Soooo... I've been on a few dates lately... and I try to be open minded and hope for the best. But I'm also honest, realistic and lets face it, a bit cynical.
I prepare myself - thinking the worst of people - yet its still a huge disappointment when I'm proven right. I expect the worst and hope for the best, but somehow I'm still surprised with the worst is what is proven right.
But here's the thing. On Good Friday - I can only imagine this was a bit of how the disciples felt. Or how I would have felt, had I been there.
If I had been a disciple, raised in the Jewish faith, raised knowing my family, and my ancestors had been hoping and waiting for a Messiah their entire lives, and then waiting for that Messiah my entire life, I can only imagine the certain amount of cynicism that must have still lurked. There's a certain amount of "magic" that we hope is present in these stories of when Jesus called his disciples, that they believed without fail, and without falter. But there's also a certain amount of truth that we should face, that the disciples probably still had a certain amount of cynicism.
They expected the worst, and hoped for the best. Expected that this guy, from Bethlehem, might be just another false prophet, claiming to be the Messiah, but hoped that Jesus was right, that he really was of, and from God. Hoping that all the works Jesus performed, that the life Jesus led mean he really was the Messiah, the coming hope for the nation of Israel.
Which makes Good Friday all the more depressing and hopeless. To be proven right...that the worst you expected was right, and that the best you hoped for seemed to be in vain. To hope for the Messiah, and then it seems to be proven right, that the man hanging up on the cross was no more "powerful" than the thieves he is hanging there with. To not know what is coming in just a few days, and to be proven right, that the worst you expected is what happened I can only imagine why the disciples scattered and denied knowing Jesus. We read those stories and preach on them as if we wouldn't do the same thing - but lets be honest. Your worst fears have just come to life, and you've watched your fears hang on a cross, yet you still act as the most faithful person in the crowd?
Holy and ever-living God,
In your humility, you suffer;
In your holiness, you suffer;
In your grace, you suffer.
You suffer with us, as we grieve our fickle human nature;
that in one day we rejoice at your triumphant entry,
only to betray you and deny you just days later.
In our suffering,
we lift it up to you.
We give all our suffering over to you,
even our inability to get past suffering.
Yet we hand over our suffering to you,
frustrated and angry.
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
Why are you so far from our cries?
Why are you so far from our distress?
We cry in the daytime, but you do not answer;
we cry in the night, but we do not find rest.
We are so thirsty for your healing water;
we crave your presence among us;
we know we are told you will never leave us;
that you have never abandoned us;
but as we look at the suffering of the world, we wonder.
We think of war, that runs rampant, and often without cause.
We lament over suffering of families, broken, abused, and neglected.
We grieve for our inabilities to do more in the ruins of humanity.
We suffer in our inability to understand, as we experience loss.
We mourn as hope seems to be overtaken by shadows of darkness.
We distress at our own iniquities and our own inabilities.
As we stand here today, and look at you on the cross,
we cry out in desertion.
My God, my God, why have you left us here to suffer?
Why have you abandoned us, when we put so much hope in your presence?
We pray for your gentle reminder
that you are indeed with us.
We beg for your reminder
that you suffer with us.
We plead with you, that you help us to know
you will never leave us.
We pray for your presence,
knowing that you are indeed with us;
even unto death, you are with us;
even beyond death, you will never leave us.
We pray these things,
as we wait anxiously for your Good News,
in the name of the one who suffers with us,