March 32, 2020 by Bob Whitaker
We are in the season of Lent with Palm Sunday, Good Friday and Easter fast approaching. It is very odd to be planning worship services during this season with the painful knowledge that none of you will be here together. In an unusual and unexpected way it is a season of lament. Painful as our circumstances are it has created an acute awareness of Lent. The Gospel reading for today is the account of Jesus’s death and burial as recorded in John 19. I believe this is the most poignant story in all of Scripture. The one who made the universe, this earth and the humanity that inhabits the earth, the second person of the Trinity, Son of God – that one is crucified by human beings who owe their very existence to the one hanging on the cross. Stunning that God would allow this to happen! The words that follow are not mine. Instead they come from a great saint in the church. His name was Bonaventure. I offer you his reflection on the Garden of Gethsemane, the trial of Jesus, his crucifixion and burial. His devotional reflection on the passion of Christ touched me deeply. I hope his words will do the same for you.
Lord Jesus, you have shaped our faith, by making us believe you shared our mortal nature. In Gethsemane real drops of sweat fell from your body.
Lord Jesus, you have given us hope, because you endured all the spiritual and physical hardships which mortal nature can suffer. In Gethsemane your soul was in torment, and your heart shook at the prospect of the physical pain to come.
You showed all the natural weaknesses of the flesh, that we might know that you have truly borne our sorrows.
Sweet Jesus, what soul can be so hardened as not to cry out at your plight?
Sweet Jesus, what heart can be so hardened as not to groan with compassion for you?
Sweet Jesus, my ears can hardly bear to hear those horrible shouts: “Away with him! Away with him! Crucify him!”
O Lord, holy Father, show us what kind of man it is who is hanging for our sakes on the cross, whose suffering causes the rocks themselves to crack and crumble with compassion, whose death brings the dead back to life.
Let my heart crack and crumble at the sight of him. Let my soul break apart with compassion for his suffering. Let it be shattered with grief at my sins for which he dies. And finally let it be softened with devoted love for him.
O my God, Jesus, I am in every way unworthy of you. Yet, like Joseph of Arimathea, I want to offer a space for you. He offered his own tomb; I offer my heart.
Enter the darkness of my heart, as your body entered the darkness of Joseph’s tomb. And make me worthy to receive you, driving out all sin that I may be filled with your spiritual light.