Archives for posts with tag: the cross


Dear Lord,

In a week in which two dear people from our church, Ruth and Larry,  entered the Church Triumphant, we give thanks for their gifts to our faith community and for all who have preceded them in service to Christ at Blue Ridge Presbyterian.  Where would our faith be without those who teach, encourage, share a loving word, and otherwise help build up the body of Christ in our midst?  Help us Lord to be grateful for them, to be strengthened by their witness, and to not take those around us for granted.   Amen.


Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.   — Hebrews 12:1


Matthew 26: 50-54images (2)

50 Jesus said to him [Judas], “Friend, do what you are here to do.”

Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and arrested him.

51 Suddenly, one of those with Jesus put his hand on his sword, drew it, and struck the slave of the high priest, cutting off his ear. 52 Then Jesus said to him,

“Put your sword back into its place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. 53 Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels?  54 But how then would the scriptures be fulfilled, which say it must happen in this way?”



What strikes me first is the address to Judas.  “Friend.”   Jesus could have said, “You rascal!”, “You traitor!” — or any other term befitting the circumstances.  But that wouldn’t be Jesus.

And then there’s a second response by Jesus which also flies in the face of how we usually behave.  “Put your sword back”.   We are quick for vengeance in our society, quick to reach for arms, quick to use force.   But that is not Jesus’ way.  While we tend to think of the Old Testament quote of  “an eye for an eye”  as a biblical endorsement of the use of force (it was actually meant to ensure moderation),  Jesus refuted that by saying  “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’  But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also” (Matt. 5:38-39).

Much as we seek to justify our militant ways, the one we follow to the cross is the Prince of Peace.  After all, if he wasn’t, he wouldn’t be going to the cross.



Dear Lord,

Help us to put our swords back.

Those angry words.  Those mean actions.

Those real swords with which we too often seek to settle things in our society and in our world.

It may be difficult for us to see how we can live safely that way.

But help us to seek and find our security in you.

And if the world takes advantage of us in the process,

strengthen us and sustain us with your love and grace.



Matthew 26: 20 – 25images (1)

20 When it was evening, he took his place with the twelve;  21 and while they were eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.”

22 And they became greatly distressed and began to say to him one after another, “Surely not I, Lord?”

23 He answered, “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me.  24 The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that one by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that one not to have been born.”

25 Judas, who betrayed him, said, “Surely not I, Rabbi?” He replied, “You have said so.”


Reflection  by St. Francis of Assisi

I know things about you that no other person knows.  You committed many more sins than people imagine; you performed many more miracles than people believe.  In order to mount to heaven you used the floor of the Inferno to give you your momentum.  “The further down you gain your momentum,” you often used to tell me, “the higher you shall be able to reach.”  The militant Christian’s greatest worth is not his virtue, but his struggle to transform into virtue the dishonor and malice within him. 



Dear Lord,

Surely not I, Lord?

Surely I have not offended you,

by any word or deed.

Surely not I, Lord?

Surely I have not done

what is evil in thy sight.

Surely not I, Lord?

Surely I have not

walked away from you

as you make your way to the cross.

Surely not I, Lord?

Have I?



Matthew 26:  17 -19download

17 On the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Where do you want us to make the preparations for you to eat the Passover?”

18 He said, “Go into the city to a certain man, and say to him, ‘The Teacher says, My time is near; I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples.'”

19 So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared the Passover meal.



The scene of the last supper is of course a Passover meal.  It reminds us again that Jesus was a Jew as were all the disciples.   It also recalls the Exodus of the Israelites who, at God’s command, smeared the blood of a lamb over the archways and lintel posts of their doors so that the angel of death would pass over their homes and only afflict the houses of the Egyptians.

This Jesus of ours will be similarly sacrificed so that the angel of death will pass over again, so that in Christ Jesus, we may know life eternal.



Dear Lord,

Would that we could smear some lamb’s blood on our lintel posts today to protect us from the threats and dangers of our world.   Would that we could know that the angel of death would just pass over us.   Help us to trust that in You, we find all our security, all of strength, all our comfort, all our refuge, all our freedom, all our life.





Matthew 21: 40 – 46download

  38 But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir; come, let us kill him and get his inheritance.’   39 So they seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him.

40 Now when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?”

41 They said to him, “He will put those wretches to a miserable death, and lease the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the produce at the harvest time.”

42 Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the scriptures: ‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord’s doing, and it is amazing in our eyes’?   43 Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that produces the fruits of the kingdom.  44 The one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and it will crush anyone on whom it falls.”

45 When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they realized that he was speaking about them.  46 They wanted to arrest him, but they feared the crowds, because they regarded him as a prophet.


“‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.”   The piece that was tossed aside as insufficient, imperfect, was found to be the linchpin.

If you enjoy movies like me, that might sound like a familiar Hollywood plot line where a single outcast or group of rejects rise to conquer the day.  Think (way back) to “Bad News Bears” or  “Rocky”  (I – VI)!

But in a sense, it’s also the Christian experience.   It’s true of our Lord who, although perfect, was rejected and persecuted.  Nonetheless, he became “the Church’s one foundation.”   It’s also true of you and me.  Unlike our Lord, we have ample flaws.  Any builder might be wise to cast us aside when considering building the church.  But in spite of our defects, our Lord, who IS the master builder, can take each of us and find the perfect space that we uniquely fill.  Are we able to see the same possibilities in others?

Prayer by Sir Thomas More

O Lord,

Remember not only the men and women of good-will, but also those of ill-will.   But do not only remember all the suffering they have inflicted on us, remember the fruits we bought thanks to this suffering, our comradeship, our loyalty, our humility, the courage, the generosity, the greatness of heart which has grown out of all this, and when they come to judgment, let all the fruits we have borne be their forgiveness.


Silhouettes of Three CrossesSacred Writing

The people who hanged Christ never, to do them justice, accused him of being a bore.

On the contrary, they thought him too dynamic to be safe.  It has been left for later generations to muffle up that shattering personality and surround him with an atmosphere of tedium.  We have very efficiently pared the claws of the Lion of Judah, certified him “meek and mild,” and recommended him as a fitting household pet for pale curates and pious ladies.

To those who knew him, however, he in no way suggested a milk-and-water person;  they objected to him as a dangerous firebrand.  True, he was tender to the unfortunate, patient with the honest inquirers, and humble before heaven;  but he insulted respectable clergymen by calling them hypocrites;  he referred to king Herod as “that fox”;  he went to parties in disreputable company and was looked upon as a “gluttonous man and a wine-bibber, a friend of publicans and sinners”;   he assaulted indignant tradesmen and threw them and their belongings out of the Temple;  he drove a coach-and-horses through a number of sacrosanct and hoary regulations;   he cured diseases by any means that came handy, with a shocking casualness in the matter of other peoples’ pigs and property;  he showed no proper deference for wealth or social position;  when confronted with neat dialectical traps, he displayed a paradoxical humor that affronted serious-minded people, and he retorted by asking disagreeably searching questions that could not be answered by rule of thumb.

He was emphatically not a dull man in his human lifetime, and if he was God, there can be nothing dull about God either.  But he had “a daily beauty in his life that made us ugly,” and officialdom felt that the established order of things would be more secure without him.

So they did away with God in the name of peace and quietness.

by Dorothy Sayers,

from A Lent Sourcebook:  The Forty Days


Prayer for the Day

Dear God,

This span between the death of your Son on Good Friday and the promise of his resurrection tomorrow is a “no man’s land.”   We are adrift.  Our Lord is dead.  And so there is an emptiness to these couple days.  We are helpless to set it aright.

We are waiting for you.


Silhouettes of Three CrossesScripture  

Luke 22: 7-13

Then came the day of Unleavened Bread, on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed.  So Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and prepare the Passover meal for us that we may eat it.”

They asked him, “Where do you want us to make preparations for it?”

“Listen,” he said to them, “when you have entered the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you; follow him into the house he enters and say to the owner of the house, ‘The teacher asks you, “Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?”‘   He will show you a large room upstairs, already furnished. Make preparations for us there.”

So they went and found everything as he had told them; and they prepared the Passover meal.



Dear Lord,

You have prepared the way for us.  You have provided a room for us to share the last supper and saved a seat for each of us.  As you walk towards the cross, we will watch helplessly, wondering what we could do.  But even then, as you are nailed to that cross, it is you who is preparing the way for us.  Thank you Jesus.


palm 1Sacred Writing 

“As the eleventh hour draws near, that particular passage from scripture is read in which the children bearing palms and branches came forth to meet the Lord, saying:  “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.”  The bishop and all the people rise immediately, and then everyone walks down from the top of the Mount of Olives, with the people preceding the bishop and responding continually with “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord” to the hymns and antiphons.  All the children who are present here, including those who are not yet able to walk because they are too young and therefore are carried on their parents’ shoulders, all of them bear branches, some carrying palms, others, olive branches.  And the bishop is led in the same manner as the Lord once was led.  From the top of the mountain as far as the city, and from there through the entire city as far as the Anastasis, everyone accompanies the bishop the whole way on foot, and this includes distinguished ladies and men of consequence, reciting the responses all the while.”

Egeria, from her journal from the 4th Century, written while in Jerusalem


Prayer for the Day

Dear Lord,

As we draw close to Palm Sunday and Holy Week, we give thanks for the centuries upon centuries of Christian witness to our Savior.   We are a part of that thread.  What will we do to pass that witness on?  Will we sing and wave branches this Sunday in remembrance of our Lord?   What might we do today – at work, at school, at home, in our community — to witness to the place that Christ has in our lives?