Saturday, April 4, 2015

#14 Jesus is Laid in the Tomb



You died, Jesus.

And you were not a rich man.

A wealthy man came forward to offer you a final resting place.




We don't know much about Joseph of Arimathea.  

We know he was wealthy.  

We know he was a voting member of the Sanhedrin (who officially wanted Jesus killed).  

We also know that he was one of your followers and that he dared go to Pilate and ask for your body to be released to him.





Some sources suggest that he was also your great-uncle, the uncle of your mother Mary.

Is that why he came forward for you?  Family ties?  Or perhaps shame?
Or maybe he was just a kind person.




What we DO know is that he was important enough to be mentioned in all 4 of the gospel accounts.  

And that he.... not the apostles.... not his mother or any other of the women... he was entrusted with your body.




Another important Joseph..... another mysterious man quietly acting according to his convictions.




You were dead, Jesus, and the Romans were still worried about your influence on your followers.

They were so concerned about what might happen that they placed guards at that tomb to make sure that no one could steal your body.





What a long night lay ahead for everyone involved!  

Guards needing to keep watch... friends too frightened and grief-stricken to sleep..... oblivious people observing their Passover traditions celebrating that the angel of death passed over their households and spared their firstborn sons.... never realizing that GOD'S son was put to death that day.




One of the amazing things about this actual walk.... to me.... is that after #14... is sand as far as you can see.  No more markers...... but no real direction back to the world either.  Not even any footprints from earlier travelers.  I had to look UP for the power lines and follow them.




Dear Jesus,

I think about your friends that night.... confused.... scared.... ashamed.... wow!  What just happened?  We thought this guy was GOD!  And he died!  At the hands of the hated Romans, no less....  What does it all mean?  Was it all lies?

Sometimes my life feels like that.  Bereft, angry, sad, confused... emotions strung in all different directions.  Help me to remember you and your friends... the very beginnings of this ministry of yours that has lasted for over 2000 years.  Help me to remember a the critical moments in my life... that you are there... no matter what life looks like.... no matter how I feel.

Amen!


Happy Easter

Friday, April 3, 2015

#13 Jesus is Taken Down from the Cross


Jesus,

You died.

Your followers believed in you.

They believed you were God.

But you died.  




The soldiers verified that you died.

The high priests and elders went back to their religious celebration.

The people were gone.... back to their holiday dinner.

And your friends, frightened for their lives, felt betrayed by you.




Your mother was there.

And the ones who remained with you throughout this nightmare of a day

The others came creeping back when the crowds dispersed.

They were broken, their dreams destroyed




But they loved you, Jesus.

They lovingly brought your body down from that cross and claimed it as their own.

They did not understand what had happened but they loved you anyway.  

Even now........   when they were absolutely sure......   that you could NOT be the long-awaited Messiah.



Jesus,

When I think about all the people on that day.... the oblivious holiday revelers, the worried high priests and elders, the Romans who just wanted to make sure there were no riots, the grieving women, the frightened friends who came back at the end.... I wonder who I would have been.  In my life, I have been all of them.  Of course, I would want to be one of the loyal ones who stayed with you all the way.   But I would also like to be one of the frightened friends.... who loved you enough to come back for forgiveness... because we know that you forgive.  You show us how to love and forgive.... the feeling of being forgiven is only outweighed by the feeling of forgiving... you show us that too.  Help me to love like you do!




Thursday, April 2, 2015

#12 Jesus Dies on the Cross



This is it, Jesus.

Mid-afternoon on that terrible day

I am tired from my early walk and I am hungry.  My stomach churns as I contemplate what has happened to you.




It all comes down to right here, right now.

Where are your friends, Jesus?  Are you thinking of them?




Do you wonder if they will believe in you after you are killed?

Do you feel the despair that would fill any of us?




Of course you did.  The solitude of despair is part of the human condition

The world stopped as you breathed your last breath




Jesus,

  Did anyone there that day really know what was happening?  Their savior was killed.  The Romans and the high priest would be looking for your friends.  When you died, your followers were lost.  Everything they believed in, everything they thought about you, came crashing down around their heads.  What happened that day was beyond their understanding.... just like it is now for us.  Incomprehensible love.  Help me to love when I don't understand what is happening to me!

    Wednesday, April 1, 2015

    # 11 Jesus is Nailed to the Cross



    And now the time for your execution has come.

    You are at the end.



      The Roman soldiers put your body on that cross you carried

      Everyone is in a hurry to make sure you die before sundown so the people can get on with their holy feast so they nail your feet together.




      What were you thinking as they manhandled you?

      And then the inhuman spikes driven through your limbs




      Did you hear the thieves beside you being fastened to their crosses?

      Was all the noise a blur because of the shock to your body?




      Oh Jesus,

        I am not strong enough to even think of a way that I might be able to allow someone to nail me to a cross.  If it happened to me, it would not be voluntary... and I think I would probably be in enough shock that I would miss some of the cruelty.  But you didn't miss any of it, did you?  Being God, you were aware of everything.  And you let it happen so that you could share our story with us.  Thank you for loving us so much that you became one of us.  Help me to understand the love that is so great that it would allow me to put myself last for the good of others.