Tomorrow, which is Good Friday, St. Philip’s in the Hills Episcopal Church provides two opportunities to experience the “Seven Last Words of Christ.”
St. Philip’s Good Friday “Seven Last Words” liturgy on is scheduled from noon to 3 p.m., which are the traditional hours of Jesus’ suffering and death. The service takes the “Seven Last Words of Christ” format, in seven segments, with each segment focusing on one of the seven statements by Jesus from the cross.
Using these sayings in Good Friday liturgies has been a tradition since the 16th century. Each segment also features prayers, hymns, musical meditations, opportunities to venerate the cross and a meditation offered by a guest homilist.
In the first segment of the service, Carol Bradsen, interim Episcopal chaplain at the University of Arizona, will preach on “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23: 34).
The text for the Rev. John E. Kitagawa, rector at St. Philip’s, will be “Today you will be with me in Paradise” (Luke 23: 43).
The Rev. Frank Williams, director of social services at Casa de la Luz Hospice, will preach on “Woman, here is your son. Here is your mother” (John 19: 26-27).
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27: 46) will be the text for the Rev. Delle McCormick, senior minister at Rincon United Church of Christ.
Michael McDonald, president and CEO of the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona, will preach on “I thirst” (John 19: 28).
The Rev. Anne Sawyer, co-founder and head of Imago Dei Middle School, will speak about “It is finished” (John 19: 30).
Finally, the Rev. Bruce A. White, rector of St. Alban’s Episcopal Church, will take the text “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit” (Luke 23: 46).
The final segment of the service will include a dramatic reading of the Passion Gospel according to John. It also will also include the Solemn Collects from the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer and the “Mass of the Pre-Sanctified” with communion from the reserved sacrament.
There is no celebration of the Eucharist on Good Friday; communion is served from what was consecrated on Maundy Thursday and reserved at the Altar of Repose, and any remaining hosts are consumed at the altar on Good Friday as a symbol of Jesus’ death.
There are opportunities during the service to arrive and depart quietly for those who cannot stay the entire three hours.
Then at 5:45 p.m. on Good Friday, St. Philip’s will experience another “Seven Last Words of Christ.” The Schola Cantorum, with soloists, violin duo and organ, will present Die Sieben Worte Jesu Christi am Kreuz by Heinrich Schütz (1585-1672).
The “Seven Last Words” tells the story of the crucifixion from the point of view of three different Gospel writers, sung by soprano, alto, and tenor soloists.
The part of Jesus is sung by a baritone soloist, and the bass is the voice of the thief on the adjoining cross. Soloists include Larry Alexander as Jesus, soprano Caroline Spurlin, alto Anne Parker, tenor Thomas Alexander and bass Karl Yordy.
In addition to musical interpretations of the seven last words, the format of the evening’s presentation will offer moments of silence and ringing of solemn bells for reflection.
The events are free and donations are accepted.
St. Philip’s is at 4440 N. Campbell Ave. at East River Road. Parking is available in the north parking lot or under the solar covered parking structure on the east side. The office phone is 299-6421.