I write this during the long vigil between Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. The time when those who follow the ancient traditions of the Christian church year stay up and keep watch with Jesus, as he prays in agony in the Garden of Gethsemane.
We have, once again, been present as he washes the disciples’ feet, and commands us to do likewise, to serve and love others as he has loved us. We have listened, confused, as he transforms the normal blessing of bread and wine into a mysterious command to eat his body and blood. We have felt the impending doom in our guts, but are sure – want to be sure – that somehow it can still be avoided. We have heard but do not, cannot, yet understand the hint that this impending darkness is not the end, but the dawning of the greatest light.
In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed for this fate to be taken from him.
Pray…for those at the boundaries between life and death, between death and new life.
- For Nobel prize-winning Colombian author Gabriel Garcia Marquez, author of One Hundred Years of Solitude, who died today in Mexico at the age of 87
- For the 26 dead, 179 rescued, and 270 still missing from the South Korean ferry that sank
- For the dozens of civilians in the South Sudan town of Bor, who were killed in an attack by armed youths while they were taking shelter at a UN base
- For the approximately 6,000 asylum-seekers, many of them Syrians and Eritreans, who have been rescued by Italy’s navy in the past four days
Jesus asked his disciples to stay awake and keep watch while he prayed, but they fell asleep.
Pray…for those who slumber when they are called to stay awake. For climate change deniers, and poverty enforcers; for the Oklahoma, US, state legislature which voted to prohibit localities from raising their minimum wages, and also passed a bill allowing utilities to charge people a fee for installing their own solar panels; and for the Tennessee, US, lawmakers who passed a bill banning the construction of bus rapid transit in two counties.
On the cross, Jesus said, “I thirst.”
Pray…for those who thirst not only for water, but for the basics needed to support human life. Pray for the success of the appeal by the United Nations refugee agency and 14 other humanitarian aid groups for $274 million to fund emergency services for Central African Republic refugees.
Jesus said, “Forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
Pray…for those who forgive, for those in need of forgiveness, and for those who seem unforgiveable.
- For those who kidnapped 100 girls from their school in Nigeria
- For the masked men on a sidewalk outside a synagogue in Ukraine, handing out leaflets allegedly from pro-Russian groups demanding that Jews register and pay a fine or leave the area, spreading rumors and fears among Jews throughout the world
- For Bilal, an Iranian who killed a teenager 7 years ago in a street fight when they were both 17. He had been sentenced to die this week, and was actually standing at the gallows, with the noose around his neck, when the parents of his victim chose to forgive him and accept blood money and jail time in lieu of his death
- For Pope Francis, taking personal responsibility for the Roman Catholic priests who sexually abused children, and the failure of the Church to protect its people
- For Colin Keating, the diplomat who was president of the United Nations Security Council in April 1994, who publicly apologized this week for the Council’s failure to do anything to halt the slaughter of more than one million people during the Rwandan genocide.
And on the third day, he rose again.
Pray…for new beginnings, new birth out of formlessness, light out of darkness, joy out of sorrow.
- Scientists earlier this week reported that a new moon appears to be forming out of the rings of Saturn. And today astronomers announced the discovery of an Earth-sized planet orbiting a star 500 light-years from Earth that may hold water on its surface and is the best candidate yet of a habitable planet.
God our Father, God our Mother,
Not our will, but yours be done.
Wake us each day with eyes open to see the peace, joy and life you are creating among us.
Wake us each day to new life, to Easter joy.