VIDEO Good Friday Song: Outstretched Arms

Feb 11, 2010

I wrote this song one afternoon after looking up at the cross on my wall. For the first time I realized was – how vulnerable Jesus was – nailed to two pieces of wood, strung up and left to die. I also had an overwhelming sense of Jesus’ unconditional love for us all. This song is as much a prayer as it is a song.


Here am I with outstretched arms
Spread out upon the cross
Waiting to catch your fall
To greet you when you’re lost
And I know that you are frightened
Wondering can you count on me?
But here am I with outstretched arms
That want to comfort thee

The road to life is long and hard
With falls along the way
I’ve walked that road a thousand times
I’ve known each person’s pain
When you think that you cant take it anymore
You can’t go on
I’ll pick you up and take your hand
Then we’ll continue on

I hear you calling out my name
But then you turn away
You think that I’ve abandoned you
Not listening when you pray
But you know I had to die
Before I rose on that third day
Believe in me and you will see the wisdom of my ways

Here am I with outstretched arms
Spread out upon the cross
Waiting to catch your fall
To greet you when you’re lost
And I know that you are frightened
Wondering can you count on me?
But here am I with outstretched arms
That want to comfort thee

© Maria Forde 1991
Avalable on ‘Dark Island’ CD
Available online at
Facebook page: Maria Forde Music

Why This Week is Called Holy

holy week
The week that liturgical Christians call Holy begins when we hear the contrasting gospel readings during the Liturgy of Palm Sunday.

Before we enter the church in a procession waving palm branches, we listen to the gospel and are invited to identify with the jubilant crowds welcoming the Master into Jerusalem. Then, inside the sanctuary, we shout “Crucify Him” as the Passion Gospel (Mt 26-14-27:66) is proclaimed.

The contrasting Gospel accounts draw me into an honest admission of my weakness and an ever deepening appreciation of the Amazing Grace I am given — we are all given — in and through Jesus Christ. The Passion narrative is filled with biblical characters with whom I identify. I am invited to consider who I am in those narratives. They become a gauge of who I am becoming. They are an invitation to walk in honesty and humility, in the footsteps of the One who carried that Cross.

In his 1977 film Jesus of Nazareth, Franco Zeffirelli ended the original version with words spoken by a character named Zerah not found in the biblical accounts. The name literally means Brilliance. He enters the empty crypt and seeing the burial cloth lying on the empty slab, says, “Now it begins; now it all begins.” Holy Week is an invitation to be made new again, to progress on the path that leads to fullness of life. The only question is, will I respond fully?

It Is Up to Me

It is up to me to choose to receive Jesus’s invitation or not. That is part of the mystery of human freedom. To be holy is to be set aside for God. Entering fully into the liturgical celebrations of this week can actually change me — that is what it means to be converted. “Now it begins; now it all begins.”

Holy Week invites me to participate in the timeless Paschal Mystery, the saving life, suffering and the passion, death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. It invites me to let go of self and embrace the Lord anew. It holds out that wonderful promise that I can begin again! Life is a path of progress and time is a field of choice. Time is not our enemy, but our friend. It is a part of the redemptive loving plan of an eternal God who, in His Son came into time to transform it from within. He gives us time as a gift and intends it to become a field of choice and a path to holiness in this life — and the window into life eternal.

Through time the Lord offers us the privilege of discovering His plan for our own life pilgrimage. Through time He invites us to participate in His ongoing redemptive plan, through His Son Jesus Christ who has been raised, by living in the full communion of His Church. That plan will in its final fulfillment recreate the entire cosmos in Christ.

Time is the road along which this loving plan of redemption and re-creation proceeds. We who have been baptized into Christ are invited to co-operate in this divine plan. The Christian understanding of time as having a redemptive purpose is why liturgical Christians mark time by the great events of the faith in our Church calendar.

It’s common to contrast the Western “linear” view of time with an Eastern “cyclical” view. Christians certainly believe in a linear timeline in history. There is a beginning and an end, a fulfillment which is a new beginning. That is as true of the history of the world as it is our own personal histories. At the same time, liturgical Christians mark linear time with an annual cycle culminating with the great event that forever redeemed history, the saving Life, Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

As I try to live the liturgical calendar, by entering into the great celebrations of this week, I experience an ever-deepening call to conversion. By grace, I perceive more fully the deeper mystery and meaning of life and the real purpose of time. Good liturgy is not a re-enactment of something that happened 2000 years ago but is meant to be an actual participation in the events themselves, through living faith.

Realities that transcend time are made present in our liturgical celebrations and in our reception of the Sacraments. Every Liturgy is an invitation to enter into the sacrifice of Calvary which occurred, once and for all.

The Epicenter of the Calendar

At the very epicenter of that calendar are the three great days we will celebrate this Holy Week, the “Triduum” of Holy Thursday, Good Friday and the Resurrection of the Lord.

On Holy (or “Maundy” Thursday) I am invited to the Supper of the Lamb, Jesus, and then after that great gift I am asked, along with the disciples in the gospel accounts we hear proclaimed, to watch with the Lord. Even more deeply, I am asked to enter with him into his anguish by imitating His holy surrender in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Through the stark and solemn liturgy of Good Friday, I stand, along with the Mother of the Lord, at the Altar of the Cross where heaven is rejoined to earth and earth to heaven. I enter into the moment that forever changed — and still changes — all human History, the great self-gift of the Son of God who did for us what we could never do for ourselves by in the words of the ancient Exultet, “trampling on death by death.”

Then, on Holy Saturday, I wait at the tomb and witness the Glory of the Resurrection and the beginning of the New Creation.

At the Great Easter Vigil late on Saturday night, I am invited to join the new members of the Body of Christ and affirm once again that we believe what we profess in that ancient Creed, the symbol of our ancient and ever new faith, “For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven, and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate, he suffered death and was buried, and rose again on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.”

The Christian proclamation is that every man, woman and child on the face of the earth can be made new in and through Jesus Christ. We make progress in following Him along the way and then we fall down. The important question is, do we get back up again?

We can all begin again and again and again and again and again, because Jesus died on the Cross and rose again from the dead for us. That is why this week is so holy.

by Deacon Keith Fournier

The Turning Point of Time

Mark 15:16-39

We often hear the phrase “the crux of the matter” or “the crux of a situation.” The word crux comes from medieval Latin, and simply means “cross.” Why has the word crux come to be associated with a critical juncture or point in time? Because the cross of Christ is truly the crux of history. Without the cross, history itself cannot be defined or corrected.

There is another word we often hear when we are in the throes of indescribable pain: the word excruciating. That, too, derives from the Latin and means “out of the cross.” Through time and human experience, the historical event of the cross intersects time and space and speaks to the deepest hurts of the human heart.

But we live with more than pain and suffering. We also live with deep hungers within the human heart, such as the hunger for truth, for justice, forgiveness, and peace. As I see it, there is only one place in the world where these hungers converge: It is in the cross of Christ, where perfect peace and perfect justice became united in one death on a Friday afternoon.

The cross defines what love’s entailments are. You see, in Christian terms, love does not stand merely as an emotion or even as an expression to just be reconciled to God. In a relationship with God, love ultimately flowers into worship. All earthly relationships as we know them will someday end. It is in worship alone that wonder and truth coalesce, prefiguring the consummation of eternal communion. That enrichment from worship feeds all other relationships and helps us to hold sacred all of life’s needed commitments.

Never has it been more obvious that this world needs redemption, and that redemption is costly. The cross—more than ever—in our language and in our longings, is necessary to bridge the divide between God and us and between ourselves. Without the cross, the chasm that separates us all from truth, love, justice, and forgiveness can never be bridged. The depths of mystery and love found in the cross can never be fully plumbed, but it must be the lifelong pursuit of the Christian to marvel at its costliness and to celebrate its meaning.

That is why we celebrate Easter. The cross stands as the defining counter-perspective to everything this world has to offer. As you observe this Holy Week, may you be moved to wonder and worship.

– Ravi Zacharias

Dark Calvary

“Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour.” (Matthew 27:45)

The second verse of the grand old hymn “The Old Rugged Cross” contains much truth, rich and deep.

Oh, that old rugged cross, so despised by the world,
Has a wondrous attraction for me;
For the dear Lamb of God left His glory above
To bear it to dark Calvary.

The world despises the cross, and the One on the cross. “He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not” (Isaiah 53:3). But yet, even in His bloodied and broken form, there is a wondrous attraction, for “surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: . . . he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed” (vv. 4-5).

His death substituted for ours. He was the sacrificial “Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). This Lamb is none other than God the Son, who willingly “took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: . . . and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:7-8). Remarkably, even God the Father “despised” Him as He hung on the cross, for God is holy, and for our sakes had “made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). The apex of Christ’s suffering came, as we see in our text, when God the Father separated Himself from His beloved Son, “forsaking” (v. 46) Christ to suffer for three hours the awful pangs of hell which we deserved. So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross. JDM

Our First Responsibility

I prevented the dawning of the morning, and cried: I hoped in thy word. Mine eyes prevent the night watches, that I might meditate in thy word. —Psalm 119:147-148

Briefly, the way to escape religion as a front is to make it a fount. See to it that we pray more than we preach and we will never preach ourselves out. Stay with God in the secret place longer than we are with men in the public place and the fountain of our wisdom will never dry up. Keep our hearts open to the inflowing Spirit and we will not become exhausted by the outflow. Cultivate the acquaintance of God more than the friendship of men and we will always have abundance of bread to give to the hungry.

Our first responsibility is not to the public but to God and our own souls…. It is by humility, simplicity and constant trustful communion with God that we keep the fountain open with our hearts.

Lord, why does our first responsibility so easily get crowded out? Quiet me today that this first thing might get the time and attention it deserves. Amen.

Plan of Redemption: God Has Not Abandoned Man

…God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory. 1 Timothy 3:16

For mankind, the earth has become the symbol of death and mortality, but in the very face of this, the Christian still knows for certain that God has not forgotten him. Man who was made in the image of God has not been forsaken— God promised a plan to restore that which had been made in His image.

Only that creature whom He called “man” did God make in His own image and likeness. So, when man failed and sinned and fell, God said, “I will go down now.”

God came down to visit us in the form of a man, for in Christ Jesus we have the incarnation, “God manifest in the flesh.” God Himself came down to this earthly island of man’s grief and assumed our loss and took upon Himself our demerits, and in so doing, redeemed us back unto Himself. Jesus Christ, the King of glory, the everlasting Son of the Father, in His victory over sin and death opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers!

Beyond His death and resurrection and ascension, the present work of Jesus Christ is twofold. It is to be an advocate above—a risen Saviour with high priestly office at the throne of God; and the ministry of preparing a place for His people in the house of His Father and our Father, as well.

That is what the Bible teaches. That is what the Christian church believes. It is the essence of the doctrines of the Christian church relating to atonement and salvation!

Spiritual Unanimity

Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren. 1 PETER 3:8

The Holy Spirit knew what He was doing when He moved the Apostle Peter to write to the early Christian church about the reality of being “of one mind” in their fellowship.

Peter was not asking all the brothers and sisters to settle for some kind of regulated uniformity. He was recommending a spiritual unanimity—which means that the Spirit of God making Christ real within our beings will also give us a unity in certain qualities and disposition.

Peter leaves little doubt about the fruits of genuine Christian unanimity within: “Be alike in compassion. Be alike in loving. Be alike in pity. Be alike in courtesy.

Be alike in forgiving!” Then he sums it all up: “Finally, be ye all of one mind!” God’s love shed abroad in our hearts—compassion and love which can only be found in Jesus Christ—these are the only elements of true unity among men and women today!

Lord, I want to pray for spiritual unity among all true believers and for spiritual harmony among all Christ-honoring churches.