Morning Prayer: Good Friday

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Psalm: 22
Old Testament: Lamentations 3:1-9;19-33
New Testament: 1 Peter 1:10-20

For the Lord will not
reject for ever.
Although he causes grief, he will have compassion
according to the abundance of his steadfast love;
for he does not willingly afflict
or grieve anyone. (Lamentations 3:31-33)

The Lamentations of Jeremiah are words spoken from the very depths of pain. They reflect a people who feel abandoned, discouraged and defeated. Yet here…..even at the point of feeling utter desolation…..the writer holds on to hope…..that God will show up.

And indeed He does. In the greatest way possible……Instead of inflicting his wrath and justice on us….He instead turns it inward… He takes what should have been our death and nails it to a tree……Today is not Good because our Lord suffers…..but rather because by that act of love, he has set us free from pain…and reminds all who suffer that they are not alone. The One who formed us from the dust shows compassion and solidarity with us, so that even he is not above our experiences.

In dying for us, he restores our life……Lord Jesus…..come in glory! +

Evening Prayer: Good Friday

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Psalms: 40, 52
Gospel: John 19:38-42
Patristic Reading: An excerpt from the Catecheses of St. John Chrysostom

Nicodemus, who had at first come to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, weighing about a hundred pounds. They took the body of Jesus and wrapped it with the spices in linen cloths, according to the burial custom of the Jews. (John 19:39-40)

Tonight, Nietzsche is right. God is dead. Christ’s corpse is lifeless. The flesh has already begun to deteriorate and the true horror of the Cross hits home. You see…..the real scandal is not that Christ suffered and died. All men do that.

The impossible thing is that God, the Word through whom all things came to exist has abruptly fallen silent.

We cannot yet see past the great stone. We have not yet been greeted by angels bearing Good News. Tonight, we too are overwhelmed by fear, anguish, and pain…….Despairing at the fate of our Lord.

Tonight Death has claimed its prize, and we like sheep are lost and have scattered. +

Morning Prayer: Good Friday

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Psalm: 22
Old Testament: Wisdom 1:16 – 2:1, 12-22
New Testament: 1 Peter 1:10-20

You know that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your ancestors, not with perishable things like silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without defect or blemish. He was destined before the foundation of the world, but was revealed at the end of the ages for your sake. (1 Peter 1:18-19)

How deep the Father’s love for us,
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure

How great the pain of searing loss,
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the chosen One,
Bring many sons to glory

Behold the Man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice,
Call out among the scoffers

It was my sin that helf Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom. +

Evening Prayer: Jan. 14th

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Psalm: 22
Gospel: Mark 2:13-22
Patristic Reading: An excerpt from the Discourse Against the Pagans by St. Athanasius

Similar to the Servant songs mentioned in the post for Morning Prayer…Psalm 22 is one of those texts which (unfortunately) gets a half-assed treatment in the Christian tradition.

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning? Psalm 22:1

Nearly every Christian is aware of the first line of this Psalm….for they are the words spoken in anguish by Christ upon the cross. Most Christians are also aware of some of the imagery employed here as referring to the Passion of our Lord:

For dogs are all around me;
a company of evildoers encircles me.
My hands and feet have shrivelled;*
I can count all my bones.
They stare and gloat over me;
they divide my clothes among themselves,
and for my clothing they cast lots (Psalm 22:16-18)

.

The thing is…..in most lectionary cuts for Good Friday and other liturgies of the year, that’s where the reading of the psalm stops. In church at least, we don’t always get to hear the stuff that comes after the doom, gloom, suffering and despair:

From the horns of the wild oxen you have rescued* me.
I will tell of your name to my brothers and sisters;*
in the midst of the congregation I will praise you:
You who fear the Lord, praise him!
All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him;
stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!
For he did not despise or abhor
the affliction of the afflicted;
he did not hide his face from me,*
but heard when I* cried to him. (Psalm 22:22-24)

In the end, the Psalmist praises God for helping him overcome the evils that he is faced with. 😀 At the end of the day, God does not forsake his own…but rescues the afflicted……Alleluia! Alleluia! ❤

The use of the Psalms in the New Testament are only part of the puzzle. In order to get a fuller understanding, we have to take a look at the bigger picture.

While Jesus was giving voice to his own pain, loss, and feeling of abandonment upon the Cross……it is also a subtle recognition that God will help him conquer death itself. What feels like defeat now ultimately saves the universe and allows us to cry Christus victor! The LORD is Risen indeed! 😀 +

From you comes my praise in the great congregation;
my vows I will pay before those who fear him.
The poor* shall eat and be satisfied;
those who seek him shall praise the Lord.
May your hearts live for ever! (Psalm 22:24-26)

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