Good Friday, Lenten Season 2019
When I was growing up in church we nicknamed the Seven Last Words service “Seven Whole Hours”, cause if the preachers have their way, church gets a runtime longer than the combined Marvel Universe movies.
I’ve been working on a reflection for one of the seven last words of Jesus, and I noticed the themes of power associated with presence and absence: Today you will be with me in paradise… my God why have you forsaken me… save yourself… remember me.
Presence is power, it’s paradise! Absence is death.
So it changes the way I hear the mocking voices: “If you’re a king, save yourself!”
Their words become a warning. When we use the trope of self-salvation, “living in your own power”, we mock each other. What mockery we have endured through the ages:
“Black woman, if you’re so strong, strengthen yourself.
Black child if you’re so precious, protect yourself.
Black man so free, save yourself from the lynching tree.”
Jesus took the position of cursed in order to bring us a blessing.
This is why Black worship traditions combine adoration and anguish in remembering the sacrifice of Christ.
In Black movement, we practice community well-being through community protection. Our chant for reassurance is a reminder: “Who keeps us safe? We keep us safe!”
Recent campaigns for protections of femmes and trans women are called “She Safe, We Safe” because when we protect ourselves we are protecting each other, and unless we protect each other, we will not know safety ourselves.
Jesus might not be the person in mind when people quote Fannie’s “until all of us are free, none of us are free” but the Lord was the OG example of embodying this phrase.
The Son of Man, who did not spare himself, sends sweet remembrances of salvation that confound the Christianity of slave holders and self-made men.
It is a life forsaken to attempt to thrive on your own.
Jesus’s public execution was a protest of the powers in His day, which centered boasting as a requirement for respect. They lifted up a “King of the Jews” in shame, but He was an icon to all who knew shame, to everyone who had no clout to boast.
Savior of the disinherited, lover of the lowly. God of the poor.
Jesus’s work demands dignity for community, by showing that no person can save themselves. Good news for God’s people on this Good Friday: you cannot save yourself. You need not try to. May your patterns of prayer bring you closer to the communion of Christ’s finished work on the cross.
Prayers for Mediation
Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on me, a sinner.
My ego is like a fortress.
I have built its walls stone by stone to hold out the invasion of the love of God.
But I have stayed here long enough. There is light over the barriers.
O my God, the darkness of my house forgive and overtake my soul.
I relax the barriers.
I abandon all that I think I am; all that I hope to be; all that I possess.
I let go of the past.
I withdraw my grasping hand from the future.
And in the great silence of this moment, I alertly rest my soul.
A Prayer by Howard Thurman
God of all hope,
be with those who despair
be with those who are exhausted
be with those who cannot bear another day.
God of all love,
be with the caregivers
be with those who work in the shadows
be with family and friends who worry.
God of all faith,
be with the chewed up and spit out
be with any who feel ashamed
be with those fighting hidden battles.
Be with us when we cannot be with ourselves.
Be with us when the fear feels like too much to bear.
Be with us when we wonder if we are truly alone.
Praying with James Baldwin Project
Father, Mother, God,
Thank you for your presence
during the hard and mean days.
For then we have you to lean upon.
Thank you for your presence
during the bright and sunny days,
for then we can share that which we have
with those who have less.
And thank you for your presence
during the Holy Days, for then we are able
to celebrate you and our families
and our friends.
For those who have no voice,
we ask you to speak.
For those who feel unworthy,
we ask you to pour your love out
in waterfalls of tenderness.
For those who live in pain,
we ask you to bathe them
in the river of your healing.
For those who are lonely, we ask
you to keep them company.
For those who are depressed,
we ask you to shower upon them
the light of hope.
Dear Creator, You, the borderless
sea of substance, we ask you to give to all the
world that which we need most—Peace.
Prayer, Maya Angelou