The Prayer From the Cross

Psalm 30.11-12
You turned my wailing into dancing;
   you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent.
   Lord my God, I will praise you forever.

Reflection: The Prayer From the Cross
By John Tillman

On the day the Church now calls Good Friday, when Jesus hung on the cross and cried out, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani,” people were confused about what he meant. Some even thought he was crying out to Elijah.

Truthfully, we don’t know exactly what was in Christ’s mind, and we also don’t know that he wasn’t thinking multiple things all at the same time, as most humans do in stressful and painful situations.

The clearest, simplest explanation that I lean toward is that Jesus was intentionally quoting Psalm 22, which appeared in our reading plan on Palm Sunday. Jesus knew that most of his audience would recognize the quote and understand that he was referencing the entire psalm. If I said, “To be or not to be,” many people would recognize that I was referencing Hamlet’s entire monologue and its meaning. People less familiar with Hamlet might be confused. Some might think it was from some other source, such as an Arnold Schwarzenegger film.

So, on this Good Friday, we will join Christ in his suffering, praying excerpts from this psalm prayed on the cross, ending with excerpts from Psalm 30 from our reading for today.

Make these psalms our prayer, today and over Holy Saturday as we await the joy of resurrection morn.

Praying with Christ, from the Cross (Psalm 22):
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
   Why are you so far from saving me,
   so far from my cries of anguish?

All who see me mock me;
   they hurl insults, shaking their heads.
“He trusts in the Lord,” they say,
   “let the Lord rescue him.
Let him deliver him,
   since he delights in him.”

Yet you brought me out of the womb;
   you made me trust in you, even at my mother’s breast.
From birth I was cast on you;
   from my mother’s womb you have been my God.

You who fear the Lord, praise him!
  For he has not despised or scorned
   the suffering of the afflicted one;
he has not hidden his face from him
   but has listened to his cry for help.

Future generations will be told about the Lord.
They will proclaim his righteousness,
   declaring to a people yet unborn:
   He has done it!

Weeping may stay for the night,
   but rejoicing comes in the morning.

You turned my wailing into dancing;
   you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy.


Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? And are so far from my cry and from the words of my distress?  — Psalm 22.1

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
Leviticus 23 (Listen – 6:31) 
Psalm 30 (Listen – 2:41)

Today’s Readings
Leviticus 24 (Listen – 2:58) Psalm 31 (Listen – 3:11)
Leviticus 25 (Listen – 7:41) Psalm 32 (Listen – 1:34)

Thank You!
Thank you for reading and a huge thank you to those who donate to our ministry, keeping The Park Forum ad-free and enabling us to continue to produce fresh content. Every year our donors help us produce over 100,000 words of free devotionals. Follow this link to support our readers.

Read more about Joy in The Way of the Cross :: Throwback Thursday
You will find the joy of the Lord comes as you go on in the way of the Cross. It was one who had nobody all his own on earth who said, “If I am offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice.” (Philippians 2.17)

Read more about Where Martyrdom Begins Part 1
It’s easy to think that when Jesus referred to laying his life down for his friends, he was referring to his imminent death on the cross. But stopping there simplifies what Jesus did — and what he said — into one single act.

Jesus, Priest, Lamb, and Vine :: Throwback Thursday

Psalm 28.29
Hear my cry for mercy
   as I call to you for help,
as I lift up my hands
   toward your Most Holy Place.

Reflection: Jesus, Priest, Lamb, and Vine :: Throwback Thursday
By Nicetas of Remesiana (335–414)

In the Holy Scriptures there are many names and titles which are applied to our Lord and Saviour, Jesus. He is said to be the Word; He is called Wisdom, Light and Power; right hand, arm and angel; man and lamb, sheep and priest. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life; a vine, Justice and Redemption; bread, a stone and doctor; a fount of living water; peace and judge and door. Yet, for all these names—which are to help us grasp the nature and range of His power—there is but one and the same Son of God who is our God.

These then, are His names; but what are the meanings of these names?

He is called the Word, first, to imply that He was begotten of the Father with no more passivity or substantial diminution in the Father than there is in a person who utters a spoken word. Second, for the obvious reason that God the Father has always spoken through Him both to men and angels.

The name Wisdom tells us that in the beginning all things, through Him, were ordered wisely. He is the Light, because it was He who brought light into the primordial darkness of the world and who, by his coming among men, dissipated the darkness of their minds.

Power is one of his names, since no created thing can every overcome Him. He is a right hand and arm, for through him all things were made and by him they are all sustained. He is called an angel of great counsel, because he is the announcer of his father’s will.

He is said to be the Son of man, because on account of us men he deigned to be born a man. He is called  lamb, because of his perfect innocence; a sheep, to symbolize his Passion.

For two reasons he is called a priest: first, because he offered up his body as an oblation and victim to God the Father for us; second, because, through us, he condescends day after day to be offered up. He is the Way along which we journey to our salvation; the truth, because he rejects what is false; the life, because He destroys death.

He is a vine because he spread out the branches of his arms that the world might pluck in clusters the grapes of consolation from the cross.

*From The Names and Titles of Our Saviour

Prayer: A Reading
Before the festival of Passover, Jesus, knowing that his hour had come to pass from this world to the Father, having loved those who were his in the world, loved them to the end… — John 13.1-15

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
Leviticus 22 (Listen – 4:41) 
Psalm 28-29 (Listen – 2:41)

Thank You!
Thank you for reading and a huge thank you to those who donate to our ministry, keeping The Park Forum ad-free and enabling us to continue to produce fresh content. Every year our donors help us produce over 100,000 words of free devotionals. Follow this link to support our readers.

Read more about Ending up Like Jesus
The reason we don’t want to surrender power and love our enemies may be that at heart, we really don’t want to end up like Jesus—powerless and crucified.

Read more about Dirty Feet
Jesus gathered the disciples around him, took a towel, poured water into a basin, and washed their feet. He served them with love and humility. As his followers, we are called to do the same.

The Path of the Betrayer

Psalm 27.12
Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes,
   for false witnesses rise up against me,
   spouting malicious accusations.

From John:
I prepare and post these devotionals approximately 36 hours before they go out, so as I finished writing this post and prepared it for posting, Notre Dame was still smoldering.

Today’s psalm gives us balm for this wound as well:

One thing I ask from the Lord,
   this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
   all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the Lord
   and to seek him in his temple.
For in the day of trouble
   he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent
   and set me high upon a rock. — Psalm 27.4-5

Our joint suffering with and for one another is part of being made one in Christ. May our prayers continue to rise for our brothers and sisters observing Holy Week in the midst of such tragedy.

Reflection: The Path of the Betrayer
By John Tillman

Wednesday is the day that it is most likely that Judas sought out the religious leaders to betray Jesus. It is amazing that it took this long.

John tells us that Jesus knew early on who the betrayer was and that, early in the week, the idea was already placed in Judas’s heart, by Satan. His motivation could have been simple revenge for being corrected publicly about Mary’s offering. His motivation could have been merely financial. (He was already stealing from Christ’s ministry fund.) But it is surely more complicated than any one, simple reason.

By Wednesday it was evident that the nationalistic dreams of the disciples and the crowds who waved palm branches (a symbol of the Maccabean revolt) were not shared by Jesus. He didn’t attack the Romans. He met with Greeks. He even failed to endorse a religious exemption for paying taxes to an idolatrous government.

For our reflection, it is valuable to remember that all the disciples felt let down by Jesus in the political realm. Peter rebuked Christ for predicting his death and fought to prevent his arrest. Surely Judas and others felt the same. (Judas seemed shocked to remorse when Jesus was convicted.) Even up to the moment of Christ’s ascension to Heaven, the disciples asked, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?

Like the disciples, our longing for political salvation is far, far greater than our longing for spiritual salvation. This is because we don’t want to be made better people. We prefer others be forced to subject themselves to our weaknesses and sins—to accept us the way we are.

We are setting ourselves up for disillusionment if we mistakenly believe that Christ’s mission is to set us up in power, to bring us earthly authority, or to establish any kingdom other than a heavenly one.

By the end of the week, Judas will be dead and Jesus will step fully into the role John the Baptist first identified him as: The Lamb of God. He is the rejected one, the one who washed his betrayers’ feet, the one who submitted to death, the one who forgave his executioners. If we want to rise with him on Sunday, we must be prepared to die with him on Friday.

Jesus and Judas both offer us a path to follow.

What do we long for more than we long for Christ? Not letting go of it is choosing the path of Judas.

Prayer: A Reading
…Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve, approached the chief priests with an offer to hand Jesus over to them. They were delighted to hear it, and promised to give him money; and he began to look for a way of betraying him when the opportunity should occur. — Mark 14.10-11

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
Leviticus 21 (Listen – 3:08) 
Psalm 26-27 (Listen – 3:13)

Thank You!
Thank you for reading and a huge thank you to those who donate to our ministry, keeping The Park Forum ad-free and enabling us to continue to produce fresh content. Every year our donors help us produce over 100,000 words of free devotionals. Follow this link to support our readers.

Read more about Learning from Judas

Jesus Christ Superstar shows Jesus’ last week of ministry as the looming failure that Judas must have perceived it to be.

Read more about In the Face of Betrayal

Imagine his face looking at Judas…The look you imagine on Christ’s face in these moments says a lot about what you believe about who Jesus is and what his character is like.

Following Through Jerusalem

Psalm 25.15-18
My eyes are ever on the Lord,
   for only he will release my feet from the snare.
Turn to me and be gracious to me,
   for I am lonely and afflicted.
Relieve the troubles of my heart
   and free me from my anguish.
Look on my affliction and my distress
   and take away all my sins.

Reflection: Following Through Jerusalem
By John Tillman

During his dramatic entrance to Jerusalem, Jesus allowed himself to be worshiped (Even by those he knew would turn against him in a few days). When Jesus entered the Temple, he violently disrupted an economic center of oppression and made room for more foreigners to enter the outer court of the Temple. Matthew’s account adds that afterward, the blind and the lame, who would not have been permitted to enter the Temple, came to Jesus there and he healed them. These actions undermined the religious leaders’ superiority, threatened their wealth, and countermanded their teachings on the nature of sin.

Jesus represented a direct threat to their power structure and their methods of retaining power and control. So the religious leaders, instead of being ready to listen, ready to rejoice, and ready to accept the freedom and healing Jesus was bringing, were ready to challenge him.

The challenges of the religious leaders were meticulously designed logical traps. They were loaded, hot-button political questions, intended to turn the crowds against Jesus. Jesus answered every one of them masterfully.

To say his answers were skillful implies some level of craft or deceit. That’s what we expect from those answering tricky questions. But it was Christ’s undeniable truthfulness and solid basis in scripture that forced even those opposing him to publicly admit he answered well. Scripture says he “silenced” his opponents.

In our social media, drama-driven world, we often long for someone to silence our critics and win our battles. We equate winning arguments with advancing the kingdom.

But we need to remember that Jesus didn’t ride into Jerusalem to shame his enemies, but to be shamed on the cross. He didn’t come to slaughter his enemies, but to be slaughtered.

The crowds and outward successes of Christ’s entry to Jerusalem may have given his disciples a wrong impression of Christ’s true mission.

When Jesus calls us to follow him, it isn’t just to follow him to sit on some Heavenly throne. James and John longed to sit there, but Jesus knew they didn’t understand what they asked for. The path leading to glory with Christ is the path leading through suffering to death.

If we desire to rise with him, we must expect to suffer with him, and be prepared to die with him.

Prayer: The Morning Psalm
…For with you is the well of life, and in your light we see light.
Continue your loving-kindness to those who know you, and your favor to those who are true of heart. — Psalm 36.9-10

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
Leviticus 20 (Listen – 4:18) 
Psalm 25 (Listen – 2:18)

Thank You!
Thank you for reading and a huge thank you to those who donate to our ministry, keeping The Park Forum ad-free and enabling us to continue to produce fresh content. Every year our donors help us produce over 100,000 words of free devotionals. Follow this link to support our readers.

Read more about The Context of The Widow’s Mite
Can we learn to live like the widow? Are we able to live in faith, despite our systematic victimization, despite our poverty, and despite the existence of corruption?

Read more about Where is the Love?
John’s account of the cleansing of the Temple is the most violent, showing Jesus making a weapon and wielding it. It’s probably why we don’t read it as often. It’s unsettling to see Jesus this way.

Who is this King of Glory?

Psalm 24.8
Who is this King of glory?

From John:
First, we look at a few verses from our Leviticus reading that bear special reflection on “Tax Day” in the United States.

When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the foreigner. I am the Lord your God. Do not steal. Do not lie…Do not use dishonest standards when measuring length, weight or quantity. Use honest scales and honest weights… — Leviticus 9-11, 35-36

Reflection: Who is this King of glory?
By John Tillman

Today, as American citizens prepare to “render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s,” on “Tax Day,” the calendar of the church, marks the week that Jesus began to walk resolutely into the teeth of the Roman Empire. That’s the part we don’t like. We like the triumphal entry and the triumphal resurrection. The middle bits are like verses of a hymn that we too often skip.

On Palm Sunday churches around the world remembered the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem. Many in the Jerusalem crowd must have had the ending stanzas of David’s 24th psalm in mind:

Lift up your heads, you gates;
   be lifted up, you ancient doors,
   that the King of glory may come in.
Who is this King of glory?

But Jesus was not the king they were expecting. And Jesus is not the king we often wish for either.

Some want a glorious warrior-king to defeat the foreigners and rule though vengeance and retribution. These believers want the second-coming of David the giant-killer on a horse, not the first coming of God’s suffering servant on a donkey.

Some expect a liberating mage, with heavenly signs, miracles, blessings, and plagues to confound and punish their oppressors and bless and free the downtrodden. They look for a second Moses, a liberator and lawgiver, not the Lamb of God who comes to be imprisoned, cursed, and slain.

As we follow Jesus through Jerusalem this week, may we not misunderstand him or mistake him for someone else. Let us have eyes to see what many wished to see before us, and ears to hear what many wished to hear. May we let go of our heroic versions of kings and watch the lamb of God, ride his borrowed donkey, straight to his borrowed tomb.

Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
Deliverance belongs to the Lord. Your blessing be upon your people! — 3.8

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
Leviticus 19 (Listen – 4:39) 
Psalm 23-24 (Listen – 2:03)

Thank You!
Thank you for reading and a huge thank you to those who donate to our ministry, keeping The Park Forum ad-free and enabling us to continue to produce fresh content. Every year our donors help us produce over 100,000 words of free devotionals. Follow this link to support our readers.

Read more about Face Like Flint :: A Guided Prayer
When Jesus set his face like flint, determined to go to Jerusalem, the disciples expected a fight. Many of them seemed to expect to win. In what ways are we willing to accept victory with Christ but not suffering?

Read more about The Untied Donkey
In the ancient world donkeys were used for ceremonial purposes. Whereas horses were symbols of war, donkeys were symbols of peace and often used to enact treaties.

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