Woman In The Night: Weeping Daughters

Sunday’s Scripture ~ Luke 23:26-31

 The role of the crowds in the gospel narratives is always in flux. They are people – like you and me. They are women and men. They are witnesses of our Jesus – of his ministry, his miracles, and his majesty. They are potential disciples. They become his supporters and fellow travellers. They waver through his arrest and trial. They join the opposition and shout for his crucifixion.*

And in this scene, they walk behind him on the way to Golgotha – the Place of the Skull – where Jesus will be crucified.

In the past when I have read this text I conceived that the crowd followed Jesus for one of two reasons. One – they wanted to have “the last laugh” when Jesus was, in fact, not able to save himself and get down off that cross. Two – they were curious and, not having missed any of the spectacle to this point, thought they would see it to the end.

Recently I received a different point of view from an excerpt by pastor and theologian Fred Craddock, whose words continue to be so life-giving for me. Craddock acknowledges that a mighty throng follow Jesus as he stumbles – bruised and broken – towards the cross. The people that follow him do so beating their breasts and wailing for him. Craddock connects this activity to the traditional gesture of lament enacted by prophets like Zechariah:

 And I will pour out a spirit of compassion and supplication on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that, when they look on the one[a]whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn (Zech 12:10).

Craddock notes that Luke takes care to connect this behavior – wailing and beating one’s breast – to the act of repentance. In Luke 18 Jesus tells the Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector. The Pharisee praises God in prayer that “he is not like other people…even this tax collector” whereas the Tax Collector rends his heart, “standing far off, [not even looking] up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, God, be merciful to me, a sinner” (Lk 18:12-13). Jesus said, I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted (Lk 18:14).

I was wrong. The people did not want to have the last laugh. Neither are they curious. They are repentant. And they are committed. Their allegiance to Jesus returns.

And so they walk to the cross. To the grave. And – thanks be to God – from the empty tomb.

I look forward to the opportunities to walk with the people of TUMC this Holy Week. We walk as the foremothers and forefathers in our faith – repentant and committed. To the cross. To the grave.

And – thanks be to God – from the empty tomb.

Holy Week at Tuskawilla UMC

 

Saturday, April 13 – Easter Egg Hunt

9:30am – Gather in Fellowship Hall

Sunday, April 14 – Palm Sunday Worship

8:30am – Morningsong in the Sanctuary

11am – Here Is Love Cantata in the Sanctuary

Monday, April 15 – Prayer Stations

5:30-7:30pm in the Sanctuary

Tuesday, April 16 – Prayer Stations

5:30-7:30pm in the Sanctuary

Wednesday, April 17 – Prayer Stations

11:30-12:45pm and 5:30-7:30pm in the Sanctuary

Thursday, April 18 – Maundy Thursday Drama

Daughters of Jerusalem concluding with Holy Communion

7:00pm in the Sanctuary

Friday, April 19 – Good Friday Service of Tenebrae

7pm in the Sanctuary

Sunday, April 21 – Easter Sunday

Bring flowers for our Courtyard Easter Cross

7am Sunrise Morningsong Service with Holy Communion in the Courtyard

9:30am Easter Breakfast in the Fellowship Hall

11am Worship in the Sanctuary

Monday, April 22 – TUMC Offices Closed

Prayer: “The people of the Hebrews with psalms before thee went; our prayer and praise and anthems before thee we present. To thee, before thy passion, they sang their hymns of praise; to thee, now high exalted, our melody we raise. Thou didst accept their praises; accept the prayers we bring, who in all good delightest, thou good and gracious King. All glory, laud, and honor, to thee, Redeemer, King, to whom the lips of children made sweet hosannas ring.”** Amen.

*The People’s New Testament Commentary 275-276.

** “All Glory, Laud, and Honor,” The United Methodist Hymnal 280.

Atonement: Crucified God

Sunday’s Scripture ~ Matthew 21:1-11 and Mark 15:25-39

As Marcy said so eloquently to Peppermint Patty in a beloved Peanuts movie, “Duck, sir; Easter is coming.”  It is the week before Holy Week…otherwise known as the week to work and write and prepare and pray before we join our Christ (and pastors join their congregations) in the walk through Jerusalem that began with a block party and ended with a stone blocking the grave.

This year – for the second Lenten season in a row – Reeves will offer prayer stations on Monday through Wednesday evenings of Holy Week.  Each station – of which there are 14 – is an opportunity to read, reflect, and respond.

  • Read a passage of Scripture – this year based on places visited in the passion narrative
  • Reflect on a brief interpretation of the Scripture passage
  • Respond to the Scripture passage by prayerfully engaging an short activity

Today I gathered rocks, burlap, posterboard, markers, nails, candles, scarlet and violet fabrics, and lettuce.  I held the signs of Holy Week in my hands.

Intentionally selected.  Purposefully placed.  Spiritually directed.

These every day symbols take on a new meaning as they are manipulated.  The symbols of this experience combine to make lasting memories and bring a fresh perspective to the journey of Holy Week.

In the prayer stations participants will journey from Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, to Jesus’ anointing and Bethany, to and through the events of Jesus’ passion.  As I collected each manipulative and readied each station I have had to walk through each “place” – each “moment” of Holy Week – to make sure I have not overlooked something…like the need of a table or pen.  In the course of this day I have walked from branches waving and fabric flying to sealed grave and women crying…and Holy Week is not even here yet!

I need to back track.  This journey still awaits me.  It is not quite Easter…and as much as I want to I will not race to get there.

This process of preparation has heightened my awareness to all the small moments that create big moments as we move through Christ’s passion.  This heightened awareness, then, makes me ache for persons that will share in a Palm Sunday party one weekend and then join in an Easter celebration the next.  What about all the little moments in between?  What about all the big moments in between?  If we were meant to go straight from Palm Sunday to Easter, I am quite confident that God could have worked that out.

There is a reason that we have all the moments in between.  I believe they are intentionally selected, purposefully placed, and spiritually directed.

The moments that Jesus experienced in Holy Week – they are to give us confidence, strength in endurance, and hope when we find ourselves in similar circumstances.  Jesus held people accountable, Jesus was afraid, Jesus received praise, Jesus was judged, Jesus was defended, Jesus died.  Jesus faced all this and more.

Some may say, “Yes.  He faced it and it killed him.”

And I say, “Yes.  And then he conquered death.  So shall we.”

I aspire to walk and journey mindfully through the Infinal days of Lent.  I do not want to be in a rush to get anywhere or cross any tasks off my list.  I want to be my Jesus’ companion.  I accept the invitation – the challenge – to keep watch with him and pray.  And I know as I do he will reveal something spectacular.

Prayer: “O God our deliverer, you led your people of old through the wilderness and brought them to the promised land.  Guide now the people of your church, that, following our Savior, we may walk through the wilderness of this world toward the glory of the world to come; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, One God, now and forever.  Amen.”*

*”Lent,” The United Methodist Hymnal, 268.