Posts Tagged ‘Holy Week’
[08APRIL2012] Lent | Easter Sunday 2012: Day 47—Reflection and Meditation
O God, who wonderfully created, and yet more wonderfully restored, the dignity of human nature: Grant that we may share the divine life of him who humbled himself to share our humanity, your Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
♦ Psalms 118:1-2, 14-24
“The sun has risen. Seek the Son of Man no more among the dead. He has broken the bonds of death. Alleluia! A fire grows in our hearts. Jesus abides with us. His mystery accompanies us. Death gives way to glory. Alleluia!”
Easter Sunday: He is Risen! “Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.” (John 20:29)
It’s 11:30pm on Easter Sunday as I put down my closing thoughts on this Resurrection Remembrance. While part of me has celebrated outwardly remembering the significance of what this day represents, I have wrestled with disturbance in my soul for most of the day too. Part of me was sad. Bothered. Bugged. Annoyed.
I tried to ask my soul what the deal was, but it seemed too agitated to respond to me until a few hours ago. Maybe it was simply a matter of selfish immaturity (soul sulking???), but here is what my soul said to me.
I didn’t like rushing through this day. The past forty days I have spent focused on the need for and work of reconciliation that our Savior has provided us. I’ve anticipated this day, looking ahead and waiting specifically for it as I intently scrutinized every dark place within me. I acknowledge the need for the redemptive work of Christ and wanted to enter into this day in celebratory fashion, yes, but I also wanted to soak in reverent adoration at the feet of our Victorious Savior King as well—and not just alone, but with the corporate body…all of us worshiping and adoring our Great Redemptor God. So much of today felt “plastic” and “polished” …several moments felt awkward and out of place for me. I wanted to savor the Bread and Wine of Your Paschal Feast with You…but that was also missed from my day. Perhaps I had unrealized expectations. This day isn’t about me, but I do share with the Body proper as a participant. So, I’ve already repented of my selfish wants and extended forgiveness without condition for whatever offense I had taken earlier. As a crucified member who shares the Cross of Christ, I cannot afford to be downcast or downtrodden. I choose to move on. I, Your soul, am not bummed, bugged, or bothered anymore. Christ has Risen and He is my Victory.
So, I will end this day with my heartfelt prayer to Jesus, the One who has saved me for the joy of Himself and given to me the Victory and Peace this world holds no comparison to—
O Lord, my Lord, thank you for the Victorious Cross. Thank you for the Empty Tomb. Thank you for your unrelenting passion that never failed me and the Mercy of your unceasing Grace that prevented my heart from becoming hardened as Pharaoh’s was. Lord Jesus, when you turned me with prophetic revelation back in the fall of 2001 it was those words that have never escaped me…that encounter with you exceeded any other experience I had previously shared with you. I cannot thank you enough for that supernatural visitation. So tonight, I thank you with the prayer of those words that have spoken life to me and held me close to you for these last eleven years—“My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless.” (Galatians 2:20). Glory Be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be—world without end. Amen.
[07APRIL2012] Lent | Holy Week 2012: Day 46—Reflection and Meditation
Holy Saturday: The Great Darkness…
O God, Creator of heaven and earth: grant that, as the crucified body of your dear Son was laid in the tomb and rested on this holy Sabbath, so we may await with him the coming of the third day, and rise with him to newness of life; who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever. Amen
♦ Psalms 31:1-4, 15-16
“Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.” (John 20:29)
A day of emptiness, despair, hopes and expectations unrealized, and deep, heart-wrenching loss.
Abandoned and left in the dark…this may have been some of what the disciples were feeling—still reeling from the tortuous murder of their teacher, the one they had placed all their hope in. Yes, even the one they had thought was the very Son of God…but now…he had been killed. How could this have happened? If he was the prophesied Son of God, would not God’s plans have been fulfilled? But he was dead. Rome had won.
Maybe the disciples were feeling betrayed themselves. It was clear now they had misunderstood the message and the instructions of Jesus, their teacher. They had imagined the kingdom of God in political terms, sure that Jesus was going to overthrow the Roman rule of their precious Jerusalem. But Jesus was dead. Surely the revolution was to come, but how now? Who would be the next self-proclaimed Messiah? Jesus had promised it was him…signs, wonders, and things too marvelous to mention had surrounded him, but he couldn’t protect himself from Rome? The hope for the new Jerusalem and the reign of God had been crushed along with Jesus, their hopes as cold and dead as Jesus now was.
I imagine besides the fear they now had, they were filled with equal parts of anger. Many of these disciples had left family, friends, and careers. Could they go back? Had they burned bridges? Would they be turned over to Roman authorities?
Joan Chittister writes about Holy Saturday:
Everyone who has ever lived, who will ever live, will someday undergo a Holy Saturday of our own. Someday we will all know the power of overwhelming loss when life as we know it changes, when all hope dies in mid-flight. Then, and only then,, can we begin to understand the purpose of Holy Saturday.
The importance of Holy Saturday lies in its power to bring us to the kind of faith the spiritual masters call “mature.” Holy Saturday faith is not about counting our blessings; it is about dealing with darkness and growing in hope. Without the Holy Saturdays of life, none of us may ever really grow up spiritually.
Today, alone and bereft, we come face-to-face with the question we try so hard to avoid the rest of the year: how do we deal with the God of darkness as well as the Giver of light? Have we been abandoned? Are we left now on our own in this world? Is there nothing else? Was all the rest of it pure fairy tale?
“Everyone will someday undergo a Holy Saturday of our own…” I know this is true. I’ve had a few Holy Saturdays. Never cared for a single one of them. I do know this about them…enduring the darkness has taught me more about the light than any other teaching tool. Hang on. The darkness, the aloneness…is always the darkest and loneliest just before the light.
[06APRIL2012] Lent | Holy Week 2012: Day 45—Reflection and Meditation
A Good Friday Meditation…
Almighty God, we beseech thee graciously to behold this thy family, for which our Lord Jesus Christ was contented to be betrayed, and given up into the hands of sinners, and to suffer death upon a cross; who now liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost ever, one God, world without end. Amen.
♦ Psalms 22:1-2, 14-22
♦ Isaiah 52:13—53:12
♦ John 18:1—19:42
Blessed be our God. For ever and ever. We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you. Because by your holy Cross you have redeemed the world.
My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? Why are you so far away when I groan for help? Every day I call to you, my God, but you do not answer. Every night you hear my voice, but I find no relief. My life is poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart is like wax, melting within me. My strength has dried up like sunbaked clay. My tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth. You have laid me in the dust and left me for dead. My enemies surround me like a pack of dogs; an evil gang closes in on me. They have pierced my hands and feet. I can count all my bones. My enemies stare at me and gloat. They divide my garments among themselves and throw dice for my clothing Lord, do not stay far away! You are my strength; come quickly to my aid! Save me from the sword; spare my precious life from these dogs. Snatch me from the lion’s jaws and from the horns of these wild oxen. I will proclaim your name to my brothers and sisters. I will praise you among your assembled people. (Psalm 22:1-2, 14-22)
Toward midafternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
I don’t know and do not profess to fully understand all of the deep and divine mystery that is the Cross of Christ. I suppose one day the entirety of that great undertaking will be revealed and reveled—perhaps even sung in multiple verses with one of the great Heavenly Hymns before the throne of the King who was actually crucified upon it. One can only imagine…
I do know with resonate affirmation in the deepest parts of my soul that it was so much more than Jesus simply taking my place for the crimes of my own sin. While the reality of my sin alone deserved a response from God…the response of physical punishment leading to physical death wasn’t the completion of that great and mysterious act.
While I believe the torture endured by Jesus was very real, both the events of his beating before being crucified and the act of execution upon the Cross, I don’t believe those were the most agonizing moments of his atoning sacrifice. The torture leading up to physical death is one thing, but the spiritual death and reality of God becoming separated from God is another dimension of the God-man-God exchange that is near incomprehensible for us to imagine—much less for us to fully understand. But this is what happened; this is one of the realities of the Cross—the Holy Trinity rent and broken, so you and I might be saved from eternal separation which is the spiritual death. Yes, Jesus Christ, the holy Son of God, died physically and spiritually, so we might live. Likewise, his resurrection was both physical and spiritual…as is ours. This is part of the symbolism we find in the Sacrament of baptism; which, I believe, is often the beginning and the end of many “believers’” association with the Cross…at least on this temporal side of Eternity. And, that is a very, very sad confession for the Church.
This day is the day we mourn the death of our Savior…symbolically. We have hindsight; we know he’s going to arise from the depths of the grave—and not only arise, but emerge completely victorious—our Christus Victor, our Victorious Messiah! As he emerges glorious and victorious, thus becomes the most tangibly edifying result of this gruesomely divine exchange; Our separation from God which is the spiritual death is broken, We are reconciled…not only justified, but reunited with Abba Creator! The agony of our broken fellowship with God is a thing of the past, if we choose to embrace and live into this reconciliatory exchange. Drink deep from this cup. The cup is bitter as it touches our lips, but the aftertaste is Eternally sweet…so sweet that our eternity can be “tasted” even today.
see also this meditation on the Holy Tridium
[05APRIL2012] Lent | Holy Week 2012: Day 44—Reflection and Meditation
“The Lord Jesus, after he had supped with his disciples and had washed their feet, said to them ‘do you know what I, your Lord and Master, have done to you? I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done.” (John 13:1-17)
♦ Psalms 116:1,10-17
♦ John 13:1-17, 31-35
I have given you a new commandment: Love one another as I have loved you. Peace is my last gift to you, my own peace I now leave with you; peace which the world cannot give, I give to you.
Maundy Thursday: Jesus washes the disciple’s feet—teaches servanthood; Jesus provides the disciples with a new mandate, “love one another as I have loved you;” Institution of the Lord’ Supper—Eucharist; Jesus’ high priestly prayer (John 17) Gethsemane; Judas betrays Jesus—the arrest; Jesus indicted before Annas, Jesus answers to Caiphas, Jesus taken to trial before the Sanhedrin; Peter denies Christ.
And being found in the design of a human being, he humbled himself… Jesus said, This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
Maundy Thursday is a troubling day for me; it is a day that causes me to realize how far short I fall from truly being a disciple of Jesus. In effect, and as I mentioned yesterday, it is why I feel as though much of my representation of Christ is a betrayal. This isn’t meant to be an exercise in false humility; let me explain.
Retracing the events of Maundy Thursday help to shed light and bring focus to the weaknesses of my faith (see the event timeline for Maundy Thursday above). There are, perhaps, other views, but this is my comparison to the events I see as critical for people who profess to follow Jesus. I consider the teachings on this particular day the great summary of all that Jesus taught—he didn’t leave his disciples with a litany of do’s and don’ts. He simply told them to live humble lives, serving people as he had served them (I’m reminded of the Kenosis passage from Philippians 2:5-11). He also told them to love one another as he had loved them; again, a hearken to Phil. 2:5-11. As simple as these mandates seem on the surface, they are truly the deepest essence of what it means to follow Jesus…and herein lays my problem.
I have to examine my own soul and life motives laid side by side to these mandates. Do I live with such purity of intent; to love my neighbor as myself…with the same capacity and intensity as Jesus? Do I live to serve all humanity with humility and absolute selflessness? I don’t think I can answer an honest “yes” to either of these questions. Oh, I want to, but I’d be less than honest if I professed that I was succeeding. And who is my neighbor? There is a bigger problem with this soul-searching for me though and it extends beyond my acknowledging my failure to love and serve as Jesus commanded. The bigger problem is how I respond to my examination. What am I doing about it? My answer is not too much. My common response is to put off any action steps. I like to tell myself that “I’ll get there…” but that’s impossible to believe if I’m not intentionally working to those ends. Invariably, I console myself by saying that God’s grace covers my weakness and failures to love as he loved, but I think that is a lie I tell myself. Is God’s grace sufficient to cover my sin? Of course it is, but if I concede these failures of mine and do not do anything to correct them, isn’t that the same as taking God’s grace for granted? The writer of Hebrews says that it is akin to trampling the blood of Christ underfoot and for that…there is no forgiveness (Hebrews 10:26-31). That’s why I can see myself as a traitor like Judas and a “deny-er” like Peter. You see, I cannot approach the day of Jesus’ crucifixion without openly and honestly doing some open-heart surgery on myself. This is not a day or season to “bump and run” into and out of. The sum of my faith is what I do with this day. What then, will I do about these things I realize about myself? I don’t know. I know I need real community to help me grow in the grace and the likeness of Christ—and I still haven’t found a community willing to be open and intentional about growing in this way. I’m sure they exist, but I haven’t found one yet. Maybe soon. God willing—maybe soon.
Almighty Father, whose dear Son,, on the night before he suffered did institute the Sacrament of his Body and Blood: Mercifully grant that we may thankfully receive the same in remembrance of him who in these holy mysteries giveth us a pledge of life eternal, the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit ever, one God, world without end.
Lord, make us fruitful members of Christ by renewing us in his Paschal Mystery. You have made Christ Jesus our wisdom and also our righteousness, our sanctification, and our redemption. To You, O God, be all the glory for ever and for ever. I ask You, O Lord, to help me to be ever convicted of my weaknesses and motivated toward perfection. I ask by Your always present and indwelling Holy Spirit to guide me by Your strength to fulfill the mandates to love as You loved and to serve as You served, so I might be a holy and accurate reflection of You to the world in which I live. All this, by Your grace and to Your glory and for Your Kingdom. Amen. Amen.
[04APRIL2012] Lent | Holy Week 2012: Day 43—Reflection and Meditation
“How much will you pay me to betray him?” And they paid him thirty pieces of silver. (Matthew 26:15)
♦ Matthew 26:14-16, 20-25
Send forth your strength, O God; establish, O God, what you have wrought for us. (Psalm 68:28)
Jesus is betrayed…
My soul has been sick for most of the day, as I have meditated on the betrayal of Christ. I think how easy it is to pass judgment on Judas and the heinous act of committing the treason against God. I think I might get carried away and consider myself gripped by the metaphor of my own treason against God and then I console myself by attempting to convince my soul that I have not really committed treason against Jesus. I know that is not true though. I have committed treason against Jesus. It doesn’t matter that I have not literally handed him over to authorities to be undeservedly tortured and murdered, I’ve still betrayed him… over and over and over again. I wish I could say that my acts of betrayal are all in my past and that since I have served God “faithfully” for the last decade or more my reflection is forced solemnity, but that would be untrue.
Every act I have committed or omitted that are contrary to the nature and person of Christ are acts of betrayal, especially those that I know could have reflected Him in a positive manner. I do believe my soul is secure, but I am driven to the Cross of Christ time after time when I catch glimpses of my traitorous heart. It is here, at his cross, that I find the sustaining grace of God providing my mourning heart with the comfort and love I need.
“I was like a lamb being led to slaughter… ‘Let’s destroy this man and all his words,’ they said.” (Jer. 11:19)
Traitors we are and traitors we may be…but the grace and mercy and love of our Great God surpasses even the most treasonous acts of those who will, with humility, receive the weight of His Cross. O God in Christ Jesus forgive all my act of betrayal and denial, so I might fully embrace and receive your reconciliatory and restoring love. For me living means Christ, and dying is added blessing. I am under compulsion to glory in the Cross of Christ Jesus, my Lord. Now to Him be all the glory, honor, and fame for neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen. …not even our own betrayals against him. Amen. Amen.
[03APRIL2012] Lent | Holy Week 2012: Day 42—Reflection and Meditation
♦ Mark 12:10-11, 29-31
Early in the morning I cry out to you, for in your word is my trust.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. 7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.
The glorious, divine exchange; what an incredible mystery this is. This event, the murderous crucifixion…the death of God Almighty, is the medicine that heals my soul…converting my mortal and separated-from-God self to reunited-with-God and transforming me to immortality forever to live with my gracious and eternal King Jesus. I have been healed! It is for this reason that I find what I offer back to my God is no less than all my love…with all my heart, all my soul, all my mind, and all my strength.
[02APRIL2012] Lent | Holy Week 2012: Day 41—Reflection and Meditation
Jesus said, This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
Holy Week is unlike any other week in the Church’s year. It begins with the illusory triumph of Palm Sunday, when Jesus is hailed as a celebrity in his own city of Jerusalem. It leads through the betrayal of Judas (remembered as Spy Wednesday) and the farewells of Thursday (called Maundy Thursday), the humiliations, tortures and death on Good Friday, to the victory over death on Resurrection Morning. Nearly every human life will include some of these experiences. This week we can identify with the Lord each step of the way from the Mount of Olives to Calvary. When it comes to the resurrection, the imagination boggles, yet it is the centre of our faith. Lord, teach me to love my face and body, my temple of the Holy Spirit. It will grow old and die with me, but that is not the end. My body is sacred, and Easter opens a window for it and me onto a mysterious but endless vista. (From Sacred Space, a Prayer Book of the Irish Jesuits).
“Instead of spreading our own garments, let us spread our hearts before him.” -Methodius
The promise of our Savior has been given to us from the beginning of time… of which He also created. His plan and His promise have been as ancient as He is. His plan and promise are timeless and eternal—without fault and without fail. It is for this reason He says; “I Am the LORD; that is my name! I will not give my glory to anyone else, nor share my praise with carved idols. Everything I prophesied has come true, and now I will prophesy again. I will tell you the future before it happens.”
I continue to be amazed at the incredible revelation shared in the passage of Scripture that is John 12:23-28. The great expression of Jesus’ glory will be his death and resurrection. Then, he asks those who will follow him to “follow him” and to be where he is. I think most persons reading this text fail to grasp the full meaning of what Jesus is asking his followers to do. He asks them to die to their self… to put aside their perceived divine right (see also Philippians 2:5-11), and to live a life of humble surrender to the larger and eternal plan of God. No matter how much we claim to get this message, many of us professing followers fail to act upon our knowledge with obedience to God’s plan and the way of Jesus. Not me. I will not despise my God. I will follow Christ and my flesh be damned. He died so my spirit might be set free and I might know who I was truly created to be… my destiny lies before me and awaits me—all because Jesus showed me the way. “Anyone who wants to be my disciple must follow me, because my servants must be where I am.”
I will follow.
In the silence of my innermost being, in the fragments of my yearned-for wholeness, I hear the whispers of God’s presence. I feel God’s nearness as we walk together and I let myself be embraced and consumed by His full and unfailing love. Thank you, Messiah Jesus, for the completed work of redeeming me and reconciling me to yourself. I continue to surrender myself to you with wonder and anticipation of my full restoration. I offer my praises to you for bringing me out of slavery to sin into freedom of new life by your death and resurrection. Though I have been unfaithful, you wait for me with strong and gentle care. Thank you for your gentle patience and please listen, as I pray: Lord, save me, your child and save us, your people. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be—world without end. Amen.