Good Friday – Two hymns and three monologues, including audio (further material listed for Passion Sunday)

GOOD FRIDAY

Pilate reacts

What kind of king are you,
you Jew?
The priests condemn you for they say you spite them,
yet you will not fight them.
They say you claim to be a king to rule them.
Do you just fool them?
They throw your talk of kingdom in your face. 
You say that it is not your kind of place,
Yet now you claim to know the source of truth?
You're not a callow youth.
There is no sense in such.
You talk too much -
and kingdom speeches cannot be allowed.
I'll leave the last decision to the crowd. 

And Christ whose kingdom turned things upside-down 
was destined then to wear a thorn-spiked crown

Marjorie Dobson © 2019 Stainer & Bell Ltd, London, England copyright@stainer.co.uk. Please include any reproduction for local church use on your CCL Licence returns. All wider and any commercial use requires prior application to Stainer & Bell Ltd.
From Unravelling the Mysteries, Stainer & Bell Ltd., 2019.

Creation's pulse, the rhythm of each day 

Creation's pulse, the rhythm of each day, 
the pulse of God, yet life blood ebbs away. 
The light is fading, eyes will strain to see. 
Contorted muscles struggle to be free.
	
Yes God, is dying, God is hung up high, 
and soon that pulsing life blood will be dry. 
The darkness falls, life's rhythm has its end, 
and they will grieve: his mother, father, friend. 
	
God hung and died, the butt of human hate, 
this depth of love demanded such a fate;
For when aggression came onto the stage 
God offered love instead of violent rage. 
	
Now all is plain for faulted humankind, 
no riddle to unravel, fathom, find: 
that those who know the rhythm of God's grace 
should loose that pulse of love within this place.  

Andrew E Pratt (born 1948)
Words © 2009 Stainer & Bell Ltd, London, England copyright@stainer.co.uk. Please include any reproduction for local church use on your CCL Licence returns. All wider and any commercial use requires prior application to Stainer & Bell Ltd.
Metre: 10 10 10 10
Tune: WOODLANDS
	
Act of God

Flesh and blood, 
torn apart daily 
in conflict, 
terror, 
crime, 
torture, 
accident 
or Act of God.

Act of God, they say. 
As if a vindictive God 
oversaw all disaster 
as an event planned 
for satisfaction 
of some unknown purpose.

Yet the act of God 
that tore flesh to the bone 
and brought agony, 
despair 
and death by execution 
for the sake of humanity 
is rarely mentioned.

Unless it is by those 
who gather at a table 
to break bread and drink wine 
in order to absorb something 
of the same sacrificial spirit 
that was in Jesus.

Marjorie Dobson © 2019 Stainer & Bell Ltd, London, England, copyright@stainer.co.uk 
Please include any reproduction for local church use on your CCL Licence returns. All wider and any commercial use requires prior application to Stainer & Bell Ltd.
From Unravelling the Mysteries, Stainer & Bell Ltd., 2019.

Tortured, beaten, scarred and tainted 

Tortured, beaten, scarred and tainted,
Not a picture deftly painted,
More a tattered, battered being,
Torn, disfigured, stark, unseeing.
	
Muscles twisted, strained, contorted,
Body dangling, bruised, distorted.
Life blood drying, sun-baked, stinging,
Hatred, bitter hatred, flinging.

Crowds insensate, tempers vented,
Full of anger, discontented.
Curses scattered, insults flying,
Spurned, derided, God is dying.

Andrew E Pratt (born 1948)	
Words © 1997 Stainer & Bell Ltd, London, England, copyright@stainer.co.uk 
Please include any reproduction for local church use on your CCL Licence returns. All wider and any commercial use requires prior application to Stainer & Bell Ltd.
From Blinded by the Dazzle, Stainer & Bell, 1997.

A pieta reflection – Mary cradles Jesus. Audio - make sure sound is turned up - Written and read by Marjorie Dobson. Copyright details under transcript below
Click to start

A pieta reflection - Transcript - Marjorie Dobson

They let me hold him before they took his body away. 

They lifted him so gently and carefully and laid him so that his scourged back and bleeding shoulders rested against the soft fabric of my dress. I could feel the torn flesh weeping through the cloth, spreading and seeping through to my skin.

The thorns, that mockery of a crown, had gone. 
Friends had taken them away as quickly as they could, but some had gone so deep they had broken and couldn't be removed and the imprint of that cruel irony was written there in blood.

I held his hands, once strong and skilful, crafting wood in the workshop, using the tools of his trade. 

Gentle, trusting hands I'd held through childhood, now mangled by hammer and nails - an executioner's tools. 

Healing hands, hands that had helped so many - now broken, the flesh pierced, opened and torn; the bones crushed and splintered.

And had they needed to strike with that spear at the end? 
Couldn't they see he was dead already? 
Why did they have to put that senseless wound in his side? 
What had he done to deserve any of that? 
Couldn't they even let his dead body alone?

So, as I cradled his tortured, bloodied head and strand by strand, lifted his tangled hair away from the open wounds above his staring eyes, I raged against the God who gave him to me and then tore him from me in such a violent fashion.

Oh, God! Why did you let this happen? 
You could have saved him! You could have warned him! You could have let him escape. 
You could have changed their minds before they did this to him. 
You had the power - why didn't you use it?

And as I wept and railed at God, my tears washed down over his beloved face and mingled with his blood and I closed his God-forsaken eyes to shut out the desolation I saw there. 
At that last moment he'd felt abandoned - even God wasn't listening.

But I would make him listen!

How could he do this to my son? A mother shouldn't have to watch her child die - and die in such agony. 
To feel that no one, not God, not his mother, cared what was happening to him!

Because I couldn't touch him. I couldn't help him. 
They wouldn't let me near enough to do anything. 

Only when it was too late; too late to comfort him; too late for him to feel my touch, to hear my words of love; only then, when it was too late, did they let me come to him.

What kind of a God allows that to happen?

What kind of a God doesn't answer the prayer of a dying man?

What kind of a God promises so much and then allows those promises to die so soon?

They had to take his body from me. 

They were so gentle and understanding, those friends, but I didn't want to let him go. 

I knew I couldn't do anything for him. Nothing would bring him back. 

But still I clung to him, knowing it was useless, desperately longing to show him the love he had needed in those last agonising moments. Would he ever know how much I wanted to take his place? I should have been the one to die, not him. 

I am his mother. I bore him with pain and blood. And  when they took his body from me, I felt he had been torn from me again. 

But this agony is unbearable and this blood is his, not mine.

How could God take someone so young, so vibrant, so alive? 

Oh, God! What have you done?

Now he is gone. There is nothing more I can do . His life is over. My agony and desolation is just beginning.

Dear God! I feel so angry. I wish I could make sense of this! I hope you can! All I can do is weep.

2019 Stainer & Bell Ltd, London, England, copyright@stainer.co.uk 
Please include any reproduction for local church use on your CCL Licence returns. All wider and any commercial use requires prior application to Stainer & Bell Ltd.
From Unravelling the Mysteries, Stainer & Bell Ltd., 2019.

Passion Sunday – Two hymns and a Monologue May also be used on Good Friday

PASSION SUNDAY (May also be used on GOOD FRIDAY)

Anointed, yet bartered, then beaten and hung 

Anointed, yet bartered, then beaten and hung, 
time tumbling on forward, Christ’s moment had come; 
the judgement was passing, hands washed of the crime 
the snare had been set, sure as rhythm and rhyme. 

We watch from the sidelines, we’re distanced by time, 
our culture is different, our actions a mime;
yet, if we are open, we feel in each heart 
the stress of each moment, was God’s from the start.

And as we rehearse all that we’ve heard before, 
we thank God for grace, yet anticipate more.
God’s love undiluted, sustained will remain, 
refreshed, resurrected, again and again.

Andrew Pratt (born 1948)
Words © 2021 Stainer & Bell Ltd, London, England copyright@stainer.co.uk . Please include any reproduction for local church use on your CCL Licence returns. All wider and any commercial use requires prior application to Stainer & Bell Ltd.
Metre:11.11.11.11
Tune NORMANDY; MY JESUS I LOVE THEE (note repeats on the last line of each verse); DATCHET

The King’s cross

‘The King of the Jews’, 
Pilate called him.

But his crown 
was of thorns 
that pierced to his skull 
and his cloak 
was the blood 
from his head 
and his flesh-torn back 
and his robe 
was a loin cloth, 
sweaty and stained 
and his gloves 
and shoes 
were hammered nails, 
holding him fast 
to his throne 
of a cross.

A bloodied wreck 
of a king 
was Jesus.

Yet in dying he became, 
not the King of the Jews, 
but the King of the Kingdom 
that God opens to all 
who follow the path 
of the cross.

Marjorie Dobson © Stainer & Bell Ltd 2019, London, England copyright@stainer.co.uk . Please include any reproduction for local church use on your CCL Licence returns. All wider and any commercial use requires prior application to Stainer & Bell Ltd.
From Unravelling the Mysteries, Stainer & Bell Ltd., 2019.

Jesus the Carpenter

Jesus the carpenter, hanging on Calvary,
nails through your feet and your work-hardened hands –
wood you have worked with and wood is your destiny -
paying the price of our sinful demands.

You came to our world as a part of a family, 
living and learning the carpenter’s trade.
You followed your father’s instructions so faithfully,
shaping and crafting the yokes that you made:
Jesus the carpenter…

You called other workmen to join in your ministry, 
laying rough hands on the sick and the lame.
You taught of God’s love with such power and authority,
people who knew you believed you insane:
Jesus the carpenter…

You faced with great courage the open hostility
coming from those who believed they were right.
They stripped you and beat you and laughed at you finally,
thinking your death was the end of the fight:
Jesus the carpenter…

But we, who now know that you ended triumphantly
working with wood till your task was complete,
can come to your cross with our hope and humility,
laying our pride at the Carpenter’s feet:

Jesus the carpenter, hanging on Calvary,
nails through your feet and your work-hardened hands –
wood you have worked with and wood is your destiny -
paying the price of our sinful demands.

Marjorie Dobson © 2004, Stainer & Bell Ltd, London, England copyright@stainer.co.uk  Please include any reproduction for local church use on your CCL Licence returns. All wider and any commercial use requires prior application to Stainer & Bell Ltd. 
From Multicoloured Maze, Stainer & Bell Ltd., 2004
(Tune: – Mission Praise 611 - Blow the wind southerly)

LENT 5 – Two Monologues and Two Hymns

Hebrews 5: 5 – 10 

Monologue: The order of Melchizedek

Melchizedek! 
Now there’s a great name for a High Priest, if ever I heard one.
Melchizedek!!
Good strong name. Starts with an ‘M’ – a thrusting letter – pushing the word out into the waiting world.
And it’s got four syllables – very impressive, that. Knocks all those single syllable names, like Tom and John and Will, for a six.
And it’s difficult to spell.
And not easy to say.
And it’s got both a ‘Z’ and a ‘K’ in it.
Certainly a magnificent name for a High Priest. 
Melchizedek!

Jesus doesn’t sound anywhere near as impressive a name as that.
Very common, for his day, was the name, Jesus. Still is in many parts of the world – which comes as a shock to people who think the name is confined to only one man.
Doesn’t matter, though. ‘Cos Jesus – the Bible one - never claimed to be a High Priest. Didn’t want anything to do with that hierarchy, juggling for power and trying to make a name for themselves.
No, Jesus was just an ordinary man. Different, but ordinary. He mixed with all sorts and got a reputation for it. 
But he did know how to take on the authorities – especially the religious ones - who should have been doing a good job but were really just full of self-importance.
He really got their backs up. Which is why they made him suffer and eventually killed him.
But the irony was that, because he had given his all for God and the people, God then named Jesus as the greatest High Priest of all time – the one who would always be a way back to God for those who needed to find that.

Now that’s what a High Priest is meant to be – even if his name isn’t Melchizedek!
©Marjorie Dobson

Psalm 51: 1-12

Hymn: We each hold within us a trace of the God-head 

We each hold within us a trace of the God-head, 
the grace of forgiveness, the power to plead;
the crisis before us the choice and the challenge: 
to cultivate hatred, or nurture love’s seed.

It's not that we're guilty, You made us for goodness, 
but having the will to build up or break down.
We need to admit in the light of your presence
deception, hypocrisy – part of our ‘crown’.

And so God we worship, not courting your mercy,
but owning quite openly all that we are. 
God take us, forgive us, renew our intention, 
to live by your spirit; God heal every scar. 

Andrew Pratt
Words © 2012 Stainer & Bell Ltd, London, England copyright@stainer.co.uk . Please include any reproduction for local church use on your CCL Licence returns. All wider and any commercial use requires prior application to Stainer & Bell Ltd ©  Stainer & Bell Ltd
Tune: 12.11.12.11
Metre: ST CATHERINE’S COURT

John 12: 20-33

Monologue: Those poor Greeks

Those poor Greeks must have got a bit of a shock.
Granted, they were in town for the Passover festival – and strange things often happened at festivals.
Granted, they were Greeks – and their thirst for knowledge was well-known and, mostly, respected.
Granted, they were curious – wanting to see this remarkable teacher.
Granted, they approached him in a respectful way – going first to Philip, who had a reputation for being open-minded and not being biased against foreigners, whether they were Jews or not.
Granted, they were probably prepared to listen to anything that Jesus had to say – however strange, or progressive it may be.
But it still must have been a shock when he suddenly started talking about death and glorification and others losing their lives for the sake of following him.
On top of all that there was the booming voice from heaven – rather indistinct to most people, who thought that it must be thunder.
But they must have been near enough to make out the words. They clearly heard Jesus say, ‘Father, glorify your name.’
And that was strange in itself. What right had he to call God ‘Father’?
Stranger still was the reply – ‘I already have and will do so again.’
What on earth did they make of that?
Did they wait long enough to hear Jesus say that when he was lifted up – even if it was in death – that he would draw all people to him?
It must have given them hope if they did – foreigners as they were.
But it could be that they’d slipped out of the crowd long before that – puzzled by what they’d heard, apprehensive of what they’d seen and needing to give the matter a great deal of thought and discussion before they made any decision about their response.
Jesus still affects people like that.
His words are not always easy to swallow.
But those who never listen, never learn.
And the truth is that the suffering and death of Jesus was inevitable.
But so was the resurrection.
©Marjorie Dobson


John 12: 20-33

Hymn: A troubled soul, the Christ of God

A troubled soul, the Christ of God, 
humanity exposed, 
with all the turmoil that we feel, 
when choices are proposed.
The monumental choice he faced, 
the crisis must be met, 
to take the path of love to death, 
or turn away, forget.

The riddle of the grain of wheat 
was told with fear and dread, 
yet mention of new fruit gives hope 
that God might raise the dead. 
The loss of life, the gain of life 
are tangled in this game, 
yet those who live in love of God 
are held within love's frame.

So Jesus chose and we must choose, 
which path we are to take, 
the one which will deny God's love 
or cause the earth to quake.
God give us courage to deny 
the self that harbours hate, 
to trust in your eternal grace, 
before it is too late.

Andrew Pratt
Words © 2012 Stainer & Bell Ltd, London, England copyright@stainer.co.uk . Please include any reproduction for local church use on your CCL Licence returns. All wider and any commercial use requires prior application to Stainer & Bell Ltd ©  Stainer & Bell Ltd
Tune: DCM
Metre: ELLACOMBE

Mothering Sunday/Mothers’ Day – Two Hymns and a Dramatic Monologue

Psalm 131


God, you hold me like a mother,
Safely on her knee;
God, you hold me like a mother,
Close to you but free.

God, you watch me as I wander,
Keep me in your sight.
God, you watch me as I wander,
Hold me day and night.

God, you hold me like a mother,
Teach me to be free.
God, you hold me like a mother,
Show your love to me.

Andrew E Pratt (born 1948)
Words © 1995 Stainer & Bell Ltd, London, England copyright@stainer.co.uk . Please include any reproduction for local church use on your CCL Licence returns. All wider and any commercial use requires prior application to Stainer & Bell Ltd ©  Also The Trustees for Methodist Church Purposes 
8 5 85 Trochaic
Tune: GOD YOU HOLD ME

Luke 2:22-40

Monologue: Old folks!

Have you heard the latest about that batty old Anna?
You know - that old woman who thinks she’s a prophetess. Wanders round the Temple all day, praying all over the place. Eighty-four if she’s a day! Don’t know how she’s managed to live to that age – not with all her problems.
Did you realise that she’s been a widow for years and years and years?
It’s true. She married this man who only managed to survive for seven years and then he died and left her on her own. Mind you, if she’s always been as strange as she is now, maybe that had something to do with it.
Anyway, I was telling you the latest.
Apparently this nice young couple had brought their baby to the Temple to be dedicated. First-born boy, you see. Everybody has to do it. And they’d already had an encounter with that other strange character – Simeon, they call him. He’s one of those weird people who still believe the Messiah will come. Only he’s a bit more peculiar than the others because he believes it will happen before he dies. And it appears that he thought that day had finally arrived. I ask you!
Well, anyway, this young couple and their baby had just recovered from him praying and praising God all over their baby, when they turned round and there was Anna lying in wait for them. They certainly had their fill of odd experiences this morning. 
She didn’t exactly leap out at them. Well, you wouldn’t at her age, would you?  But she certainly made sure they wouldn’t get past her until she’d said her piece. At first I think they just thought she was one of those old dears who drool all over babies and say stupid things about how much they look like their fathers, or mothers. But she took one look and then started off on one of her praising God sessions and telling anybody who would listen that this child was a special one promised by God.
I ask you, those poor parents must have been lost for words. One old man tells them they’ve given birth to the Messiah, so he can now die happy and an even older woman starts telling the same story to anyone who couldn’t avoid her fast enough.
What a day they must have had. I’ll bet they’ll never forget it. It must be the strangest experience they’ll ever have in their lives.
But what do old people know about anything? They’re just out of date and past it. They live in a world of their own, while the rest of us get on with our business.
It’s such a stupid idea. 
Fancy thinking that a child can make any difference! Whoever heard of such a thing?
© Marjorie Dobson

Hymn: Vulnerable presence of God in creation


Vulnerable presence of God in creation, 
fragile, yes broken, in order to be;
cracking the egg of existence in birthing, 
mothering God who is setting us free.

Vulnerable God source of nature, will nurture, 
sharing our pain in the process of birth; 
bloodied, yet beautiful, changed, yet unchanging, 
passionate partner of love on this earth. 

Vulnerable God found in human relations, 
held as a baby, yes, suckled and fed; 
yet an enigma, creating and feeding, 
God is our parent, while being our bread.

Andrew E Pratt (born 1948)
Words © 2012 Stainer & Bell Ltd, London, England copyright@stainer.co.uk . Please include any reproduction for local church use on your CCL Licence returns. All wider and any commercial use requires prior application to Stainer & Bell Ltd

Words and tune in Big Blue Planet & CD 
Metre: 11.10.11.10 
Tune: STEWARDSHIP