At our Good Friday service we spent some time meditating on the last words of Jesus on the cross. These words touch on important themes which we need to consider in our own prayer life,.
- Father, forgive them (Luke 23:34)
Jesus prayed for those who crucified him, reflecting a life of forgiveness. It can be very difficult to forgive those who wound and hurt us, but forgiveness is a key element of the gospel (Matt 18:21-35, Matt 6:12-15). We used pebbles to represent the hurt we feel, releasing this to Jesus by dropping the pebbles into a bucket of water as we actively chose to forgive those who have wounded us. Forgiveness is a choice of the will, not a feeling, and often involves a commitment to let go of the grievance instead of holding on to it.
2. Today you will be with me in Paradise (Luke 23:43)
Jesus offered hope to a dying man! No matter what situation we find ourselves in, there is hope in God. We were encouraged to bring our hopes and dreams to God, writing them on post-it notes and fixing them to a picture of a kite flying high into the sky. WIth God, nothing is impossible; nothing is too hard for Him! (Jer 32:7)
3. Woman, here is your son. (John 19:28)
Jesus cared about his mother, even as he was dying, making provisions for John to look after her. We took the opportunity to pray for our families, writing names on handprints and pinning them to a tree.
4. My God, my God, why have You forsaken me? (Matt 27:46)
We meditated on the humanity of Jesus, which means He is able to empathise with our weaknesses and understand all our complex human emotions. (Heb 2:14-15, Heb 4:15). Using emoticons and scrabble tiles, we tried to identify the emotions and feelings we have and give them to God, asking Him to help us work through the feelings of loneliness, confusion and bewilderment we often experience.
5. I thirst (John 19:28)
Jesus experienced thirst on the cross. We too need to recognise the spiritual thirst which only He can satisfy (see John 7: 37-38). The Psalmist spoke of longing for God as a deer pants for the water. (Ps 42:1) We drank water to represent the fact that only Jesus can quench our spiritual thirst; only He can satisfy us. His living water is available for us all, but we must drink in order to experience it!
6. It is finished (John 19:30)
One of the amazing things about Easter is the realisation that God has done everything possible to make a relationship with Him possible. The work of salvation was completed as Jesus offered that once-for-all sacrifice for sin. This amazing truth gives us much to be thankful for in all circumstances, and we looked at writing our thanks on flower petals as we made a ‘gratitude flower.’
7. Father, into Your hands I commit my spirit. (Luke 23:46)
Jesus showed us how to die well, with courage and trust in God. Often, we fear death and dying; we find the loss of bereavement hard to bear. Sometimes the loss of hope or the death of a dream is just as painful to us. We meditated on John 12:24, how the kernel of wheat must be planted in the ground and ‘die’ before it can produce seed and how we need to learn to die daily to self.