Good Friday is the day we remember Jesus’ crucifixion. The hours of noon to 3 p.m. are particularly significant as these commemorate the time Jesus hung on the cross. It is an especially important time to pray for the church and the world for whom Christ gave his life.
Passion and paradox
An excerpt from the Companion to the Book of Common Worship (Geneva Press, 2003, 116, 132-134)
The Good Friday service is a penitential service, yet it is also a celebration of the good news of the cross. So, retain the paradox of the day in the form, mood, and texts of the service. Good Friday is a day in which to allow for numerous contemplative moments, and to permit the power of silence to speak for itself.
The passion narrative according to John is read on Good Friday, because at the heart of John’s passion narrative is the good news of the cross — the victory of the cross. Thus, John’s emphasis on crucifixion and glory corresponds to the tension and ambiguity of the day. …
The Good Friday service is intentionally in concert with the broad ecumenical tradition, and representative of many ecumenical aspects. It, therefore, reflects a commonality with many strands of Christian tradition. …
The proclamation of the readings for the day may replace the sermon, or a brief sermon may precede, interweave, or succeed the readings for the day. Those who plan the liturgy may consider letting the gospel speak through the power of silence, or through an appropriate liturgical dance or offering of music, which may help deepen reflection on the cross for all worshipers.
A fitting response to the hearing of the passion of Christ is intercession in the form of bidding prayers for the whole family of God and the afflictions of the world [the Solemn Intercession]. This is an important element of the Good Friday tradition. Such bidding prayers are signs of our joining in Christ’s priestly ministry of fully extending his arms in order to embrace all God’s people (that is, his posture on the cross).
The Solemn Reproaches [of the Cross] are an ancient text of Western Christendom associated with Good Friday. They need to bread slowly and clearly. The Solemn Reproaches take the place of confession in this service, so no Confession of Sin and Declaration of Forgiveness are included in the service. …
The Service for Good Friday draws people into the story of the passion of Christ. It is composed of contrasting actions and moods of the solemn reading of the passion of Christ and, yet, a hopeful look toward the resurrection. … [I]t is most dramatic and meaningful when all depart in silence. The service continues with the Great Vigil of Easter on Saturday, or an Easter Day service.
Lectionary readings for Good Friday
Read the Revised Common Lectionary Scripture lessons for Good Friday:
Resources for Good Friday
Resources for Good Friday
Download a collection of ideas and liturgical texts for Good Friday from the Office of Theology and Worship.
Youth Tenebrae reading
Using Scripture from the Gospel of John, this dramatic reading for a Tenebrae Service was written by Doodle Harris for the youth of Highland Presbyterian Church, Louisville, Kentucky.
Maundy Thursday Tenebrae service
This service was originally designed for a church that usually only celebrates either Maundy Thursday or Good Friday, but not both. It combines Maundy Thursday’s new commandment, a fellowship meal, the Last Supper and a Tenebrae service.
Stations of the Cross
A multisensory, peripatetic service in the tradition of the stations of the cross with scriptures appropriate for a Reformed church.
Service of the Nails
This service juxtaposes the readings of Christ’s crucifixion with contemporary news accounts to show how the suffering of Good Friday continues, calling us to repent and have compassion.
Prayers for Good Friday
These prayers might be used in a variety of settings: Opening Prayers (at the beginning of worship) or concluding collects (after the Prayers of the People); for church websites or newsletters; or in personal, small group or family devotion.
Eli, Eli (Psalm 22)
A musical response for Psalm 22 that helps to bring out the lament quality of this prayer for Good Friday.
“Good Friday News”
This poem by David Gambrell puts the words of Psalm 22 in dialogue with excerpts from The New York Times on Good Friday, March 21, 2008.
Daily prayer during Holy Week
These daily services for Morning, Midday and Evening Prayer are designed particularly for Holy Week but are appropriate for use throughout the Season of Lent.
Hymns for Holy Week
Explore a Daily Hymn-Prayer Guide for Holy Week, featuring the hymns of Carolyn Winfrey-Gillette.