Please gather 7 candles, or other light forms that can easily be extinguished before you begin.
You may also wish to enrich your at-home liturgy by engaging your five senses and imagination.
Gather your materials ahead of time. You should be able to find most of these at home or in the yard, but if you don’t have something, don’t worry! You can still do the rest of the activities.
- A piece of paper (a half-sheet will do)
- Something to write with, for each person
- A small piece of cloth that is OK to tear, for each person (paper will also work)
- A piece of rope, twine, or string
- A piece of thorny branch (blackberry, rose, etc.)
- Two small bowls or dishes:
- one with a spoonful of vinegar (or anything sour)
- one with a few drops of oil (any cooking or massage oil—make it smell beautiful with a drop of essential oil if desired)
- A larger bowl of water
Most of the activities come immediately after the reading and before the song (#4 invites you to draw as you listen to the Scripture). Take a minute to reflect on the sensations.
THE FIRST CANDLE
Jesus Is Betrayed and Arrested
When he had finished praying, Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the Kidron Valley. On the other side there was a garden, and he and his disciples went into it. Now Judas, who betrayed him, knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with his disciples. So Judas came to the garden, guiding a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and the Pharisees. They were carrying torches, lanterns and weapons.
Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, “Who is it you want?”
“Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied.
“I am he,” Jesus said. (And Judas the traitor was standing there with them.) When Jesus said, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground.
Again he asked them, “Who is it you want?”
“Jesus of Nazareth,” they said.
Jesus answered, “I told you that I am he. If you are looking for me, then let these men go.” This happened so that the words he had spoken would be fulfilled: “I have not lost one of those you gave me.”
Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.) Jesus commanded Peter, “Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?”
Then the detachment of soldiers with its commander and the Jewish officials arrested Jesus. They bound him and brought him first to Annas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year. Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jewish leaders that it would be good if one man died for the people.
Pick up the piece of rope or twine. How does it feel—rough or smooth? How did it feel for Jesus to give up control and allow himself to be tied up and taken away?
Extinguish the First Light
The Second Candle
Jesus is Falsely Accused
The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for false evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death. But they did not find any, though many false witnesses came forward.
Finally two came forward and declared, “This fellow said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and rebuild it in three days.’ ”
Then the high priest stood up and said to Jesus, “Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?” But Jesus remained silent.
The high priest said to him, “I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.”
“You have said so,” Jesus replied. “But I say to all of you: From now on you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”
Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “He has spoken blasphemy! Why do we need any more witnesses? Look, now you have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?”
“He is worthy of death,” they answered.
The people of Israel were waiting for their Messiah, the special one chosen and marked by God to bring them freedom and hope. But when he came, they told lies about him. With a drop of the oil, mark each person’s forehead and say, “You are anointed to be a witness who tells the truth about Jesus.”
Extinguish the Second Light
The Third Candle
Jesus is Rejected
Then the Jewish leaders took Jesus from Caiaphas to the palace of the Roman governor. By now it was early morning, and to avoid ceremonial uncleanness they did not enter the palace, because they wanted to be able to eat the Passover.
Pilate went out again to the Jews gathered there and said, “I find no basis for a charge against him. But it is your custom for me to release to you one prisoner at the time of the Passover. Do you want me to release ‘the king of the Jews’?”
They shouted back, “No, not him! Give us Barabbas!” Now Barabbas had taken part in an uprising.
Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They clothed him in a purple robe and went up to him again and again, saying, “Hail, king of the Jews!” And they slapped him in the face.
From then on, Pilate tried to set Jesus free, but the Jewish leaders kept shouting, “If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar. Anyone who claims to be a king opposes Caesar.”
When Pilate heard this, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judge’s seat at a place known as the Stone Pavement (which in Aramaic is Gabbatha). It was the day of Preparation of the Passover; it was about noon.
“Here is your king,” Pilate said to the Jews.
But they shouted, “Take him away! Take him away! Crucify him!”
“Shall I crucify your king?” Pilate asked.
“We have no king but Caesar,” the chief priests answered.
Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified.
So the soldiers took charge of Jesus. Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha). There they crucified him, and with him two others—one on each side and Jesus in the middle.
Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read: JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS
Look at the thorny branch that you found. Carefully touch it. Think about what it felt like when the soldiers pressed a crown made of sharp thorns onto Jesus’ head. Did he look like a king then?
Extinguish the Third Light
The Fourth Candle
While listening to this reading, take your piece of paper and draw a shape, symbol, or sketch that represents something ugly you have done.
Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.
The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.”
The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.”
One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”
But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”
Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
(Luke 23: 32-36, 39-43)
Now crumple up your sketch and throw it away. Cross your hands over your heart while you listen to this song. Imagine Jesus is saying this to you.
Extinguish the Fourth Light
The Fifth Candle
Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.”
At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”). (Mark 15:33-34)
Put a drop of the vinegar on your tongue. What does it taste like? Would it help if you were very thirsty? Would it do anything to help with terrible pain?
Extinguish the Fifth Light
The Sixth Candle
And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.
The centurion, seeing what had happened, praised God and said, “Surely this was a righteous man.” When all the people who had gathered to witness this sight saw what took place, they beat their breasts and went away. But all those who knew him, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.
Hold your breath while you tear your scrap of cloth or paper in two. Let it out. What was behind the curtain of the temple? What changed when Jesus breathed his last?
Extinguish the Sixth Light
The Christ Candle
Because the Jewish leaders did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down. The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other. But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water. The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe.
(John 19: 31-34)
Dip your hands in the bowl of water. Water can clean our hands, but it can’t make our hearts clean. Thank Jesus for giving everything that was needed to take away our sin.
Extinguish the Christ Light
Re-Light the Christ Light in anticipation of the Resurrection…