We come, beloved reader, to the last Sunday before Easter. This Sunday is called Liturgy of the Palms or Liturgy of the Passion – depending on whether your focus is the ride into Jerusalem or the Last Supper. The passages concerning the Last Supper this week are from Luke. During Holy Week the Gospel passages will be from John.
Let me say this, beloved reader. During Easter the Revised Common Lectionary kind of “goes crazy” using scripture passages. Each day of Holy Week, next week, has it complete set of four passage (one from the Old Testament, New Testament, Gospel, and Epistles). But this is one of the culmination points of the church year, and rather than picking and choosing the lectionary uses scripture with wild abandon. But . . . we are not there yet. We are here, at the beginning of the end.
“The Lord God has given me the tongue of a teacher, that I may know how to sustain the weary with a word.” (Isaiah 50:4a)
With Easter coming early this year, it feels like to me that the weeks of Lent have gone quickly. Maybe for you it has been long weeks; and maybe that fatigue has more to do with the events in your life than will the scripture passages of Lent. I do not know if reading these passages and reading what I have to see about them has helped or sustained you. I know taking up this spiritual practice has sustained me. Because, while the weeks of Lent have gone quickly, the days have been filled with their difficulties.
“Morning by morning he wakens— wakens my ear to listen as those who are taught.” (Verse 4b)
I do my writing in the evening, so the reference to morning does not exactly apply to me. But at the end of a long day it is good to sit down with God’s word and listen to what it has to say to me.
“The Lord God has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious, I did not turn backward. I gave my back to those who struck me, and my cheeks to those who pulled out the beard; I did not hide my face from insult and spitting.” (Verses 5 – 6)
And each morning I was able to face my day, fortified with what God gave to me the night before.
“The Lord God helps me; therefore I have not been disgraced; therefore I have set my face like flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame;” (Verse 7)
This is not the first time, nor the second, nor even the third time I have read these verses. Years upon years of reading the same verse; they do not change but the circumstances under which I read them did. And each trouble and tribulation that confronted me was faced down with the power of God’s words as spoken through the writer of Isaiah, and other writers of the bible.
“he who vindicates me is near. Who will contend with me? Let us stand up together. Who are my adversaries? Let them confront me.” (Verse 8)
Who are your adversaries beloved reader? Who or what confronts you, or has confronted you during these weeks of Lent? Have you availed yourself of the power of God? This Lent season our theme was confession, penance, and forgiveness. I tried to remind us of that often; but when you are confronted with troubles and woes, the type of confession we usually think of does not seem accurate and appropriate. But there is another type of confession; telling God what we are feeling, how we are feeling, what we are afraid and what is causing fear in those near and dear to us. That is confession too. We may not need forgiveness, but we need restoration.
“It is the Lord God who helps me; who will declare me guilty?” (Verse 9)
It is early yet in the final week before Holy Week. Plenty of time to confess to God everything and anything that is laying heavily in our hearts. And if my words teach and sustain, let them do this so you might come to our Lord God, and find the peace and rest that your soul and spirit desires. Selah!