Friday, March 21, 2008

Good Friday

Friday, March 21, 2008 -- Good Friday

Today's Readings for the Daily Office (Book of Common Prayer, page 957)
Psalms 95* & 22 (morning) 40:1-14(15-19), 54 (evening)
Lamentations 3:1-9, 19-33
1 Peter 1:10-20
John 13:36-38 (morning) John 19:38-42 (evening)

The emotions seem to fly all over the place. Good Friday, we call the day. Yet nothing can match its sadness.

The poetry of Lamentations becomes a singular voice, an individual cries out in anguish. "...against me alone he turns his hand, again and again, all day long. He has made my flesh and my skin waste away, and broken my bones... He has walled me about so that I cannot escape..." And then, with no change of circumstances, the same voice cries out, "The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. 'The Lord is my portion,' says my soul, 'therefore I will hope in him.' ...It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. ...For the Lord will not reject forever..."

In the first letter of Peter, an unknown author writes to Christians who are undergoing persecution, probably during the rule of Trajan (97-117). In the voice of the apostle, using Trinitarian language, he addresses the readers as being under divine patronage and protection: "chosen and destined by God the Father and sanctified by the Spirit to be obedient to Jesus Christ and to be sprinkled with his blood: May grace and peace be yours in abundance." He tells them the resurrection is their inheritance, therefore rejoice, "even if now for a little while you have had to suffer various trials." He tells them they share Christ's suffering, "Therefore, prepare your minds for action; discipline yourselves; set all your hope on the grace that Jesus Christ will bring you when he is revealed." Hope and trial. Trial and hope. They may not survive; they are safe in Christ.

In our reading from John's Gospel, Peter offers to follow the one he loves. His request is denied. "Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you." He is completely sincere. He speaks with ever fiber of his being. Jesus answers Peter, "Will you lay down your life for me? Very truly, I tell you, before the cock crows, you will have denied me three times." We know it is true. Peter will utterly fail the one he most loves. What is the old saying, "We only hurt the ones we love."

Today we will walk the way of the cross. Millions will fast, the modest self-denial for a day. Millions will recommit themselves to walking in the way of Jesus -- the way of humble, self-giving, sacrificial love, willing to be hurt rather than hurt, offering compassion without bounds. Some will suffer, some willingly, many more unwillingly. Today millions of us will deny Jesus at least three times, living out of our protective self-centeredness rather than the example of the cross. We will feel shame, like Peter. Hopefully, like him, we will renew our trust and let him recommission us to feed his lambs.

It is Good Friday. The day of death. A day to see the example of Jesus as a lesson in dying that teaches us how to live. Trial and hope. Hope and trial. We will not survive; but we are safe in Christ.

Lowell
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Audio podcast: Listen to an audio podcast of the most recent Morning Reflections from today and the past week. Click the following link: Morning Reflection Podcasts

About Morning Reflections
Morning Reflections is a brief thought about the scripture readings from the Daily Office of Morning and Evening Prayer according to the practice found in the Book of Common Prayer of the Episcopal Church.


Morning Prayer begins on p. 80 of the Book of Common Prayer.
Evening Prayer begins on p. 117

An online resource for praying the Daily Office is found at www.missionstclare.com
Another form of the office from Phyllis Tickle's "Divine Hours" is available on our partner web site www.ExploreFaith.org at this location -- http://explorefaith.org/prayer/fixed/index.html


The Mission of St. Paul's Episcopal Church
is to explore and celebrate
God's infinite grace, acceptance, and love.

Visit our web site at www.stpaulsfay.org

Our Rule of Life
We aspire to...
worship weekly
pray daily
learn constantly
serve joyfully
live generously.

Lowell Grisham, Rector
St. Paul's Episcopal Church
Fayetteville, Arkansas

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