A Prayer for Good Friday

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Dearest Lord,

What a dark, dark, day this was, all those years ago. Words cannot capture it.

I am feel as though, oh Lord, that my cynicism isolates me from other believers. I think this is a product of too much life lived within the bubble of Christian education. And I know my cynicism is a cover for a deep, pervading loneliness (“does anyone struggle the way I do?”) and doubt (“am I really one of yours, oh Jesus? Or is all this cynicism indicative of an unalterable pride within me?”). I want to change; I want the faith of a child. But I do not know if this is even possible. There’s that cynicism again.

When I look to Good Friday I -no surprise- snort indignatiously: “‘Good?’ How human of us to look to the cross and say ‘welp! Now we’re free and clear. Alleluia!'” And isolated from your grace I remain.

But then I hear the call, oh Lord: “my God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” A call of doubt and despair, that evolves around the thought: “are you really gonna pull this off? Why do I call to you and my call carries into the void?!” Your son said this. Your son despaired in the emptiness of your presence. I think this means, I hope this means, that there’s grace for me when I do the same.

So drown my cynical heart in the baptismal waters of your grace. Raise me afresh and renewed. Until then, allow me to rest in the knowledge that your silence is not the void of your grace departed. Help me to trust that the darkest, most cynical heart can still be raised from the grave and into new life.

Thank you for loving me, cynical as I may be. Thank you for loving this world, broken as it may be. Thank you for loving all things, all of the heavens and earth and peoples and tribes, sinful as we may be. 

On a lighter note: my March Madness bracket could use a little bit of your resurrection power. If you don’t mind. I ask because I know that there’s always some to spare, infinite grace and all.

Amen.

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A Prayer for Holy Week (Tuesday)

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Dear God,

What was Tuesday like for you on this week, so many centuries ago? What was any Tuesday like for you? How did you wake, brush your teeth, strap on your sandals, greet the disciples…how did have any sort of ‘normal’ routine, knowing what the end of the week held?

I think, sometimes, that it would be wonderful to know the future. But I have anxiety issues as it is.

So what are you trying to teach us, O Lord, from the fact that you lived? Not that you were born, you died and then you popped out of the grave…but that you alsolived. You were nursed and went through teething; you learned to walk (land AND water…chica-whaa?); you had a laugh and a smile; you had friends, some less annoying than others; you scraped your knees; you grew peach fuzz; you got sunburn and blisters; you had favorite foods and the meals you’d gotten sick of (like fishes and bread, I’d guess). God, what a fun thing to imagine, that you lived as one of us, that the most elementary human experiences are all things which you yourself celebrated and endured.

And yet…the whole time, you knew about the cross.

I mean, I take Xanax… but how did you manage that? Especially on the Tuesday before your crucifixion. Your disciples had no clue! You bore the burden of this knowledge alone.

I wonder, Jesus, if there’s a lesson in that for me. I know the future- or at least you’ve given me a spoiler alert: it doesn’t end with the grave but with the resurrection. (Granted, I don’t always believe it will end this way. But you assure me nonetheless.)You’ve left out the bad parts and shared with me the best. Why don’t I live that way? Better yet, why don’t I live every moment like it’s a divine moment. Because at some point in your life, you shared the most basic of experiences I- as a human- have. So if flatulence, washing hands, sighs, eye rolls and headaches can be part of the divine life…why can’t the rest of mine too?

Help me to live the divine life, oh Lord. Help me to live life like someone who knows the end of the story. And help me to truly believe that I do.

Make this day spectacular, not because anything has changed, but because grace has changed the way in which I see all the anythings.

Amen.

A Prayer For Holy Week (Monday)

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Dear Jesus,

It is so indicative of humanity’s relationship with you, that when you set your eyes towards Jerusalem, the disciples meant for you to conquer but you meant to die. What a strange savior you are, dear Christ.

I ask today that you would give me a heart like yours. Where others seek to win, may I seek to be meek. Where others seek to please and gain human favor, may I seek humility and an identity that is not scared of being quiet and overlooked. Where others seek to acquire possessions and security, may I seek to give away more than- perhaps- might be deemed ‘responsible.’ Where others seek to take up a throne, may I see Jerusalem as the place where I must die unto myself, in the hope of being raised again with you.

It is hard, oh Lord, not to make your passion narrative an allegorical comment upon the lives we choose. We like to think that the story of your life and death can attach itself to our lives as a simple addition to the story we have already chosen for ourselves. But if your story is going to be our story, if we people wish to become your people, then the story of your incarnation must be first and foremost in our lives; it must define us before anything else is given the chance. We are not American Christians, we are Christians who dwell in America. We are not husbands and fathers, we are Christians who give themselves through love to children and a spouse. We are not pastors; we are not businessmen; we are not leaders and dealers and builders; we are a people who have been defined by the story of your love for creation, and  are living out that story on the little corner of creation in which you have given us to dwell.

(I read that paragraph back to myself, oh Lord, and it sounds like a declaration. Help me make it a prayer. A prayer parenthesized with the petition of ‘thy kingdom come.’)

Turn my eyes with yours to Jerusalem this Monday, the start of this Holy Week. Turn my eyes to the object of my aspirations, but replace mine with yours.

Make us into your people, oh God. Thy kingdom come.

Amen.