What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? 32 He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else? 33 Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us. 35 Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all day long;
we are accounted as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Friends, at the end of yesterday’s Devotional Reflection, I introduced you to the poetic prayers of Kate McIllhaga, which I will be using this entire Holy Week. They simultaneously help us to think about the power of Jesus’ final moments and express our own human limits. As we mentally, imaginatively, spiritually journey deeper into this Holy Week with Jesus—remembering his Passion, his steadfast love as he moved inexorably toward a punishing death—I invite you to take extra time with each of the Scripture readings and the prayers, and ponder the wondrous idea that God has chosen our human lot, and stubbornly abides with us despite our human treatment of God-with-us, Immanuel.
Reflection/Prayer (by Kate McIlhagga)
taking sides with life against death;
conqueror on the back of a donkey,
you carry with you
the expectations of the centuries.
You are shoot of Jesse, descendant of David,
offspring of Moabite Ruth gleaning in alien corn.
You are master carpenter, compassionate healer.
You are the one we are waiting for.
Christ of vinegar and gall,
help us to learn to die in freedom from fear.
Show us the lengths to which God’s love will go.
Save us from our godless self-contempt.
Reawaken in us the song of protest.
Remind us that our sisters and brothers starve.
Enable us to comfort the empty and feed the hungry.
Call us to release the captives waiting in hope,
and through your costly love
bring us to a deeper understanding
of the meaning of suffering.
Holy Spirit of struggle,
as we grapple with your struggle and ours,
‘as blind we sit in the tomb you raised us from’*
grant us your blessing.
* Gerard Manley Hopkins
Music: “Immanuel” (written by Michael Card, sung/covered by Solomon Siah)