Friday, April 10, 2009

The Time of Trial

Friday, April 10, 1009 -- Good Friday

Today's Readings for the Daily Office (Book of Common Prayer, p. 956)
Psalms 95* and 22 (morning) 40:1-14(15-19), 54 (evening)
Wisdom** 1:16 - 2:1, 12-22 or Genesis 22:1-14
1 Peter 1:10-20
John 13:36-38 (morning) John 19:38-42 (evening)
* for the Invitatory
** found in the Apocrypha

I'll be on vacation next week and won't be sending Morning Reflections.
Next Morning Reflection will be Tuesday, April 21

Good Friday services at St. Paul's today are at 12:15 and 7:00 p.m.
The Children's Stations of the Cross is at 5:30 p.m.

Our gospel reading for Good Friday opens with a an ominous conversation. Peter asks Jesus where Jesus is going. Jesus tells Peter that he can't follow him now, but will follow afterward. "Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you." Peter means it. He is utterly sincere. But he has not faced the time of trial yet. Jesus speaks sad words of prophecy: "Will you lay down your life for me? Very truly, I tell you, before the cock crows, you will have denied me three times."

Many of us have earnestly offered our lives to God. We have given ourselves sincerely to the way of Jesus. Our motivation is good; our intention is sincere. It is a good sentiment.

What is most important is that God is faithful. What is most significant is that Jesus gives his life for us. Even if we are unfaithful, even if we lose heart and betray him in the time of trial, God is faithful and Jesus is with us to restore us. At the end of John's gospel, the risen Jesus will restore Peter by letting him reassert his love for Jesus three times. Jesus will commission Peter to feed his sheep and tend his lambs.

Had Judas been willing to live with his failure rather than limit his shame in his act of control by taking his own life, Judas too could have been restored like Peter. Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.

Fear and control are a deadly combination. The reading from Wisdom reminds us of how threatening we find those people who are more righteous than we, and how resentful we become toward those who show us our faults and failures. We love to humiliate and test the prophets.

But the real test is our own. We have the opportunity to look at "things into which angels long to look!" the epistle of Peter reminds us. Writing during a time of trial, the anonymous author urges his readers to "prepare your minds for action; discipline your selves; set all your hope on the grace that Jesus Christ will bring you when he is revealed."

Trust God no matter what. Jesus shows us how. We walk with him on Good Friday. The worst will happen. Yet there will be more. "God did not abolish the fact of evil. He transformed it. He did not stop the crucifixion. He rose from the dead." (Dorothy Sayers)

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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