Holy Week Wednesday, 8 April 2020

Friends, which of us has not had moments of fear, of panic, of anxiety that made us feel the void of One we can fully trust, whose Presence is a grounding and centering force in life?  During times like the period we’re going through just now, as we’re being forced to isolate ourselves from the presence of others, the divine Presence can feel more distant as well—reminding us that just as we meet the Spirit of Christ in others, and miss it when we can’t be together!—we ourselves bear the Spirit of Christ within.

On this Wednesday of Holy Week, consider how Jesus in his final week must have been increasingly aware of the betrayals, benign and active, of his closest friends.  Consider your own betrayals of your deepest intentions, your sincerest desires to be faithful – how inevitable they often seem as you go about your daily humanity.  Pay attention to the distance you feel from your Source and Solace: how has that chasm widened?  And recall the words of the Psalmist, who found reassurance in the knowledge that God knew him better than he knew himself.

Psalm 139

O Lord, you have searched me and known me.
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
    you discern my thoughts from far away.
You search out my path and my lying down,
    and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
    O Lord, you know it completely.
You hem me in, behind and before,
    and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
    it is so high that I cannot attain it.

Where can I go from your spirit?
    Or where can I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there;
    if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there.
If I take the wings of the morning
    and settle at the farthest limits of the sea,
10 even there your hand shall lead me,
    and your right hand shall hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
    and the light around me become night,”
12 even the darkness is not dark to you;
    the night is as bright as the day,
    for darkness is as light to you.

13 For it was you who formed my inward parts;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
    Wonderful are your works;
that I know very well.
15     My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
    intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes beheld my unformed substance.
In your book were written
    all the days that were formed for me,
    when none of them as yet existed.
17 How weighty to me are your thoughts, O God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
18 I try to count them—they are more than the sand;
    I come to the end—I am still with you.
. . . 

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my thoughts.
24 See if there is any wicked way in me,
    and lead me in the way everlasting.

 

Prayers, by Kate McIllhaga
“Show me the path that leads to life”
Down here in the forest of terror,
down here in the undergrowth of fear
each heartbeat echoes,
each thought flies blindly
like a bird trapped in a room.
Down here, dodging panic,
listening to each twitch and thump of my body,
down here life is not worth living.

So what if I find a snowdrop
or a ray of sunshine penetrates the darkness?
What if it’s true that darkness
and light are alike to you;
that Christ has harrowed hell?

O, make it true,
turn the clock,
rescue me, O Lord.
Show me the path that leads to life.

“You are there”
If I travel through the desert

you are there.
If all my thoughts are arid
you are there.
If all of life seems pointless
and throws you on the scrapheap
you are there … and there … and there.

For all my fears and feverings,
all my anguish,
all my hollowness,
all the haunted conversations
in my head
cannot erase your beauty
or take away your faithfulness.

            You are there
            and here
            and always.
            You are there
            immovable,
            immutable;
            you are here.

Like a drowning person clutching a straw
or a scream running across a bridge
            I cling to hope
            and run towards
            the arms of God
            to welcome me home.

            You are there.
Amen.

Music: Today is a favorite requested by Barbara Amos, who also included this quote: “You will observe with concern how long a useful truth may be known, and exist before it is generally received and practiced on.”  ~Benjamin Franklin): please click the link:
 The Lord’s My Shepherd

 

© 2020 The Congregational Church of Hollis, UCC