Take a moment to be still and to pray ‘Come, Holy Spirit’ before reading the scriptures. If you are in the company of others, invite someone to read the text aloud.
If you are gathering with your family, invite someone to read this reflection aloud.
In the hymn “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross”, we sing that the crucifixion of Christ is the place where love and sorrow meet.
Love and sorrow are tethered together as the axis of the cross.
We can unreservedly, from our innermost beings, praise the holy name of the Lord who forgives all our sins, redeems our life and crowns us with love. This love, however, came at an unspeakable cost. We must therefore practice holding the tension of joy and pain. Only then will we truly see into the kaleidoscopic, inexhaustibly rich nature of our redemption, and learn to value it above anything else.
“This is my body…”
As a Father showing compassion to His children, God has brought us home to Himself. He has clothed us with gracious and abounding love. This love is expressed not solely through an acquittal. Grace is an infusion, a transplant, a resurrection of our very beings. Love Himself has offered us His life.
“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
We have received the greatest gift of all: a loving union with our Faithful Friend.
We are now seen by God exactly as Jesus is seen by God. We have been crucified with Christ, identified with Him. We are no longer the mistakes we have made. We are not the plans that have failed. We are not the sins we have chosen. We are the perfectness He has finished. We are the beloved.
In Christ, we are accepted, anointed, sealed, forgiven, redeemed, complete, free.
We are Christ’s friend, God’s child, Spirit’s home.
“…broken for you.”
At the site of the cross we delight in the grace of Christ, feeling the relief of love. Yet we must remember – a body was broken for us to receive such mercy.
Eight months before his execution, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, held captive by Hitler, wrote these words from prison:
“God lets Himself be pushed out of the world on to the cross. Christ is weak and powerless and that is precisely the way, the only way, in which He is with us and helps us. Christ helps us, not by virtue of His omnipotence, but by virtue of His weakness and suffering. That is a reversal of what the religious man expects from God.”
Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree. No one expected God to be crucified.
We can’t distract ourselves away from the sorrow of the crucifixion, the brutality of it. It brought about the death of death, but it was the worst way to die.
There was the scourging, the exposed tissue, the hunger, the humiliation, the nails in the wrists, the verbal abuse, the thorns piercing the skull. And there was the sentence of being your own executioner – to draw a breath you were forced to pull yourself up, only for your own diaphragm to suffocate you.
The cross is a tragedy. It’s a murder at the hands of an empire. Most brutally for the Son, it was above all, a moment of divine isolation.
We love either-or’s, but both-and’s bother us.
In our joy, may we gaze into the eyes of Love and never turn our faces away from His suffering..
For it is in the reality and brutality of the cross that God is truly revealed:
Lord of love.
Man of sorrows.
Depending on which time of day you are practicing this office, you can use the morning or evening prayer. All to pray the following words aloud.
Disturb us, O Lord, when
We are too pleased with ourselves,
When our dreams have come true
Because we dreamed too little,
When we arrived safely
Because we sailed too close to the shore.
Disturb us, O Lord, when
With the abundance of things we possess
We have lost our thirst
For the waters of life;
Having fallen in love with life,
We have ceased to dream of eternity
And in our efforts to build a new earth,
We have allowed our vision
Of the new Heaven to dim.
Disturb us, O Lord, to dare more boldly,
To venture on wilder seas
Where storms will show Your mastery;
Where losing sight of land,
We shall find the stars.
If you are gathering with your family, wait a moment and listen for the voice of God. Prayerfully share any words, pictures, encouragements or scriptures with each other by the laying on of hands.
Whether you are by yourself, or in the company of others, take time to pray for others that the Holy Spirit brings to mind, blessing them in His name.
Close your time by singing or saying aloud the Doxology.
“Fight back the dark with doxology. Doxology can detox the day.”
Praise God, from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, you heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost!
Amen and Amen.