Former Presbyterian Moderator leads Good Friday three-hour service

Wednesday April 5th 2023

The Very Rev Dr David Bruce, former Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, will lead the three-hour service in Belfast Cathedral on Good Friday.

Belfast Cathedral invites people from all traditions to join the Very Rev Dr David Bruce, past Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, as he considers the Seven Final Sayings of Jesus spoken from the cross during a three-hour service on Good Friday.

Held from 12 noon to 3pm on April 7, visitors are welcome to stay for the full three hours or call in for an hour, or even a few minutes, on this day on which the passion of Jesus on the cross of Calvary is relived.

Dr Bruce was Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland from June 2020-June 2022 and is a former Director of Scripture Union.

Looking ahead to the three-hour Good Friday Service, Dr Bruce said: “There is a darkness about this day – and for some, a sense of reservation about dwelling upon its violent tragedy. Why do we call it ‘Good’ when it seems because of the events it commemorates, to be anything but?

“In Danish, it’s called Long Friday, and in some traditions in Germany it’s called Sorrowful Friday. Some say that Good Friday is a corruption of God’s Friday – that it was God’s day for grace.”

The Dean of Belfast, the Very Rev Stephen Forde, said he understood this was the first time a past Moderator of the Presbyterian Church had led the three-hour service.

Dr Bruce recalled how, as an 18-year-old, he asked why in his tradition, from the third to the sixth hour of Good Friday when he most wanted to be in church, the place was closed.

“I didn’t know in those days of the existence of this tradition, but had I done, I am sure it would have done me good to attend, reflect and remember these painful events,” he said.

“Perhaps it would have helped me to understand the cross, its cost, its pain and its purpose rather better.”

He added that during the day, ‘we we will discover that amidst the awfulness of it, and indeed the mystery of its meaning – Friday’s dark good-ness can only truly be understood in the light of resurrection day, which is just around the corner.”

In the three hours from noon until 3pm, Dr Bruce will recall Jesus’ final hours on the cross of Calvary and will unpack what these seven sayings mean for him, and what they have to say to our contemporary world. From 1-2pm, members of Belfast Cathedral’s Past Choristers’ Association will lead the singing.

Dean Forde said: “We hope that many people will take this opportunity to hear a meaningful preacher and thinker sharing with us all his personal consideration of the crucifixion of Jesus.”

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