Friday, April 27, 2007

Friday Five… What am I…

(courtesy of Reverendmother at the RevGalBlogPals)

1. Wearing: Sweatsuit, tshirt, slippers…I love Fridays at home. New haircut/colour. I love having a friend who does hair. New contacts!! I love not wearing glasses.

2. Pondering: what to write in the monthly pastor’s report. Sigh. Among other reports. Much rather be surfing the Net or blogging. Oh wait, I am blogging….

3. Reading: Conduct Unbecoming: Gays and Lesbians in the US Military (Randy Shilts); The Rise of the Creative Class (Richard Florida); Ducking Spears, Dancing Madly: A Biblical Model of Leadership (Lewis Parks and Bruce Birch); I Say a Little Prayer (E. Lynn Harris), to name the ones on the top of the pile. Oh, and the latest New Yorker and Advocate magazines.

4. Dreaming: of a vacation…real time off, not a day here and there. I had hoped to take the first weekend in August off for a retreat or a visit to friends/family elsewhere, but we’ve got a wedding booked, and I really need the fee. So…maybe later in the month.

5. Eating: Um. Not my healthiest breakfast—a bagel and coffee this morning. Pot roast for dinner, though! Had great Chinese last night with friends—crispy ginger beef, eggplant in garlic sauce, and lemon chicken.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

No Clever Title Today...

It's been a while and things haven't been good, which is why it's been a while...

The thing is that DP has gone back to her hometown. Economics here in River City were just too difficult for her to work regularly. And we’ve split up.

Why is that so hard to type? It’s been my reality for a few weeks now. Every time I say it or type it, though, it’s real again.

And I think that’s all I’m going to say.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Friday Five: JOY!

Well, an0ther one of “those” weeks…appointments most of every day, more paperwork than hours in the day, overheated discussions on an email group, an extra sermon to write (well, half, anyway), etc. I’m leading worship at Landlord Church this week—generally I can use the same sermon for both congregations, and I think that I can do that again. I’ll add a paragraph or have an alternate ending, perhaps—much as I did when I was serving two churches in the United Methodist Church. So a sermon and a half. At any rate, a busy tim!

The result is no postings this week!

To make up for it, here’s a Friday Five, courtesy of the RevGalBlogPals and Songbird.

Tell us about five people, places, or things that have brought surprising, healing joy into your life.

1. Meditation. I’ve begun taking that half hour I used to spend watching the morning TV news and meditating/praying instead. The increased focus and centered start to my day are giving me better momentum and a fresher start, instead of seeing all the bad news, or the irrelevant clips about fashion and home decorating. It’s been healing as I contemplated some issues that have come up in the congregation and others that have surfaced in my life—a clearer understanding of what they mean and what they really are.

2. A renewed friendship. Back at that denominational conference in November, I renewed a friendship that had, well, drooped, for lack of a better word—we just had not kept in touch. But working together at the conference, we remembered why we were friends in the first place, and what we liked so much about ach other. This person is one of the warmest, kindest, most generous individuals I know, and simply being in the same room with this person brings me joy. I’m looking forward to continuing the process at the conference this summer (unfortunately, we don’t live very close together).

3. Musical exploration. For a long time, I stayed with artists and music I knew, It was safe. Then—and I can’t even remember what sparked it—I began venturing into other kinds of music, other singers, composers, and genres—and guess what? I found I loved some of it—and it offered me a musical language for what I was feeling. Some of those artists, composers include John Rutter, kd lang, Faure, John Mark, Melissa Etheridge, Sweet Honey in the Rock, and Marsha Stevens. Not everything that all of them have done, but enough to give me a sense of joy in the possibilities, a path to healing, and sometimes just a lot of fun.

4. The return of spring. This winter was emotionally difficult for me—I was very ready for spring. We’ve been teased here in River City with warm weather though most of March, then a bunch of cold weather and snow. It’s looking (see says cautiously) like we might actually have spring now. I need it badly this year—and I’m welcoming every crocus, daffodil, tulip and dandelion with joy!

5. A sense of the future. The congregation has a great deal to look forward to in the next weeks and months, as do I personally. It is energizing and exciting—not to mention healing after the difficult months just past.

Thanks for this one, Songbird—I needed to slow down and be grateful for the healing and joy!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Shoah Sermon draft...

(Thanks to my deacon for the graphic)

This is a rough draft of the sermon I will preach on Sunday, April 15, Yom Ha Shoah--the Holocaust Day of Remembrance. I have included the Scriptures I will be using. I will also have resource lists and some other materials available. For readers who are interested, I highly recommend Sanantha Powers "A Fine Hell," Richard Plant's "Men of the Pink Triangle," and Rosemary Radford Ruther's "Faith and Fratricide," as well as Carroll's "Constantine's Sword." Constructive comments welcomed!

Leviticus 19:13-19a

You shall not defraud your neighbour; you shall not steal; and you shall not keep for yourself the wages of a labourer until morning. You shall not revile the deaf or put a stumbling block before the blind; you shall fear your God: I am the Holy One. You shall not render an unjust judgment; you shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great: with justice you shall judge your neighbour. You shall not go around as a slanderer among your people, and you shall not profit by the blood of your neighbour: I am the Holy One. You shall not hate in your heart anyone of your kin; you shall reprove your neighbour, or you will incur guilt yourself. You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against any of your people, but you shall love your neighbour as yourself: I am the Holy One. You shall keep my statutes.

Psalm 77
One: I cry aloud to God, aloud to God, that I may be heard.
Many: In the day of my trouble I seek the Holy One; in the night my hand is stretched out without wearying; my soul refuses to be comforted.
One: I think of God, and I moan; I meditate, and my spirit faints.
Many: You keep my eyelids from closing; I am so troubled that I cannot speak. I consider the days of old, and remember the years of long ago.
One: I commune with my heart in the night; I meditate and search my spirit: "Will God spurn forever, and never again be favourable? Has God’s steadfast love ceased forever? Are God’s promises at an end for all time?
Many: Has God forgotten to be gracious? Or in anger shut up God’s compassion?"
One: And I say, "It is my grief that the right hand of the Most High has changed."
Many: I will call to mind the deeds of our God; I will remember your wonders of old.
One: I will meditate on all your work, and muse on your mighty deeds.
Many: Your way, O God, is holy. What god is so great as our God? You are the God who works wonders; you have displayed your might among the peoples. With your strong arm you redeemed your people, the descendants of Jacob and Joseph.
One: When the waters saw you, O God, when the waters saw you, they were afraid; the very deep trembled. he clouds poured out water; the skies thundered; your arrows flashed on every side. The crash of your thunder was in the whirlwind; your lightnings lit up the world; the earth trembled and shook. Your way was through the sea, your path, through the mighty waters; yet your footprints were unseen. You led your people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron.

Gospel: Mark 2:28-34

One of the scribes came near and heard Jesus and the Pharisees disputing with one another, and seeing that Jesus answered them well, the scribe asked him, "Which commandment is the first of all?"
Jesus answered, "The first is, 'Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.' The second is this, 'You shall love your neighbour as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these."
Then the scribe said to him, "You are right, Teacher; you have truly said that 'he is one, and besides him there is no other'; and 'to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength,' and 'to love one's neighbour as oneself,'-- this is much more important than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices."
When Jesus saw that the scribe answered wisely, he said to him, "You are not far from the realm of God." After that no one dared to ask Jesus any question.

Today we’ve departed from the usual readings and celebrations of the church calendar to observe a day of remembering our lost, our murdered, our gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered sisters and brothers in Europe in the 1930s and 1940s, as well the other members of the various thnic and religious groups who killed. They weren’t killed in a simple hate crime or impulsive gay-bashing. They were systematically murdered by a national government, as part of a considered policy at the highest levels of that government. I’m referring, of course, to what is often called the Holocaust, or systematic murder, by the Nazi government of Germany during WWII of those they considered not worthy of living. A preferred term is “Shoah,” which means "catastrophic upheaval.” A holocaust is actually a sacrificial term, meaning a burnt offering. The murder of millions is not a sacrifice to the God I worship. The groups sent to the concentration camps included, but were not limited to, Jews—which was a racial category according to the Nazis, not religious—Roma, or gypsies; and Poles. These groups were considered inferior races and therefore not desired in the “new Germany.” Jehovah’s Witnesses and clergy, especially Roman Catholic clergy, were considered dangerous because they were thought to be more loyal to their church than to the German state—which in fact turned out to be true, as so many of them remained faithful to Christ and the reign of love, instead of the German government and their rule of hate. Also, Nazi philosophy was that Judaism was a “dirty” religion, and Christianity was no better because it came from Judaism. Jehovah’s Witnesses, besides being Christian, did not take oaths and cared little for secular politics, believing as they did in the imminent return of Christ. Another part of Nazi belief was that the powerful or “master races” should reproduce as much as possible. Thus heterosexuality was celebrated and homosexuality was brutally punished—for men. Lesbians were persecuted, but they could always be forced to have children, in the Nazi view. So all these groups—gay men, Jews, clergy, Roma, Poles, resistance fighters, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and some lesbians—were arrested and taken to the concentration and extermination camps.

This is not a pretty subject. It’s not a happy thing to remember. But it’s a necessary thing to remember. The historian and writer George Santayana write that “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” I don’t think historical events exactly repeat themselves, but I do believe that similar attitudes and beliefs arise time after time. The intolerance of women indicated by the witch hunts of the late Renaissance and the hatred of Jews and others by the Third Reich of Hitler are not, in the final analysis, so very different.

And, I think, we have to be aware and alert to signs of a resurgence of that same hatred and intolerance among us today. It doesn’t have to be religious—although the insistence on drawing rigid lines between what is acceptable and what is not is very strong among the religious not-so-right. But it can be political and cloaked in terms of protecting children or jobs or even the environment—but the fact is that someone is being pushed aside, made to be less than human or not matter.

In Jesus’ day, as well as the much earlier days when the book of Leviticus was compiled, given the social and political structure of society, it was the widows and orphans who were shoved aside and ignored, If you were not, or did not have, an adult male attached to you somehow (father, husband, brother, uncle) you did not matter, because only the adult males mattered in that society. If you weren’t an adult male—if you were a young boy, or an unmarried woman, for example—you were only seen as a person in connection with your father, your adult brother, your fiancĂ©, and so on.

But God demands a greater justice. God insists on equality of treatment. Neither the poor nor the rich should get preferential treatment. Honesty, integrity and justice are to rule all that we do in our interactions with each other. Jesus says much the same thing when he tells the scribe that we are to love God with all our heart and soul and strength, and that we are to love our neighbours as we love ourselves—and moreover, that these two commandments are pretty much the same thing. If we love God, we love those around us. And that makes sense.

We are all made in the image of God. Every one of us carries a part of the image of God in us, and so then if we claim to love God, we must also love those around us, who show us God’s face. Not just the ones we like or who like us, but everyone. And that means we have to protect each other, too. Martin Niemoller, the German theologian, knew this well. There are several versions of what he said; one of the better known versions goes:

First they came for the Jews
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for the Communists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for me
and there was no one left
to speak out for me.

We are all in this human predicament together; if we do not have the courage to speak up for our sisters and brothers, we are not loving them, we are not loving God.

Martin Luther King put it another way. He said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

We cannot ask what it will get us to take care of our neighbours—we are required to do so, by the God who made us all equal and in God’s image. There is no hierarchy of suffering. Someone once told me they thought that Jews made too much of the Holocaust and that blacks had suffered more under US slavery. This ranking of suffering is pointless, really—what about the Armenians slaughtered by the Turks in the days before World War I, or the millions killed by Pol Pot? Or the many different people colonized by Europeans? Or the systematic oppression of gay men, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered people around the world? It’s especially bad in Jamaica right now, by the way—there’s a letter on the back table from our Moderator, Rev. Elder Nancy Wilson telling us about it. A group of mourners at a funeral were attacked because they were thought to be gay men and lesbians. And it goes sideways, too—even within the oppressed groups, there are ranks—lighter-skinned vs darker-skinned, male vs female, the various sub-groups shunned by other sub-groups… Where does it end?

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

As part of my seminary training, I traveled to Poland and visited many of the Shoah sites there—Auschwitz, the Warsaw Ghetto, Treblinka, and others. Many of the memorials and monuments say, “Never again.” Unfortunately, that vow has proved as evanescent as mist. We have only to read our newspapers or watch the news to know that genocide, even state=sponsored genocide, continues to this very day. It’s a laudable goal to stop genocide and oppression—but a very difficult goal to reach. As long as human beings try to define another group of human beings as “Other,” whether it’s based on their race, where they were born, the way they worship God, whether they love another gender or their own, whether they identify with the gender given to them at birth or not—anyone who is different from the group-defined norm is rejected. As long as human beings think this way, there will be hate crimes, there will be murder, there will be genocide.

But I believe that can change. Slowly, painfully, one person at a time. Probably not in my life time—but maybe by the time my son’s children grow up, we’ll be a few steps closer to that goal.

But only if we remember, and recognize the terrible results of not knowing, of not caring, of not loving one another enough to protect each other. To love our neighbour as we love ourselves.

If we remember, then we can work to keep the murder, the hate, from happening; we can work to eliminate it. We can love one another as we love God.

In the name of the Creator of the Universe, amen.


As a means of sermon procrastination as well as early Friday Fiving (bending the ol’ Space-time continuum again), I offer this personal Friday Five in honour of my birthday earlier this month.

Five things I am glad I did this year (since my last birthday):

1. Went on retreat. Quite possibly the best six days of the year. I have waxed over-lyrical about this in the past, so I’ll forgo that this time.

2. Attended local clergy gatherings. A group of my denomination’s clergy gathers for lunch once a month. We’re actually very fortunate to be able to do this, since there aren’t many locations that have as many of us as this area. And the local presbytery of the UC has graciously included me in their gatherings as well, as all of them are affirming and supportive (and working to move their congregations in that direction). The mutual support and laughter (I will not mention certain items I was told could not appear in the blog, even though it would be very funny…) and the sense that I am not alone after all make these gatherings an oasis in the month.

3. Attending denominational conference in the fall. I learned, I worshiped, I deepened newer friendships, and refreshed long-term ones, I worked my tail off…it was wonderful. Even if it looks like it’s going to have to come out of my own pocket after all, it was worth it.

4. Began focusing on my continuing education/professional reading/serious reading (call it what you will). I’ve read several of those “I’ve always meant to read that” books. I’ve loved some, hated others, argued with some, reread some, and in general had a rousing time.

5. Socializing more. I’ve been cultivating friendships outside the church, with folks who frankly have no intention of ever darkening the door of the church. And that’s OK. They are my friends, not potential members. And that’s the way I like them. This may be heretical, but I frankly don’t care if they come to church or not—that’s not why I hang out with them. I am not trying to convert them—I just like them and enjoy their conversation. I’m getting to know more and more people in the community, and I’m enjoying it. I don’t need to always be “the pastor” I scolded on of my friends the other night for introducing me as “Rev RP.” I told him, “Just RP.”

Five things I hope to do in the next year:

1. Move forward with my plan for a doctoral program. I’m still doing research…and thn I need to take the GREs…and put together some applications…

2. Go on another retreat. It may be in August, or possibly in October again. We’ll see.

3. Continue to expand and deepen my friendships. It’s so amazing to me when an acquaintance sparks and becomes something more—a friendship. I love it and I intend to nourish those friendships as especially precious.

4. Move more. I have days when the only movement I do is up and down the stair, from my desk to the kitchen to the living room and back gain. Maybe I take the dog outside, This is bad. I hope to walk, to garden, and just maybe hike. We’ll see about the last one.

5, Read even more. Hey, stop laughing! You know who you are…just stop it. I have so many books I am half-way through…I really want to get them finished.

And no, I’m not telling you which birthday it was. It wasn’t a “round” one, that’s all I’m saying.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Monday, Monday....

First of all, my apologies for the truly odd formatting on the Good Friday service; I did a cut-and-paste from Word, so I suspect some of that formatting snuck in and played with Blogger's brain...not that it takes much.

This is my day of a complete sabbath from church-related stuff, so don't expect much on the Holy Week that is just past.

What I'm thinking about:
  • Decisions that made sense at the time don't always make sense later on, especially if thy were made in a time of tension and emotion. Case in point--some decisions I made during my divorce process that I now wish I had not made. My lawyer, to give him credit, really tried hard to talk me out of them, but failed. I screwed myself, folks. Don't do that to yourself. Listen to your lawyers...
  • Been watching The L Word, first season. It's on at the same time as ER here, so I didn't watch it when it started, and then by the time ER went on break, I had no idea who any of the characters were on L Word, or the story lines, or anything. So I never got into it. It's now in it's 4th season (I think--and I'm sure someone will correct me if I'm wrong...) But now I have been lent the entire first season on DVD, and watched the pilot and a few early episodes last week. Today I plan a popcorn and L Word binge.
  • The joke here in River City yesterday was "We had a green Christmas, so it's only right we should have a white Easter!" Which we did.
  • I'm about to embark on a series of mdical tests which I will not enlarge upon, in case anyone is snacking while reading blogs... but it involves three days of sampling at home... Anyway, I'm forbidden red meat while I'm doing this, and have to eat lots of greens and high fibre stuff. I am tired of Chicken Caesar salad!!! And oatmeal. And fish. And brown rice. Ugh. I'm craving some good Crispy Ginger Beef from my favourite Chinese restaurant, or maybe a splurgalicious Wendy's burger, or even just som bacon at the clergy breakfast next week!! Sigh.
  • What a wonderful time I had with TO last weekend. We did see a terrible movie, but we had fun while doing so. He's gone through adolescence and is at the age where parents aren't quite fools anymore. A friend of mine, whose son went through a similar transformation a few years ago, said, "It's just not fair. Two years ago, I couldn't wait for my son to graduate and leave the house. Now that he is about to, I don't want him to anymore. I have my son back, just in time for him leave." Yep.

Off to enjoy a real day off!

Friday, April 06, 2007

Good Friday Worship

Good Friday Service

April 6, 2007

Stations of the Cross
Prayer and Reflection

Prelude

Welcome and Introduction

This is a modified version of the stations of the cross; so if you are familiar with the Stations of the Cross you will notice that some are missing. Each station has a short reading for quiet meditation. This is for you to read, ponder and consider. This is followed by a reflection; a telling of the last of day of Jesus’ earthly life through the eyes of a Roman soldier. The booklet is yours to take with you; may it guide your prayers and devotions over the next two days as we mourn the death of our Saviour. Let us pause to centre ourselves, to bring ourselves into this time and place, leaving aside our cares and concerns, and be truly present for this moment…..

Call to Worship

Today the carpenter’s hands are nailed to a cross, the king of kings is crowned with thorns and wears the purple robe of mockery. Today he sets us free, himself imprisoned on a tree. Today is God’s Friday. We come in worship.

Solo

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?

Station One Jesus is Condemned to Death

Silent Meditation
It is Friday—early in the morning. Jesus is brought from Caiaphas the High Priest to Pontius Pilate, the Governor on trumped-up charges of treason. Jesus is condemned to death by the Romans.

Reflection

The cries of “Crucify him! Crucify him!” still ring in my ears. The picture of Pilate sitting on the judge’s bench asking the crowd of leaders and people “Shall I crucify your king?” and their response, “We have no king but the Emperor”…it is an image that haunts me. It haunts me because of the callousness and injustice of it all. The world is often so unjust. But mostly it haunts me because I see this injustice, this callousness, sometimes in myself. Lord, when do I see you hungry, sick and helpless and do not reach out to you?

Prayer

All: Holy One, whose dear child did not go up to joy before he first suffered pain, and did not enter into glory before he was crucified, show us how to walk in the way of the cross, so that we may find it to be the way of life and peace; in the name of Jesus Christ our Saviour.

Station Two—Jesus Bears His Cross

Silent Meditation
A heavy cross is put into Jesus’ arms and he is ordered to carry it to the place of his execution. He accepts the cross. Carrying it by himself, he goes out to the Place of the Skull—Golgotha—to be crucified with two others.

Reflection

He went out carrying his own cross…Humanity is burdened with many crosses—war, hunger and famine, greed and poverty, sickness and death. My neighbours bear their crosses. Some there are who mourn, some who struggle to survive financially, some who are in fear and loneliness. Jesus went out carrying his cross alone. He knows what it is like to carry a heavy burden.

Prayer

One: O Merciful God, who answers the poor,
Many: Answer us.
One: O Merciful God, who answers the lowly in spirit,
Many: Answer us.
One: O Merciful God, who answers the broken of heart,
Many: Answer us.
One: O Merciful God:
Many: Answer us.
One: O Merciful God,
Many: Have compassion
One: O Merciful God,
Many: Redeem.
One: O Merciful God,
Many: Save.
One: O merciful God, have pity upon us.
Many: Now, speedily and at a near time.
--Jewish Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) prayer

Hymn Go to Dark Gethsemane v.1,2

Station Three—Jesus Falls For the First Time

Silent Meditation
The cross is heavy and the road to Calvary, the road to Golgotha—the place of death—is long. Jesus, weary from lack of sleep, loneliness, fear, and the beatings he received slumps to the ground. Soldiers quickly drag him to his feet again.

Reflection

All around Jesus are the mockers and those who take delight in human misery. It is hot and sticky in the crowded little street. The air is filled with foreboding on this Day of Preparation for Passover. The world is filled with people, it seems, who have fallen and struggle to rise and there are no hands, not even rough ones, to help. Do I, too, mock him by my unthinking, uncaring gruffness?

Prayer

He called upon his God, saying, “Things overwhelm me: come to my help.”
--Q’uran, Sura (chapter) 54:10

Station Four—Simon of Cyrene Helps Jesus Carry the Cross

Silent Meditation
Jesus is faltering under the load. The soldiers fear that he might die along the way. They seize Simon of Cyrene, put the cross on his shoulders, too, as he stands behind Jesus and make him help shoulder the load.

Reflection

A perfect stranger, coming into the city, just happens to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. He was grabbed and forced to take the cross. Was he reluctant? Was I? I longed to help Jesus but I was afraid. I was relieved…when they picked someone out of the crowd to help. I was ashamed…that I could not bring myself to step out of character, out of my role to help the man.

Prayer

One: Let us pray to God, who loved the world so much that he sent his only Child to give us life. Simon of Cyrene was forced to carry the cross for your Child.
Many: Give us grace to lift heavy loads off those we meet and to put ourselves with those condemned to die.
One: Holy One, hear us.
Many: God, Graciously hear us.

--Caryl Micklem

Hymn What Wondrous Love v.1,2

Station Five—Jesus Falls the Second Time

Silent Meditation
Jesus falls again, despite the help of Simon. He lies sprawled in the dirt, sweat beading on his face, mingling with his blood from the cuts on his forehead and the dust of these well-travelled streets. The soldiers, impatient and anxious to be over this job, roughly drag him to his feet again, cursing him.

Reflection

My heart wrenches. My stomach churns. I feel my own sweat upon my brow. I can only guess at his agony. The weight of the cross is too much and he is very weak. He is baring a heavy burden like so many others in my society and has been forced once again to his knees—like them. How do they feel as they watch this? Do they recognize their own pain? Did they try to hid that pain by laughing at it, like me? Did they reject that pain by jeering at him, like me?

Prayer

All: O Jesus, who for our errors bore the heavy weight of the cross and fell under its weight, may the thought of your sufferings make us watchful against temptation and stretch out your loving hand to help us.

Station Six—Jesus Speaks to the Sorrowing Women

Silent Meditation
A large crowd of women have followed Jesus’ path to Golgotha. They are weeping and wailing—in traditional mourning for this man, their friend. They are overcome by their helplessness. Jesus say to them, “Don’t weep for me, but for yourselves and your children.” Your tears are not enough.

Reflection

They cry, these women, like I am crying on the inside. But our tears are not enough. They cannot stop the agony. They cannot feed the hungry. They cannot bring peace. “If you must weep,” he says, “weep for your own pitifulness and lack.” There is another way. I know it in my heart. We must move beyond weeping. We must also act. But… I cannot.

Prayer

All: O Lord Jesus, we mourn and will mourn both for you and for ourselves; for your sufferings, and for our sins which caused them. Teach us to mourn so that we may be comforted, and escape those dreadful judgments prepared for those who turn away from you.

Hymn Alas and Did My Saviour Bleed?

Station Seven—Jesus Falls for the Third Time

Silent Meditation
No sleep. Nothing to eat or drink since supper the eve before, the interrogations, the scourging, the mockery—they have all taken their toll. Jesus falls again to the dust and grime of the crowded street of Jerusalem amidst the noise of weeping and heckling.

Reflection

This is almost too much. How much more will he, will we, have to endure? Jesus has become a spectacle. The laughter as he struggles once more is awful. How can they laugh? Can’t they see he’s trying? Don’t they feel any pity? I should talk. My patience is wearing thin to get this over with. I want to go home. This poor creature won’t.

Prayer
One: By your wounded hands
Many: Teach us diligence and generosity.
One: By your wounded feet
Many: Teach us steadfastness and perseverance.
One: By your wounded and insulted head
Many: Teach us patience, clarity and self-mastery.
One: By your wounded heart
Many: Teach us love,
One: Teach us love,
Many: Teach us love
All: O Master and Saviour.
--Daphne Fraser

Station Eight—Jesus is Stripped of His Garments

Silent Meditation
Finally…they arrive at the God-forsaken place where he will be crucified. People dump their garbage here. Hurriedly, roughly, his clothes are stripped from his back, leaving him naked in front of the crowd—naked, exhausted and humiliated.

Reflection

Stripped naked. Nothing left, not even dignity. Is this His poverty or is it ours? We took his clothes, we took his dignity, much like this world strips naked hundreds and thousands of its people every day with its greed and its uncaring. Our selfishness stands exposed for what it is when we stripped Jesus naked.

Prayer

All: O God, as on this solemn day we bow at the foot of the cross, may the love that was manifested there stream into our hearts, challenging and subduing them and winning from us that response which is your will for us. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
--Leslie Weatherhead

Station Nine—Jesus is Nailed to the Cross

Silent Meditation
Roughly, contemptuously, the soldiers thrust Jesus down onto his cross. Holding him down—some sit on him—they pound the nails through his hands and feet. After he is lifted up, the soldiers throw dice for his clothing to fulfill the Scripture, “They divided my clothes among themselves, and for my clothing they cast lots.”

Solo

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?

Reflection

The ring of the hammer on the nails, the sickening sound of flesh and bone crunching…they echo in my brain. I’ll never, never, ever forget this. Somehow this one crucifixion is different than all the others I’ve been to. The torture, for that’s what it was, has not stopped. It still happens every day. From utter brutality to the unkind word that flays the soul—it still happens. But the nonchalance, the ease with which the soldiers threw the dice beneath his feet…as if nothing were happening…it horrifies me today. I know—I was there. I threw the dice with the rest.

Prayer

All: Today the One who hung the earth upon the waters is hung upon the cross. He who is Ruler of the angels is crowned with Thorns. He who wraps the heavens in clouds is wrapped in the purple of mockery. He who in Jordan set Adam free receives blows upon his face. The Bridegroom of the Church is transfixed with nails. The Child of Mary is pierced with a spear. We venerate your Passion, O Christ. Show to us also your resurrection.
--Greek Orthodox Hymn for Good Friday

Solo Cross Upon a Hill: The Lament of Peter

Station Ten—Jesus Dies on the Cross

Silent Meditation
The nightmare of pain and suffering, the agony of betrayal and loneliness come to an end. Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her and he said to his mother, “Woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” The thief on the cross beside him cries out, “Remember me, O Lord, when you come into your kingdom.” After three mercifully brief hours on the cross, suspended between earth and sky, Jesus dies. Choking on the hyssop dipped in wine, he gasps out the words, “It is finished.” He bows his head and gives up his spirit.

Reflection

I watched…I heard the words he spoke. I saw his agony…I felt the spear dig in his flesh. I saw the blood and water pour out down his side, down his thighs to the ground. Violence and death. I hung my head. I could no longer see for the tears that flowed, like his blood, down my face. I could not stop the words, “Truly this man was God’s Son!” I felt overcome. Why did I have a hand in this? How have I let it happen?

Litany
One: Let us recall the words Jesus spoke from the cross.
Many: Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.
One: We thank you, God, that Jesus did as he told others to do, and forgave those who wronged him. Help us to forgive others from our heart. And forgive our world for still committing acts of great cruelty.
Many: Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.
One: We thank you, God, that Jesus gave this assurance to a man convinced he deserved to die. Awaken us to a true understanding of what we are and what we have done. But give us too, the same assurance, that whatever we have done, nothing can separate us from your love.
Many: Woman, behold your son. Behold your mother.
One: We thank you, God, that Jesus thought of others even when dying. Deliver us from self-pity, from brooding on our own wrongs and misfortunes. Help us to be like Christ to our neighbour, acting as Jesus would act, mediating your love.
Many: My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

One: We thank you, God, that Jesus was fully human, and no stranger to the anguish of despair. Help us also through the dark times, so that we may emerge with faith strengthened.
Many: I am thirsty.
One: We thank you, God, that someone answered this cry. Help us to answer the cry of those in our world who are hungry and thirsty.
Many: It is finished.
One: We thank you, God, that Jesus died believing he had done your will and accomplished your work. May we too be single-minded, and when we die need not to regret that we have squandered your gift of life.
Many: Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.
--Caryn Micklem

Solo
Were you there when they laid him in the tomb?
Were you there when they laid him in the tomb....

Depart in Silence