Saturday, April 19, 2014

Mary's Lament

Lord, God of my salvation,
   when, at night, I cry out in your presence,
let my prayer come before you;
   incline your ear to my cry.

For my soul is full of troubles,
   and my life draws near to Sheol.
I am counted among those who go down to the Pit;
   I am like those who have no help,
like those forsaken among the dead,
   like the slain that lie in the grave,
like those whom you remember no more,
   for they are cut off from your hand.
You have put me in the depths of the Pit,
   in the regions dark and deep.
Your wrath lies heavy upon me,
   and you overwhelm me with all your waves.
You have caused my companions to shun me;
   you have made me a thing of horror to them.
I am shut in so that I cannot escape;
   my eye grows dim through sorrow.
Every day I call on you, O Lord;
   I spread out my hands to you.
Do you work wonders for the dead?
   Do the shades rise up to praise you?
Is your steadfast love declared in the grave,
   or your faithfulness in Abaddon?
Are your wonders known in the darkness,
   or your saving help in the land of forgetfulness?

But I, O Lord, cry out to you;
   in the morning my prayer comes before you.
Lord, why do you cast me off?
   Why do you hide your face from me?
Wretched and close to death from my youth up,
   I suffer your terrors; I am desperate.
Your wrath has swept over me;
   your dread assaults destroy me.
They surround me like a flood all day long;
   from all sides they close in on me.
You have caused friend and neighbor to shun me;
   my companions are in darkness.  Psalm 88

Mary's Lament

Oh Lord, we cried all night
widows and women alone
the ancient songs from our youth
became the endless tears that flowed.

Can your love reach down into the grave?
Can you pull us up from this sorrow?
we and bent and torn apart for love
and we wait in hiding afraid.

Not one of us slept last night
the horror and violence of the day
welling up like angry waves on the ocean
we are drowning deep in sorrow.

There are no angels in this border town
no saviors in this slum of outcasts
there is only a mother who has lost her son
and old women grieving together.

This is no sabbath, this is no rest
but a prison of pain and trembling
we gather fragrant flowers and oils
waiting to anoint the dead.

If I could but take his place
if I could but reverse the evil done
I would bear this sorrow with joy
and shed no tears for his broken body.

I am a woman of deep sorrow
shallow breathing is my only food
Inside is the broken mother's  heart
shattering and unwilling to beat.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Good Friday

Jesus went out with his disciples across the Kidron valley to a place where there was a garden, which he and his disciples entered. Now Judas, who betrayed him, also knew the place, because Jesus often met there with his disciples. So Judas brought a detachment of soldiers together with police from the chief priests and the Pharisees, and they came there with lanterns and torches and weapons. Then Jesus, knowing all that was to happen to him, came forward and asked them, "Whom are you looking for?" They answered, "Jesus of Nazareth." Jesus replied, "I am he." Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them. When Jesus said to them, "I am he," they stepped back and fell to the ground. Again he asked them, "Whom are you looking for?" And they said, "Jesus of Nazareth." Jesus answered, "I told you that I am he. So if you are looking for me, let these men go." This was to fulfill the word that he had spoken, "I did not lose a single one of those whom you gave me." Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it, struck the high priest's slave, and cut off his right ear. The slave's name was Malchus. Jesus said to Peter, "Put your sword back into its sheath. Am I not to drink the cup that the Father has given me?"
So the soldiers, their officer, and the Jewish police arrested Jesus and bound him. First they took him to Annas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year. Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jews that it was better to have one person die for the people.
Simon Peter and another disciple followed Jesus. Since that disciple was known to the high priest, he went with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest, but Peter was standing outside at the gate. So the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out, spoke to the woman who guarded the gate, and brought Peter in. The woman said to Peter, "You are not also one of this man's disciples, are you?" He said, "I am not." Now the slaves and the police had made a charcoal fire because it was cold, and they were standing around it and warming themselves. Peter also was standing with them and warming himself.
Then the high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and about his teaching. Jesus answered, "I have spoken openly to the world; I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all the Jews come together. I have said nothing in secret. Why do you ask me? Ask those who heard what I said to them; they know what I said." When he had said this, one of the police standing nearby struck Jesus on the face, saying, "Is that how you answer the high priest?" Jesus answered, "If I have spoken wrongly, testify to the wrong. But if I have spoken rightly, why do you strike me?" Then Annas sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.
Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. They asked him, "You are not also one of his disciples, are you?" He denied it and said, "I am not." One of the slaves of the high priest, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, asked, "Did I not see you in the garden with him?" Again Peter denied it, and at that moment the cock crowed.
Then they took Jesus from Caiaphas to Pilate's headquarters. It was early in the morning. They themselves did not enter the headquarters, so as to avoid ritual defilement and to be able to eat the Passover. So Pilate went out to them and said, "What accusation do you bring against this man?" They answered, "If this man were not a criminal, we would not have handed him over to you." Pilate said to them, "Take him yourselves and judge him according to your law." The Jews replied, "We are not permitted to put anyone to death." (This was to fulfill what Jesus had said when he indicated the kind of death he was to die.)
Then Pilate entered the headquarters again, summoned Jesus, and asked him, "Are you the King of the Jews?" Jesus answered, "Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?" Pilate replied, "I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me. What have you done?" Jesus answered, "My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here." Pilate asked him, "So you are a king?" Jesus answered, "You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice." Pilate asked him, "What is truth?"
After he had said this, he went out to the Jews again and told them, "I find no case against him. But you have a custom that I release someone for you at the Passover. Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?" They shouted in reply, "Not this man, but Barabbas!" Now Barabbas was a bandit.
Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. And the soldiers wove a crown of thorns and put it on his head, and they dressed him in a purple robe. They kept coming up to him, saying, "Hail, King of the Jews!" and striking him on the face. Pilate went out again and said to them, "Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no case against him." So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, "Here is the man!" When the chief priests and the police saw him, they shouted, "Crucify him! Crucify him!" Pilate said to them, "Take him yourselves and crucify him; I find no case against him." The Jews answered him, "We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die because he has claimed to be the Son of God."
Now when Pilate heard this, he was more afraid than ever. He entered his headquarters again and asked Jesus, "Where are you from?" But Jesus gave him no answer. Pilate therefore said to him, "Do you refuse to speak to me? Do you not know that I have power to release you, and power to crucify you?" Jesus answered him, "You would have no power over me unless it had been given you from above; therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin." From then on Pilate tried to release him, but the Jews cried out, "If you release this man, you are no friend of the emperor. Everyone who claims to be a king sets himself against the emperor."
When Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus outside and sat on the judge's bench at a place called The Stone Pavement, or in Hebrew Gabbatha. Now it was the day of Preparation for the Passover; and it was about noon. He said to the Jews, "Here is your King!" They cried out, "Away with him! Away with him! Crucify him!" Pilate asked them, "Shall I crucify your King?" The chief priests answered, "We have no king but the emperor." Then he handed him over to them to be crucified.
So they took Jesus; and carrying the cross by himself, he went out to what is called The Place of the Skull, which in Hebrew is called Golgotha. There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, with Jesus between them. Pilate also had an inscription written and put on the cross. It read, "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews." Many of the Jews read this inscription, because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, in Latin, and in Greek. Then the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, "Do not write, 'The King of the Jews,' but, 'This man said, I am King of the Jews.'" Pilate answered, "What I have written I have written." When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his clothes and divided them into four parts, one for each soldier. They also took his tunic; now the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from the top. So they said to one another, "Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see who will get it." This was to fulfill what the scripture says,
"They divided my clothes among themselves,
and for my clothing they cast lots."
And that is what the soldiers did.

Meanwhile, standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, "Woman, here is your son." Then he said to the disciple, "Here is your mother." And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.
After this, when Jesus knew that all was now finished, he said (in order to fulfill the scripture), "I am thirsty." A jar full of sour wine was standing there. So they put a sponge full of the wine on a branch of hyssop and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the wine, he said, "It is finished." Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
Since it was the day of Preparation, the Jews did not want the bodies left on the cross during the sabbath, especially because that sabbath was a day of great solemnity. So they asked Pilate to have the legs of the crucified men broken and the bodies removed. Then the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and of the other who had been crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once blood and water came out. (He who saw this has testified so that you also may believe. His testimony is true, and he knows that he tells the truth.) These things occurred so that the scripture might be fulfilled, "None of his bones shall be broken." And again another passage of scripture says, "They will look on the one whom they have pierced."
After these things, Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, though a secret one because of his fear of the Jews, asked Pilate to let him take away the body of Jesus. Pilate gave him permission; so he came and removed his body. Nicodemus, who had at first come to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, weighing about a hundred pounds. They took the body of Jesus and wrapped it with the spices in linen cloths, according to the burial custom of the Jews. Now there was a garden in the place where he was crucified, and in the garden there was a new tomb in which no one had ever been laid. And so, because it was the Jewish day of Preparation, and the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there. John 18:1-19:42

Mary's Diary Day 5

John has hidden me away with the other women. He is afraid for me and rightly so. After all that has happened in the past day, how can anyone feel safe. I thought I understood pain and loss. Never. Never have I experienced anything like this. My son, my sweet dear son sent from God, now taken from me. God made a promise to me -when I said yes to God. I carried him, gave him life and carried the shame and the abuse in our early days. And now he is gone, crucified like a criminal, this sweet child, this gentle gift. Where is God today? Where are the angels to hold me now? What am I to do now?

Maybe writing this down will help me make sense of it all. Last night things seemed peaceful after supper and then suddenly the garden exploded with soldiers. I ran to the garden only to see my son dragged away and the disciples scattering like scared children. I tried to follow but one of the guards knocked me to the ground. Mary Magdalene picked me up and walked me back to my room. She stayed with me and my sister until the early morning, when we decided it might be safe to go out. We could nor find any of the disciples. As we got to the square there was my son, bloodied and beaten with that scoundrel Pilate. The crowd was screaming, "crucify him! " What decent leader asked the crowd about a decision such as this? It was horrible. I was screaming but no one could hear me. Then they led him away.

I could not watch as they pounded the nails in his hands and his feet. I stood away off,  but could hear him in his pain. My sister, Mary and some of the other women held me. I sobbed and sobbed. When he was raised in the air, groaning, I wanted to die. I tried to run and comfort him, but they held me back. Those dying minutes seemed like days. The disciples huddled around us women, praying and crying with us.Oh, his sweet face, matted with blood, lined with such agony and shame. I want to believe God is in this! When they finally took him down, releasing him from the cross, I got to hold him, cradle him in my arms. Oh Lord, that face sweet in death, body torn by the anger and hate of this world. What am I to do now?

I have been sitting here in this hiding place with the other women. Not much to say, really. Tears flow, over and over, as our minds see again the gruesome images of our beloved dying. My son! How could it end like this!

My prayer this night, as I get ready for sleep that I know will not come, is that God will make something good out of this horror. Jesus was born to redeem Israel. Lord God, show me how that is to happen now. Help me remember all you goodness and kindness. Help me to trust in you, despite this pain so deep I no longer want to live. Please dear God, give me a reason to live again.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Maundy Thursday

On the first day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover lamb is sacrificed, Jesus's disciples said to him, "Where do you want us to go and make the preparations for you to eat the Passover?" So he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, "Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you; follow him, and wherever he enters, say to the owner of the house, 'The Teacher asks, Where is my guest room where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?' He will show you a large room upstairs, furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there." So the disciples set out and went to the city, and found everything as he had told them; and they prepared the Passover meal.
When it was evening, he came with the twelve. And when they had taken their places and were eating, Jesus said, "Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me, one who is eating with me." They began to be distressed and to say to him one after another, "Surely, not I?" He said to them, "It is one of the twelve, one who is dipping bread into the bowl with me. For 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."
While they were eating, he took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to them, and said, "Take; this is my body." Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, and all of them drank from it. He said to them, "This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. Truly I tell you, I will never again drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God." Mark 14:12-25 

Day Four In Jerusalem - Mary's Journey

They found where we had set the Passover meal up, finally.  The kind man who let us use his guest room and kitchen was fond on my son. We worked like crazy all day and the disciples helped greatly running errand after errand for me in the city. Without their help, nothing would have been ready on time. The women disciples were amazing, rising before dawn and cleaning, preparing and cooking like they would for their own families. Even their children and husbands came and helped out.

 I am sitting in a quiet kitchen now, as everyone has gone out to the garden, to sit in the cool of the late evening. Jesus did remarkable things tonight.First, he washed all of the dsiciples' feet with such love and care that no one could not help but tear up a little. Then he took the hidden bread and blessed it, sharing  the wine and bread with all of us. He called us all together and told us this would we the last time we would eat together, or drink the wine together. Those words hit me like a wound in my heart. I know we are here in Jerusalem, this most holiest of cities, but I had to go down to the kitchen and cry a while. I get so frightened for him. I know that God is using him. I know that he was born for great glory and challenge, but it is so hard to sit by and watch. I am overwhelmed by exhaustion and anxiety. 

Dear God, this mother is more anxious than I have been in a long time. My child's words filled me with joy and fear. My love grows deeper day by day and yet I cannot help but be afraid. The city that surrounds me in full of threats and accusations. Please, dear God give me peace here in Jerusalem, just as you gave me as we walked that long road to Bethlehem all those years ago. Amen

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Cornerstone

Then Jesus began to speak to them in parables. "A man planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a pit for the wine press, and built a watchtower; then he leased it to tenants and went to another country. When the season came, he sent a slave to the tenants to collect from them his share of the produce of the vineyard. But they seized him, and beat him, and sent him away empty-handed. And again he sent another slave to them; this one they beat over the head and insulted. Then he sent another, and that one they killed. And so it was with many others; some they beat, and others they killed. He had still one other, a beloved son. Finally he sent him to them, saying, 'They will respect my son.' But those tenants said to one another, 'This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.' So they seized him, killed him, and threw him out of the vineyard. What then will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the tenants and give the vineyard to others. Have you not read this scripture:
'The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
this was the Lord's doing,
and it is amazing in our eyes'?" Mark 12:1-11

Mary's Journal Day 3 in Jerusalem

My son. He seems to be provoking everyone including me. When I ask him to give me some guidance on keeping our traditions and setting up the Seder, he just keeps putting off. I have begun to make the preparations with his women disciples who seem willing to help with anything and everything. I don't know my way around this city and wish I had my ladies at home that always help me. But I will do what I can to keep the Passover, while my son keeps provoking the religious. The stories he tells! They make them crazy with anger and I worry that there will be violence every day. This city is teeming with people, so many religious zealots and others coming for the Holy Days! I miss my quiet country life where we can have our celebrations quietly and reverently. This place is a madhouse. And y son is only making things worse.

Dear God, help me do the tasks and the preparation needed in this strange place. Help me not listen to the gossip and the chatter, but let me be quiet and peaceful in the midst of all this tumult. Help me to be kind and calm, despite the anxiety I feel every minute of every day.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014


Again Jesus and the disciples came to Jerusalem. As he was walking in the temple, the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders came to him and said, "By what authority are you doing these things? Who gave you this authority to do them?" Jesus said to them, "I will ask you one question; answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things. Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin? Answer me." They argued with one another, "If we say, 'From heaven,' he will say, 'Why then did you not believe him?' But shall we say, 'Of human origin'?" - they were afraid of the crowd, for all regarded John as truly a prophet. So they answered Jesus, "We do not know." And Jesus said to them, "Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things." Mark 11:27-33 

Mary's Diary Day Two

This is madness. He is constantly provoking the religious leadership and running headlong into trouble. All the years we protected him as a child, hiding him away and living in strange places until things cooled off. And now, he is standing right in the temple, for all the world to see and arguing with the chief priests and scribes. The people who put up with argument and testing the least. I know nothing good will come of this and yet what man listens to his mother. It's as if he has lost all sense. When I ask him he is short with me and tells me he is doing what God tells him to do. I am just trying to keep him safe and alive. He seems to be heading for trouble soon, and I am so frightened for him. I am his mother and can no longer keep him safe. No longer can I do what I have done for so long. I just have to sit on the sidelines, watching and listening. I pray so much these day. I only hope that God is listening to this mother;s heart.

Today, as I sit along on the porch of the temple, I pray that God will keep my child safe. I only want more time, more days with that child, that blessing and challenge, my child. God give me peace as I stand by and watch. Let me not forget all the promises the angels brought, the promises you made, all those years ago.  I will stand by, watching and praying and asking You to be with me now.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Holy Week with Mary

On the following day, when they came from Bethany, Jesus was hungry. Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see whether perhaps he would find anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. He said to it, "May no one ever eat fruit from you again." And his disciples heard it.
Then they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who were selling and those who were buying in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves; and he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. He was teaching and saying, "Is it not written,
'My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations'? But you have made it a den of robbers."
And when the chief priests and the scribes heard it, they kept looking for a way to kill him; for they were afraid of him, because the whole crowd was spellbound by his teaching. And when evening came, Jesus and his disciples went out of the city.
In the morning as they passed by, they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots. Then Peter remembered and said to him, "Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered." Jesus answered them, "Have faith in God. Truly I tell you, if you say to this mountain, 'Be taken up and thrown into the sea,' and if you do not doubt in your heart, but believe that what you say will come to pass, it will be done for you. So I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.
"Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone; so that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses." Mark 11:12-25 

Mary's Diary - Day One of Holy Week
In everything, he is my son, still tender to his mother. And yet in these last days and weeks, he has pushed so hard. And he seems to be stirring up anger from the temple leaders everywhere he goes. I am afraid for him. His followers know that going to Jerusalem is dangerous, but they can't seem to stop him. I talked with Peter and John the other day, and they said they would try to keep him safe. He has something within him, this God-man, my son, which propels him with a fiery spirit, challenging all greed, corruption and abuse he comes across. I have a hard time watching him when he is so fired up. And yet I know he is called to this. I know, because I said yes to God, all those many years ago.  I can't help aching for my child.

He seems to need little sleep these days and he does not eat enough. Although he told me to stay home with the other children, I cannot help but follow him. He does not realize that his life started out on a rugged journey, that rough road to Bethlehem. I cannot help but go with to Jerusalem, although deep in my heart I am very troubled.Our children never stop being our children, and I cannot help but worry and be fearful. My family is all grown and Joseph passed so many years ago. All's that I have left to do is to follow my son, wherever he may go. I thought that they might arrest him today when he cleared the temple. What a mess - the screaming and shouting, animals and people flying at each other -and yet, when things finally settled down, we found ourselves safe and alone. For a moment then, there was peace.

For this mother, Lord God, I pray for peace in my troubled heart. May I hear the words of the angel once more. "Fear not, the Lord is with you!" May the simple faith of my youth return to me, and may God give me the strength for the days ahead.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Take Heart

They came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, "Son of David, have mercy on me!" Jesus stood still and said, "Call him here." And they called the blind man, saying to him, "Take heart; get up, he is calling you." So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. Then Jesus said to him, "What do you want me to do for you?" The blind man said to him, "My teacher, let me see again." Jesus said to him, "Go; your faith has made you well." Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way. Mark 10:46-52 

Take Heart

All the shouting and wild complaining
don't want to be left out, bullied, ignored
this crippling condition that noone understands
leaves me a beggar, needy and ashamed.

The silent aches that leave you screaming
the stumbling in the constant darkness
disoriented,feeling so abandoned and alone
there seems no hope for me.

No one has dodged the scars of age
none can live perfect, whole and free
all of us cry out day and  night
"Son of David, have mercy on me!"

There is no sorrow or shame like ours
no hidden or visible disease like it
our burden is too great to bear day after day
we weep in the ashes of our failure.

Take heart! Today God is calling you
spring up and let loose your binding
the Creator calls us each by name
and wants us whole again.

Spring up for love is walking close by
like sweet sunshine after long winter's rain
we will be restored with hope and life
made new with the touch of his hand.