Written on Maundy Thursday
Three days to remember and relive Jesus’ last days on earth.
Three days to his resurrection.
Three days to be reminded that our lives – the best of times, and the worst of times –
are borne in God’s love. Forever.
Three days to let our prayers for the world be rooted in these stories.
Let us pray.
On the night before Jesus was arrested, he spent achingly long hours in the garden at Gethsemane, praying that he might (even yet) escape the fate he foresaw.
Let us pray for all who fear losing the ones they love, the places where they belong, the life they’ve treasured. For all who can’t imagine turning over the work they’ve started, and trusting others to complete it. For all who fear death, and for all who fear wholly engaging in life.
Before dawn, he came to terms with what was to be. He chose to die, that others might live. “Not my will, Father, but thine be done.”
Let us pray for all who risk their lives for others. For truth Sayers and whistle-blowers, for police and fire-fighters, explosive-defusers and electric line workers, medical staff and medical trial volunteers, for those who work in blistering heat and unbearable cold, for the military who defend civilians and protesters who stand up against official powers. For caregivers and clergy and counselors. For every parent who skips a meal to make sure their children can eat.
Jesus was arrested, tried, and sentenced on trumped-up charges.
Let us pray for those falsely accused, for corrupt justice systems, for the legacy of injustice wherever it occurs. For those in prison and those who can’t find a way to turn their lives around and stay out. Let us pray for those condemned by public opinion, even without trial. Let us pray for our own tendencies to judge without mercy.
Jesus was asked if he claimed to be the King of the Jews. And even though he himself was Jewish, writings blaming “the Jews” for the death of God’s son were later accepted into Scripture, setting the stage for millennia of Christian mistreatment of Jesus’ own people.
Let us pray for all the victims and perpetuators of mis-written history. For all words taken out of context, for hatreds and distrust perpetuated for generations. For lives upended and destroyed by pogroms and genocide and legal barriers. For those who suffer the million tiny soul deaths of ongoing discrimination and prejudice. Let us pray for respect, peace and love among all human beings.
On the cross, Jesus begged God to forgive those who crucified him, and promised Heaven to the ruffian crucified beside him.
Let us pray for the grace to forgive those who threaten us or harm those we love. Let us storm the heavens, asking for wholeness for those who have done evil. Let us believe (and pray to believe) that God will give us grace to act in love toward our enemies.
At the end, it was a Roman Centurion who declared Jesus to have been truly the Son of God, and Joseph of Arimathea (who wasn’t one of Jesus’s public followers) who arranged for Jesus to be buried in his own tomb.
Let us give thanks for unexpected gifts of kindness.
For three days, Jesus lay in the tomb.
Let us give thanks for times of silence and darkness, for waiting, for unknowing, for loss, for loneliness. Even for unbearable grief.
And on the third day, the women came to the tomb, found the stone rolled away, the body gone, and met the Risen Lord.
Let us give shout with thanksgiving for all that has prepared the soil of our souls for new birth, deeper love, a dawning joy. Let us be renewed in surety that neither death nor evil will ever conquer life and love. Let us have the courage to be as Christ to one another, in the best of times and the worst of times. Let us build our loves on the anchor of God’s self-giving love, with us today, tomorrow and forever.
Amen and amen.