A Good Friday Prayer

The Terrible Silencing We Cannot Master

“Holy God who hovers daily round us in fidelity and compassion,
this day we are mindful of another, dread-filled hovering,
that of the power of death before which we stand
thin and needful.
All our days, we are mindful of the pieces of our lives
and the part of your world
that are on the loose in destructive ways.
We notice that wildness midst our fear and our anger unresolved.
We mark it in a world of brutality and poverty and hunger
all around us.
We notice all our days.

But on this day of all days,
that great threat looms so large and powerful.
It is not for nothing
that we tremble at these three hours of darkness
and the raging earthquake.
It is not for nothing
that we have a sense of our helplessness
before the dread power of death that has broken loose
and that struts against our interest and even against our will.
Our whole life is not unlike the playground in the village,
lovely and delightful and filled with squeals unafraid,
and then we remember the silencing
of all those squeals in death,
and we remember the legions of Kristy’s
that are swept away in a riddle too deep for knowing.
Our whole life is like that playground
and on this dread-filled Friday we pause before
the terrible silencing we cannot master.

So we come in our helpless candor this day…
remembering, giving thanks, celebrating…
but not for one instant unmindful of dangers too ominous
and powers too sturdy and threats well beyond us.
We turn eventually from our hurt for children lost.
We turn finally from all our unresolved losses
to the cosmic grief at the loss of Jesus.
We recall and relive that wrenching Friday
when the hurt cut to your heart.
We see in that terrible hurt, our losses
and your full embrace of loss and defeat.

We dare pray while the darkness descends
and the earthquake trembles,
we dare pray for eyes to see fully
and mouths to speak fully the power of death all around,
we dare pray for a capacity to notice unflinching
that in our happy playgrounds other children die,
and grow silent,
we pray more for your notice and your promise
and your healing.

Our only urging on Friday is
that you live this as we must
impacted but not destroyed,
dimmed but not quenched.
For your great staying power
and your promise of newness we praise you.
It is in your power
and your promise that we take our stand this day.
We dare trust that Friday is never the last day,
so we watch for the new day of life.
Hear our prayer and be your full self toward us.
Amen.”

Good Friday/1991

Taken from Walter Brueggemann’s
Awed to Heaven, Rooted in Earth

Good Friday

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The Royal Welcome — global art

Passion week has arrived, and one of the things I like to do to help me reflect on this week’s texts is to look at different artistic interpretations of Scripture, particularly from global perspectives.  Here are some Palm Sunday images, preceded by the recounting of Matthew.

—-

Matthew 21

21 1-3 When they neared Jerusalem, having arrived at Bethphage on Mount Olives, Jesus sent two disciples with these instructions: “Go over to the village across from you. You’ll find a donkey tethered there, her colt with her. Untie her and bring them to me. If anyone asks what you’re doing, say, ‘The Master needs them!’ He will send them with you.”

4-5 This is the full story of what was sketched earlier by the prophet:

Tell Zion’s daughter,
“Look, your king’s on his way,
    poised and ready, mounted
On a donkey, on a colt,
    foal of a pack animal.”

6-9 The disciples went and did exactly what Jesus told them to do. They led the donkey and colt out, laid some of their clothes on them, and Jesus mounted. Nearly all the people in the crowd threw their garments down on the road, giving him a royal welcome. Others cut branches from the trees and threw them down as a welcome mat. Crowds went ahead and crowds followed, all of them calling out, “Hosanna to David’s son!” “Blessed is he who comes in God’s name!” “Hosanna in highest heaven!”

10 As he made his entrance into Jerusalem, the whole city was shaken. Unnerved, people were asking, “What’s going on here? Who is this?”

11 The parade crowd answered, “This is the prophet Jesus, the one from Nazareth in Galilee.”

(Matthew 21:1-11 — MSG)

 

Palm Sunday by William Hemmerling
palm_sunday_lg

 

Jesus Mafa – The Triumphant Entry Into Jerusalem, Bénédite de la Roncière

jesus-mafa-palm-sunday

 

He Qi, Triumphant Entry Into Jerusalem

He-Qui-triumphal-entry

 

John August Swanson,  Entry Into the CityType = ArtScans RGB : Gamma = 2.000

Mural – Domingo de Ramos, José Inoa
domingo de ramos - mural

I ‘Noah’ movie that will make you uncomfortable.

I finally saw Noah today. What follows is not an interesting review (there are plenty of those out there), but the reasons I personally liked this movie. There will be no spoilers – simply a personal reflection.

It was not what I expected, and I don’ t like it in the way that I expected. The movie made me quite uncomfortable at times.  That’s a good thing as I do think people should feel uncomfortable every now and then – when you’re uncomfortable it often means you’re being stretched, which will possibly allow for growth and deeper understanding.

The movie is not an American, Evangelical Christian movie, it’s a heavily Jewish-inspired movie – this is reason number 1 I like it. It has the feel of Ancient lit, with influence from the Midrash and Jewish mysticism. It also is a Hollywood movie, so there definitely are some liberties that were taken – Aronofsky’s vision is very interesting.

I also liked it because I enjoy fiction, action, adventure, fantasy, and drama in movies. There’s also violence in this movie. If you don’t like these types of movies, you may not like this movie. ‘Noah’ made me think of ‘The Lord of the Rings’ and similar movies. The story also brought to mind Madeleine L’Engle’s ‘Many Waters.’

‘Noah’ is not a straightforward account of the Old Testament version(s) of the great flood. I’m not sure how one could make a good movie with simply the information provided in Genesis. But remember, all movies that are literature turned into film must be adapted for the screen.

None of the above reasons are what made me uncomfortable. It made me uncomfortable because it’s a tense movie which makes you think about the human condition, ethics and religion. Who ever said the story of Noah isn’t uncomfortable, anyway? I happen to think it’s quite controversial, and often think it’s ironic how we think about it as a children’s story. The story of Noah is intense.

Personally I found the movie fascinating and a source for healthy discussion – conversations about ‘good and evil’, religion, and Scripture sound like an exciting outcome of this artistic interpretation.

Now, when I say it made me uncomfortable, I’m not kidding. At one point in the movie I actually said out loud: “Oh, my God, no”. (I won’t tell you why!)

For everyone who is freaking out about it and walking out of theaters, please calm down. This is a movie – it’s art. God is not hurt by this movie. Christianity is not affected by this movie. Rather, this is a good, entertaining opportunity for meaningful (and respectful) conversations about faith and morality, or simply a nice day-off activity.  Like any movie, this movie is not for everyone.

 

noah