Help me write my Good Friday meditation?

Friends,

For our Good Friday service, my church invites different people to write and share reflections on each of the Stations of the Cross. The entire service consists of those meditations. This year I’m honored (and a little bit anxious) to have the opportunity to write one of those meditations. My head is reeling around where to begin and where to take it.

Here’s where you come in. I’d love your thoughts on my passage of scripture. It’s a tricky one and a beautiful one. And I’m pretty sure my readers are the best people for me to ask assistance in grasping a beautiful, tricky passage.

I’ll be thinking on “Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem” from Luke 23: 27:31

27 And there followed him a great multitude of the people and of women who were mourning and lamenting for him. 28 But turning to them Jesus said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. 29 For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren and the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ 30 Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us,’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’ 31 For if they do these things when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?”

 

Today, as I begin looking at this passage and working through what it says about Christ and his suffering, I’d love your own responses to it:

  • What emotional or physical response does this passage evoke in you?
  • Have you read any other meditations on this passage that might help me?
  • If you were writing a poem or meditation in response to this, what would you want to focus on?
  • Anything else you want to tell me about this passage?

Thanks everyone. You guys are the coolest.

Micha

 

Icon Credit: Olga Christine
  • http://threedollarsworthofgod.wordpress.com Erin

    This passage reminds me that we live in a world where people do terrible things to each other. The freedom from sin that is bought for us by Christ’s sacrifice is supposed to allow us to love one another, to recognize the humanity in each other and to see the reflection of God in those around us. The loving sacrifice of the cross calls us to love in a similar way and to combat the hatred and fear that so many people act out of.

    • michaboyett

      Thanks so much for your thoughts, Erin. Seeing both the humanity and the reflection of God in one another. It’s amazing how challenging it is to hold both of those things at once…

  • http://www.trochia.org Leslie Clevenger Brogdon

    I’m surprised by this passage every time I read it. I think in part it is because, in a very straight forward way, Jesus is saying that at some point people are going to call the childless blessed. I think that is contrary to what we see expressed by women, and even men, in the Bible. I think this passage speaks to a desire to try to nurture people and encourage them to be comfortable, even if that is not what they should do. That is what I would want to focus on. Good luck! I don’t think I’ve ever read any meditations on this before.

    • michaboyett

      I don’t think I have either, Leslie. That’s part of why I’m drawn to it and part of why I’m afraid of it! I need to find myself a good commentary on Luke. But there is something so heartbreaking about these being the words from Jesus’ lips: Don’t weep for me, weep for yourselves and your children. It feels along the same lines as: Father forgive them, for they know not what they do…

  • http://www.clydemonastery.org/serendipity Sister Lynn

    This very station was the one that struck me last year… I kept returning to it. I think Jesus is speaking of our times here… there is a growing sense in our culture that children are a burden not a blessing, that they inhibit our “freedom” as women. If when the message of Jesus was so fresh and new (green) ,they still crucified him… what meaning does it have for us 2000 years later when it is dry? I think I would love to hear a poem speaking about how to keep the wood green, fresh – with what do we water the cross so that it blooms afresh in our day. Jessica Powers has a great poem called “the Sign of the Cross” – blessings!! S. Lynn

    • michaboyett

      Thank you for your thoughts on the wood being green versus dry. I hadn’t even spent any time thinking of that yet. I love that idea of “watering the cross,” S. Lynn. And I will definitely look up that Jessica Powers poem. Someone very kind sent her book of poems my way! : )

  • http://NA Katrina Bue

    Wheew! This one is deep. Christ often spoke in metaphors and parables. In this passage I feel Christ is telling these daughters not to be sad for HIM, He knew where He was headed, back up to Heaven with His father. But those left on earth will continually suffer until the day he returns. For on earth our children will always know the pain and the burden of sin, and that which they do while they are young will only multiple when they age. So blessed is the woman who does not bare children which will suffer in a world apart from their Father. Lucky for us, Christ’s ultimate sacrifice that day offers us hope, should we choose to believe!! :) And hope for our children, and our children’s children.

    • michaboyett

      Thanks Katrina. It is deep, right? That word you used, multiply…that the burden of sin will multiply. That’s a pretty powerful image…Wow, still thinking on this. thanks for the help.

  • kate

    For some reason lately I have caught myself feeling anxious for my children–not in the day-to-day moments but at night after they are in bed, because the world can feel overwhelmingly evil. Then I notice how scared I feel for myself. The times I seriously lament having these two amazing creatures in my life is because of how vulnerable they make me–the ‘heart walking around outside your body’ feeling. This is what I think of in reading this passage. His words take my breath away, especially as a mother (who had trouble getting pregnant, no less). But His sacrifice reminds me that is not the end of the story. I often emotionally move quickly through Good Friday because I know Sunday’s coming. From where I sit in life, as a young mother, this passage is the clearest way for me to hear my dire need for what Jesus’ death gives.

    • michaboyett

      Yes, Kate. I’ve been thinking so much about vulnerability and the cross. That somehow in the cross, God is bending himself, making himself vulnerable to us. And that vulnerability is a kind of power. This passage is a hard one to make sense of of, but mothers understand all about vulnerability. Thanks for the reminder.

    • http://realconversationsbetweenfriends.blogspot.com/ Ann Ehlert

      Kate,
      I have had a similar journey and was with friends who could conceive easily when I was asked to read the words to this station out loud to the group. No one else knew what these words meant to me, the one who longed for children. It was tough to read. I now have three children and reading these words bring pain in a different way, even though, I have not forgotten where I come from. I don’t want to stay in the moment on Good Friday! I hope to linger there longer this year so I can fully understand Easter. I’m appreciating this Lenten season. Thanks for your words!

      Ann

  • http://dianatrautwein.com Diana Trautwein

    Jesus was a sapling, a sprig of life in a city soon to die violently, a city that turned against him and sent him to the cross. But I believe Jesus knew that his death was intrinsically different from and sublimely beyond the death of this city or any city. His death would speak to the world of God’s humility, of the immensity of love that overflows from the heavens down through the spilled life of that sapling and out into the hearts of us all. The death of the city would speak only of evil, sorrow, disaster. The death of Jesus would speak of glory, glory in the upside-down kingdom of our God. (And no one. least of all Jesus, wants little ones to see the likes of the devastation that was soon to come.)

    Blessings, Micha. You’ll find the words. God is faithful that way.

  • Heatherer

    I’ve been thinking about this one since yesterday, and I keep coming back to a mother I know in my church. I don’t think Jesus’ words are aimed towards her, but I think they would resonate with her. Her teenager (almost out of high school) has more or less rebelled against everything she has been taught, choosing things that others can see are harming her and those around her. Her mother is in a lot of pain over it (and doesn’t always handle it terrifically), but I tend to think these words would make her pause, would resonate somewhere inside of her. I don’t know that this is particularly helpful to writing your devotional, but somehow I just see her pain wrapped up in this passage.

  • http://www.leighkramer.com HopefulLeigh

    I don’t know if it’s a Firefox thing or not but the commenting here is whackadoo. I took a screenshot to show you- try to email it to you once I’m done here. At least the comment box is back! In any case…
    My honest first reaction is best not printed here. I’ll say this instead. When Jesus says “blessed are the barren,” it feels like a smack in the face. I can’t imagine anyone ever saying that to me, or at least saying it and walking away unscathed. It seems insensitive to those of us who want to have families of our own. Plus, it’s not really elevating those who are childless, given the only reason the barren are blessed in this instance is apparently the end of days. For women who are single or experiencing infertility, it counters all the messages, overt or implicit, we receive at church and from the Christian community at large. And yet, He’s saying times are going to be so awful, it’ll be best for you to not have to worry about your kids’ wellbeing. I can’t wrap my mind around that. I know it’s a bigger picture than the way I’m responding emotionally but I’m stuck on this. Does any of this make sense? I don’t know if that will help you or not. But those are my 2 cents.

    • michaboyett

      Leigh, Thanks so much for your thoughts. I’m really grateful for your perspective and I wondered if that might be the case for every woman who doesn’t have kids and reads this passage. It certainly doesn’t feel kind, does it? I’m going to think long and hard about the perspective of every woman who will be in that room on Good Friday. And every woman who heard Jesus say those words that day. Thanks friend.

  • http://fionalynne.com/blog/ fiona lynne

    My first thoughts were a little like Leigh’s above. As someone who’s lost one baby in pregnancy, the idea that my like of children makes me blessed? But then I think it’s deeper than that (as so many wiser people have commented above) – about the depth of destruction we are capable of when we don’t recognise or acknowledge God in our lives, in our world, when we refuse to see him.
    I’m interested to see what you write in the end. I love this idea.

    • http://fionalynne.com/blog/ fiona lynne

      that was meant to be “lack” of children.

  • dina

    Micha, I feel for you, not an easy text. I think even the scholars have a difficult time with it.

    There are a few things that come to mind for me.

    1)Jesus is other minded. He is not focusing on his own pain, but rather considering what other’s will endure. He knows He is in the Father’s will. How much easier it is to endure hardship when you know you are in God’s will. Think of the many martyrs that came after him. Even though he is about to go through the hardest thing in his life, he is worried about the women. Central to living life like Jesus, is learning to give up our selfishness (die to self) and learn and desire to bless and increase others. A Christian life is truly a life that is other minded.

    Why is he worried about the women? For what they will have to endure. I think it is the mother’s heart he is taking about here. It is really what he knew they will have to watch their children endure. As mothers (and I’m sure fathers can feel this way too,) we would all rather endure hardships than watch our children endure them, so in this “time that is coming” that he talks about, I think it will be so painful for a mother to watch her children endure, that the motherless with be considered fortunate. (It is the only reason I can imagine that the barren would be considered fortunate)

    As for the “green tree” and the “dry” I think Jesus is talking about the times. The times were “green” because He, the perfect life was on earth, yet people were willing to crucify him. If that was so when the times were green, then what will they do in the end times (dry). I think this is the case because in Rev. 6:16 it talks about people crying out for the mountains to fall on them.

    I pray God speaks to you in amazing ways. I can’t wait to hear what he tells you, cause this one can confuse!

  • http://aslanslibrary.wordpress.com Sarah

    Hi Micha – We actually attend the same church and I’m really looking forward to hearing your (and all the other) thoughts on the Stations of the Cross. I’m so grateful to be at a church that observes the richness of the ancient Paschal Triduum!

    A few thoughts on this passage from Luke: just as others have pointed out, I’m struck by the absolute devastation envisioned by Jesus. This passage feels black, bleak, almost suffocating to me. He’s talking about the coming destruction of Jerusalem by the Roman army, which was an unmitigated disaster (also prophesied in Mark 13 and Matthew 24). Beyond the horrific bloodshed, the Temple itself is destroyed, so that in every sense, the life of the people was utterly cut off.

    At least, that’s how I understand the ironic “blessing” spoken to the barren: it’s the complete inverse of the “blessed art thou among women” spoken to Mary, and the “blessed is the womb which bore you” of Luke 11. Mary is blessed because she bears the Source of all life into the world; those who shout “blessed are the barren!” are speaking out of their despair at seeing the life of the Jewish people nullified and wiped out.

    It’s actually a really chilling passage, at least read in the context of a Good Friday service (where, attempting to travel along the road to the cross, we don’t yet dare to hope for Easter), because it is such a strong word of judgment against Jerusalem. Like the nullification passages in Isaiah, there is the real threat that God is going to break with God’s people; that the covenant is done for; that there is no longer a place on earth where God dwells among us. And in fact, that’s about to really happen: the body which bore God’s life in communion with our humanity is on its way to be murdered and placed in a tomb. Only the resurrecting power of God can restore his presence in our world, and that’s not on the Good Friday horizon. I initially wanted to connect this passage to how we might read it in light of the resurrection, but…I don’t know. It might just be a call to mourn the judgment that we (like the inhabitants of Jerusalem in 586 BC, and again in 70 AD) bring upon ourselves, the judgment that results in God’s absolute removal from us. (Which I suppose makes what happens at the Easter Vigil – the surprise and joy of the lights and sounds and “He is Risen!” – all the more exuberantly wild, when we get there.)

    • michaboyett

      Sarah, thank you so much for taking the time to give me feedback. I love your thoughts. They are an incredible help. Can you recommend a commentary on Luke that I might be able to draw from? Also, we should make meeting each other a priority! Let’s make that happen. : )

      • http://aslanslibrary.wordpress.com Sarah

        Micha, I’d love to meet up! I’ll DM you on Twitter and maybe we can arrange a donut-table rendezvous :) As far as commentaries go, I’ve been reading Luke Timothy Johnson’s Sacra Pagina commentary on Luke recently, and really appreciating it. And just reading the introduction was an entire education in itself on how to approach Luke-Acts!

  • Pingback: Daughters of Jerusalem (A Good Friday poem)

  • Sherry M.

    There is an excellent commentary of this Scriptural passage that was done by Msgr. Charles Pope at his blog:

    http://blog.adw.org/2013/03/in-times-like-these-some-very-eerie-and-prophetic-words-spoken-by-jesus-on-the-way-to-the-cross/


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