MAUNDY THURSDAY, APRIL 14TH
A TIME OF SHARED STRUGGLE
We gather around Jesus in somber silence today, for we know what is to come. Jesus soberly begins…
We went to a place called Gethsemane; and I said to my disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” I took with me Peter and James and John, and I began to be distressed and agitated. And I said to them, “I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here, and keep awake.” And going a little farther, I threw myself on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from me. I said, “Abba, Father, for you all things are possible; remove this cup from me; yet, not what I want, but what you want.” I came and found them sleeping; and I said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not keep awake one hour? Keep awake and pray that you may not come into the time of trial; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” And again I went away and prayed, saying the same words. And once more I came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy; and they did not know what to say to me. I came a third time and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? Enough! The hour has come; the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Get up, let us be going. See, my betrayer is at hand.” (Mark 14:32-42, NRSV, revised*)
Sit in the silence for a few minutes and place yourself next to Jesus as he prays. What would you like to do for him? How do you feel as you consider his anguish and your helplessness? Quietly remain in his presence as his gentle, listening friend, the only one who has stayed awake. What do you hear him saying to you?
During some trying times in my life, God has always helped to gradually move me from experiencing grief to receiving grace. I especially noticed this when my prayers slowly transformed from desperation to surrender… from fighting to acceptance… from fear into peace. I imagine that you also have experienced this in some way.
We find that our prayers evolve…
~ Please, God, keep my marriage intact… Help my family through this divorce… We will find new life in you.
~ Please, God, let it not be cancer… Help me to stay strong… I will rest in your perfect love no matter what is ahead.
~ Please, God, keep my loved one alive… Keep her from pain… I entrust her to you.
The prayers of Jesus in Gethsemane touch us profoundly, because we more clearly understand how he questioned, faced, and endured his terrible trials as a human person like the rest of us. He could not avoid pain, sadness, despair, agony, or even death. He had no superpower or strength beyond human capacity. Jesus truly suffered, agonized, wept, and pleaded with God in Gethsemane. Just like we would.
What Jesus did have – and what we all can have – is his deep trust in God. He found the courage and strength to endure everything, because he knew that God was with him and perfectly loved him. Through his earnest, desperate prayers, Jesus opened his heart to God. And God filled Jesus with all that he needed, including acceptance… and then peace.
In our trials, we may not know what goodness God will bring to us, but we do know that God is good. We may not understand the hardship, but we do feel God’s presence with us in the storm. We may not feel ready to bear the difficult days ahead, but we do know that God is already preparing us and God is always going before us.
We may not know the Why, but we can trust the Who.
*The name of Jesus and his pronouns have been adapted by Karen into first-person.