Grieving A Spiritual Mentor; Sharing Her Wisdom

Grieving A Spiritual Mentor Sharing Her WisdomI have been so sad this week at the death of one of my spiritual mentors, Darlene Zoll. Darlene was my prayer companion when I went through the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola, a nine month weekly program through The Bridges Foundation in St. Louis. I was struggling with severe chronic migraines, unable to work, and was so confused about God’s purpose and plan for me after having been so sure. I marvel at how much God loved me and cared for me through this wise, spiritual, Catholic laywoman! During the second week of the program she gave the lecture to our group about being created constantly by God. She was kind enough to give me a copy of her talk, and I share a few excerpts from it below. When you read this glimpse of the depth of her faith, you can imagine what a blessing she was to me during a time of crisis. She framed her talk within the story of the whole universe grounded in our scientfic knowledge of the big bang and that the human genetic structure closely parallels the DNA of all other creatures. For Darlene, this creates a "new intimacy with all of life."

Prayer: Be focused and centered on God’s loving and creating presence. As you relax, close your eyes and become of aware of your breathing, know that the breaths you draw in and release are an intimate sharing of the breath of life that our Creator God breathed into Adam and Eve. God breathes you into existence NOW, creating you every moment, every second. If God stopped thinking of you, breathing you, you would cease to exist. This idea doesn’t frighten. On the contrary, the thought of God constantly creating us makes us aware of God’s wondrous, wonderful, intimate, constant love. God loves ME. God's love holds ME in existence RIGHT NOW. And God's love continues to create me anew moment by moment, second by second, nano second, by nano second. Be aware of God's loving gaze, God's loving breath right now. In Paul’s words, ‘In God we live and move and have our being’ (Acts 17:28). The Jerusalem Bible says, ‘In God we live and move and exist.’ Thank you, God. Amen.

I am being constantly momently created by God. Our God, the God of the universe, creates all things because of love. Our God creates me constantly and momently because of his love. Our God loves me personally and wants an intimate relationship with me. Our God is not far from us, some place between the earth and the moon and beyond the planets and the stars. Our God is present to us and lets us experience that presence. Faith tells us that God exists both as transcendent to and immanent in this world. So, God is encountered. Whether we are aware of it or not, at every moment of our existence we are encountering God who is trying to catch our attention, trying to draw us into a reciprocal conscious relationship. God speaks us and all of creation and all of the universe into being constantly. God breathes us into being as he did Adam and Eve constantly, momently. Everything is of God.

If I am aware of God’s constant presence to me and if I am aware that God is creating me NOW, this moment this second, my response must be belief in God’s love for me, a trust in God’s love for me, that his personal love for me sustains me in all my life. I want to be aware that if God is breathing all into existence constantly, my breath, my very being is of God. I am not God, but just as God’s attributes are present in all of creation for me to see and experience, so God’s attributes are present in me for all creation to see and experience. I am not God. But what would life be like if I experience God’s loving presence in all of creation and all of creation experiences God’s loving presence in me—all the time? Jeremiah put is this way: ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love and so I still maintain my faithful love for you’ (Jer. 31:3).

Think about it: God is creating me all through the night as I sleep. God is creating me, keeping me in existence all through the day as I go about my business, not even aware of God’s breathing life and existence into me, even as the universe continues to expand and to evolve. Wow.

"Wow" is right, Darlene. I did experience God’s qualities and characteristics in you over and over and over again. Thank you, thank you for your constant love, encouragement, patient listening, wise counsel, forbearance and extra time you spent me with when the Exercises were done—you expressed these gifts to me momently, constantly! You are pure gift. Enter into the joys of our eternal home with the love and peace of God that sustained you on your earthly journey. Well done, thou good and faithful servant.

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Thomas: A Doubter Whose Time Has Come

Thomas A Doubter Whose Time Has ComeSermon for Easter 2 on John 20:19-31 at St. Luke's Lutheran Church, Richardson, Texas on April 8, 2018

Can you imagine being called "a doubter" for 2-millenia? Thomas was also a twin, but no one calls him that. Can you imagine showing off the family photo album? "This is Sarah, who married a nice boy from Bethany; here is Timothy—he runs a sheep-shearing business in Jerusalem; and that one’s Timothy’s twin, Thomas—well…. he’s a doubter."

What does a guy have to do to get a new reputation? Maybe Thomas’s time has finally come.

The other disciples have experienced a miracle—Jesus, risen from the dead in the flesh and speaking to them. But Thomas wasn’t there—Scripture doesn’t tell us where he was, but I suspect that he was working. Tradition holds that Thomas was an architect and a carpenter - a discipline that requires not just that he talk about what he can build, but proves it in reality with buildings that are structurally sound and houses that hold up during storms.

In other words, to get new clients, Thomas had to “show his work.” I bet every student here has heard their teacher, especially in math, instruct them to, “show your work!” I lived in Missouri for 25 years and the first thing I learned when I moved there was that it’s the “Show Me” state. Missourians are people who say, "don’t tell me – show me!"

And isn’t this the very nature of our tradition as Lutherans? Martin Luther himself said to the church in the 16th century: “Show me! Show me where indulgences and purgatory are in the Scripture." Instead, Martin Luther tried to show them that we are saved by grace through faith and not by our own work or merit. All of which is to say, that Thomas was not a doubter – he’s a Lutheran from Missouri!

Of course, you don’t have to live in Missouri to want others to walk the walk, and not just talk the talk. We all want people’s behavior to be consistent with their word. We like people to show their work—it’s why resume’s, portfolio’s and even pictures on social media are valued. "Don’t tell me, show me!"

So we understand Thomas when he doesn’t want to be told what to believe—he wants to experience it for himself. He doesn’t want to take something as serious and life-transforming as Jesus resurrected from the dead on the word of someone else—especially when those someones are still too scared to leave the house!

Thomas wants to touch, see and hear Jesus himself—“show me!” Thomas says. Thomas needs a real relationship with the risen Lord. This is exactly what ministry requires of us in the 21st century. Millennials and the generation after them, called “Generation Z,” are not going to believe in God or come to church because their parents or grandparents tell them to.

Younger generations today are very much like Thomas—they say to us, "Don’t tell me what to believe, show me! Don’t tell me about God and your faith, I want to see, feel, hear and experience it for myself. Show me—not in an institution or a building—beautiful and wonderful as it may be—show me out in the world; show me in your daily life; show me the difference it makes today in the life of this community."

Is it any wonder? We should not be surprised by this institutional suspicion since young people today have come of age in a time of dramatic climate change, war and terrorism, the effects of the great recession and rising costs, unmanageable college debt, institutionalized racism and sexism evidenced by the Black Lives Matter and #MeToo movements, and school shootings.

Why would young people today take something as life-transforming as the resurrection of Jesus, life after death, the meaning and purpose of human existence, and a relationship with the ultimate Creator of life and ground of our being, based on something we say in the church? This is especially true, when, like the first disciples, we’ve experienced the risen Lord, but we’re often too scared to leave the building.

So, what did Jesus do when Thomas said, “don’t tell me, show me!?" Jesus offered Thomas exactly what he needed to believe in him! "Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. The resurrection is real, Thomas, you can believe! I am here to build a relationship with you!"

Jesus showed up for the other disciples too--even though they still seem to be locked in a room with the door shut! So, whether we are like Thomas, saying, “unless I experience it myself, I won’t believe” or whether we’re locked up inside here and afraid to go into the world—the good news is that Jesus appears to us as we are, and shows us the resurrection is real. He accepts and loves us into a relationship with him.

Then Jesus says, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you." And he breathes on us the Holy Spirit—all the power we need to go out through the doors and into the world, helping people experience that the resurrection is real! Church tradition tells us that Thomas brought the Gospel through Syria, all the way to southern India where Orthodox congregations in the state of Kerala trace their beginning back to the witness of Thomas!

Far from a "doubter," Thomas is the Patron Saint of Millennials, of Gen Z’s, and this new Post-Modern Era! The world will continue to change around us, but remember, we are Lutherans who witness in the tradition of Martin Luther, who says, “show me!” Millennials, Gen Z’s, the "spiritual but not religious," the diversity of people moving into Richardson—they don’t scare us! We’re all about that show me-faith! We’re all about that show me-resurrection! We're all about that show me-Jesus in the world. That’s our bread and butter! Lutherans have been doing this for centuries!

Jesus calls us to follow Him in giving the Thomas’s of today, the relationship with God that they seek, and the experience of the risen Lord that they crave. And that relationship begins with you and me. With younger generations, they need a relationship with believers first and then belief in God comes later. (For those of us who grew up in the church it was the reverse—we believed in God first and then found a church with whom to have relationships).

Young people today want to be involved in hands-on mission and service in the world as they seek authentic community—and when they serve beside people with whom they develop a meaningful relationship—that’s us—then they start believing in God.

Terrific! Our motto as a denomination is “God’s Work, Our Hands”—so that’s easy—we can invite young people join us in the “our hands” part of our mission. Start by asking the youth where they have seen need and might give away the $5 they received during the Children's Sermon. Invite them to volunteer with you at Network Community Ministries or Richardson Road Runner Special Olympics Team who practices here. Invite them to help pack kits for Lutheran World Relief, run a Mosaic birthday party, or do home repairs with First Richardson Helpers.

All we need to do when we encounter young people waiting on us at the Starbucks or the Jiffy Lube, or when we talk with our kids or grandkids’ friends, is to build a relationship with them. Get to know them and what they’re passionate about, what they’re worried about, what they’re interested in doing. And then invite them to participate with you in service opportunities that interest them—or better yet, help start a service opportunity they are passionate about!

Young people enter a relationship with Jesus and come to believe in God, when we love them and show them how faith makes a difference in the daily life of this community! That means that more and more, ministry will take place out there, instead of in here. When we take this call to hands-on, "show-me mission" seriously, then our younger generations will see and feel and touch the risen Lord who can transform their life through His love and presence.

Then we will all rejoice that Thomas’s time has finally come, and show off a new picture album of young people today leading us in expanding our mission.

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It's Not What You Know or Who You Know...

Its Not What You KnowEaster Sermon on John 20:1-18 at St. Luke's Lutheran Church, Richardson, Texas on April 1, 2018

We have all heard the phrase, “It’s not what you know, but who you know.” This was certainly true for Mary Magdalene in our Easter text. Mary Magdalene was streetwise and independent. She knew how to survive in a man’s world. But it didn’t matter what she knew in the eyes of the privileged and the powerful of her day—she was a nobody.

Until she met Jesus, she didn’t know anyone who took her seriously—who listened to her, who valued her, who loved her. For Mary Magdalene, it really was true—it wasn’t what she knew, it was who she knew that made the difference in her life.

But now that “who”—Jesus—was dead, and her life was turned upside down. That is why Mary went to the tomb so early that morning. She couldn’t imagine life without knowing Jesus—without the one and only meaningful relationship she had ever had. Mary Magdalene rose before the sun on that first day of the week to go to the tomb to grieve the one she had lost. Mary gingerly picked her way through the darkness of the pre-dawn, with tears in her eyes and grief in her heart.

But when Mary arrived at the tomb, she was met by an astonishing site. The stone that sealed the tomb had been rolled away. Jesus’ body was gone, and only grave cloths remained. Mary stood at the tomb weeping, thinking someone had taken Jesus’ body away. Mary couldn’t imagine that Jesus was alive—raised from the dead. It didn’t matter that Jesus had mentioned it so many times. Mary knew intellectually about the possibility of resurrection: she knew Jesus raised the widow’s son at Nain; she knew Jesus raised Jairus’ daughter from the dead; she knew Jesus raised Lazarus after he’d been dead 4 days; she heard Jesus himself say a number of times that the Son of Man would be killed and 3 days later rise again.

And yet, there she stood at the empty tomb with Jesus’ body gone—and she was more distraught and dumbfounded than ever because the resurrection was not real for her. Even a conversation with angels didn’t make it real for her! As Mary wept, she turned around and there stood Jesus himself--living and breathing and speaking! Mary sees Jesus with her own eyes. Mary hears Jesus’ voice with her own ears: “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?”

Mary has all the information she needs to trust that Jesus is actually alive: in addition to an empty tomb, folded grave cloths and angels, Jesus himself stands before her and speaks to her. But the evidence before her isn’t enough. It’s not what she knows about resurrection, and now it’s not even who she knows—Jesus is right in front of her. Mary is more confused than ever, thinking Jesus is the gardener!

So what is it that finally makes the resurrection real for Mary? I did not fully understand what it was until my husband’s grandmother had a series of strokes many years ago, and we traveled to Philadelphia to visit her. We learned that Grandmother wasn’t doing well—her memory had been damaged and her activity was severely limited. Dan knew he couldn’t expect much, if anything from this visit. He didn’t know if she would even know who he was.

As we walked into the room, his worst fears were confirmed. Grandmother was lying in bed asleep, and this woman who turned the world over every day, and whose family never ate a store-bought loaf of bread or cake, didn’t even look like herself. She looked all of her 93 years, asleep with her jaw slack. With tears in his eyes, and grief gripping his heart, Dan touched her arm gently and woke her up. He said, “Grandmother, it’s me, Danny.” She opened her eyes and looked over at him. In a familiar voice—a voice that had read him stories, a voice that had said prayers and tucked him in bed at night, a voice that had called him to the dinner table--in that familiar voice, Grandmother looked at Dan and with the delight of recognition, she said, “Oh, you sweet boy.”

In that moment, it didn’t matter what Dan knew about her condition; it didn’t matter who she had been for him before. What mattered was that he was known—known by someone he thought he had lost forever. And that’s what happened to Mary. It didn’t matter what Mary knew. It didn’t even matter who she knew. What mattered on that first resurrection morning was that her Lord—the one she thought she had lost forever—her Lord looked at her and in a very familiar voice; a voice that had said, “your sins are forgiven," a voice that had prayed with her, a voice that had called her to the table--in that familiar voice, Jesus called out her name, “Mary!”

Only when she was known by Jesus, did the resurrection become real for her. For the resurrection to be real in any of our lives, it’s not what we know—it’s not even who we know—it’s Who knows us. On this resurrection morning, our Risen Lord stands before each of us and says in a familiar voice—a voice that has said, “your sins are forgiven,” a voice that has prayed with us and for us, a voice that has invited us to the table with the words, “This is my body….This is my blood”--in that familiar voice, Jesus calls each of us by name: Carol, Dale, Shirley, Tim, Gail, Ollie.

We’ve all come here looking for something. We have all come hoping to make sense of Jesus’ death, hoping to discover some truth about God, hoping that, for us, the resurrection might be real. But underneath all that, we really came looking to be found—to be completely known by the Savior who calls each of us by name. We came to restore a relationship that maybe we feared was lost—perhaps we haven’t been praying, or  haven’t been to church in a long time, or we can’t let go of guilt or shame, and we thought our chance for God’s love was gone. Or perhaps we come every Sunday, but never really believed Jesus died for me, personally.

We each came today to be known intimately by name—by Jesus. No matter who you are or who you know; no matter what you have done or what you know—Jesus died for you, and this morning, he calls you by name. There’s nothing he wants more than for you to receive his love, to be in a relationship with him, to engage in a daily conversation with him about the details of your life and the desires of your heart.

The banner on the altar says, “All Are Welcome” and that means you! You are welcome at Jesus’ table, to be forgiven, to be released from guilt, fear and shame, and to be loved just as you are, right now. Because Jesus knows you—Jesus knows your pain and worry, your struggles and fears, your hopes and dreams. 

So come to this meal to behold our risen Lord. As you walk forward, say a prayer—“Lord, I turn my whole life over to you, come into my heart anew.” Let’s practice, repeat after me: Lord, I turn my whole life over to you, come into my heart anew (I even made it rhyme so it's easy to remember!). Brent and I will be serving the bread of Communion. If you don’t have a nametag, give us your name as we give you the bread, so that you can hear Jesus call you by name, and say, “this is my body given for you.”

With Mary Magdalene, we leave this Easter Garden today, realizing that it’s not what we know, it’s not even who we know, it’s Who knows us, and you will never be forgotten or alone, ever again. We can join Mary, running from here saying, “I have seen the Lord and he knows Me by name!”

Image: St. John's Bible, featured print by Donald Jackson

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Good Friday Tenebrae with The Seven Last Words

Good Friday Tenebrae Service with The Seven Last WordsGood Friday Tenebrae Service with The Seven Last Words given on March 30, 2018 at St. Luke's.

If you did not have a chance to make it to any Holy Week worship services, you can read the following passages, reflections and prayers in preparation for Easter.  

The First Word: Father Forgive them for they know not what they do

Reading: Luke 23:26-28, 32-34

And as they led him away, they seized one Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and laid on him the cross, to carry it behind Jesus. And there followed him a great multitude of the people, and of women who bewailed and lamented him. But Jesus turning to them said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. Two others also, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. And when they came to the place which is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on the right and one on the left. And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”

Reflection: A reading from Dietrich Bonhoeffer

If you’ve ever really forgiven somebody, forgiven some real wrong, all forgiveness is suffering. If you say I forgave and I didn’t suffer, it wasn’t’ really that serious a wrong. But if you have ever really, truly been wronged, and you have forgiven it, then you have suffered. Because all forgiveness is a form of suffering. If someone has wronged you deeply, there is an indelible sense of debt, an injustice, a feeling you can’t just shrug off. And once you sense this deep injustice, this debt, there are only two things you can do. One is you can make the perpetrator pay—you can find ways to make the perpetrator suffer and pay down the debt, or Two you can forgive.

Prayer: As you forgave those who harmed you, and those who silently watched, help us to suffer forgiveness for one another. Join our heart to yours, Lord Jesus. Amen.

The Second Word: Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.

Reading: Luke 23:35-43

And the people stood by, watching; but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!” The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him vinegar, and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” There was also an inscription over him, “This is the King of the Jews.”
One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into[d] your kingdom.” And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

Reflection: Lignum Vitae, a poem by Bernard Fyles

What wood is this?

Olive or oak, cedar or pine?
Unsuited for the cabinet makers’ art
Unfit for turning, inlay, elegance,
too warped for any honest use,
door frame or ladder or carrier’s cart.

What wood is this?

Sold cheap to minimize the grower’s loss.
Too many knots, too twisted,
no good except for firewood or a cross.

What wood is this?

Rough joints, rope lashings,
hold it together for the task ahead,
and the carpenter’s hands
that might have shaped it
as they shaped the world
are made to drag it through the streets instead.

What wood is this?
It is the wood of death,
the wood of life.

Prayer: As you offered words of promise to the criminal, may we also hear you offer words of promise to us. Join our heart to yours, Lord Jesus. Amen.

The Third Word: Woman, behold your son! Behold your mother!

Reading: John 19:25b-27

But standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Mag′dalene. When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing near, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.

Reflection: A Reading from Clare of Assisi: A Heart Full of Love by Sister Ilia Delio

Place your mind before the mirror of eternity! I wonder how many of us look on the cross as the “mirror of eternity”—a reflection of eternity in the crucified Christ. We rarely think of eternity hanging on a cross unless of course we understand that eternity is God, God is love and God’s love is expressed in the crucified Christ. God is revealed as all-embracing, out-pouring love in the figure of the crucified Christ [in whom] we see a reflection of the eternal God who is the fullness of love. Gazing on the crucified Christ as a way of encountering God can be difficult because we are not attracted to crucified bodies or suffering humanity. To gaze on the crucified Christ is an embrace of the heart—a desire to allow the otherness of God’s love into our lives. It is difficult to see another person’s suffering, if we have not come to terms with our own suffering which opens us to receive the blessing and presence of God.

Prayer: As you helped Mary, your mother and John, your friend, remain in the embrace of your heart, help us to experience your love in suffering. Join our heart to yours, Lord Jesus. Amen.

The Fourth Word: My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?

Reading: Mark 15:33-35

And when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, “E′lo-i, E′lo-i, la′ma sabach-tha′ni?” which means, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” And some of the bystanders hearing it said, “Behold, he is calling Eli′jah.”

Reflection: Lead, a poem by Mary Oliver

Here is a story
to break your heart.
Are you willing?
This winter
the loons came to our harbor
and died, one by one,
of nothing we could see.
A friend told me
of one on the shore
that lifted its head and opened
the elegant beak and cried out
in the long, sweet savoring of its life
which, if you have heard it,
you know is a sacred thing.,
and for which, if you have not heard it,
you had better hurry to where
they still sing.
And, believe me, tell no one
just where that is.
The next morning
this loon, speckled
and iridescent and with a plan
to fly home
to some hidden lake,
was dead on the shore.
I tell you this
to break your heart,
by which I mean only
that it break open and never close again
to the rest of the world.

Prayer: As you cried out to God in anguish, help us to cry out to you, trusting you hear, and understand. Join our heart to yours, Lord Jesus. Amen.

The Fifth Word: I thirst

Reading: John 19:28-29

After this Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfil the scripture), “I thirst.” A bowl full of vinegar stood there; so they put a sponge full of the vinegar on hyssop and held it to his mouth.

Reflection: A reading from, Mother Theresa’s Devotion to the Thirst of Jesus by Edward Sri

In the chapel of the Missionaries of Charity—the order founded by Mother Theresa, there’s a crucifix with the words, “I THIRST” painted in bold black letters next to it. Mother Theresa said these words, “I thirst,” were a constant reminder of the purpose of the Missionaries of Charity. "We have these words in every chapel of the Missionaries of Charity to remind us what Missionaries of Charity are here for: to quench the thirst of Jesus for souls, for love, for kindness, for compassion, for delicate love."

Ever since her call to serve the poorest of the poor in 1946, Mother Teresa insisted that the Missionaries of Charity were founded "to satiate the thirst of Jesus," and she included this statement in the founding Rules for the new religious order: "The General End of the Missionaries of Charity is to satiate the thirst of Jesus Christ on the Cross for Love and Souls."
Mother Theresa says, “Why does Jesus say ‘I Thirst’? What does it mean? 'I Thirst' is something much deeper than just Jesus saying 'I love you.' Until you know deep inside that Jesus thirsts for you — you can't begin to know who He wants to be for you. Or who He wants you to be for Him."

What specifically is Jesus thirsting for in us? He longs for our love — our attention, our ardent devotion, the total entrusting of our lives to Him. Mother Theresa says, "At this most difficult time He proclaimed, 'I thirst.' And people thought He was thirsty in an ordinary way and they gave Him vinegar straight away; but it was not for that thirst; it was for our love, our affection, that intimate attachment to Him, and that sharing of His passion. He used, 'I thirst,' instead of 'Give Me your love'. . . 'I thirst.' Let us hear Him saying it to me and saying it to you.”

Prayer: As you thirst for our love, our attention, our ardent devotion, help us to quench your thirst with our lives, with our total trust, with our intimate attachment to you. Join our heart to yours, Lord Jesus. Amen.

The Sixth Word: It is finished

Reading: John 19:30

When Jesus had received the vinegar, he said, “It is finished”; and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

Reflection: O Come and Mourn with me Awhile, a poem by Frederick William Faber, 1849

O come and mourn with me awhile;O come ye to the Savior's side;
O come, together let us mourn;
Jesus, our Love, is crucified.

Have we no tears to shed for him,
while soldiers scoff and foes deride?
Ah! look how patiently he hangs;
Jesus, our Love, is crucified.

How fast his hands and feet are nailed;
his blessed tongue with thirst is tied,
his failing eyes are blind with blood:
Jesus, our Love, is crucified.

His mother cannot reach his face;
she stands in helplessness beside;
her heart is martyred with her Son's:
Jesus, our Love, is Crucified.

Seven times seven he spoke, seven words of love;
and all three hours his silence cried
for mercy on the souls of men;
Jesus, our Love, is crucified.

O break, O break, hard heart of mine!
Thy weak self-love and guilty pride
his Pilate and his Judas were:
Jesus, our Love, is crucified.

A broken heart, a fount of tears,
ask, and they will not be denied;
a broken heart love's cradle is:
Jesus, our Love, is crucified.

O love of God! O sin of man!
In this dread act your strength is tried;
and victory remains with love;
for he, our Love, is crucified.

Prayer: As you finished the demands of holy love--a body broken, a soul crucified—help us to find our wholeness in you. Join our heart to yours, Lord Jesus. Amen.

The Seventh Word: Father into thy hands I commend my spirit!

Reading: Luke 23:44-46

It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, while the sun’s light failed;[b] and the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Then Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, “Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last.

Refletction: Were You There When They Crucified My Lord?

1. Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
Oh! Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?

2. Were you there when they nailed him to the tree?
Were you there when they nailed him to the tree?
Oh! Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.
Were you there when they nailed him to the tree?

3. Were you there when they pierced him in the side?
Were you there when they pierced him in the side?
Oh! Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.
Were you there when they pierced him in the side?

4. Were you there when the sun refused to shine?
Were you there when the sun refused to shine?
Oh! Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.
Were you there when the sun refused to shine?

5. Were you there when they laid him in the tomb?
Were you there when they laid him in the tomb?
Oh! Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.
Were you there when they laid him in the tomb?

Prayer: As you enter the realm of death, may we trust that you usher us into the realm of life. Join our heart to yours, Lord Jesus. Amen.

Closing Prayer by Howard Thurman

Lord, open unto me
Open unto me — light for my darkness.
Open unto me — courage for my fear.
Open unto me — hope for my despair.
Open unto me — peace for my turmoil.
Open unto me — joy for my sorrow.
Open unto me — strength for my weakness.
Open unto me — wisdom for my confusion.
Open unto me — forgiveness for my sins.
Open unto me — love for my hates.
Open unto me — thy Self for my self.
Lord, Lord, open unto me! Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer

We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you.
Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.


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linda anderson little
Linda Anderson-Little

Quotation of the Week

The church does not have a mission in the world, God's mission has a church in the world.