Saturday, March 28, 2015

Holy Week Prayers

Prayers from Are You Running With Me, Jesus? (1965) By Malcolm Boyd

 Why is reality about you so shocking to us, Jesus?
     I know the real cross wasn't pretty at all. But I guess I understand why they want to make copies of it out of fine woods and even semiprecious stones because you hung on it.
     Yet doesn't this romanticize your death and give it a kind of gloss it didn't have? Your death was bloody and dirty and very real. Can't we face it that way, Jesus?  And can't we face the fact that you were a real man, living a human life, as well as God?

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We're praying for repentance
      Take fire and burn away our guilt and our lying hypocrisies/
      Take water and wash away our brothers' and sisters' blood which we have caused to be shed.
      Take hot sunlight and dry the tears of those we have hurt, and heal their wounded souls, minds and bodies.
      Take love and root it in our hearts, so that community may grow, transforming the dry desert of our prejudices and hatreds.
      Take our imperfect prayers and purify them, so that we mean what we pray and are prepared to give ourselves to you along with our words.

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Thanks for what you did about success and failure

       Jesus, you ruined all the phony success stories forever when you didn't come down from the cross, turn your crown of thorns into  solid gold, transform the crowd at Golgotha into a mighty army, march on Rome, and become the king.
       Now every success symbol looks so shoddy and short-lived when it is placed against your cross. You accepted and overcame death.  You showed us the dimension of life in God's  eternal dispensation that makes the careers we plan and the standards we accept look absurd.
       When you refused to play the role of a Great Man, or the ultimate Big Shot, you really made us level with you as yourself, Jesus.

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What is love, Jesus?

     It seems so important, Jesus, that you called on God to forgive your torturers because, as you put it, they didn't know what they were doing.
     You kept on loving, even then.
     Help us to learn from you, Jesus, how to keep on loving when we feel like hating. It's hard. Some of us have turned your cross into a symbol of hate. When the Ku Klux Klan burns a cross, the blasphemy of it startles me.  Doesn't this mean, in a very real sense, joining the ranks of your own executioners?
     Nevertheless you were actively, creatively, responsibly loving, even on the cross, Jesus. Help us to see that love for what it is -- in all its fierce passion and sweep of forgiveness.

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     The kids are smiling, Jesus, on the tenement stoop

     The little girl is the oldest, and she's apparently in charge of the younger two, her brothers. Suddenly she's crying and her two brothers are trying to comfort her. Now everything seems to be peaceful and she's smiling again.
     But what's ahead for them, Christ? Home is this broken-down dump on a heartless,tough street. What kind of school will they go to? Will it be a hopelessly overcrowded? Will it be a place that breeds despair? Will it change these kids' happy smiles into angry, sullen masks they'll have to wear for the rest of their lives?  
      I look at their faces and realize how they are our victims, especially when we like to say they are beautiful children, but we don't change conditions that will make their faces hard and their hearts cynical .
     Have these kids got a chance, Jesus? Will they know anything about dignity or love or health? Jesus, looking at these kids, I'm afraid for them and for all of us.

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      Teach us the path, show us the way

      They say that everyone has a cross to bear, Jesus. And you once said, "Take up your cross and follow me." What do these things mean? I think they mean that every person ultimately has to face up to reality -- face one's own calling, destiny, nature and responsibilities.
     In your own life, Jesus, you faced reality directly and unequivocally. You incarnated the truth as you believed it. You didn't pander to any easy or obvious popularity. You attacked the hypocrisies of he human power structure head on. You rejected the status quo in favor of obedience to the Realm of God. And when it came to taking the consequences, you didn't shy away from torture and execution.
     The way of the cross was your understanding of your mission and your faithfulness to it.
      The way of the cross seems to be, for every individual Christian, the reality that dictates style of life, defines mission, and brings a person into communion with you.
     Help me to bear my cross on the way of the cross, Jesus.

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