Good Friday. Three crosses and three men, one sentence: death. Our entire Lenten fast and feast, our prayers and questions, our tears and sorrows, our fears and anxieties, all culminate at this one place: the Cross. We knew that we would end here when we begin Lent. We also know that this cross, this death will do nothing to kill the Word of God. In fact, it ignites this Word. This fire Spirit still burns brightly.
For me, Lent was a challenge of a different sort. On one hand I was at peace, fasting from worry and feasting on faith. In essence I tried to allow Jesus to take the wheel and drive my life. On the other hand, it was forty days of chaos and stress as I pushed myself to write a devotional a day. Some might have been better than others, but I did it. And I am appreciative to all of you for your input and participation. I hope to write more frequently on my personal blog site as I continue to seek new ways to find Jesus in a world of Jesús and other strangers.
While this devotional has come to an end, our life journey with Christ as just begun. There will be good days, and bad nights. And bad days, but good nights. There will be up’s and down’s that will push us and challenge our faith. In fact, there will be a lot of crap you’ll just have to put up with. How you react, how you learn, and how you grow in the love of Christ will not only determine the peace you will find, but it will also set the tone for peace in the world.
In the meantime, please read this wonderful poem by Christine Black, from the March edition of Sojourners magazine.
By Christine E. Black
How to bring god closer
after the frenzy, the snarling riots,
this god hanging on a tree?
Do I stand here, as the story goes,
looking, do nothing, imagine
pouring myself toward him,
a flame across a field?
Or would I go there,
climb up, pry the first nails out
with the claw of a hammer,
wrap my arm tightly around his waist,
like my son I rescue from a branch too high?
I struggle to keep his weight on my hip,
his arm over my shoulder
while I wrest the other nails loose.
Smelling his sweat and tears,
I hoist him, lower him to the ground,
and then, with a wet cloth,
wash blood and dirt from his face,
tell him it will be all right now.
He is not forsaken, I say.
I’m here and can help.
I’m strong and fierce, have survived childbirths
and madness, sickness and suicides.
Here, I will carry you down.
I will go get more help.
And I know others who will come,
with bandages, bread,
broth and soft songs, blankets.
We will not leave you there
Faithful Jesus, your faith was tried just like mine, but even more. Yet you trusted that you would not be put to shame, and into God’s hands you entrusted your spirit. Give me courage today to do the same in the time of life’s trials and tribulations. Amen.
Jesus Prays For Us His Followers
The Gospel of John 17 (The Message)
17:1-5 Jesus said these things. Then, raising his eyes in prayer, he said:
Father, it’s time.
Display the bright splendor of your Son
So the Son in turn may show your bright splendor.
You put him in charge of everything human
So he might give real and eternal life to all in his charge.
And this is the real and eternal life:
That they know you,
The one and only true God,
And Jesus Christ, whom you sent.
I glorified you on earth
By completing down to the last detail
What you assigned me to do.
And now, Father, glorify me with your very own splendor,
The very splendor I had in your presence
Before there was a world.
17: 6-12 I spelled out your character in detail
To the men and women you gave me.
They were yours in the first place;
Then you gave them to me,
And they have now done what you said.
They know now, beyond the shadow of a doubt,
That everything you gave me is firsthand from you,
For the message you gave me, I gave them;
And they took it, and were convinced
That I came from you.
They believed that you sent me.
I pray for them.
I’m not praying for the God-rejecting world
But for those you gave me,
For they are yours by right.
Everything mine is yours, and yours mine,
And my life is on display in them.
For I’m no longer going to be visible in the world;
They’ll continue in the world
While I return to you.
Holy Father, guard them as they pursue this life
That you conferred as a gift through me,
So they can be one heart and mind
As we are one heart and mind.
As long as I was with them, I guarded them
In the pursuit of the life you gave through me;
I even posted a night watch.
And not one of them got away,
Except for the rebel bent on destruction
(the exception that proved the rule of Scripture).
17:13-19 Now I’m returning to you.
I’m saying these things in the world’s hearing
So my people can experience
My joy completed in them.
I gave them your word;
The godless world hated them because of it,
Because they didn’t join the world’s ways,
Just as I didn’t join the world’s ways.
I’m not asking that you take them out of the world
But that you guard them from the Evil One.
They are no more defined by the world
Than I am defined by the world.
Make them holy—consecrated—with the truth;
Your word is consecrating truth.
In the same way that you gave me a mission in the world,
I give them a mission in the world.
I’m consecrating myself for their sakes
So they’ll be truth-consecrated in their mission.
17:20-23 I’m praying not only for them
But also for those who will believe in me
Because of them and their witness about me.
The goal is for all of them to become one heart and mind--
Just as you, Father, are in me and I in you,
So they might be one heart and mind with us.
Then the world might believe that you, in fact, sent me.
The same glory you gave me, I gave them,
So they’ll be as unified and together as we are--
I in them and you in me.
Then they’ll be mature in this oneness,
And give the godless world evidence
That you’ve sent me and loved them
In the same way you’ve loved me.
17:24-26 Father, I want those you gave me
To be with me, right where I am,
So they can see my glory, the splendor you gave me,
Having loved me
Long before there ever was a world.
Righteous Father, the world has never known you,
But I have known you, and these disciples know
That you sent me on this mission.
I have made your very being known to them--
Who you are and what you do--
And continue to make it known,
So that your love for me
Might be in them
Exactly as I am in them.
- Illustrations of the Life of Christ-
The sleep of the Disciples
The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
Unknown painter from the School of Picardy The Pietà
I would love to hear from you about your Lenten journey, what you learned or discovered about yourself, or any questions that you struggled with. Please send me an email or post in the comment section.