Easter Reflections


Meditation for Saturday April 11, 2020
Faithfulness

Psalm 31:5 – Pray this Psalm
Into your hand I commit my spirit; you have redeemed me, O Lord, faithful God. Amen

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Matthew 27:55–66
Many women were also there, looking on from a distance; they had followed Jesus from Galilee and had provided for him. 56Among them were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.

57When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who was also a disciple of Jesus. 58He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus; then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. 59So Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth 60and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn in the rock. He then rolled a great stone to the door of the tomb and went away. 61Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb. 62The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate 63and said, “Sir, we remember what that impostor said while he was still alive, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ 64Therefore command the tomb to be made secure until the third day; otherwise his disciples may go and steal him away, and tell the people, ‘He has been raised from the dead,’ and the last deception would be worse than the first.” 65Pilate said to them, “You have a guard of soldiers; go, make it as secure as you can.” 66So they went with the guard and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone.

For Reflection
Imagine following with the women as the body of Jesus is carried to the tomb.
Ask yourself, when have you been surprised by another’s faithfulness?
What is one thing that you will carry away with you from this year’s reflection on the stories of Holy Week?

Abide With Me
Performed by Robert Douglas, Joseph Dashney, Adam Dashney and Marisela Tremlett.

Voices United # 436
Words: Henry Francis Lyte (1847, alt.)
Music: William Henry Monk (1861)

But I trust in you, O Lord; I say, “You are my God.”

Psalm 31:14 (NRSV)


Meditation for Friday April 10, 2020
Abandonment

Psalm 31:9–13– Pray this Psalm
Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in distress; my eye wastes away from grief, my soul and body also.
For my life is spent with sorrow, and my years with sighing; my strength fails because of my misery, and my bones waste away.I am the scorn of all my adversaries, a horror to my neighbors, an object of dread to my acquaintances; those who see me in the street flee from me.
I have passed out of mind like one who is dead; I have become like a broken vessel.
For I hear the whispering of many—terror all around—as they scheme together against me, as they plot to take my life.Be gracious to me, O Lord.  Amen

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Matthew 27:32-54
32 As they went out, they came upon a man from Cyrene named Simon; they compelled this man to carry his cross. 33 And when they came to a place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull), 34 they offered him wine to drink, mixed with gall; but when he tasted it, he would not drink it. 35 And when they had crucified him, they divided his clothes among themselves by casting lots; 36 then they sat down there and kept watch over him. 37 Over his head they put the charge against him, which read, “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.”

38 Then two bandits were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. 39 Those who passed by derided him, shaking their heads 40 and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” 41 In the same way the chief priests also, along with the scribes and elders, were mocking him, saying, 42 “He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down from the cross now, and we will believe in him. 43 He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he wants to; for he said, ‘I am God’s Son.’” 44 The bandits who were crucified with him also taunted him in the same way.

45 From noon on, darkness came over the whole land[d] until three in the afternoon. 46 And about three o’clock Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” 47 When some of the bystanders heard it, they said, “This man is calling for Elijah.” 48 At once one of them ran and got a sponge, filled it with sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink. 49 But the others said, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him.” 50 Then Jesus cried again with a loud voice and breathed his last. 51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, and the rocks were split. 52 The tombs also were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised. 53 After his resurrection they came out of the tombs and entered the holy city and appeared to many. 54 Now when the centurion and those with him, who were keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were terrified and said, “Truly this man was God’s Son!”

For Reflection
Imagine standing beneath the cross.
Ask yourself, when have you felt forsaken in your life?
How do you respond to experiences of deep grief and loneliness?

Were You There
Performed by Jen Harris & Robert Douglas

Voices United # 144
Copyright: 1990 Melvan Wilson Costen
Words: African American Spiritual
Music: Melvan Wilson Costen (1987)

You are indeed my rock and my fortress;
for your name’s sake lead me and guide me

Psalm 31:3 (NRSV)


Meditation for Thursday April 9, 2020
Accusations

Psalm 25:1–2 – Pray this Psalm
To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
O my God, in you I trust; do not let me be put to shame; do not let my enemies exult over me.  Amen

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Matthew 27:1–26
27 When morning came, all the chief priests and the elders of the people conferred together against Jesus in order to bring about his death. 2 They bound him, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate the governor.

3 When Judas, his betrayer, saw that Jesus was condemned, he repented and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders. 4 He said, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” But they said, “What is that to us? See to it yourself.” 5 Throwing down the pieces of silver in the temple, he departed; and he went and hanged himself. 6 But the chief priests, taking the pieces of silver, said, “It is not lawful to put them into the treasury, since they are blood money.” 7 After conferring together, they used them to buy the potter’s field as a place to bury foreigners. 8 For this reason that field has been called the Field of Blood to this day. 9 Then was fulfilled what had been spoken through the prophet Jeremiah, “And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of the one on whom a price had been set, on whom some of the people of Israel had set a price, 10 and they gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord commanded me.”

11 Now Jesus stood before the governor; and the governor asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus said, “You say so.” 12 But when he was accused by the chief priests and elders, he did not answer. 13 Then Pilate said to him, “Do you not hear how many accusations they make against you?” 14 But he gave him no answer, not even to a single charge, so that the governor was greatly amazed.

15 Now at the festival the governor was accustomed to release a prisoner for the crowd, anyone whom they wanted. 16 At that time they had a notorious prisoner, called Jesus Barabbas. 17 So after they had gathered, Pilate said to them, “Whom do you want me to release for you, Jesus Barabbas or Jesus who is called the Messiah?” 18 For he realized that it was out of jealousy that they had handed him over. 19 While he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent word to him, “Have nothing to do with that innocent man, for today I have suffered a great deal because of a dream about him.” 20 Now the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowds to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus killed. 21 The governor again said to them, “Which of the two do you want me to release for you?” And they said, “Barabbas.” 22 Pilate said to them, “Then what should I do with Jesus who is called the Messiah?” All of them said, “Let him be crucified!” 23 Then he asked, “Why, what evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Let him be crucified!”

24 So when Pilate saw that he could do nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took some water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to it yourselves.” 25 Then the people as a whole answered, “His blood be on us and on our children!” 26 So he released Barabbas for them; and after flogging Jesus, he handed him over to be crucified.

For Reflection
Imagine standing with Jesus before his accusers.
Ask yourself, what do you hear in the spaces of silence?
From where do you draw strength in challenging times?

O Sacred Head
Performed by Sherry Zborovsky & Robert Douglas

Voices United # 145
Copyright: Fédération Protestante de France
Words: Paul Gerhardt (1656)
Music: Hans Leo Hassler (1601)

Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths.
Lead me in your truth, and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation.
For you I wait all day long.

Psalm 25:4-5 (NRSV)


Meditation for Wednesday April 8, 2020
Fear

Psalm 31:14–16 – Pray this Psalm
But I trust in you, O Lord; I say, “You are my God.”
My times are in your hand; deliver me from the hand of my enemies and persecutors.
Let your face shine upon your servant; save me in your steadfast love.

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Matthew 26:57–75
57 Those who had arrested Jesus took him to Caiaphas the high priest, in whose house the scribes and the elders had gathered. 58 But Peter was following him at a distance, as far as the courtyard of the high priest; and going inside, he sat with the guards in order to see how this would end. 59 Now the chief priests and the whole council were looking for false testimony against Jesus so that they might put him to death, 60 but they found none, though many false witnesses came forward. At last two came forward 61 and said, “This fellow said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and to build it in three days.’” 62 The high priest stood up and said, “Have you no answer? What is it that they testify against you?” 63 But Jesus was silent. Then the high priest said to him, “I put you under oath before the living God, tell us if you are the Messiah,[a] the Son of God.” 64 Jesus said to him, “You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man     seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.”
65 Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “He has blasphemed! Why do we still need witnesses? You have now heard his blasphemy. 66 What is your verdict?” They answered, “He deserves death.” 67 Then they spat in his face and struck him; and some slapped him, 68 saying, “Prophesy to us, you Messiah![b] Who is it that struck you?”
69 Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. A servant-girl came to him and said, “You also were with Jesus the Galilean.” 70 But he denied it before all of them, saying, “I do not know what you are talking about.” 71 When he went out to the porch, another servant-girl saw him, and she said to the bystanders, “This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.” 72 Again he denied it with an oath, “I do not know the man.” 73 After a little while the bystanders came up and said to Peter, “Certainly you are also one of them, for your accent betrays you.” 74 Then he began to curse, and he swore an oath, “I do not know the man!” At that moment the cock crowed. 75 Then Peter remembered what Jesus had said: “Before the cock crows, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.

For Reflection
Imagine standing with Peter, too afraid to stand up for a friend.
Ask yourself, how do you respond to situations of fear?
Where do you hide when you feel like you’ve disappointed God and others?

Jesus, Savior, Pilot Me
Performed by Sherry Zborovsky & Robert Douglas

Voices United # 637
Copyright: Public Domain
Words: Edward Hopper, 1871
Music: John Edgar Gould 1871

Be strong, and let your heart take courage,
all you who wait for the Lord.

Psalm 31:24 (NRSV)


Meditation for Tuesday April 7, 2020
Waiting

Psalm 42:1–2– Pray this Psalm
As a deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul longs for you, O God.

My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.  I pray that I come to behold your face. Amen.

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Matthew 26:36–4536
Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37 He took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and agitated. 38 Then he said to them, “I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here, and stay awake with me.” 39 And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not what I want but what you want.” 40 Then he came to the disciples and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, “So, could you not stay awake with me one hour? 41 Stay awake and pray that you may not come into the time of trial;[a] the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 42 Again he went away for the second time and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” 43 Again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. 44 So leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words. 45 Then he came to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.”

For Reflection
Imagine waiting in that dark place with the disciples, tired, uncertain, afraid.
Ask yourself, what experiences have you had of waiting in uncertain, fearful times?
What keeps you from staying awake and vigilant in your faith?

As the Deer Pants
Performed by: Robert Douglas & Judy Gerber-van Vliet

Voices United # 766
Words: Martin Nystrom
Copyright: Words, Music 1983 Maranthal Music

Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my help and my God.

Psalm 42:11 (NRSV)


Meditation for Monday April 6, 2020
Being Known

Psalm 139:23-24 – Pray this Psalm
Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.
Point out anything in me that offends you and lead me along the path of everlasting life.  Amen.

New Living Translation (NLT)

Matthew 26:20-30
20 When it was evening, he took his place with the twelve;[a] 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.”

26 While they were eating, Jesus took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” 27 Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you; 28 for this is my blood of the[b] covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 I tell you, I will never again drink of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”

30 When they had sung the hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

For Reflection
Imagine sitting at a table with the One who knows you inside and out.
Ask yourself, how does it feel to be so well known?
What words might this One say to you today?

Precious Lord, Take My Hand
Performed by: Robert Douglas

Voices United # 670
Words: Thomas A. Dorsey, 1932 Music: George N. Allen 1844; adapt Thomas A. Dorsey, 1932
Copyright: Words, Music Adaptation 1938 Unichcppell Music Inc

I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made:
marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.

Psalm 139:14 (KJV)