Friday, March 29, 2013

Good Friday?

Last night we had a Maundy Thursday service, also called Tennebrae service. As the words were read telling us of Jesus' final hours, I was convicted of my guilt. I would have left Jesus, too, as his disciples did. We had communion as individuals, each going up and serving ourselves to reflect the "alone-ness" Jesus must have felt. It was hard to do. As we left the dark sanctuary in silence, I wanted to stay silent on the way home and into the evening.

This morning our church had a Good Friday service. It was not dark as the sun was streaming in the windows. We sang and listened to more of the story of Jesus last hours. But what got me weeping was a monologue from Mary's perspective. Mary, despite the special mother/son bond all mothers have with their children, had to give him up to share with the public, not only for a very public ministry, but also a very public death. What pain for a mother!

"I was there. It seems like I always was… From the very beginning, from the day he was born I loved him. I held him in my arms, and everything in my heart: from the praise of the angels to my own questions and longings for what he would become. He and I belonged to each other, my son and I, but it wasn’t long before I had to share him, to give him up.

“I must be about my Father’s business”, he said – and what was that? Jesus had to belong to the people, even to the tax collectors and prostitutes; they needed him. They needed his stories, his healing, and his preaching. He was everything to them – just like he was to me. Then the time came where even they had to give him up – it wasn’t fair! His time was so short, too short. No mother should have to watch her son die.

When Jesus was still a baby, Joseph and I took him to a temple. There, an old man named Simon told me: “a sword will pierce your heart”. I couldn’t have known what he meant. I was so happy then, so proud of my beautiful son… I think I have an idea now. This grief will stay in my heart like a piercing wound, but my son left me so much more than that when he died. He gave me a family. Everyone who loved him, everyone who feels that sword of grief with me, we are the ones who belong to each other now.

And then, we as a church were once again confronted by our guilt of betrayal, this time in a monologue written by and delivered by my son Adriel. I found it very moving and was once again in tears.

I am the betrayer.
I am the weak.
The liar.
The violent.
I am the rock, upon whom the church will be built.

I am Peter.
I was there:
His friend; his brother; his servant.
On his deathbed, his final hours, 
He called to me,
And James, and John.
His final hours:
“Stay here and keep watch with me?”

In agony;
He prayed—
For we were asleep.

Could we not watch with him for one hour;
On his deathbed,
Pray with him?

“He is at hand that doth betray me.”
“I shall lay down my life for thy sake;”
“Verily, verily, I say unto thee,
The cock shall not crow, til thou hast denied me thrice.”

 I am the blind,
The deaf.

“He is at hand that doth betray me.”
Nay Lord!
I shall not pray with you.
I shall not sit with you,
On your deathbed,
In your final hours!
I shall take action.

Wherefore I sleep,
Wherefore I rise,
I lent him not mine ear.

 “Wilt thou lay down thy life for my sake?”
Nay Lord,
I shall flee.

“He is at hand that doth betray me.”
“I know not what thou sayest.”
An oath,
“I do not know the man.”

Even I curse and swear,
The man!”

Of whom do I speak,
O Simon,
O Rock,
O Peter?

Of whom do I speak?
“He is at hand that doth betray me.”
I am he.
And I shall weep.
From beyond the walls.

I could not watch with him,
On his deathbed,
In his final hours.

I could not stand with him,
When the kiss came:
“Hold him fast.”

I could not be for him,
Outside the walls,
In the morning.

I am he:
The rock, on whom the church will be built.

I am he:
Whom Jesus loved.
And yet I slept.

1 comment:

  1. Hello! My name is Cate Song and I'm the Worship Pastor at New Life Fellowship in Elmhurst, Queens, NYC. I would like use this post for our upcoming Good Friday contemplative services. Where are the pieces from and do you know where I can get permission to use them? I would like to include credits for the pieces in our program. Please let me know via email if you can: