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16 Part Lenten Devotional based on the Passion of Christ
compiled by Nail-Bender in NC

 

Introduction

Christ speaks:

I walk this way of the cross, my friend …

And you walk it too.

We walk this path together, you and I.

Though you are you, and I am I, we are truly one,

One Christ.

When I walk, I walk with the little ones of our world;

the outcasts, the poor, the sick, the mourners.

I walk with those who have lost all hope.

I walk with the brokenness of the world,

and I also walk with you … you, my other self.

As I walk, I listen to the hearts of those to whom no other will listen.

As I walk, I offer companionship to those for whom no other will be a friend.

As I walk, I walk not in robes of purple,

but in the garb of a servant.

 

It was my walk two thousand years ago,

and it is my walk still.

And because it is my walk, now, it is your walk too.

We share the brokenness of the cross, my other self,

and yet, it is only in the sharing that we can make this walk at all.

 

 

Jesus Enters the Garden - 1

Christ speaks:

It is into Gethsemane that I retreat, a sanctuary of flowers that become the receptacle of my agony.

It is there, where I fall to the ground.

Yet, when I fall, I fall so that I might drink of the cup that is set before me,

the cup of pain,

the cup which contains the violence of the world.

It is the cup of which I do not wish to drink.

But I also fall, so that I might pray.

And because I pray, I am able to choose the cup.

So can you, my other self. You can choose too.

 

I reply:

My Jesus, My Lord, I wish to stay awake with you,

but my eyes are so heavy.

In my sleep, I close my eyes to the violence.

In my sleep, I can dream away injustice.

In my sleep, I have no need to drink.

Take me to my knees and help me pray.

Help me pray, so that you are not alone.

Help me pray, so that the garden might be restored.

Help me to pray, so that I might know you,

so that I might know myself.

Help me to pray, My Jesus.

And then …I might be able to share your cup.

 

 

sycamore.jpg (5754 bytes)Jesus is Betrayed - 2

Christ speaks:

Judas, my friend, the one with whom I journey,

this Judas betrays me.

He sees my life,

He enters my walk,

He eats with my friends,

And then, he gives me up with a kiss.

Do you betray me, my other self,

when you arrest my work in the world,

when you turn away from my friends,

when you betray one another for petty reasons, nameless squabbles, and angry demands?

Do you betray me my other self,

even as you offer me a kiss?

 

I reply:

Lord, Jesus, help me to hold on to you;

By love when I would rather hate;

Through peace when I choose war;

In humility when I have to be right;

Under the shadow of the cross;

when all I seek is my own selfish way.

My Savior, Lord, I offer you an empty kiss,

while you offer me the breath of life.

 

 

The Soldiers Mock Jesus - 3

 

Christ speaks:

A homeless man is mocked because he pushes a shopping cart full of dirty bags.

A hungry child’s self-esteem is once again smashed because she acted out in class.

A poor man goes to prison, not because he is guilty, but simply because he is poor.

As these little ones of mine are beaten and insulted,

so too am I.

And yet, my other self, their existence, their very lives, critique the faith of the world.

 

I reply:

Lord, Jesus, I feel so powerless to challenge such injustice.

I want to shout, to act, to be hope, to bring joy,

to proclaim life.

And yet, I do so little.

 

Teach me to embrace my own pain, the pain that is uniquely mine, so that I might finally be able to bear the pain of my neighbor.

Lord, Jesus, teach me to bear the injustices of my neighbor,

that I might finally know you are there as well,

that I might finally know you were there all along.

 

 

temptation.jpg (8402 bytes)Jesus is Denied - 4

Christ speaks:

Three times my friend is asked, "Do you know me?"

Three times he answers, "I do not know him."

You, my other self, how often you deny me.

Like Peter, you start with the small denials,

acting as if you did not know that this road calls for a different walk.

Like Peter, you deny me when you refuse my path of peace.

Like Peter, you deny me when you condemn those who choose to love.

Like Peter, you disappear when you should instead have stood for my truth.

I believe in you my other self, and if you would only walk in faith, you could believe in me as well.

 

I reply:

My Lord, My God, the world calls to me.

It says that there is only power, and privilege,

and possession.

It refuses you and desires that I refuse you as well.

Cars, houses, vacations, investments, things,

more for me, more for those I love,

even if they deny my time and my resource from those who have nothing;

even from you, Oh Lord, from you.

Lord, teach me to deny myself,

that I may never again choose to deny you.

 

 

Jesus is Condemned to Die - 5

Christ speaks:

Into Pilate’s hands, my other self, I am delivered.

I stand before him, silent.

I do not defend myself, I do not strike out.

I give myself to this moment, this humiliation,

this horror.

I give myself for you.

Can you give yourself for others, my other self?

Can you give yourself for me?

 

I reply:

My Jesus, Lord, In your love you are condemned.

In your love, will I be condemned too?

I hunger for the truth,

I hunger to stand with you, but I am afraid.

Remove my fear, Lord.

Remove my fear so that I might stand with all those whom the world condemns.

Those who are shut out, put down, shoved aside,

and shut up.

Those who have no one else to stand with them.

Remove my fear, Oh Lord, so that I can stand with them …

So that I can stand with you.

 

 

Jesus is Beaten - 6

Christ Speaks:

Behold, my other self, for they beat me.

They press a crown of thorns into my flesh.

My blood, your salvation,

flows slowly down my battered face.

They spit and they hit, they mock and they hate.

 

It happened to me two-thousand years ago,

and it happens to me now, each time you hate that part of me that lives in you;

that little wounded Jesus who bears your scars and carries your pain.

It happens when you take this crown upon yourself, this crown that was meant for me.

 

I reply:

My Lord, how often I find myself with those that hit, with those who deny humanity.

Judging, condemning, dismissing, refusing.

How often I fail to see that I wound you,

just as surely as they wound you.

Jesus, extend me generosity for those who are hated -

the homeless, the widow, the orphan, the beggar,

the prisoner.

Allow me tenderness for my friends - my brother,

my daughter, my father, my wife.

Give me kindness for those who hate me.

And Lord, grant me gentleness for me,

where finally, I might offer gentleness to you.

 

 

Jesus is Led Out to be Crucified - 7

Christ speaks:

I showed you healing and you told me not to heal on the Sabbath.

I offered you my good earth and you said to partake of it was blasphemous.

I cared for a blind man and you wondered whose sin he carried.

I loved everyone and you sought to throw me off a cliff.

I came so that all might have life and you led me out to be slaughtered.

 

My other self, each time you allow anything to come in the way of my love for all my children -

your country, your job, your family, your aspirations, your goals, your rules, your understanding of what is and what is not - you lead me out again.

I came to live and to die for you,

Why would you have me killed?

 

I reply:

My Lord, Jesus, why is it that I cannot understand that by loving the other, you love me as well?

Why is it that I cannot see that in their wholeness, resides my wholeness?

Why is it that I refuse the possibility that my life can only be complete when their lives are also complete?

Forgive me, Brother Jesus. Forgive me, Sister Christ.

You died for me. Help me now live for them.

 

 

Simon is Made to Bear the Cross - 8

Christ speaks:

An orphan, a child whose parents die from AIDS,

rises this morning, alone.

A widow, a poor elderly soul, agonizes as rain pours through her rotting roof.

A prisoner, a murderer, goes to his death and no one laments his passing.

A young prostitute sells her body and knows that at least her children will eat.

Simon carries my cross. He is pressed into service.

He is forced to bear this burden.

Yet, I will not force you, my other self.

Will you willingly carry the cross I bear in my many faces of distressing disguise?

Simon is remembered still.

For whom and what will you be remembered?

 

I reply:

My Lord, my Friend, so often I wish only to live for myself.

But your communion, your life, is always connected to the life of the other.

I will bear your cross, Lord, and I will bear it freely.

As we bear this cross together,

as we work to heal their brokenness, the world’s brokenness, your brokenness, I too, will be healed.

And in the songs of the Saints, we will be remembered.

 

 marymadgala.jpg (5962 bytes)The Women Weep for Jesus - 9

Christ speaks:

Bombs explode, children die, the world weeps.

Famines come, death reigns, nations weep.

Winter rages, old men freeze, cities weep.

I am led to a cross and women weep.

And yet, my other self, tears can be a selfish act,

a catharsis of one’s own soul that offers nothing to the other.

I desire your tears that wash away your sorrow.

More, I desire your love that washes away injustice.

 

I reply:

Suffering comes so easy to me, Lord.

I see the faces of starving children on television and I simply change the channel.

I hear of wars and threats of war and I think,

"There is no peace."

I see a man upon a bridge and I look the other way.

 

Lord Jesus, help me to mourn the horror of this world.

Let the things of this world that break your heart,

break my heart as well, and then … help me to act,

to right the wrong, to struggle for justice.

 

And when my actions have no affect,

when I can do no more,

then let my tears, and your life,

wash over the pain of us all.

 

 

Jesus is Stripped - 10

Christ speaks:

As they ready my death, they take even my clothes.

They strip me and leave me naked, humiliated, degraded, a portrait of suffering for all to see.

 

And so you shall see me, my other self.

For, I am the man who lies on the grate,

dismissed as the world steps over him.

I am the shattered body that disease comes to claim when all drugs fail.

I am a child. I am hungry. I am lost.

I am holy. I am life. I am light. I AM.

 

I reply:

Lord Jesus, you bear my suffering.

 

Each time I choose grandeur,

you point me back to littleness.

 

Each time I seek greatness,

you point me back to that which is small.

 

Each time I want more,

you promise your life in that which is less.

When I can finally lose my life with you,

then I will discover what it means to live.

Thank you for your beauty, Lord,

in all the wrong places.

 

 

Jesus is Crucified - 11

Christ speaks:

They push me down on the rough wood.

The splinters rake the flesh on my naked back.

They stretch my arms wide until the tendons tear and bones pop.

A hammer crashes down and …

Pain … agonizing and brutal pain.

And then, hour after hour, all stand by and watch me as I suffer and die.

Where are their hosannas now?

Where are the cheering crowds?

Where are you, my other self?

 

I reply:

They tell me Lord, that this is what you had to do …

for the world, for life, for me.

In truth, I don’t know about that,

whether you had to be crucified or not.

But you were crucified, wholly innocent, without blame.

We put you on a Roman cross and we brutalized you.

We crucified you because your love, the way you lived, your very life, was a threat to the powers of that age,

is a threat to the powers of every age.

We crucified you because you loved us and we could not embrace a love so pure.

Lord, help me live my life as if it is worth the cost.

 

 

Mary and John are Given to Each Other - 12

Christ speaks:

Woman, here is your son. Here is your mother.

Mary is my mother.

And, my other self, she is your mother too.

In her sorrow, in her pain, in her continued life,

she has no one left to care for her, but you.

You, my other self, you will care for her.

 

She is all the mothers of the world,

all who grieve the loss of a child,

all who are left behind,

all who have no where else to turn.

She is the first disciple. She is the one who stands at the foot of this cross.

As you receive her, you receive me.

 

I reply:

My Lord, my Jesus, this relationship you have for me is never to be mine alone.

And so you offer me a precious gift,

you offer me the life of the other.

Help me be as passionately attached to the many Marys in my world, as you are attached to the Mary in your world.

I stand with her at the foot of your cross, bearing your pain until it births in me, the seeds of compassion.

 

Jesus Dies on the Cross - 13

Christ speaks:

I cry out and breathe my last.

In a cry, I give up my life, but only to this death,

only to this ending.

For my cry, is the cry of life itself.

It is a cry of new beginnings.

It is a cry for freedom, for hope, for handing over,

for giving back.

It is a cry of promise, a cry of healing.

It is a cry of celebration, a cry of the little ones,

the poor, the blind, the captive.

It is a cry for the hungry, the thirsty, the homeless.

It is a cry for justice and for truth.

It is a cry of mercy. It is a cry of peace.

It is a cry for you, my other self.

A cry of love so that you might cry out too.

 

I reply:

I cry, "My God, why have you forsaken me,"

for the powers of death seem so complete.

They arise out there, crushing those who appose them.

They arise in here, in me, Oh Lord, stealing my courage and confusing my faith.

And yet, in your cry, I have the audacity to believe in life, to believe in love,

to believe in this broken, stumbling self that I am.

To believe in you, Oh Lord, in you.

 

 

Jesus is Laid in the Tomb - 14

Christ speaks:

The powers meant that it would be finished.

In this, the finality of death.

To stop the voice, to end the life, to crush the hope of today and obliterate the promise of tomorrow.

This is how it was to end.

And yet, in my one life there was ending,

and that ending was you.

It is on you that I lay my hope,

in you where I now reside,

and through you where I continue as that beating, pulsing, yearning Spirit, who knows love and is love.

As I said in the beginning, my other self,

you and I are one, One Christ.

There is nothing for you to do.

Simply BE. My disciple, my child, my life.

 

I reply:

My Lord, in the darkness of the tomb,

there is peace, an inner solitude,

a comforting stillness where finally,

in the quiet, I can feel your breath.

And for this moment, and in this place,

it is enough to simply BE.

 

 

christking.jpg (2157 bytes)Conclusion

 

Christ speaks:

It is really not so difficult, this walk of ours,

a passage of a few steps,

or a journey of a life-time.

Embrace life as it comes to you,

and you will find me there.

In beauty, in pain, in joy and sorrow,

in hope and despair, life and death,

in those places where human pain and human compassion meet,

there you will find the cross and the Christ.

And, my other self,

as we share the brokenness of the cross,

we will know that it is only in the sharing that we can make this walk at all.

This is grace. This is Christ.

Go now and complete the way.