Tender Presence

"Being" at the cross, we witness the tender presence and care of a few both named and gathered around Jesus. The entire scene, beyond the profound theological implications of Jesus' death, seems like a prophetic display of the transformation which occurs in those who gather around the Presence of Christ. Observing closely, we see that those gathered around Jesus recognize him for who he really is and act with tender compassion towards him and his body.

And we wait with them learning again and again that in dying comes new life...

Mark 15:33-47 (NLT)
At noon, darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock. 34 Then at three o’clock Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”
35 Some of the bystanders misunderstood and thought he was calling for the prophet Elijah. 36 One of them ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, holding it up to him on a reed stick so he could drink. “Wait!” he said. “Let’s see whether Elijah comes to take him down!”
37 Then Jesus uttered another loud cry and breathed his last. 38 And the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.
39 When the Roman officer who stood facing him saw how he had died, he exclaimed, “This man truly was the Son of God!”
40 Some women were there, watching from a distance, including Mary Magdalene, Mary (the mother of James the younger and of Joseph), and Salome. 41 They had been followers of Jesus and had cared for him while he was in Galilee. Many other women who had come with him to Jerusalem were also there.
42 This all happened on Friday, the day of preparation, the day before the Sabbath. As evening approached, 43 Joseph of Arimathea took a risk and went to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. (Joseph was an honored member of the high council, and he was waiting for the Kingdom of God to come.) 44 Pilate couldn’t believe that Jesus was already dead, so he called for the Roman officer and asked if he had died yet. 45 The officer confirmed that Jesus was dead, so Pilate told Joseph he could have the body. 46 Joseph bought a long sheet of linen cloth. Then he took Jesus’ body down from the cross, wrapped it in the cloth, and laid it in a tomb that had been carved out of the rock. Then he rolled a stone in front of the entrance. 47 Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joseph saw where Jesus’ body was laid.

For Reflection and Prayer:
Was there a word, a phrase, image, or feeling that stood out to you as you listened? Bring it into your prayer with Jesus.

Bring your own experience of abandonment / giving up / surrender / death to false self into prayer with Jesus. How is he with you in it? Does he have something to say to you?

Be with Jesus in his dying and death, either at a distance or by his side. Is there something you want to tell him?

Prepare to Receive

The Feast Days celebrated by the Hebrew people are of great significance. Each one, including the weekly Sabbath, involve careful and intentional preparation. The feasts themselves encompass all the senses - sight, sound, touch, smell and taste - which in turn embed deep memories within the body, mind and spirit of the participants. Yahweh has prepared us to remember. We are to remember that which we have received.

Jesus, our Rabbi, takes great care to instruct his disciples on the preparation of his last Passover Feast with them. What is the purpose of these preparations? Is there something more that he wants to give them? How might this text guide us in our own preparation to receive from Jesus? Are we willing to be blessed - to bend the knee to receive?

Mark 14:12-26 NLT
On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover lamb is sacrificed, Jesus’ disciples asked him, “Where do you want us to go to prepare the Passover meal for you?”
13 So Jesus sent two of them into Jerusalem with these instructions: “As you go into the city, a man carrying a pitcher of water will meet you. Follow him. 14 At the house he enters, say to the owner, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is the guest room where I can eat the Passover meal with my disciples?’ 15 He will take you upstairs to a large room that is already set up. That is where you should prepare our meal.” 16 So the two disciples went into the city and found everything just as Jesus had said, and they prepared the Passover meal there.
17 In the evening Jesus arrived with the Twelve. 18 As they were at the table eating, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, one of you eating with me here will betray me.”
19 Greatly distressed, each one asked in turn, “Am I the one?”
20 He replied, “It is one of you twelve who is eating from this bowl with me. 21 For the Son of Man must die, as the Scriptures declared long ago. But how terrible it will be for the one who betrays him. It would be far better for that man if he had never been born!”
22 As they were eating, Jesus took some bread and blessed it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “Take it, for this is my body.”
23 And he took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. He gave it to them, and they all drank from it. 24 And he said to them, “This is my blood, which confirms the covenant between God and his people. It is poured out as a sacrifice for many. 25 I tell you the truth, I will not drink wine again until the day I drink it new in the Kingdom of God.”
26 Then they sang a hymn and went out to the Mount of Olives.

For Reflection and Prayer:
As you listened to or read the text, was there a word, phrase or image which stayed with you?  Be still with them for a while. Ask Jesus, is there more that Jesus says to you?

Place yourself in the story today. Where do you find yourself? Have a conversation with Jesus in that context. What do you say to him? What does he say to you?