Tuesday, March 31, 2015

#10 Jesus is Stripped of His Garments

The procession stopped.

You reached the end of the journey, Jesus.

But there was still more for you to suffer.
More indignity.

The blood-soaked garments that covered you as you passed through Jerusalem and up the hill to your death were ripped from your body.

How many of your wounds re-opened?

You stood alone for all the world to see

You must have been in shock

You lived in such a modest society... were you beyond caring about that?

Of course not.  

You came to be one of us.  

To feel as we feel.  

You were spared nothing.


I don't deal well with rejection and humiliation.  I don't want to feel it.  The pain cuts me to the core and sometimes I don't know how to get past it.  How did you keep loving us?  How did you manage to keep going?  I imagine you standing there, bleeding with newly opened wounds.  Those robes being ripped off must have been like the biggest bandage I can imagine being torn off... the pain must have been horrible for your aching body.  And then just to stand there.... in front of everyone.... an object of scorn.  And you allowed it to happen to you simply because you love us.  Help me love those who reject and hate me.  Please help me in my weakness be strong like you.

Monday, March 30, 2015

#9 Jesus Falls the 3rd Time

I don't get it, Jesus

You suffered so much

One more time, you fell under the weight of the abuse your body went though
    How could you get back up again?

      But just like the time you were tempted in the desert

      and you got up a third time

      and triumphed over temptation

      How many times do we fall and get back up?   

      Sometimes it hurts SO much to keep going!

      When does it become so much of a burden that we simply stay down?

      You showed us.

      You showed us that we ALWAYS get back up if we want to be like you.

      Dear Jesus, 
           Help me be like you.  As I grow older and older, I fall over and over.  The pain of getting back up again gets worse and worse.  Nothing at all like you went through, of course... but my pain is my pain... and it gets harder to keep going.  I want to be like you.  I want to be strong enough to stay on the path God has chosen for me.

        Sunday, March 29, 2015

        #8 Jesus Meets the Women of Jerusalem


                You weren't alone on this journey.  

        Two other criminals were in this procession with you.   

        A huge crowd of people were visiting Jerusalem for the holy feast day which was to begin at sundown and they were following along.

          Scripture tells us that you were followed by part of that crowd, which included many women who were crying as they witnessed what was being done to you.

          You were tired.  

          You were weak.  

          And you turned to them and told them not to weep for you.

          These women were powerless.  All they could do was watch and cry.  

          You knew that your pain would end but theirs was just beginning.

          You told them to weep for themselves and for their children.  

          You knew that they would have to live knowing what had been done to him.

          Dear Jesus,

               I want to be steadfast.  I want to stay with you.  You understand us in our weakness.  You know that strong people sometimes are weak and run away.... and that powerless people sometimes have nothing to lose so it is easier to stay with you.  Too many times I am like your friends.  I am blessed and strong and following you causes me discomfort.  Help me be like the women.  Following you to the end, whatever that might be, whatever that might cost.


            Saturday, March 28, 2015

            #7 Jesus Falls for the 2nd Time


                    Steadily weakening, you stumble and fall down again.  

            You are losing blood rapidly.  

            It is all you can do to put one foot in front of the other.
                        Where are your friends?  

              A stranger is helping to shoulder the burden of the cross.

              A woman you had little to do with came forward to help you.

              And your mother, your blessed mother, was there..

              hard to see... but this nail-shaped stick was on my walk at this moment

              Where are your friends?  The men you spent your time and energy teaching about love.  

              Where are they now while you are making your way to your death?

              Is that one of the reasons you fell again?  

              The weight of their betrayal, OUR betrayal,  was part of the horrible burden you bore for us.

              Betrayed and alone, you got back up.  You loved and trusted... and kept going.

              Dear Jesus,

                            When I think of how you must have felt at this moment, I can only imagine the incredible temptation that must have been yours.  You could have stopped this.  You could have said, "ENOUGH!"  You could have decided that humans were not worth the trouble.  But you didn't.  Your world was darkening around you and you had every reason to despair.  But you got up and kept going.  I want to be like you, Jesus.  I want to get back up and keep going.  Help me have the faith and strength to trust in you.... and keep going when my world looks dark.

                Friday, March 27, 2015

                #6 Veronica Wipes the Face of Jesus

                By now, blood and sweat were dripping down your face.  

                That crown of thorns was cruelly stabbing your head.  

                You felt so depleted.

                  A woman in the crowd offered you all she had... her veil.. and wiped your face.

                  She couldn't stop the proceedings.. she couldn't help you. 

                  But she could do was step forward to show she had love and compassion for you.
                  She might even have been shoved back by soldiers or others in the crowd simply for coming forward.

                  Even though all looked lost, she bravely showed her love and faith anyway.

                  Early writings suggest that she was the woman who believed in you enough to know that she would be healed if she only touched your garment.

                  Dear Jesus,

                           I want to believe like Veronica.  I do believe that I will be healed by you.  Sometimes I even KNOW it.  But sometimes in the darkness of my heart, I doubt.  Sometimes I despair.  If my belief is true and strong, like Veronica's, there can be no doubt or despair..... just FAITH.  Help me believe when that belief makes no sense.... when the world is crashing down around me.... when happiness and joy look impossible.  Help me be like Veronica, stepping forward to help you in any way that I can.... making this world a better place.


                    Thursday, March 26, 2015

                    #5 Simon the Cyrenian Helps Jesus Carry His Cross


                      You were getting weaker and weaker.

                    You had been beaten.... you were laughed at.. jeered at.... but you kept moving forward.

                    It was becoming impossible for you to carry that cross alone.  

                    Simon, a Cyrenian from that Greek colony in Libya, a stranger, a foreigner stepped forward to help. 

                    Was he forced to help by the soldiers?  

                    Because he was a foreigner?   Or was he one of your Gentile followers?  

                    Does it really matter?

                    He helped you carry that cross.   

                    The cross was heavy,   The journey was grueling.  

                    But having someone walk beside you must been a small comfort.

                    Dear Jesus,

                            I will help you carry your cross.  Or, should I say MY cross?  All the little things you ask me to do that I find distasteful.... or cumbersome... or simply annoying.  None of them compare to the cross you took up for me.  That cross that Simon took from your shoulders.  Please help me SMILE while I carry my own cross.  My heart and spirit are willing.... but sometimes I am not faithful.  Please help me be steadfast in my promise!


                    Wednesday, March 25, 2015

                    #4 Jesus Meets His Mother

                         I miss my mother.
                    She was my best friend... my confidant... my first, greatest and most constant supporter.
                    She meant everything to me...

                    She died 19 years ago and I still think of her every day.
                    I lost a part of me that day.  I still have her, I know this.... but her death was a major loss to me.

                    Jesus, I can only imagine how you must have felt.  You were beaten and bloody.
                     You were sentenced to die a criminal's death... to see her in the crowd....

                    I can only imagine your pain at having her see what was happening to you.
                    But I can imagine too.... that you gathered strength from her presence.

                     It must have been unthinkably difficult to witness her pain... knowing that you had the power to stop it at any moment.  To give us salvation, you had to hurt her terribly.  

                    Did you worry at that moment if she still believed in you?  
                    Did you want to tell her it would all be okay in the end?

                    But you knew, didn't you?
                    She was your mom.  Of course, she believed in you.

                    She must have wanted to hold you.... to stop you..... to beg you to turn the clock back to when you were safe in her arms.  

                    But she was a witness for you and gave you everything she could through the love in her eyes.

                    Watching you suffer and die was part of the magnificent "YES" that was Mary's pledge to God.
                    Is it any wonder that we honor her?

                    Dear Jesus,
                    Your mother is a wonderful example of what mothers should be.  Believing in you, loving you, staying to the very end, offering whatever she had to give.... help me be a person like that.  Help me be that supportive of my family and friends.

                    Tuesday, March 24, 2015

                    #3 Jesus Falls for the First Time

                    I am beginning to feel chilled out here on the sand.

                    My bare feet are finding all the cockleburrs.. OUCH!

                    The wind is whipping my hair around... and my stomach is starting to growl.

                    How small my discomforts are - but how big to me!

                    Poor Jesus, cruelly beaten with blood running down your body.

                    You must have been so weak and exhausted.

                    That cross was so heavy... and you fell under its weight.

                    Did the crowd around you laugh?

                    Did they mock you?

                    Make fun of your weakness?

                    Or were they silent in horror at what was happening to you?

                    How did you manage to get back up again?

                    Your love for us was so great that you struggled back up and kept moving along the way.

                     The outlook was so bleak for you... your strength was unbelievable.


                       Getting up again after you fell..... the struggle to keep that human body moving... your accomplishment makes my little discomforts seem so petty.  Yet we know you care about every little thing we go through.  You can overlook your own experiences and love us right where we are.   Help me overlook MY experiences and love others right where THEY are.


                    Monday, March 23, 2015

                    #2 Jesus Takes Up His Cross

                    So You were condemned, Jesus.  Condemned to die.  

                    You knew what was coming next.  

                    The future, so uncertain to us... was known to you.  

                    And you went on anyway. 

                    You took the cross that was given to you.

                    Thank you for accepting that special cross for me.

                    I cannot imagine where we would all be now if you hadn't taken that cross.

                    What a long lonely road was ahead of you through the streets and up the hill.

                    How frightened you must have been... but secure in your love for us.

                    I have a cross to bear too, Jesus.

                    Nothing as horrific or terrible as yours...

                    but sometimes it is daunting and it feels lonely.

                    It feels like I have been deserted and I feel afraid.

                    Dear Jesus,

                       My crosses are so small compared to yours.  Please help me trust in God like you did and take up my cross and keep moving!  Help me remember that I am never alone unless I turn away from you... and then... I have made a choice, a bad choice!  Help me always stay open so your love can reach me!

                    Sunday, March 22, 2015

                    #1. Jesus Is Condemned to Death


                      I cannot even imagine what you must have been feeling.  Totally innocent, totally pure, totally loving... and totally betrayed.

                    Standing in front of all those officials.... and a crowd of onlookers... you were all alone.  No one came with you.  None of your friends.  None of the people who swore they believed in you.
                    You were alone in your pain.

                    Condemned to death for the crime of loving us.  Everything was bleak and frightening.  Were you thinking of your cousin John at that moment?  Remembering what happened to him?

                    Fully divine and fully human..... did you know what would happen next on this journey you were embarking on?  What love you must have for us to keep going!  You could have stopped the whole process at any moment... but you allowed it to play out because you loved us and trusted the Father.

                    Dear Jesus, 
                    I can never thank you enough for what you did to save me.
                    Help me be strong enough and brave enough to stay on the path the Father has set for me....
                    just like you did.


                    #2 Jesus Takes Up His Cross