Friday, April 10, 2009

Watching These Things

Invitation to Prayer
Sin makes us want to create our own lives according to our desires and wishes, ignoring the cup that is given to us . . . Sin and death entrap us. Drinking the cup, as Jesus did, is the way out of that trap. It is the way to salvation. It is a hard way, a painful way, a way we want to avoid at all costs. Often it seems an impossible way. Still unless we are willing to drink the cup, real freedom will elude us (Henri Nouwen, Can You Drink the Cup, 90-91).

The Psalm
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me,
so far from the words of my groaning?

2 O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
by night, and am not silent.

3 Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One;
you are the praise of Israel.

4 In you our fathers put their trust;
they trusted and you delivered them.

5 They cried to you and were saved;
in you they trusted and were not disappointed.

The Scripture Reading (Luke 23:44-49)
It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Jesus called out with a loud voice, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit." When he had said this, he breathed his last. The centurion, seeing what had happened, praised God and said, "Surely this was a righteous man." When all the people who had gathered to witness this sight saw what took place, they beat their breasts and went away. But all those who knew him, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.

For Reflection
A gathering of people stayed for the end. They heard his final words, saw his body sag in the emptiness of death, felt the air chill slightly as the sun withdrew and deprived the land of daylight. Interestingly, some of the spectators vented emotion as they beat their breast, but then they walked away – went home for lunch or back to the office. But those who knew him, those who had followed, stood at a distance and watched these things. Good Friday presents us with the same choice every year: to go about our business, or be still long enough to watch, to truly take in what has happened on the cross.

How will you find a way to stand still and watch these things today?

Closing Prayer
Lord Jesus, because the story of your death is so familiar, I assume I’ve seen all there is to see. Today, I want to watch these things yet again. I don’t want to express sadness and then walk away. I want to stand still, take it in, feel the weight of it. Help me to look again at what I’ve seen before, and help me to see it anew. Amen.

1 comment:

Nancy said...

Good Friday and be a tough day on me. I have no stomach for violence. Can’t understand how people are able to watch it, much less for entertainment. And the people who baffle me the most are the ones who slow down to look at an automobile accident. I just don’t get it. I’ve seen most of Mel Gibson’s The Passion of The Christ, but not all of it. There are parts I just can’t watch. The first time I saw it, I covered my eyes and sobbed openly in the theater in spite of all the glares around me. The subsequent times I’ve seen it I’ve had to leave the room. So I would have been one of the first to leave the hill on that Friday. Not necessarily out of disrespect or indifference. But because I just couldn’t bear to watch.

On the other hand I’m aware that within that violence lives the greatest gift of all time. This is the first Good Friday I’ve been working from my home, so I had the luxury of shutting down and taking extra time to reflect and meditate. My cat was thrilled. He loves to climb on my lap and settle in when I meditate. (His second favorite place to park himself is on my keyboard or in front of my monitor when I’m working. So any typo’s are his fault!) Good Friday is a day for profound gratitude. Today is John 3:16. I was 6 years old when I memorized that verse. Because it’s so familiar to the point it’s even commercialized, it’s easy to overlook the message. But today I substituted “me” for “world”, and got a deeper sense of the high regard God has for me. Of how much I mean to Him. Me, of all people. Wow!