May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be now and always acceptable in your sight, O God our Rock and our Redeemer. Amen
As we struggle with our tears and sadness over the suffering and death of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, we have hope in the sure knowledge of the resurrection. And that hope, that gift of faith, sustains us. But let us also live into the moment of appreciation and reflection on the meaning for us of Jesus’ final moments. Let us move beyond ritual remembrance and mourning. Let us consider where do we go from here.
As always, Jesus shows us the way. Let us reflect that even as he stretched out his arms in willing sacrifice for us, even as he suffered in mortal pain, Jesus continued to teach us. As we reflect on Jesus’ final sacrifice, let us also reflect on the meaning for our own lives of Jesus’ final teachings, of those last words from the cross, let us reflect on the meaning for us of what Jesus calls us to do. Let us take strength from our Savior’s example of humble sacrifice, and ponder in our hearts the words he has left us. From the cross, Jesus offered words of forgiveness – “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” Let us reflect on the power of forgiveness, that as Jesus forgave his tormentors and as God forgives us, let us forgive others and forgive ourselves for the sins and trespasses we work against each other and in our own hearts.
From the cross, Jesus offered words of inclusion. Speaking to the faithful thief who was crucified with him, Jesus says, “Today you will be with me in paradise.” Let us reflect on the generosity of our Lord’s spirit, that even as he hung dying on the cross he reached out to welcome the suffering. Let us consider how we too can remember those in need, even in the midst of our own struggles.
From the cross, Jesus offered words of community – “Woman here is your son, disciple, here is your mother.” Let us reflect that even as Jesus left this world, he left us to look after each other. Let us consider how we can all be parents for the children in our community and children to our elders.
From the cross, Jesus offered us words of trust. For even as he cries out the words from Psalm 22, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?,” even as he cries out Jesus trusts in the presence of God and trusts that God hears our prayers. Indeed, the entirety of Psalm 22 is a song of trust as, even in the midst of suffering, the Psalmist trusts that “all the ends of the world shall remember and be turned to the Lord, all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before him.” Let us pray that we too may have the strength to trust in God’s presence with us, to trust that God hears our prayers even in the midst of suffering and trial.
From the cross, Jesus offered us words of acceptance – “Into your hands I commend my spirit.” At the end, after the beatings, the taunting, the flogging, the brutality of the cross, Jesus commends his spirit to God. Let us reflect on how we too can rest in the arms of a loving God, how we can put our lives in the hands of the Holy One, who delivers us all from sin and death, whose loving arms are the cradle to which we long to return - safe at last.
Jesus’s words from the cross invite us to a place of forgiveness, a place of inclusion, a place of community, a place of trust, a place of acceptance. Through his own struggle, in his own suffering, at the time when he was most tormented, Jesus offered us the way forward, the way to the Kingdom, the way to salvation.
So as we commemorate Jesus’ final sacrifice, let us also commit ourselves to live into Christ’s message. Let us be strengthened by Jesus’ example and prepare ourselves to walk the way of the cross. Prepare for the way of salvation.
Let us pray: Holy One we thank you for the gift of your Son. Grant that through our remembrance of Christ’s blessed passion and death, we may be inspired to take up the cross and minister to your creation, and so find our way to you. This we pray in the name of Jesus Christ the Lord. Amen