St Mark’s Lenten Meditations From Our Members

Good Friday

Isaiah 52:13-53:12 -Psalm 22 -Hebrews 10:16-25 -John 18:1-19:42

Each of the four evangelists—Matthew, Mark, Luke, John—has his own way of framing the story of Good Friday. Each one wants to convince us that the crucifixion of Jesus is the most important thing that has ever happened and that it reveals the true destiny of humanity and creation. Mark and Matthew, for example, have one and the same saying: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” It is a shriek of abandonment. On the cross, Jesus experienced hell—the absence of God, the ultimate judgment—and he appeared to suffer defeat at the hands of the Evil One. Mark and Matthew want us to know that there is no hell that Jesus has not entered, no demon that he has not confronted, no abandonment or despair that he has not felt. The Gospel of John tells the same story in another way. John ends his story with Jesus saying: “It is finished.” Certainly, the words mean, “It is over”, “It is the end”. But for John, that saying means much more than that. It means that Jesus is not a victim. He is not crucified by mistake or just an unfortunate thing that happened to him on his way to Easter Sunday. It is on the cross that his work is completed. Therefore, the crucifixion is not something optional, only a passing episode to be noted briefly on our way to the resurrection. The resurrection finds its meaning from the crucifixion. The resurrection vindicates, verifies, confirms, authenticates the crucifixion. “It is finished” means that the Father and the Son together, in the power of the Spirit, are saying to us, the work that the Father gave the Son to accomplish is consummated, completed, and finished as he dies. There are many threads in John’s Gospel that are being tied together here in this word, “finished”. He has fulfilled the Scripture. He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. To all who receive him, he has given power to become children of God. He has created the new community, the church, and he does this in full view of his enemy, the devil. Truly this saying is central to this faith we share because when Jesus said “It is finished,” he meant what he said. Thanks be to God. 

Thomas Nsubuga

St Mark’s Lenten Meditations From Our Members

Maundy Thursday
Exodus 12:1-14 Psalm 116:1-2, 12-19 John 13:1-17, 31-35
Maundy Thursday is the beginning of the Triduum. It initiates a time of watching, waiting and contemplating as we enter into the commemoration of the mystery of our redemption. The gift of love in the Sacrament of Christ’s Body and Blood is the focus.{2}  Today our gospel reading is not about the institution narrative, but it is just as transformative.

John 13:12 “Do you know what I have done to you?”
After the Last Supper, Jesus humbles himself to us. Washing the feet of guests is not
the same as what Jesus is doing to us. Hosts wash guests’ feet in honor, part of the
culture and tradition. Jesus – the proclaimed and revealed incarnation of Almighty God – transforms us. That’s what he has done to us.

John 13:15 “ . . . do as I have done to you.”
To do as is to take on the state of being of the one speaking. To do like is to act
similarly. Jesus commands us to take on his state of being, “you love one another”
(John 13:34b) “just as I have loved you . . .” (John 13:35b).

Jesus transforms us to be humble, recognize we are created to be servant leaders and be the incarnate Christ’s heart, mind, and soul on earth as God glorifies in heaven. We are to set aside egos, quid pro quo instincts, and live as Christ commands.

Maundy Thursday’s foot washing is an outward and visible sign of our doing as Christ – loving one another. I love you so much that God’s will is as I will do. The water is warm; come let me be as Christ to you.

-The Rev. Beth Hendrix

2 Paraphrased A Priest’s Handbook 1998

St Mark’s Lenten Meditations From Our Members

Holy Week—Wednesday
Isaiah 50:4-9 Psalm 70 Hebrews 12:1-3 John 13:21-32
Matthew 26:39 quotes Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane: “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not what I want but what you want.” This
passage has always resonated with me. I was reminded of it when I read today’s passage from Isaiah about him being spat on, struck, and insulted. David also speaks in Psalm 70 about others who desire to hurt him, and David needing help. In John, Jesus seems to state so simply that His betrayal is coming.  Growing up in church, we learned about Christians around the world being persecuted.  We were challenged to prepare for any kind of persecution, although we knew it was unlikely many of us would face jail, physical injury, or death for our faith.  With age, I’ve realized it is practically inevitable that each of us will face pain; it just isn’t usually as a direct result from other humans. I’m thankful that despite all our struggles, we have the Word to turn to for comfort, so we do “not grow weary or lose heart.” If Christ was able to endure “such hostility against himself from sinners,” may we also be able to “lay aside every weight…, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us.” The first time I read these passages, nothing seemed to touch me. Yet, the next morning I reread them, and they jumped off the page. We cannot let Satan or our sorrows cloud our ability to receive God’s message. As Rowena tenderly recites her favorite verse with emphasis and hand motions, “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us” (Romans 5:5). Keep coming back to scripture and Our Father in prayer to soak your heart in God’s love.
– Lauren Thibodeaux

St Mark’s Lenten Meditations From Our Members

Holy Week—Tuesday

Psalm 71: 1-14       Isaiah 49:1-7    1 Corinthians 1: 18-31     John 12: 20-36

The psalmist gives us a wonderful model for dealing with times when a situation becomes stressful.  He acknowledges his need for God’s help, and then expresses his trust in the One who “took me from my mother’s womb” and upon whom he has depended since his birth!  When the psalmist remembers the stories of his dependence on God, he proclaims “my praise is continually of you” and “my mouth is filled with your praise, and with your glory all day long!” (V. 6-8)

Praising God opens our hearts to God, helping us to remember God’s goodness and grace.  It also helps us to realize that we don’t have to remind God continuously of our needs, for “God knows our needs before we ask” (Matt 6:8). In praising God, we are lifting our hearts to God and becoming more aware that, as Scripture says, “God is pouring love into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.”  (Romans 5:5).   This awareness increases our joy, and “The joy of the Lord is our strength!”  (Nehemiah 8:10).  

Our greatest joy of course, is in knowing Jesus as the light of the world.  In our gospel reading for today, Jesus invites us to believe and follow Him in walking as children of the light!  This invitation seems closely connected to another promise of Jesus to those who are walking in the light: “Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water.”  (John 7:38) In conclusion, it would seem that praising God can keep our hearts open and free so that God can make us instruments of God’s peace and joy through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Rowena White

St Mark’s Lenten Meditations From Our Members

Holy Week—Monday

Isaiah 42:1-9           Psalm 36:5-11        Hebrews 9:11-15              John 12:1-11

The theme throughout today’s readings is the wideness of God’s mercy, but the salient point made over and over again is that God’s mercy extends not to one nation or one people but to all.  Isaiah 42:1-9 shows God speaking into the pain of exile (physical and spiritual) his assurance of a servant who will bring justice not only to Israel but to all nations. 

In contrast to human wickedness, the psalmist of Psalm 36 sings of the Lord’s “steadfast love” and faithfulness. In contrast to secretive deceit and iniquity, he speaks of God’s righteousness, which is high as the mountains and deep as the seas (5-6). This amazing grace extends to all of creation (verse 7).  The words of verses 5-9 are words of praise and of trust in the wideness of God’s mercy which extends not only to all peoples of the world but also to the animals (6). God’s steadfast love is “precious.” His wings provide shelter for all who seek refuge. He is a fountain that provides life; He is light in a world of darkness. In concluding, the psalmist acknowledges the wideness of God’s mercy by praying for its continuance.

 The reading from John further defines the contrast between human wickedness and faithfulness in the juxtaposition of Mary and Judas.  Mary is honoring Jesus physically and spiritually by anointing him with something precious, precious as the love of Christ.  Judas, however, sees her gesture as a waste of money.  It is an image as evocative as it is timeless. “Leave her alone,” Jesus tells Judas.  Where Judas sees waste, Jesus sees love and devotion.

The author of Hebrews confirms that the servant promised in Isaiah has come.  Jesus is the Light in a world of darkness, the fountain of life, whose blood brings redemption to a world in exile. 15”For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.”  

Every night, like the psalmist, I close my prayers by asking for God’s protection from the wickedness surrounding us (including our own) and for his continuing mercy not only for myself but for all people.

Laura McLemore