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A Thursday Service Of Readings & Psalms

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mgpc has a meeting on the Thursday night before Good Friday.
For the last few years I have used an order of service from Terry Johnson’s ‘Leading In Worship’.
The service is styled ‘The Good Friday or Easter Service Of Lessons & Psalms’ after the traditional ‘Readings & Carols’ service of Christmas. I’ve never used it on Friday, but find it suits Thursday evening.
During the service we alternate between New Testament readings relating events from the Lord Jesus’ betrayal to ascension and singing Psalms which foretell the same events of which we have just read.
The simplicity of the liturgy contrasts with the profound significance of the atoning work of Jesus. It also demonstrates the extraordinary way in which God’s promises toward us were foretold in the Psalms.
I don’t preach. I pray at appropriate points.
Here’s the order, complete with the words of the Psalms we sing. We use well known tunes, selected for their suitability for the words of the Psalm.

First Lesson: John 13: 12 – 30 ‘Betrayal’ – He that eateth my bread lifted up his hand against me.
Psalm 41: 7 – 10
All those who hate me whisper ill,
Against me harm devise.
“Some evil holds him fast,” they say,
“Brought down he will not rise.”
And even my familiar friend
In whom my trust was real,
The one who ate my bread, has turned
And lifted up his heel.
But You, O LORD, be merciful
And raise me in Your grace;
And then a recompense complete
Upon them I will place.

Bible Reading  John 15: 18 – 27 ‘Rejection’ They hated me without a cause.
Psalm 35: 19 – 21
Let not my wrongful enemies
Raise over me their joyful cries,
Nor those whose hate I merit not
With secret scorning wink their eyes.
They speak not peace; deceit they plot
Against the men of peaceful mien;
They open wide their mouth at me
And say, “Aha! Our eyes have seen!”

Bible Reading  John 18: 28 – 19: 15 ‘Trial’ Away with Him, away with Him. Crucify Him!
Bible Reading  Matthew 27: 24 – 34 ‘Mocking’ They gave Him wine to drink mingled with gall.
Psalm 69: 17 – 21
Ne’er from Thy servant hid Thy face;
I’m pressed; soon answer me.
Draw near to me; redeem my soul;
My foes come; ransom me.
Well known to Thee is my reproach,
My shame and my disgrace;
The adversaries of my soul
Are all before thy face.
My heart is broken by reproach,
And I am sick and weak.
I never find the sympathy
And comforters I seek.
They also gave me bitter gall
In all the food I ate;
They gave me vinegar to drink
The time my thirst was great.

Bible Reading  John 19: 17 – 24 ‘Crucifixion’ They divided my outer garments among them, and for My clothing cast lots.
Psalm 22: 13 – 18
Their lion jaws they open wide,
And roar to tear their prey.
My heart is wax, my bones unknot,
My life is poured away.
My strength is only broken clay;
My mouth and tongue are dry,
For in the very dust of death
You there make me to lie.
For see how dogs encircle me!
On every side there stands
A brotherhood of cruelty,
They pierce my feet and hands.
My bones are plain for me to count;
Men see me and they stare.
My clothes among them they divide,
And gamble for their share.

Bible Reading  Matthew 27: 35 – 44 ‘Insults’ He trusts in God; let Him deliver Him.
Psalm 22: 6 – 8
But as for me, I am a worm
And not a man at all,
To men I am despised and base;
Their scornings on me fall.
All those who look at me will laugh.
And cast reproach at me.
Their mouths they open wide: they wag
Their heads in mockery.
“The LORD was his reliance once;
Now see what God will send
Yes, let god rise and set him free,
This man that was His friend.”

Bible Reading  Matthew 27: 45 – 49 ‘Darkness’ My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?
Psalm 22: 1 – 3
My God, my God, O why have You
Forsaken me? O why
Are You so far from giving help
And from my groaning cry?
By day and night, my God, I call;
Your answer still delays.
And yet You are the Holy One
Who dwells in Israel’s praise.

Bible Reading  Luke 23: 46 – 49 ‘Committal’ Father, into Thy hands I commit My spirit.
Psalm 31: 1 – 5
In You, Lord, I take refuge;
Ashamed let me not be.
Your righteousness eternal
Express by saving me;
Incline Your ear to hear me;
With speed deliver me.
To me O be a strong rock
A fort to rescue me.
You are my rock and fortress;
For Your sake lead and guide.
Free me from nets they’ve hidden;
My stronghold You abide.
I now commit my spirit
Into Your outstretched hand.
I know You have redeemed me,
Lord God of truths that stand.

Bible Reading  John 19: 28 – 37 ‘Death’ Not a bone of Him shall be broken.
Psalm 34: 15 – 20
Jehovah’s eyes are toward the righteous ones;
His ears are open to their every cry.
The Lord’s face is against all evil men
To cut off memory of them from earth.
The righteous cry; Jehovah hears and saves;
From all their troubles He delivers them.
The Lord is near to every broken heart,
And those who are in spirit crushed He saves.
Though many are the trials of the just,
The Lord delivers him from every one.
For He is safely keeping all his bones;
Not one of them can ever broken be.

Bible Reading  Acts 2: 22 – 32 ‘Resurrection’ Thou wilt not abandon my soul to Hades, nor allow thy Holy One to undergo decay.
Psalm 16: 8 – 11
I always keep the Lord
Before me, Him to see.
Because He is at my right hand
I never moved shall be.
Thus gladness fills my soul;
My joy must be expressed
With my whole being, for my flesh
Securely finds its rest.
My soul You will not leave
In death’s dark pit to be.
Corruption You will not permit
Your Holy One to see.
The path of life You’ll show;
Of joy You hold great store.
Before Your face, at Your right hand,
Are pleasures evermore.

Bible Reading  Acts 2: 33 – 36 ‘Ascension’ The Lord said to my Lord, “sit at My right hand, until I make Thine enemies a footstool for Thy feet.”
Psalm 110: 1 – 7
Jehovah to my Lord has said,
“Sit Thou at My right hand
Until I make Thy foes a stool
Whereon Thy feet may stand.”
Jehovah shall from Zion send
The scepter of Thy power.
In battle with Thine enemies
Be Thou the conqueror.
A willing people in Thy day
Of power shall come to Thee.
Thy youth arrayed in holiness
Like morning dew shall be.
Jehovah swore, and from His oath
He never will depart;
“Of th’ order of Melchizedek
A priest Thou ever art.”
The Lord at Thy right had shall smite
Earth’s rulers in His wrath.
Among the nations He shall judge;
The slain shall fill His path.
In many lands He’ll overthrow
Their kings with ruin dread;
And, marching, He’ll drink from the brook
And so lift up His head.

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