Friday, April 02, 2010

The Embrace of All

Friday, April 2, 2010 -- Good Friday

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

NOTE:  Today's Good Friday Liturgies are at 12:15 and at 7:00 p.m. (the latter with the choir).
The children will lead the Stations of the Cross at 5:30.


The reading from Lamentations is startling.  With the words "I am one who has seen affliction under the rod of God's wrath" begins a litany of grievous suffering, all laid to the purpose of God.  "He has made my flesh and my skin waste away, and broken my bones; he has besieged and enveloped me with bitterness and tribulation; he has made me sit in darkness like the dead of long ago."  God has trapped and tormented the one who writes. 

Then the focus changes suddenly.  "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.'  The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul that seeks him.  It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord."

I am reminded of Job's words in his misery, "Even if he smite me, yet shall I trust God." 

Part of what the church says is that it is God's will that Jesus endure the suffering and death of Good Friday.  We say that Jesus did not turn away from our evil and violence, but accepted the worst that humanity can inflict.  He did not escape, but rather he absorbed our evil and violence, our sin.  In doing so, Jesus shows us God's nature.  God is with us even in our worst.  When we act unjustly, when we torture and kill -- God is with us. 

In Jesus, God has made human suffering very holy because it is God's suffering as well.  Therefore no pain or misery is without meaning.  God is in the midst of everything, even unto death. 

In Jesus, God uses evil, violence, suffering and death to bring about healing and hope for the world. 

That means that whenever we suffer in any way, we can unite our suffering to that of Jesus on the cross.  We know we have one who understands and who suffers with us.  We can ask God to use our suffering as God used Jesus' for the healing and hope of the world.  Ultimately, we can ask God to accept our deaths, as God accepted Jesus' death, for the good of all creation.  Thus, in the midst of the things that would otherwise seem only meaningless and tragic, we can see meaning and hope.  We can join the prayer of Lamentations, "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.'  The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul that seeks him.  It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord."

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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