Good Friday

goodfriday600Healed by his bruises.

Surely he has borne our infirmities and carried our diseases; yet we accounted him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the punishment that made us whole, and by his bruises we are healed.
– Isaiah 53:4-5 (NRSV)


 

Audio Lectio for Good Friday: Pray the scriptures with us. The reading for today is John 19:16-30.

Scripture Readings for Good Friday (April 6)

Photo Credit: © Beth A. Richardson. On the wall near the cemetery in Vernazza, Italy.

Maundy Thurdsday

soulfeastcommunion600Eat and drink … and remember.

When Jesus had given thanks, he broke [the bread] and said, “This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
– 1 Corinthians 11:24-26 (NRSV)


Scripture Readings for Maundy Thursday (April 5)

Photo Credit: © Beth A. Richardson.

Wednesday of Holy Week

wednesdayHolyWeek600Take heart. Watch. Wait. Pray.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such hostility against himself from sinners, so that you may not grow weary or lose heart.
– Hebrews 12:1-3 (NRSV)


Scriptures for Wednesday of Holy Week (April 4)

Photo Credit: © Beth A. Richardson.

Tuesday of Holy Week

tuesdayholyweek600Believe in the Light. Watch. Wait. Pray.

Jesus said, “The light is with you for a little longer. Walk while you have the light, so that the darkness may not overtake you. If you walk in the darkness, you do not know where you are going. While you have the light, believe in the light, so that you may become children of light.”
– John 12:35-36 (NRSV)


Scriptures for Tuesday of Holy Week (April 3)

Photo Credit: © Beth A. Richardson. Spring sunset in Nashville.

Monday of Holy Week

holyweekMonday-bethblogWatch. Wait. Pray.

Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations.
– Isaiah 42:1 (NRSV)


Scriptures for Monday of Holy Week (April 2)

Photo Credit: © Beth A. Richardson. Shadow of the cross that hangs in my office window.

The Ashes …

ashesI’ll never think of the ashes for Ash Wednesday in the same way again — ever since I asked our confirmation class members to assist me in burning some dried-out palm branches in preparation for the Imposition of Ashes.

Our small church doesn’t have a confirmation class every year — not enough kids. And we hadn’t needed any new ashes for a few years — a few ashes go a long way. So I explained to the class that this was perhaps a once-in-a-generation experience — to be the confirmation class that is chosen to burn the palm branches saved up from several years of Palm Sundays.

We started in the classroom discussing the seasons of the Church year. We talked about how the first Sunday of Advent is New Year’s Day for Christians; about how Advent and Lent are both seasons of preparation for the special celebrations of Christmas and Easter. We reviewed the importance of the imposition of ashes on Ash Wednesday, how the ashes remind us that we are mortal — that we are God’s creations.

Then we moved outside to the parking lot and stood in the cold around a little grill filled with dried palm fronds. We each took a long match and, in unison, lit the matches and held them to the palm leaves.

Whoosh! Dried palm leaves went up in flames. All solemnity vanished as clouds of thick smoke penetrated our clothes, hair, shoes, socks … We added more palms to the fire and talked about Maundy Thursday and Good Friday — and camping and marshmallows. (Where were those liturgical marshmallows when we needed them?)

I was struck by the absolute joy that infused this burning of the palms. There was laughter and dancing, joking and prancing. Whatever expectation I had of a somber, quiet ritual was transformed by the smiles and giggles of young people, fully present, enjoying the moment, burning palm leaves in the service of God.

When the palms were all burned, we pulled ourselves together for a closing prayer. Standing in a circle around the grill, we held hands and gave thanks for the presence of the Holy Spirit in that fire and in those holy moments. We asked God’s blessing for each person there, servants of God, and on the ashes that would be signs of God’s love for each person who received them.

The Ash Wednesday ashes are now infused with special meaning. Sure, they are an outward symbol of the Lenten journey of repentance. But they are also infused with holy laughter and blessed with the full-of-life spirits of now-confirmed, young Christians.

When I receive the ashes, I think of Jesus’ words, “Repent, and believe in the good news” (Mark 1:15, NRSV). And I believe in that good news with all my heart.

And … if I am ever invited to update the liturgical calendar for the Church, I’ll be adding one Sunday to the calendar — the day when the confirmation class burns the palms for Ash Wednesday. We could call it … Conflagration Sunday. (Sorry … I couldn’t resist a little liturgical geek humor.)


Check out some resources for your Lenten Journey by clicking here.