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Passion Week




Monday, April 5


Read: Mark 14:32-41  They came to an area called Gethsemane. Jesus told his disciples, "Sit here while I pray." He took Peter, James, and John with him. He plunged into a sinkhole of dreadful agony. He told them, "I feel bad enough right now to die. Stay here and keep vigil with me." Going a little ahead, he fell to the ground and prayed for a way out: "Papa, Father, you can--can't you?--get me out of this. Take this cup away from me. But please, not what I want--what do you want?" He came back and found them sound asleep. He said to Peter, "Simon, you went to sleep on me? Can't you stick it out with me a single hour? Stay alert, be in prayer, so you don't enter the danger zone without even knowing it. Don't be naive. Part of you is eager, ready for anything in God; but another part is as lazy as an old dog sleeping by the fire." He then went back and prayed the same prayer. Returning, he again found them sound asleep. They simply couldn't keep their eyes open, and they didn't have a plausible excuse. He came back a third time and said, "Are you going to sleep all night? No--you've slept long enough. Time's up. The Son of Man is about to be betrayed into the hands of sinners.


Consider:  Jesus enters the garden, a sanctuary of flowers that will soon become the receptacle of his agony.  He falls to the ground, so that he might pray, so that he might accept the cup of his death, the cup which contains the violence of the world.  Because he prays, he is able to accept the cup.  Because he prays, we can accept the cup too.  In what tangible ways will you accept this cup? 


Pray:  For the 400,000 men and women who work and still do not have enough money to pay for the necessities of food, clothing, and housing. 


A Prayer for this Week of Passion:  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. 


Action: Provide a gift of 40 cents so that these 400,000 will know they are not alone.   


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Tuesday, April 6


Read:  Matthew 26:63-68  Jesus kept silent. Then the Chief Priest said, "I command you by the authority of the living God to say if you are the Messiah, the Son of God." Jesus was curt: "You yourself said it. And that's not all. Soon you'll see it for yourself: The Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Mighty One, Arriving on the clouds of heaven." At that, the Chief Priest lost his temper, ripping his robes, yelling, "He blasphemed! Why do we need witnesses to accuse him? You all heard him blaspheme! Are you going to stand for such blasphemy?" They all said, "Death! That seals his death sentence." Then they were spitting in his face and banging him around. They jeered as they slapped him: "Prophesy, Messiah: Who hit you that time?"


Consider:  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 God are beaten and insulted, so too is Jesus.  And yet, their lives, their very existence, critique the faith of the world. 


Pray:  For Mr. Joe who with great embarrassment calls his son to ask for help buying food. 


A Prayer for this Week of Passion:  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. 


Action: Make a gift of 35 cents, one nickel for each number pressed by Mr. Joe as he slowly and shamefully dials his son’s number. 


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Wednesday, April 7


Read:  Matthew 26:69-75  All this time, Peter was sitting out in the courtyard. One servant girl came up to him and said, "You were with Jesus the Galilean." In front of everybody there, he denied it. "I don't know what you're talking about." As he moved over toward the gate, someone else said to the people there, "This man was with Jesus the Nazarene." Again he denied it, salting his denial with an oath: "I swear, I never laid eyes on the man." Shortly after that, some bystanders approached Peter. "You've got to be one of them. Your accent gives you away." Then he got really nervous and swore. "I don't know the man!" Just then a rooster crowed. Peter remembered what Jesus had said: "Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times." He went out and cried and cried and cried.


Consider:  Three times Peter is asked, “Do you know me?”  Three times he answers, “I do not know him.”   How often we deny Jesus, too.  Like Peter, we start with the small denials, acting as if we did not know that this road calls for a different walk.  Like Peter, we deny him when we refuse his path of peace.  Like Peter, we deny him when we condemn those who choose to love.

Like Peter, we disappear when we should instead have stood for his truth.

Jesus believes in us, and if we would only walk in faith, we could believe in Jesus as well.  Where will your walk take you?  How will you stand by this Christ? 


Pray:  For Nancy and Henry who go with their parents to the food pantry to help carry food home. 


A Prayer for this Week of Passion:  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. 


Action:  Make a gift of 35 cents, the cost of a phone call to get a ride from someone who can afford a vehicle. 


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Thursday, April 8


Read:  Matthew 27:28-32  They stripped him and dressed him in a red toga. They plaited a crown from branches of a thorn bush and set it on his head. They put a stick in his right hand for a scepter. Then they knelt before him in mocking reverence: "Bravo, King of the Jews!" they said. "Bravo!" Then they spit on him and hit him on the head with the stick. When they had had their fun, they took off the toga and put his own clothes back on him. Then they proceeded out to the crucifixion. Along the way they came on a man from Cyrene named Simon and made him carry Jesus' cross.


Consider: 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 hungry child goes to bed this night with no supper.  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, Jesus will not force us, he does not demand, does not compel, only invites.  Will we willingly carry the cross that he bears in his many faces of distressing disguise?  Simon is remembered still.  For whom and what will we be remembered? 


Pray:  For Rochelle who is one of the 365,000 children and youth in our state who live in poverty. 


A Prayer for this Week of Passion: 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.


Action:  Give 37 cents, one penny for every ten thousand children and youth in our state who live in poverty. 


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Friday, April 9


Read:  Mark 15:25, 33-39  They nailed him up at nine o'clock in the morning. At noon the sky became extremely dark. The darkness lasted three hours. At three o'clock, Jesus groaned out of the depths, crying loudly, "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?" which means, "My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?" Some of the bystanders who heard him said, "Listen, he's calling for Elijah." Someone ran off, soaked a sponge in sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink, saying, "Let's see if Elijah comes to take him down." But Jesus, with a loud cry, gave his last breath. At that moment the Temple curtain ripped right down the middle. When the Roman captain standing guard in front of him saw that he had quit breathing, he said, "This has to be the Son of God!"


Consider:  Jesus cries out and breathes his last.  In a cry, he gives up his life, but only to this death, only to this ending.  For in his cry is the cry of life itself.  It is a cry for the hope of the world.  It is a cry of connection with the little nobodies of the world, the poor, the blind, the captive.  His cry is their cry.  It is a cry that carries across two millennium.  It is a cry of that age and is a cry of every age.  It is a cry for all of those for whom so few cry:  The hungry, the thirsty, and the homeless. 


It is a cry for you, a cry of love, so that finally, you might cry out too. 

For whom will you cry?  For whom will you act? 


Pray:  For Albert who never has money to go to the store and choose something special just for himself. 


A Prayer for this Week of Passion:  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. 


Action:  Provide a gift of one penny for the dreams of Albert.  Give more if you hope that he would receive more than dreams.   


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Saturday, April 10


Read:  Luke 23:49-55  Those who knew Jesus well, along with the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a respectful distance and kept vigil. There was a man by the name of Joseph, a member of the Jewish High Council, a man of good heart and good character. He had not gone along with the plans and actions of the council. His hometown was the Jewish village of Arimathea. He lived in alert expectation of the kingdom of God. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Taking him down, he wrapped him in a linen shroud and placed him in a tomb chiseled into the rock, a tomb never yet used. It was the day before Sabbath, the Sabbath just about to begin.


Consider:  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 this one life there was ending, and that ending was you.        


It is on you that Jesus lays his hope, in you where he now resides, and through you where he continues as that beating, pulsing, yearning Spirit, who knows love and is love.  There is nothing for you to do.   Simply BE.   His disciple, his child, his life.  Be in him and allow Jesus to be in you.  Then you can be, will be, for others. 


Pray:  For Jane, the mother of 2, who lives in the triangle and would need to make $15 per hour to pay for the basic necessities.


A Prayer for this Week of Passion:  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.   Let me BE for you, so that together, we might be for others. 


Action:  Make a gift of 15 cents, one penny for each dollar needed for basic necessities. 


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