Lent Devotion for March 30, in Holy Week
We will see you tonight at 6:30 PM in the Sanctuary for the Good Friday Tenebrae Service as we reflect on the last hours of Jesus’ life on this earth.
Reader: "This is the tragic state of things…”
Response: "…in a nation that has rejected God.”
SCRIPTURE: Judges 21:25
25 In those days Israel had no king; all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes.
Reader: "The word of the Lord.”
Response: “Thanks be to God.”
The last sentence in the book of Judges sums up the entire book. There were periods when different judges ruled and there seemed to be some peace from time to time. But have you noticed how scarce “the word of the Lord” was? In the time of Joshua and before, God often and regularly, spoke to His appointed leadership. In the book of Judges, we read of more sporadic interventions of God and a great deal more of impulsive human reaction and little devotion to God. It really was a kind of “everyone for themselves” world. When there is no absolute moral ground established by God, there is no firm measuring stick as to a moral code. Right and wrong become arbitrary and subject to the one with the greatest power. We see clear evidence of such thinking active in our world today where God has been rejected and narcissism has taken over. The sanctity of life is mocked. “Family values” are scorned. Tolerance is the highest value—so long as your tolerance agrees with my tolerance!—and on and on. In truth, our current days have a great deal of similarity to the book of Judges. In the midst of this, the significance of this day, Good Friday, turns the entire world and universe upside down. God, as He had throughout the Old Testament, steps into earthly time to solve a desperate situation. But this time, it is an ultimate solution. God, who has put on skin and bones and become completely human, voluntarily, out of love for these very flawed creatures made in His own image, gives His life, taking their place in death, to bring redemption, not only for the humans but for the whole created order! Whereas in Judges it says, “In those days Israel had no king…”, as a result of Good Friday and the days that followed, we can say, “All of creation in heaven and on earth has the King of kings and Lord of lords, forever and ever. Amen!” Glory to God in the highest!
“Crucifixus” by Antonio Lotti, Tenebrae Ensemble (Watch on YouTube)
My Lord, my mind and heart can barely begin to grasp the smallest implications of your death on the cross, let alone find words to express my heart’s gratitude. I do not have another thought that compares to the magnitude of what you have done for your creation. Never would we have guessed or suspected the depth of your love for the people you have made. Even now, you know full well how little we comprehend. All we can say…, actually we struggle to find words that are adequate to express our gratitude to you, only to discover there are none. We trust the Holy Spirit to speak words too deep for meaning on our behalf. We come up with praise, adore, love, cheer, worship, glorify, shout, rejoice, exult, amen, hallelujah, sing, cherish, clap, dance, bow down, extol, esteem, delight in, revere, laud, honor, enjoy…and all of these together fall far short of expressing our love for you and for what you deserve. Holy Father, we offer all that we are, it’s all we have, to you in deepest gratitude for what you have done, are doing, and will do in fulfilling your plan. May your Kingdom come and your will be done.
- Daniel Sharp