A MEDITATION FOR HOLY SATURDAY

 

 

Love is in the tomb.

Today is a sad day in the life of the Christian Church—Jesus has been crucified. This is the only day of the year when there is no reserved sacrament. No communions will be offered and no sacraments can be consecrated. (Until after sundown which, traditionally, is Sunday.) This day is for remembrance that Jesus has died but is not yet raised.

For the disciples, who do not know the end of the story, it is sadder still. All their hopes are crushed. Not only that, a dear friend has been savagely killed and they weren’t able to stay awake with Him as He asked at the last. Some have betrayed him, too, and their grief is intense. What will they hang on to, now? How can they remember Him? How can we? Love is in the tomb, today.

One Disciple’s Lament

Oh God! God! They have killed him. They killed my Lord. Why? Why? He was so gentle. He was the one—the Messiah. How could they not know? Our Hope is gone. Were we all wrong? No! I stayed there at the cross and watched this horrible thing. I cannot bear those images. My heart is broken in so many pieces and I cannot stop my crying. Sobs come from the depths of me and tears continue to run down my face like rivers. Oh, his dear face. Blood! He cried out to you, O God. He forgave those who did this. He forgave me, too. He healed me with his love and now he is gone. There is a hole in me. How can I go on?

I can’t go on without him. Why? Why? If I could only touch him. And they beat him again and again! If I had not been there to see, but I had to go and stay. I had to. He felt abandoned by you and betrayed by his friends. Why did you not save him? Why? He loved you. I cannot betray him nor abandon him, now. He said it is finished. Finished? How can it be finished? I can’t leave him here in this tomb alone. I feel abandoned, too, but I stay here in this place where he is buried as much as I can. I can’t do this. I can’t. I am lost. We are all lost.

Never again will I see his face, know his love, nor hear him call my name….

Love is in the Tomb, today.

(djw 2015)

 

 

 

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A FRIDAY MEDITATION: GOOD FRIDAY

 

John – Chapters 18 & 19

 

What can one say on Good Friday that has not already been said?  The story is very familiar to all of us and there are so many great meditations already written, why should I write another? Well, for two reasons—because I can, but really because in order to get into the story, I need to meditate on it. Writing helps me do this.

 

Our children hated Good Friday.  They thought it was gruesome, so they didn’t want to go to church that day to be reminded.  An old Johnny Hart cartoon comes to mind—actually, I saw it again on Facebook and that reminded me.  Person 1 says: “I hate the term ‘Good Friday!’”  Person 2: “Why?”  P1. “My Lord was hanged on a tree that day.” P2. “If you were going to be hanged on that day, and he volunteered to take your place, how would you feel?” P1. “Good.”  P2. “Have a nice day.”

 

Perhaps, Person 2 should say, “Have a Good day.” It doesn’t really look or feel like a good day, though, does it? A Good day almost requires standing on the other side of the cross from where the disciples are standing, and that’s not where we are today.  Jesus and his disciples are in a garden.  He has asked that they stay awake and pray for him and for themselves, but they couldn’t stay awake. They will fail again, today.  Watch as the story unfolds. 

 

Judas brings soldiers and police to the garden where he knows Jesus is so they can arrest him.  Was that a glance between Judas and Jesus?  Even though, Jesus knows what is happening, this must be a blow. We, his disciples have no clue.  What are we thinking, now?  We don’t understand all of his teaching, but we have seen the works of God that Jesus has done.  Are we wrong about Jesus being the Messiah?  Why is he being arrested? Why doesn’t he stop this?  Peter, again, takes matters into his own hands, draws his sword and cuts off a slave’s ear. Jesus rebukes him and says something about drinking from a cup his Father has given him.  What cup?

 

These, and more, are the stories of today—humiliation stories, rejection stories, abandonment stories, stories of torture, ugly stories. The disciples run away, Peter denies knowing him, the Jewish leaders that he had hoped to turn around rejected him.    But, Jesus’ love and purpose transcends his disappointment and pain.  Unconditional love has a way of doing that. This is the story of Love.  And this is our story.

 

Questions:  When can’t I stay awake and go to sleep instead of spending time with Jesus?  When do I take matters into my own hands instead of waiting for God’s purpose to unfold?  Will I ever be able to love like this?

 

“And can it be that I should gain an interest in the Savior’s blood?

 

Died He for me, who caused His pain—for me, who Him to death pursued?

 

Amazing love!  How can it be, that Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

 

Amazing love! How can it be, that Thou, my God, shouldst die for me? – Charles Wesley

 

 

 

djw 2015

 

A MEDITATION, Maundy Thursday

John 13:1-17, 31b-35; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26

Traditionally in the Christian Church, this day is known as Maundy Thursday. Three main events take place on this night before the Passover festival – Jesus washing his disciples’ feet, the institution of the Eucharist [Holy Communion], and his giving the “new” commandment of love. The scripture lessons for the day and the church services which will be celebrated, bring these to mind. As we begin this day, Judas has plans to betray Jesus and he, with the remaining disciples, are beginning their final meal together before Jesus’ arrest, though the disciples don’t know that it is.

“Jesus got up, took off his outer clothing and wrapped a towel around his waist. He poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel.” In this culture, foot washing was done by slaves. Peter can’t handle this and objects. He says, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” … “Never.” Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.… Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.” Jesus washed their feet to illustrate humility and the spirit of servanthood. He says, “Do you understand what I have done for you?” … Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you…” He will give another example, but that is tomorrow’s story.

Today we will wash one another’s feet as a reminder of our being servants to each other.

Reflections: How does Jesus wash your feet? How do others? In what ways do you wash other’s feet?

After washing, Jesus’ puts on His robe. He tells his friends that He is going away, soon, and they can’t come with Him this time. Then He says, “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” This Great Commandment is Jesus’ dream for his friends. That includes us.

Reflection: How are you doing with this? Loving each other? How am I?

In I Corinthians 11:23-26, the apostle Paul reminds us of Jesus’ words at this common meal – the Last Supper, “that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, ‘This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.’” These are the words that are still used today in our common meal, the Eucharist.

Thoughts: Do this in remembrance of me…re-member me…the Body of Christ for us, the body of Christ, to become and reflect the Body of Christ to each other and the hurting world. “Do this and re-member me.” Make him visible. Jesus with skin on serving others. This is Jesus’ dream for us. Don’t the events taking place during this Last Supper all say the same thing? I believe Jesus just might be serious about this.

After this meal, Jesus and his disciples leave for the Garden where Jesus prays and the disciples sleep. Stay tuned.

As you read, pray and attend services today, imagine yourself as a disciple in these stories and events. What are your thoughts and feelings as you accompany Jesus and as you listen to him? These next few days of our journey with Jesus are intense and we need to pay attention, be aware, and not let them pass by lightly.

dlw 2015

A MEDITATION: Wednesday in Holy Week

John 13:21-32

This passage, from the Gospel at the Eucharist today, has been discussed, meditated upon and discussed even again. Today, once more, we wonder.

“At supper with his friends, Jesus was troubled in spirit, and declared, ‘Very truly, I tell you, one of you will betray me.’……. ‘Lord, who is it?’ Jesus answered, ‘…the one to whom I give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.’ When he had dipped the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas son of Simon Iscariot. After he received the piece of bread, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, ‘Do quickly what you are going to do.’…. So, after receiving the piece of bread, [Judas] immediately went out. And it was night.” It is interesting, I think, that the writer of John makes the point that it was night. Is he trying to say that Judas was walking in darkness rather than light when he left the table?

What was Judas’ motive? Some say, he may have been trying to save Jesus’ life from crowds that were becoming agitated and likely to become violent. Others say that he was trying to force Jesus into His role as King over Israel and so overthrow the Romans. Some Orthodox churches call Judas a saint because he was the one who did what had to be done. None of these reasons or motives make any difference to the fact that Judas betrayed his Lord. Jesus wasn’t meeting Judas’ expectations. Whatever reason Judas had when he took the bread from Jesus, the tempter came, and Judas made his decision.
“When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once.”—v. 31-32

The time has come, and Jesus knows it. God is using what Judas is doing for his own purpose and Judas has no clue. These events would happen with or without Judas, but what sadness that it was a friend that brought it about.

I ponder. In the Eucharist, Jesus gives us bread and says, “Take, eat: This is my Body, which is given for you. Do this for the remembrance of me.” And, often, we betray him, too. When? Like Judas, when the tempter comes to us and we take matters into our own hands—when we tell Jesus that we’ll take it from here, we’d rather do it ourselves—when he isn’t working fast enough for us—when he is not the Messiah we want—when we want to do things according to our plan rather than waiting for his, etc. When we don’t live according to his teachings. When we distort his image. We know when.

Lord, often, we don’t know what we do, either. We confess the times we betray you. We are sorry. Please forgive us. Amen.

(dlw 2015)

A MEDITATION, TUESDAY IN HOLY WEEK

John 12:20-36

The journey continues. The scriptures for the day record the events. Some Greeks, in Jerusalem for the festival, came to one of the disciples, Philip. They say to him, “Sir, we want to see Jesus.”

We aren’t told if the Greeks ever saw Jesus but when Philip and Andrew told Jesus about it, his comments seem a bit odd. Perhaps, they did get to see Jesus and the very fact that they, the Gentiles, were there precipitated Jesus’ comments. He says, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.…Truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit….Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also…” It is almost as if Jesus is talking to himself. Pondering. Maybe thinking that no one has any idea who he is, not even his friends. They really don’t get it.” I wonder, “Do we?”

Jesus is wrestling with what he knows is about to happen. He wants his followers to understand. He says, “Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say—`Father, save me from this hour?’ NO, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour.” Perhaps, Jesus wonders, “WHAT am I doing, again? What am I thinking?” But then he prays, “Father, glorify your name.” A voice comes from heaven, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” The crowd standing there [maybe including the Greeks] heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said an angel had spoken to Him. The events taking place here were planned from before the beginning. They are not an alternative “Plan B”.

Then Jesus says, “Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” John says that Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die. Now, the time is right. Everything is -in place. The crowd responds, “How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?” I can almost see Jesus shake his head. He says, “The light is with you for a little longer. Walk while you have the light, so that the darkness may not overtake you….”

What are our thoughts as we listen to Jesus today? Do we ask, “Who is this Son of Man?” Do we really understand what he has said to us? Do we know who he is? Is there darkness that clouds our knowing? Do we want to see Jesus?

Open the eyes of my heart, Lord, open the eyes of my heart. I want to see you. I want to see you. ~ Michael J. Smith

dlw (Mar. 2015)

A MEDITATION – Monday in Holy Week

 

John 12:1-11

 

In the days before the Passover Jesus attends a dinner party in his honor at the home of Lazarus, and while they are eating, Mary pours costly perfume on Jesus’ feet and wipes them with her hair.  Judas, the one who was about to betray Jesus, is upset because the perfume was not sold and the money given to the poor, or so he says that is why.  Jesus defends Mary.  “Leave her alone,” he says.  “She bought it for the day of my burial.  You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.”

 

 They are all confused, except for Mary, maybe.  She seems to be aware that something much bigger is happening here. She bought perfume for Jesus’ burial and she used it, today, at this dinner party. Why? He did raise her brother Lazarus from the dead.  Does that help her believe Jesus’ story about dying and rising again in three days? 

 

 We are confused with the rest.  What does Jesus mean by these words?  Burial?  What burial?  What he said before about his dying – could that be true? But he is the King; he can’t die now. Doesn’t he care about his people?  Doesn’t he care about the poor anymore?  Something has changed.  But what? Why?  We don’t understand.  Is it all about Jesus, now?

 

 Is it? 

 

 

 

“Simply Jesus Son of Man – Simply Jesus spotless lamb….

…Simply Jesus Living Word – Simply Jesus says it all.

Jesus Christ our Lord – Jesus Christ is Lord.”—Paul Kyle

 

~ djw 2014

 

 

 

A PSALM SUNDAY MEDITATION

The end is beginning. Or is it the beginning that is ending? The scripture lessons read today are filled with images—with contrasts. At first, we cry, “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!” When the Pharisees told Jesus to stop the palm-waiving disciples who were crying, “Hosannas”, he told them that if they didn’t cry out, the stones would have to do it. Jesus must be proclaimed King on this day. The coming events must take place. They were planned from the beginning, and Jesus has chosen to take this path.

Then we read, and also cry, “Crucify, crucify him!” Must we always betray and get rid of that which we do not understand? It happened then, and it happens today. And so, we watched him die. Jesus says, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” A Holy Week hymn says, “Who was the guilty? Who brought this upon thee? Alas, my treason, Jesus, hath undone thee. ‘Twas I, Lord Jesus, I it was denied thee: I crucified thee.”

“But we did not crucify Him,” we say, “they did—a long time ago.” If not then, how about today?

We are sorry, Lord. Hear our prayer.

“Most merciful God, we confess that we have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done, and by what we have left undone.
We have not loved you with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves.

We are truly sorry and we humbly repent. For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ,
have mercy on us and forgive us that we may delight in your will,
and walk in your ways, to the glory of your Name. Amen.”—The Book of Common Prayer

Blessed are you, Jesus, who comes in the name of the Lord.

~ dlw 2014