Saturday, March 30 – The Sacrifice of Life

Luke 22:14 – 34

When the hour came, he took his place at the table, and the apostles with him. He said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I tell you, I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he said, “Take this and divide it among yourselves; for I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” Then he took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And he did the same with the cup after supper, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.

 But see, the one who betrays me is with me, and his hand is on the table. For the Child of the Human One is going as it has been determined, but woe to that one by whom he is betrayed!” Then they began to ask one another, which one of them it could be who would do this. A dispute also arose among them as to which one of them was to be regarded as the greatest. But he said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you; rather the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one at the table? But I am among you as one who serves. “You are those who have stood by me in my trials; and I confer on you, just as my Father/Mother has conferred on me, a kingdom, so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. “Simon, Simon, listen! Satan has demanded to sift all of you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your own faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned back, strengthen your sisters and brothers.” And he said to him, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death!” Jesus said, “I tell you, Peter, the cock will not crow this day, until you have denied three times that you know me.”

German Pastor Martin Niemoller’s (1892-1984) Prison Prayer

This poem relates to the passivity of many Germans in the l930s and into the World War II years.  During this time, targeted group after targeted group was purged by Nazi and other like-minded parties in Germany as well as elsewhere.   Pastor Niemoller, who early on publicly protested such measures, was seen at least by some as Adolf Hitler’s personal prisoner from 1937 to almost the end of World War II in l945.  His imprisonment included time at Sachsenhausen and Dachau.

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew.

And then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak out for

me.

To live tentatively, cautiously, all in an effort to live a good but almost totally safe life; a life where one rarely gives offense, does not speak one’s mind, keeps actions measured and disciplined, strives quietly, and reveals little or nothing of who one really is, what one stands for.  Is this living?  Is it the best use of a gifted life that has a beginning and an inevitable end?  Between lies the opportunity to take some risks to try to make a difference not only in one’s own life, but the lives of others.

How have you lived your life?  How do you live your life?  Not exactly the same question.  Are you more about giving than getting?  Are you more about doing than watching from the sidelines?  Are you reticent at times when opportunities to speak out and stand up could help make a difference not only for you but for others?  Perhaps only you know.  For it is only your decision when it comes to what to do, how to do it.

So what will it be? 

Life after Death or Death after Life?

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Friday, March 29 – The Sacrifice of Hanging On

Luke 22:14 – 34

When the hour came, he took his place at the table, and the apostles with him. He said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I tell you, I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he said, “Take this and divide it among yourselves; for I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” Then he took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And he did the same with the cup after supper, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.

 But see, the one who betrays me is with me, and his hand is on the table. For the Child of the Human One is going as it has been determined, but woe to that one by whom he is betrayed!” Then they began to ask one another, which one of them it could be who would do this. A dispute also arose among them as to which one of them was to be regarded as the greatest. But he said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you; rather the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one at the table? But I am among you as one who serves. “You are those who have stood by me in my trials; and I confer on you, just as my Father/Mother has conferred on me, a kingdom, so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. “Simon, Simon, listen! Satan has demanded to sift all of you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your own faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned back, strengthen your sisters and brothers.” And he said to him, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death!” Jesus said, “I tell you, Peter, the cock will not crow this day, until you have denied three times that you know me.”

German Pastor Martin Niemoller’s (1892-1984) Prison Prayer

This poem relates to the passivity of many Germans in the l930s and into the World War II years.  During this time, targeted group after targeted group was purged by Nazi and other like-minded parties in Germany as well as elsewhere.   Pastor Niemoller, who early on publicly protested such measures, was seen at least by some as Adolf Hitler’s personal prisoner from 1937 to almost the end of World War II in l945.  His imprisonment included time at Sachsenhausen and Dachau.

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew.

And then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak out for

me.

How important is it to know when to let go and move on versus hanging on and hanging in regardless?  Keeping on … keeping on.  Why do we need to hang on to certain things and not others, certain people, activities and projects and not others?  Endings and beginnings surround us.  They are the fiber and texture of who we are, who we think we are, and who we might become.

Think about the place of endings in your own life?  Consider how they have come about.  Have at least some of these endings been your choice?  Have some endings come at the hands of others?  Could an ending come about because someone else or others thought it was time, yet you were not ready and wanted to continue … wanted to hang on?

Perhaps it would be useful for each of us to cultivate the ability to recognize and embrace endings and possible endings in our own lives, our own circumstances.  It also is possible to recognize that endings need not be sad occasions.  In many instances, an ending or endings can be about passing to others what has already been started and nurtured.

 

Thursday, March 28 – The Sacrifice of Living a Lie, Being False

Luke 22:14 – 34

When the hour came, he took his place at the table, and the apostles with him. He said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I tell you, I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he said, “Take this and divide it among yourselves; for I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” Then he took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And he did the same with the cup after supper, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.

 But see, the one who betrays me is with me, and his hand is on the table. For the Child of the Human One is going as it has been determined, but woe to that one by whom he is betrayed!” Then they began to ask one another, which one of them it could be who would do this. A dispute also arose among them as to which one of them was to be regarded as the greatest. But he said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you; rather the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one at the table? But I am among you as one who serves. “You are those who have stood by me in my trials; and I confer on you, just as my Father/Mother has conferred on me, a kingdom, so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. “Simon, Simon, listen! Satan has demanded to sift all of you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your own faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned back, strengthen your sisters and brothers.” And he said to him, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death!” Jesus said, “I tell you, Peter, the cock will not crow this day, until you have denied three times that you know me.”

German Pastor Martin Niemoller’s (1892-1984) Prison Prayer

This poem relates to the passivity of many Germans in the l930s and into the World War II years.  During this time, targeted group after targeted group was purged by Nazi and other like-minded parties in Germany as well as elsewhere.   Pastor Niemoller, who early on publicly protested such measures, was seen at least by some as Adolf Hitler’s personal prisoner from 1937 to almost the end of World War II in l945.  His imprisonment included time at Sachsenhausen and Dachau.

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew.

And then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak out for

me.

Why do we sometimes and in certain situations feel that we can not be ourselves, who we really are?  There are various venues of interaction for all of us … at home, at work, at play; in church, with a special group of friends, or any of a number of other possibilities.  Are we the same within each venue?  Probably not?  And why is that?

If one thinks about it, perhaps it has to do at least in part with something more like wanting to fit in and act as we think we should  rather than act in accordance with who we think or know we are.  It is, after all, a choice of how we choose to be in one venue after another.

Perhaps it is time to figure out who you are at your core being.  This also might be an opportunity to look inward in an effort to determine whether you are essentially different, depending on each situation and the people involved, from venue to venue.  Does the morphing, however subtle or unsubtle, work for you?  Or do you at least sometimes morn the loss of rarely being able to be truly you?  Perhaps you have forgotten or do not know who that person is or might be. 

Wednesday, March 27 – The Sacrifice of Striving

Luke 22:14 – 34

When the hour came, he took his place at the table, and the apostles with him. He said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I tell you, I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he said, “Take this and divide it among yourselves; for I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” Then he took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And he did the same with the cup after supper, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.

 But see, the one who betrays me is with me, and his hand is on the table. For the Child of the Human One is going as it has been determined, but woe to that one by whom he is betrayed!” Then they began to ask one another, which one of them it could be who would do this. A dispute also arose among them as to which one of them was to be regarded as the greatest. But he said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you; rather the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one at the table? But I am among you as one who serves. “You are those who have stood by me in my trials; and I confer on you, just as my Father/Mother has conferred on me, a kingdom, so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. “Simon, Simon, listen! Satan has demanded to sift all of you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your own faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned back, strengthen your sisters and brothers.” And he said to him, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death!” Jesus said, “I tell you, Peter, the cock will not crow this day, until you have denied three times that you know me.”

German Pastor Martin Niemoller’s (1892-1984) Prison Prayer

This poem relates to the passivity of many Germans in the l930s and into the World War II years.  During this time, targeted group after targeted group was purged by Nazi and other like-minded parties in Germany as well as elsewhere.   Pastor Niemoller, who early on publicly protested such measures, was seen at least by some as Adolf Hitler’s personal prisoner from 1937 to almost the end of World War II in l945.  His imprisonment included time at Sachsenhausen and Dachau.

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew.

And then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak out for

me.

Do you think of yourself as one who at least sometimes sets aside personal goals for the benefit of others?  Today especially it is fairly easy to become goal-oriented in the name of achieving a better life for one’s self, one’s family, including one’s children.  And while on this path, it may not be easy to not seek promotion, advancement, and even social recognition; all or most of this in competition with others.  All of this with attendant cost to one’s self as well as others.

Some strivers have achievement as the primary focus of their waking hours, of their lives.  Little or no room is left for becoming involved and otherwise dealing with the real world of real life with all of its sometimes mundane demands, problems, experiences, perplexities … all of its almost inevitable successes and failures whatever the scale.   Status seeking is a narrow track all its own.

Such striving, however purified, often seems couched in longing for the next promotion, the next raise, a corner office or any of the other trappings of success as defined by others.  For those who find themselves on the striving path of longing, of being impatient, perhaps of almost continual dissatisfaction, may they consider taking the time instead to embrace within their current circumstances whatever can be good and real, inclusive even.

Tuesday, March 26 – The Sacrifice of Living Self-Indulgently

Luke 22:14 – 34

When the hour came, he took his place at the table, and the apostles with him. He said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I tell you, I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he said, “Take this and divide it among yourselves; for I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” Then he took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And he did the same with the cup after supper, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.

 But see, the one who betrays me is with me, and his hand is on the table. For the Child of the Human One is going as it has been determined, but woe to that one by whom he is betrayed!” Then they began to ask one another, which one of them it could be who would do this. A dispute also arose among them as to which one of them was to be regarded as the greatest. But he said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you; rather the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one at the table? But I am among you as one who serves. “You are those who have stood by me in my trials; and I confer on you, just as my Father/Mother has conferred on me, a kingdom, so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. “Simon, Simon, listen! Satan has demanded to sift all of you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your own faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned back, strengthen your sisters and brothers.” And he said to him, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death!” Jesus said, “I tell you, Peter, the cock will not crow this day, until you have denied three times that you know me.”

German Pastor Martin Niemoller’s (1892-1984) Prison Prayer

This poem relates to the passivity of many Germans in the l930s and into the World War II years.  During this time, targeted group after targeted group was purged by Nazi and other like-minded parties in Germany as well as elsewhere.   Pastor Niemoller, who early on publicly protested such measures, was seen at least by some as Adolf Hitler’s personal prisoner from 1937 to almost the end of World War II in l945.  His imprisonment included time at Sachsenhausen and Dachau.

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew.

And then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak out for

me.

For at least some people, the choice to live “me first” is one where preference and behavior know few bounds, where personal consequence or even how one’s actions impact others matters little or not at all.  Have you experienced one, the other or both ends of such conduct?

Think of when you most recently might have been thought of as selfish and inconsiderate of others.  What were the circumstances?  If a similar situation were to repeat itself, would you exhibit the same behavior, take the same path?  If yes, Why?  If not, What would you do differently?

Why?

Consider living a more disciplined life where one takes responsibility, owns one’s behaviors, their consequences, as they impact negatively on one’s self and certainly on others.  Develop an empathy for those around you who are known and unknown, seen as well as unseen. 

Monday, March 25 – The Sacrifice of Safety

Luke 22:14 – 34

When the hour came, he took his place at the table, and the apostles with him. He said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I tell you, I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he said, “Take this and divide it among yourselves; for I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” Then he took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And he did the same with the cup after supper, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.

 But see, the one who betrays me is with me, and his hand is on the table. For the Child of the Human One is going as it has been determined, but woe to that one by whom he is betrayed!” Then they began to ask one another, which one of them it could be who would do this. A dispute also arose among them as to which one of them was to be regarded as the greatest. But he said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you; rather the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one at the table? But I am among you as one who serves. “You are those who have stood by me in my trials; and I confer on you, just as my Father/Mother has conferred on me, a kingdom, so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. “Simon, Simon, listen! Satan has demanded to sift all of you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your own faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned back, strengthen your sisters and brothers.” And he said to him, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death!” Jesus said, “I tell you, Peter, the cock will not crow this day, until you have denied three times that you know me.”

German Pastor Martin Niemoller’s (1892-1984) Prison Prayer

This poem relates to the passivity of many Germans in the l930s and into the World War II years.  During this time, targeted group after targeted group was purged by Nazi and other like-minded parties in Germany as well as elsewhere.   Pastor Niemoller, who early on publicly protested such measures, was seen at least by some as Adolf Hitler’s personal prisoner from 1937 to almost the end of World War II in l945.  His imprisonment included time at Sachsenhausen and Dachau.

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew.

And then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak out for

me.

How often do we have the opportunity to stand up against whatever is wrong, daring to do right?  Such instances can be in a group conversation, an inherently offensive e-mail one receives, or an interaction with someone who just assumes you think a certain way when you do not.  Think back to a time when one or all of these happened and you chose to not say or do anything to set things straight.  This can happen for any number of reasons.  Did you not want to make a scene?  Did you not want to hurt someone else’s feelings?  Did you not want to risk the possible loss of an acquaintance or friend?  Did you feel socially or intellectually outgunned, silently deferring to someone with possibly more education or more money than yourself?  Perhaps it involved your boss or co-workers or even people at church.

Think also of the times you have stepped forward as well as those occasions when you simply stood still, unmoving.  What about when you actually stepped back, retreated?  Distanced one’s self?  Is it not important to have or develop the confidence to know when to lead, when to help to lead or even when to follow?

Consider standing up to whatever is wrong the next time an opportunity presents itself.  Think of this as a lifestyle change living forward.

Saturday, March 23 – In Our Pain and Anger

Luke 9: 22-25; 23:1,2,16,18,20,24,32,46

(Jesus) told them that the Child of Humanity must undergo much suffering, and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scholars, and be put to death, and rise on the third day.  And to everyone he said, “If anyone wishes to walk in my steps, let them renounce self, take up their cross, and follow me.  For whoever wishes to save their life will lose it, and whoever, for my sake, loses their life—that person will save it.  What good does it do someone, if they have gained the whole world, and lost or forfeited themselves…..

Having arrested Jesus, they brought him to the governor Pilate. And they began to accuse him: “This is someone whom we found misleading our people, opposing paying taxes to the emperor, and give out that he himself is the Anointed One, a king.”…..Pilate said to them, “I will have him whipped and then release him…” But they began to shout as one, “Get rid of him…Crucify him.”…Pilate decided that their demand should be granted…. 

They crucified Jesus and the criminals…Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last…

Many of us have been raised with the impression that Jesus was the primary victim of crucifixion by the Roman empire.  This could hardly be farther from reality.  The Roman empire used crucifixion as a policy of state terror, crucifying hundreds of thousands of people.  This policy was meant to keep all of the different peoples ruled militarily by Rome in fear of violence.  Crucifixion was designed as public torture and humiliation.  It almost always happened in a highly visible public place, like a high hill, a market place, or a main intersection of two roads.  Those crucified were left to die slowly in public, and in most cases left on the cross after death so that birds could start eating at their bodies.  Most crucified victims—and very possibly Jesus—were buried in mass graves without any identification, notice to loved ones, or funeral.   When we think about Jesus crucified, it is important to think of him as one of hundreds of thousands of faceless tortured masses.

In this Lenten practice of remembering that we are not alone, we are in the shadow of two important dimensions of Jesus’ crucifixion:

1)    Jesus was not alone.  He was a part of hundreds of thousands of people in his day that were brutally terrorized and massacred by a powerful empire.  So in this case, our not being alone puts us both in the company of Jesus and countless others tortured and killed by mindless power in his day.

2)    Jesus, as seen above in the scripture, challenged people to take up their cross and follow him to this gruesome death.

Consider the following focus for your daily prayer and meditation today:

Review the ways you have been present to pain, loss, and terror in this week’s prayer and meditation.  Then notice that there are hundreds of thousands more people in pain for each of those you have called to mind this week.  Take some time to ask Jesus to be the companion of those people you do not know in pain and trauma.  Follow Jesus as far down the path as you can in mindful companionship to these persons.  Allow yourself to be companioned by them and by Jesus.  Allow yourself to be angry, sad, and close to them.

Friday, March 22 – Jesus Heals and Accompanies

Luke 9: 22-25; 23:1,2,16,18,20,24,32,46

(Jesus) told them that the Child of Humanity must undergo much suffering, and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scholars, and be put to death, and rise on the third day.  And to everyone he said, “If anyone wishes to walk in my steps, let them renounce self, take up their cross, and follow me.  For whoever wishes to save their life will lose it, and whoever, for my sake, loses their life—that person will save it.  What good does it do someone, if they have gained the whole world, and lost or forfeited themselves…..

Having arrested Jesus, they brought him to the governor Pilate. And they began to accuse him: “This is someone whom we found misleading our people, opposing paying taxes to the emperor, and give out that he himself is the Anointed One, a king.”…..Pilate said to them, “I will have him whipped and then release him…” But they began to shout as one, “Get rid of him…Crucify him.”…Pilate decided that their demand should be granted…. 

They crucified Jesus and the criminals…Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last…

Many of us have been raised with the impression that Jesus was the primary victim of crucifixion by the Roman empire.  This could hardly be farther from reality.  The Roman empire used crucifixion as a policy of state terror, crucifying hundreds of thousands of people.  This policy was meant to keep all of the different peoples ruled militarily by Rome in fear of violence.  Crucifixion was designed as public torture and humiliation.  It almost always happened in a highly visible public place, like a high hill, a market place, or a main intersection of two roads.  Those crucified were left to die slowly in public, and in most cases left on the cross after death so that birds could start eating at their bodies.  Most crucified victims—and very possibly Jesus—were buried in mass graves without any identification, notice to loved ones, or funeral.   When we think about Jesus crucified, it is important to think of him as one of hundreds of thousands of faceless tortured masses.

In this Lenten practice of remembering that we are not alone, we are in the shadow of two important dimensions of Jesus’ crucifixion:

1)    Jesus was not alone.  He was a part of hundreds of thousands of people in his day that were brutally terrorized and massacred by a powerful empire.  So in this case, our not being alone puts us both in the company of Jesus and countless others tortured and killed by mindless power in his day.

2)    Jesus, as seen above in the scripture, challenged people to take up their cross and follow him to this gruesome death.

Consider the following focus for your daily prayer and meditation today:

Remember painful dimensions of your life in the past.  Here Jesus’ words to follow him toward death.  Let Jesus be your companion now as you remember painful dimensions of your life in the past.  Notice where you are still angry, and ask for Jesus’ accompanying and healing presence.  If you are no longer angry about these past experiences, notice what has happened inside you and in your life to allow you to have worked through your anger.

Thursday, March 21 – Jesus and the News

Luke 9: 22-25; 23:1,2,16,18,20,24,32,46

(Jesus) told them that the Child of Humanity must undergo much suffering, and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scholars, and be put to death, and rise on the third dau.  And to everyone he said, “If anyone wishes to walk in my steps, let them renounce self, take up their cross, and follow me.  For whoever wishes to save their life will lose it, and whoever, for my sake, loses their life—that person will save it.  What good does it do someone, if they have gained the whole world, and lost or forfeited themselves…..

Having arrested Jesus, they brought him to the governor Pilate. And they began to accuse him: “This is someone whom we found misleading our people, opposing paying taxes to the emperor, and give out that he himself is the Anointed One, a king.”…..Pilate said to them, “I will have him whipped and then release him…” But they began to shout as one, “Get rid of him…Crucify him.”…Pilate decided that their demand should be granted…. 

They crucified Jesus and the criminals…Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last…

Many of us have been raised with the impression that Jesus was the primary victim of crucifixion by the Roman empire.  This could hardly be farther from reality.  The Roman empire used crucifixion as a policy of state terror, crucifying hundreds of thousands of people.  This policy was meant to keep all of the different peoples ruled militarily by Rome in fear of violence.  Crucifixion was designed as public torture and humiliation.  It almost always happened in a highly visible public place, like a high hill, a market place, or a main intersection of two roads.  Those crucified were left to die slowly in public, and in most cases left on the cross after death so that birds could start eating at their bodies.  Most crucified victims—and very possibly Jesus—were buried in mass graves without any identification, notice to loved ones, or funeral.   When we think about Jesus crucified, it is important to think of him as one of hundreds of thousands of faceless tortured masses.

In this Lenten practice of remembering that we are not alone, we are in the shadow of two important dimensions of Jesus’ crucifixion:

1)    Jesus was not alone.  He was a part of hundreds of thousands of people in his day that were brutally terrorized and massacred by a powerful empire.  So in this case, our not being alone puts us both in the company of Jesus and countless others tortured and killed by mindless power in his day.

2)    Jesus, as seen above in the scripture, challenged people to take up their cross and follow him to this gruesome death.

Consider the following focus for your daily prayer and meditation today:

Read the newspaper or watch the news today.  Notice where there is news of people in pain, loss, and abandonment.  Ask Jesus to be with these people and to receive, honor, and put in perspective their anger.

Wednesday, March 20 – Jesus with Loved Ones

Luke 9: 22-25; 23:1,2,16,18,20,24,32,46

(Jesus) told them that the Child of Humanity must undergo much suffering, and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scholars, and be put to death, and rise on the third dau.  And to everyone he said, “If anyone wishes to walk in my steps, let them renounce self, take up their cross, and follow me.  For whoever wishes to save their life will lose it, and whoever, for my sake, loses their life—that person will save it.  What good does it do someone, if they have gained the whole world, and lost or forfeited themselves…..

Having arrested Jesus, they brought him to the governor Pilate. And they began to accuse him: “This is someone whom we found misleading our people, opposing paying taxes to the emperor, and give out that he himself is the Anointed One, a king.”…..Pilate said to them, “I will have him whipped and then release him…” But they began to shout as one, “Get rid of him…Crucify him.”…Pilate decided that their demand should be granted…. 

They crucified Jesus and the criminals…Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last…

Many of us have been raised with the impression that Jesus was the primary victim of crucifixion by the Roman empire.  This could hardly be farther from reality.  The Roman empire used crucifixion as a policy of state terror, crucifying hundreds of thousands of people.  This policy was meant to keep all of the different peoples ruled militarily by Rome in fear of violence.  Crucifixion was designed as public torture and humiliation.  It almost always happened in a highly visible public place, like a high hill, a market place, or a main intersection of two roads.  Those crucified were left to die slowly in public, and in most cases left on the cross after death so that birds could start eating at their bodies.  Most crucified victims—and very possibly Jesus—were buried in mass graves without any identification, notice to loved ones, or funeral.   When we think about Jesus crucified, it is important to think of him as one of hundreds of thousands of faceless tortured masses.

In this Lenten practice of remembering that we are not alone, we are in the shadow of two important dimensions of Jesus’ crucifixion:

1)    Jesus was not alone.  He was a part of hundreds of thousands of people in his day that were brutally terrorized and massacred by a powerful empire.  So in this case, our not being alone puts us both in the company of Jesus and countless others tortured and killed by mindless power in his day.

2)    Jesus, as seen above in the scripture, challenged people to take up their cross and follow him to this gruesome death.

Consider the following focus for your daily prayer and meditation today:

Think about those among your friends and family who are in the middle of tortuous situations, deep pain, and abandonment.  Ask Jesus to be with them, and to receive, honor, and put in perspective their anger.