Good Friday

Luke 23:33-34, 44-46

When they came to the place that is called The Skull, they crucified Jesus there with the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, while the sun’s light failed; and the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Then Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” Having said this, he breathed his last.

Psalm 31:3-5

You are indeed my rock and my fortress;
    for your name’s sake lead me and guide me,
take me out of the net that is hidden for me,
    for you are my refuge.
Into your hand I commit my spirit;
    you have redeemed me, O Lord, faithful God.

“A new sort of power will be let loose upon the world, and it will be the power of self-giving love. This is the heart of the revolution that was launched on Good Friday. You cannot defeat the usual sort of power by the usual sort of means. If one force overcomes another, it is still ‘force’ that wins. Rather, at the heart of the victory of God over all the powers of the world there lies self-giving love, which, in obedience to the ancient prophetic vocation, will give its life ‘as a ransom for many.’” (N.T. Wright, The Day the Revolution Began: Reconsidering the Meaning of Jesus’s Crucifixion)

Tuesday of Holy Week

On Sunday, Cory shared a lesson in singing the psalms. I thought of that as I looked over Chapter 7 on specificity in Longing to Pray. Singing scripture and praying in specifics both require one thing most of us currently have a little extra of — time.

Our heavenly Father craves relationship with us, and Holy Week is a reminder of what he was willing to give for that relationship. As you give praise or thanks to God (or talk over your problems, anxieties, and needs), use that extra time you may have. Remember the specificity of the psalmists. And don’t leave out any of the details!

Dr. Kalas writes,

I suspect this dedication to the specific might become tedious to someone whose enthusiasm is not as great as the psalmist’s. Psalm 136 was almost surely sung and/or recited antiphonally, with a leader calling out the theme line and the congregation or choir singing the response, through twenty-six verses…. It isn’t the sort of song that was written for people in a hurry. But neither is it simply a series of repetitions, except for the choral response. Indeed, that’s the sense of the specific…. It isn’t made for lazy worshipers. (p. 60)

And now for Psalm 136

Yes! All 26 verses! No singing just verses 1 and 3 for this Psalm!!! Call up a friend, wrangle a kid or spouse, and read it in the style of a good old fashioned call-and-response. Or if you’re really adventurous… FaceTime several friends and sing it with an alternating lead and chorus! May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
    for his steadfast love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of gods,
    for his steadfast love endures forever.
Give thanks to the Lord of lords,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;

to him who alone does great wonders,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
to him who by understanding made the heavens,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
to him who spread out the earth above the waters,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
to him who made the great lights,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
the sun to rule over the day,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
the moon and stars to rule over the night,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;

10 to him who struck down the firstborn of Egypt,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
11 and brought Israel out from among them,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
12 with a strong hand and an outstretched arm,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
13 to him who divided the Red Sea in two,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
14 and made Israel pass through the midst of it,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
15 but overthrew Pharaoh and his host in the Red Sea,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
16 to him who led his people through the wilderness,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;

17 to him who struck down great kings,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
18 and killed mighty kings,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
19 Sihon, king of the Amorites,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
20 and Og, king of Bashan,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
21 and gave their land as a heritage,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
22 a heritage to Israel his servant,
    for his steadfast love endures forever.

23 It is he who remembered us in our low estate,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
24 and rescued us from our foes,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
25 he who gives food to all flesh,
    for his steadfast love endures forever.

26 Give thanks to the God of heaven,
    for his steadfast love endures forever.

 

Morning Prayer

From the Book of Common Prayer:

Psalm 51

Open my lips, O Lord,
    and my mouth shall proclaim your praise.
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
    and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from your presence
    and take not your holy Spirit from me.
Give me the joy of your saving help again
    and sustain me with your bountiful Spirit.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:
    as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen. 

A Reading

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy we have been born anew to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. (1 Peter 1:3)

The Collect

Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought us in safety to this new day: Preserve us with your mighty power, that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Holy Exuberance!

From Chapter 6 of Longing to Pray:

Israel built into its calendar occasions for exuberance. There were not only the annual feast days — all but one of which were celebratory — but every week there was the Sabbath. And the Sabbath was something to be celebrated…. Exuberance can’t be programmed or scheduled, but a schedule can provide a setting in which exuberance is more easily born or nurtured…. And it is the very essence of religious ritual. We easily decry “empty ritual”; the Old Testament prophets did so with vigor. But if the ritual is empty, that’s our fault. Rituals provide the magnificent setting in which the jewel of holy exuberance can shine. (Kalas 54-55, emphasis added)

Psalm 98, from The Message – An example of “holy exuberance” if there ever was one!

Sing to God a brand-new song.
He’s made a world of wonders!

He rolled up his sleeves,
He set things right.

God made history with salvation,
He showed the world what he could do.

He remembered to love us, a bonus
To his dear family, Israel—indefatigable love.

The whole earth comes to attention.
Look—God’s work of salvation!

Shout your praises to God, everybody!
Let loose and sing! Strike up the band!

Round up an orchestra to play for God,
Add on a hundred-voice choir.

Feature trumpets and big trombones,
Fill the air with praises to King God.

Let the sea and its fish give a round of applause,
With everything living on earth joining in.

Let ocean breakers call out, “Encore!”
And mountains harmonize the finale—

A tribute to God when he comes,
When he comes to set the earth right.

He’ll straighten out the whole world,
He’ll put the world right, and everyone in it.

 

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. (2 Cor. 13:14)

Psalm 130

Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord.
    Lord, hear my voice!
Let your ears be attentive
    to the voice of my supplications!

If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities,
    Lord, who could stand?
But there is forgiveness with you,
    so that you may be revered.

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
    and in his word I hope;
my soul waits for the Lord
    more than those who watch for the morning,
    more than those who watch for the morning.

O Israel, hope in the Lord!
    For with the Lord there is steadfast love,
    and with him is great power to redeem.
It is he who will redeem Israel
    from all its iniquities.

Almighty and everlasting God, whose will it is to restore all things in your well-beloved Son, the King of kings and Lord of lords: Mercifully grant that the peoples of the earth, divided and enslaved by sin, may be freed and brought together under his most gracious rule; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. (Book of Common Prayer)