Category Archives: Holy Week

Whatever you have to do…

Meditation for Holy Wednesday on John 13:21-32

Get on with it.

Get a move on.

Hurry up!

We’re burnin’ daylight, people!

What are you waiting for?

Hustle!

Jesus said, “Do quickly what you are going to do.”

Get on with it. If you’ve decided to betray the Savior of the World, there is no time to waste.

Get a move on. This betrayal sets everything in motion. There are lots of players involved. They are waiting for their cue from you.

Hurry up! The time has come. Get going. There is no reason to wait any longer.

What are you waiting for? It’s too late to change your mind. What’s done is done.

We’re burnin’ daylight, people! Did you hear “Walk while you have the light” only yesterday?

Hustle! Time is of the essence. Go. Now.

Do quickly what you are going to do. Get it over with, for your own sake. Don’t draw out the agony of knowing you have caused an irreversible sequence of events to unfold, events that will lead to the death of the One you call Lord, Master, Teacher.

Oh, I’m sorry, Jesus. Were you talking to Judas?

I thought you meant me.

 

 

We Would See Jesus

Meditation for Holy Tuesday – John 12:20-36

I’ve always wondered what happened to those Greeks who approached Philip. Did they stand aside, waiting for a private audience, while Philip found his brother to go with him to Jesus on their behalf? Did they tag along behind the brothers, hoping for a word with the Word made flesh? Or did they merge into the crowd as Jesus began to teach about his own death?

We never learn the answer. By the end of this passage, Jesus has slipped away to hide from the crowd. Interesting … Many times, Jesus has escaped the pressure of the crowd around him, leaving them to pray, to be alone with his inner circle of disciples, or to rest. But I don’t recall anywhere before this that Jesus has left the crowd specifically to hide.

It is doubly ironic that, just before Jesus hid from the crowd, he told them to “walk in the light.” Just before sneaking off into the shadows, Jesus says, “If you walk in the darkness, you do not know where you are going.” Yet Jesus knew exactly where he was going. The Light of the World was about to enter his darkest days on earth. 

Lord, help me to follow you through the shadows of my own fear, my own blindness, into the light of your glorious resurrection. Keep me focused on you, sweet Lord Jesus. Amen.

A Pound of Nard

Holy Week Meditation on John 12:1-11

This was NOT a funeral dinner. It was supposed to be a funeral dinner. Martha had been working on it for days  – but Jesus had changed all those plans when he’d shown up at Lazarus’ tomb. Now, instead of sharing fond memories of the deceased, the friends gathered around this table were talking and laughing with him. Lazarus had become an overnight celebrity: The One Who Was No Longer Dead. This was a celebration dinner.

But Death does not get to sit at this table. Lazarus offers visible proof that Death has no power over Jesus, and even if those enjoying Martha’s fine cooking don’t fully comprehend it yet, we know that Jesus will completely defeat death before John’s story is finished. For now, let’s take a closer look at this feast in Bethany, and especially at the gift Mary brings to the guest of honor.

The other gospels tell us that the nard was in an alabaster jar. The only way to open the sealed jar was to break it, so this was an all-or-nothing gift. It’s possible that the nard might have belonged to Mary’s dowry, so pouring out this perfume on Jesus’ feet could have signified a substantial sacrifice on Mary’s part. If she had been saving the nard for her own bride price, this gift has suddenly reduced her marriage chances to practically zero.

But Mary gave it all. She poured the entire contents of that jar onto Jesus’ feet, and rubbed it in with her hair.

What an intimate, scandalous thing to do! For an unmarried woman to touch a man was shocking. For a woman to let down her hair in public was also considered completely inappropriate behavior. Yet, here she was, abandoning all decorum as she wiped the perfume on Jesus’ feet with her hair. In a few days, Jesus would kneel at the feet of his disciples and wipe them with a towel in exactly the same way. But Mary was not using perfume like soap and water. Jesus said that Mary was anointing him for burial. Mary could not know the details of what was to happen in just a few short days, but she could worship her Lord now, in the present moment, with all she had to offer.

These last days of Lent are always the hardest for me. I get weary of lamenting my sins. I want to say, “Enough already! I’ve repented! I’ve confessed! I’ve submitted myself to discipline! I’m tired of all this introspection and self-examination! I’m ready for Easter! Let me get on with my life!” But do you hear those words? “I,” “Myself,” “Me,” “My?” It’s easy to fall into that trap of self-absorption, to become self-centered, instead of Christ-centered. These forty days of Lent, like the forty days Jesus spent in the wilderness, are just enough time to weaken us so Satan can tempt us to lose our focus on Christ. Mary comes to remind us to choose the better part, to keep our eyes on Jesus, to serve him with all that we are and all that we have.

As we enter Holy Week, let us ponder what we can offer the Lord of All. What would cost us as much as Mary’s perfume cost her? What are we willing to sacrifice to bring honor and glory to the One who died so that we might live?

 

Palm Sunday … Passion Sunday

This is a day to let the scriptures speak for themselves. We marched in triumphantly (we had to sing through the processional hymn twice – Hosanna, Loud Hosanna!) and sang our responses to each reading, but here’s the gist of it. Grab a palm branch and read along, as we enter into Holy Week together. I’ll be posting a reflection on the daily readings throughout the week. Come, let us worship at the foot of the cross.

CALL TO WORSHIP from Psalm 18

Leader:       O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his steadfast love endures forever!
Let the people say,

People:       “His steadfast love endures forever!”
Leader:       This is the gate of the Lord;
People:       The righteous shall enter through it.
Leader:       The stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.
People:        This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.
Leader:       This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it!
People:       Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
                   We bless you from the house of the Lord.
Leader:       Bind the festal procession with branches, up to the horns of the altar.
People:       O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
                   for his steadfast love endures forever.

UNISON PRAYER

We praise you, O God, for your redemption of the world through Jesus Christ. He entered the holy city of Jerusalem in triumph and was proclaimed Messiah and King by those who spread garments and branches along his way. Just as we carry these branches, may we follow Christ in the way of the cross, that, dying and rising with him, we may enter into your kingdom, through Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, now and forever. Amen.

GOSPEL LESSON – Matthew 21:1-11      

OLD TESTAMENT LESSON – Isaiah 50:4-9a

NEW TESTAMENT LESSON – Philippians 2:5-11

THE STORY OF THE PASSION

GOSPEL LESSONMatthew 26:14-35 

RESPONSIVE READING            Matthew 27:1-52, 54

One: Now Jesus stood before the governor; and the governor asked him,
Many: ‘Are you the King of the Jews?’
One: Jesus said, ‘You say so.’ But when he was accused by the chief priests and elders, he did not answer. Then Pilate said to him, ‘Do you not hear how many accusations they make against you?’ But he gave him no answer, not even to a single charge, so that the governor was greatly amazed.
Now at the festival the governor was accustomed to release a prisoner for the crowd, anyone whom they wanted. At that time they had a notorious prisoner, called Jesus Barabbas. So after they had gathered, Pilate said to them,
Men:

 

 ‘Whom do you want me to release for you, JesusBarabbas or Jesus who is called the Messiah?’
One: For he realized that it was out of jealousy that they had handed him over. While he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent word to him,
Women: ‘Have nothing to do with that innocent man, for today I have suffered a great deal because of a dream about him.’
One: Now the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowds to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus killed. The governor again said to them, ‘Which of the two do you want me to release for you?’ And they said,
Many: ‘Barabbas.’
One: Pilate said to them, ‘Then what should I do with Jesus who is called the Messiah?’ All of them said,
Many: ‘Let him be crucified!’
One: Then he asked, ‘Why, what evil has he done?’ But they shouted all the more,
Many: ‘Let him be crucified!’
One:  So when Pilate saw that he could do nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took some water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, ‘I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to it yourselves.’ Then the people as a whole answered,
Women: ‘His blood be on us and on our children!’
One: So he released Barabbas for them; and after flogging Jesus, he handed him over to be crucified. Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor’s headquarters, and they gathered the whole cohort around him. They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and after twisting some thorns into a crown, they put it on his head. They put a reed in his right hand and knelt before him and mocked him, saying,
Many: ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’
One: They spat on him, and took the reed and struck him on the head. After mocking him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him. As they went out, they came upon a man from Cyrene named Simon; they compelled this man to carry his cross. And when they came to a place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull), they offered him wine to drink, mixed with gall; but when he tasted it, he would not drink it. And when they had crucified him, they divided his clothes among themselves by casting lots; then they sat down there and kept watch over him. Over his head they put the charge against him, which read,

‘This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.’

Men:  Then two bandits were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. Those who passed by derided him, shaking their heads and saying,
Women: ‘You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.’
One: In the same way the chief priests also, along with the scribes and elders, were mocking him, saying,
Men: ‘He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down from the cross now, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he wants to; for he said, “I am God’s Son.” ’
One: The bandits who were crucified with him also taunted him in the same way.

From noon on, darkness came over the whole until three in the afternoon. And about three o’clock Jesus cried with a loud voice, ‘Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?’ that is, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ When some of the bystanders heard it, they said,

Women: ‘This man is calling for Elijah.’
One: At once one of them ran and got a sponge, filled it with sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink. But the others said,
Men: ‘Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him.
One: Then Jesus cried again with a loud voice and breathed his last. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, and the rocks were split. Now when the centurion and those with him, who were keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were terrified and said,
ALL: ‘Truly this man was God’s Son!’