Be merciful to me, Lord, for I am in distress
There is a rhythm to life, every life. At it’s most basic we sleep, we wake, we sleep; and each of your own lives have rhythm even if you don’t always see it, even if you try to get rid of it. Every morning I get up, I go to the toilet, drink some water, pray, then when Nathaniel is up; eat, work, lunch, work, kids, eat, kids to bed then us shortly after. Sleep and do it all again. The rhythm of the day.
Then there’s the rhythm of the week, then there’s the rhythm of the month, then there’s the rhythm of the year, and then beyond us the rhythms of lives, birth, kids, death; the rise and fall of nations; the dance of the tectonic plates, of the stars, the galaxies, the rhythms of the universe; then the edge of what we can grasp, there is the beginning, down through time to us, then over to the end of this creation. And today we stand as on a new beginning, first day of the week, as on the top of a hill looking over this Holy Week ahead. We see with Jesus what is to come, and so we pray with Him; Be merciful to me, Lord, for I am in distress.
Our Psalmic prayer today begins with a plea for mercy, down into our distress; ‘my strength fails because of what afflicts me, my enemies break me and seek to take my life’; yet up again in calling to God; ‘But I trust in you Lord, my times are in your hands, deliver me, your servant. Let your face shine on me, save me in your unfailing love’. (Psalm 31:9-16). From God to suffering to God again, and His shining face, His unfailing love. This is the rhythm of our life in Christ. Crying out to God, truly suffering, yet crying out and knowing that He will deliver us, He will destroy our enemies. And this is the rhythm of this Holy Week.
Today we began with the proclamation, Jesus is King of kings! Hosanna, save us God on High! Just as we cry before He comes to us in the bread and wine. He came into Jerusalem, glorified by the people. And yet we hear again the rhythm of our lives; from these heights, He goes down. Throwing out the moneychangers, cleaning and putting right God’s house of prayer. Now the Jewish leaders’ hatred is brought to a head, as we prayed, ‘they plot to take His life’. On Wednesday Judas one of the twelve takes the money from the Pharisees, just as the Psalmist prays, ‘because of all my enemies I am dreadful to my closest friends’. Praying alone in the garden, abandoned by His sleeping disciples; Jesus was betrayed by Judas and the rest, they scatter; ‘dreadful to my closest friends, those who see me flee’. False accusations, lies, taunts, insults, shame and spit, all this thrown at Him; ‘terror on every side’. Stripped, rejected, flogged, shamed; Jesus the Christ crucified, and as we prayed, ‘I am forgotten as though I were dead, I have become like broken pottery’. Yet we continue to pray, “But I trust in you, Lord; I say, You are my God. My times are in your hands; deliver me from my enemies. Let your face shine on your servant, save me in your love never failing.’ The rhythm of our life, a reflection of the life of our Lord that we live out time and again. Yes, times change, times look different, at times worse, and yet all our times are in His hands. Those healing hands pierced on that cross.
Live Christ’s life, every week, from the heights of God’s serving you forgiveness and life on Sunday, through the troubles, stress and work to the end of Friday, the rest of Saturday, to the Resurrection, New Life, again early Sunday morn. And especially this week, take time, time from the hand of God Almighty, to hear and meditate on the accounts of Christ’s Passion. Know that your suffering is now a reflection of His, that as you speak with those around you, as you eat, sleep, pray, serve, work, and suffer; we, in this baptismal life, are joined with Christ’s last week. As we are hurt and broken, as we break ourselves by our own sins and failures, die to this world at the Glorious cross, and come to Our Lord for merciful healing; to be delivered from all enemies, life over death, to have God Almighty look on you His child and save you in His unfailing love.
You know the truth, that Christ is victorious over sin, death and the devil; that this is for you, given you by His Word and Sacrament. So walk in rhythm with Him as we live again the suffering and our salvation.
The peace of God which surpasses all understanding guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, now and through the suffering. Amen.
Pastor Joseph Graham.