God, by whose Spirit the whole body of the Church is governed and sanctified: Receive our supplications and prayers, which we offer before thee for all estates of men in thy holy Church, that every member of the same, in his vocation and ministry, may truly and godly serve thee; through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

O Merciful God, who hast made all men, and hatest nothing that thou hast made, nor wouldest the death of a sinner, but rather that he should be converted and live: Have mercy upon all Jews, Turks [Muslims], Infidels and Hereticks, and take from them all ignorance, hardness of heart, and contempt of thy word: and so fetch them home, blessed Lord, to thy flock, that they may be saved among the remnant of the true Israelites, and be made one fold under one shepherd, Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen.

 

Collect Commentary

These Three Collects are united not only in that they are appointed for this most solemn of all days in the Christian Year, but also in that they are based upon the content of the High Priestly Prayer of Jesus (John 17) uttered on the eve of his Crucifixion, as well as upon the achievement of his sacrifice, oblation and satisfaction offered on the Cross for the sins of the whole world.

As Jesus first prayed for his band of disciples, his little flock, so the first Collect is for the specific congregation - "this thy family". As Jesus consecrated himself to the Father's will for the sake of his disciples, so he also gave himself up as a sacrifice for the sins of each and every congregation and very member thereof.

The second Collect recognizes that the Church throughout the world and also in its local expressions is composed of many different kinds of persons - "all estates of men" - and thus prayer is offered that each kind of person and each member will serve the Lord truly in his vocation and ministry, led by the Holy Spirit.

In his Priestly Prayer Jesus moved on to pray for those who would believe on his Name, asking that they be brought together in unity and communion with the Father. So the third Collect, mindful that in the death of Jesus is a propitiation not for our sins only but also for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:2), makes intercession for those living outside the fellowship of the Church of God. Prayer is offered for the Jews, who, while they acknowledge the Father, deny the Son, whose very office is to reveal the Father. Intercession is offered for the Turks [Muslims], who while they admit that Jesus is a prophet, deny that he is truly the Son of God made flesh. Supplication is made for Infidels, who know neither the true God not Jesus Christ whom he has sent into the world. And petition is made for Heretics, those who have once known and received the truth as it is in Jesus and then have corrupted and perverted it. Such prayers are wholly appropriate if it be the case that in the message of Christ crucified is the real and true salvation of the world. The aim is that they will not be merely one flock of Christ but one fold, with all divisions removed that have separated them.

The origin of the three collects is of interest. In its Latin form the first was the final prayer of the Mass on Wednesday of Holy Week. The people were asked to bow their heads and this prayer was said over them. The second was one of eighteen prayers said after the Gospel on Good Friday in the ancient Church. In the Sarum Missal used widely in England it comes between a prayer for the bishops and one for the king. The third is a compilation based on several of these prayers said after the Gospel on Good Friday. When these prayers were first composed and used in the fourth and fifth century there were no Muslims and so they were not prayed for. However, all other kinds and types of non-Christians were prayed for as their conversion was desired.

GOOD FRIDAY - this name is peculiar to the Church of England (and thus to English culture where the Church has had an impact).

Of all Fridays of the year, there are profound reasons for giving this one the title of "GOOD."

It is the Day when the only One who was GOOD enough as a Person (for he was righteous and without sin) to pay the price of our sin, actually paid that price as the sacrificial Lamb on the Cross.

It is also the Day when the supreme GOOD of mankind - communion and friendship with the Lord - was made possible when the Son of God incarnate took away all barriers to realizing and experiencing that good. The supreme end and good of man is to enjoy and glorify God forever and this is only possible through the reconciliation wrought by Christ Jesus on the Cross.

Further it is the Day when GOOD triumphed over evil as God the Father turned what could have been the world's greatest tragedy - the crucifixion of the most innocent of men - into the salvation of mankind, and as He turned an evil act and apparent defeat into the victory over Satan, sin and death and showed it in Resurrection.

Finally, it is the Day which provides the world with GOSPEL, that is GOOD NEWS, a message of hope to all the nations. The GOOD news is that there is forgiveness, a right relation with the Father, eternal life in the age to come, and friendship with God through the saving work of the Lord Jesus on the Cross.

Yet, while it is most certainly and surely a GOOD Friday, it is also a day of Fasting for the Church, the Bride of Christ, since it is the Day when the Bridegroom is taken away from his Bride [the Lord Jesus from his disciples - see Mark 2:19-20] as he descends into Hades to announce and proclaim his finished, saving and good work to those who have died and wait for their full redemption.

Thus the Church fasts for this whole day, or even for this day and the next day, until the great cry - CHRIST IS RISEN. ALLELUIA - is heard on Easter morning. Then with the victorious and faithful Bridegroom returned she can eat with him at his banqueting table and her first food is his sacramental body and blood, at the Easter Eucharist.

The Book of Common Prayer (1662) provides Collects, an Epistle and Gospel for this GOOD Friday and the general Anglican tradition has been to have only Ante-Communion this day and to encourage meditation, prayer and quiet in church and at home.

 

Epistle Hebrews 10. 1-25

THE law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God. Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law; Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before, This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin. Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; And having an high priest over the house of God; Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

 

Gospel John 19:1-37

Pilate therefore took Jesus, and scourged him. And the soldiers platted a crown of thorns, and put it on his head, and they put on him a purple robe, And said, Hail, King of the Jews! and they smote him with their hands. Pilate therefore went forth again, and saith unto them, Behold, I bring him forth to you, that ye may know that I find no fault in him. Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate saith unto them, Behold the man! When the chief priests therefore and officers saw him, they cried out, saying, Crucify him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Take ye him, and crucify him: for I find no fault in him. The Jews answered him, We have a law, and by our law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God. When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he was the more afraid; And went again into the judgment hall, and saith unto Jesus, Whence art thou? But Jesus gave him no answer. Then saith Pilate unto him, Speakest thou not unto me? knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee? Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin. And from thenceforth Pilate sought to release him: but the Jews cried out, saying, If thou let this man go, thou art not Caesar's friend: whosoever maketh himself a king speaketh against Caesar. When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he brought Jesus forth, and sat down in the judgment seat in a place that is called the Pavement, but in the Hebrew, Gabbatha. And it was the preparation of the passover, and about the sixth hour: and he saith unto the Jews, Behold your King! But they cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify your King? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar. Then delivered he him therefore unto them to be crucified. And they took Jesus, and led him away. And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha: Where they crucified him, and two other with him, on either side one, and Jesus in the midst. And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross. And the writing was JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS. This title then read many of the Jews: for the place where Jesus was crucified was nigh to the city: and it was written in Hebrew, and Greek, and Latin. Then said the chief priests of the Jews to Pilate, Write not, The King of the Jews; but that he said, I am King of the Jews. Pilate answered, What I have written I have written. Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took his garments, and made four parts, to every soldier a part; and also his coat: now the coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout. They said therefore among themselves, Let us not rend it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be: that the scripture might be fulfilled, which saith, They parted my raiment among them, and for my vesture they did cast lots. These things therefore the soldiers did. Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home. After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst. Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a sponge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth. When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost. The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day, (for that sabbath day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. Then came the soldiers, and brake the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs: But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water. And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe. For these things were done, that the scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken. And again another scripture saith, They shall look on him whom they pierced.