The Readings this week are taken from our Stations of the Cross service, which will be held on Friday. May this journey lead us not only to the cross, but to the Empty Tomb.
1. Jesus in the Garden of Olives (Gethsemane) – Luke 22:39-46
He came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives; and the disciples followed him. When he reached the place, he said to them, “Pray that you may not come into the time of trial.” Then he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, knelt down, and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; yet, not my will but yours be done.” Then an angel from heaven appeared to him and gave him strength.
In his anguish he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down on the ground.
When he got up from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping because of grief, and he said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray that you may not come into the time of trial.”
2. Jesus is betrayed by Judas – Luke 22:47-54
While he was still speaking, suddenly a crowd came, and the one called Judas, one of the twelve, was leading them. He approached Jesus to kiss him; but Jesus said to him, “Judas, is it with a kiss that you are betraying the Son of Man?”
When those who were around him saw what was coming, they asked, “Lord, should we strike with the sword?” Then one of them struck the slave of the high priest and cut off his right ear. But Jesus said, “No more of this!” And he touched his ear and healed him.
Then Jesus said to the chief priests, the officers of the temple police, and the elders who had come for him, “Have you come out with swords and clubs as if I were a bandit? When I was with you day after day in the temple, you did not lay hands on me. But this is your hour, and the power of darkness!”
Then they seized him and led him away, bringing him into the high priest’s house. But Peter was following at a distance.
Lord God, we celebrate with thanksgiving the story of Jesus’ life.
We remember those of long ago who waved branches and sang.
We remember with them the hope that you bring through Jesus Christ.
And yet, Lord God, we remember too the crowd which would seek Jesus’ death.
We remember that we, like they, are called to choose.
Help us to choose, Lord, God, and to choose wisely, and well.
May we choose to live lives which reflect the love you have freely shared with us.
Help us to live our lives in such a way that it makes a difference, for us and for others.
Help us to be a help to those in need.
Help us to be a friend to the lonely, a comfort to the grieving, a hope for the poor.
Help us to be in our families a source of peace, of forgiveness, of unconditional love.
Help us to be in our workplaces a source of strength, of calm, of right priorities.
Help us to be in our communities examples of compassion and concern for our neighbors.
Help us to be in our church willing servants, responding to need where it arises,
sharing freely of our time, our talents, our resources.
Help us, Lord God, to not always seek the easy path, the risk-free life, the decision to do nothing.
Help us, Lord God, to choose the way of Christ; help us to choose the way of service and of love.
Help our choices make a difference, in our lives and the lives of others.
May your presence, your Spirit, your love be a transforming power in all for whom we pray.
Hear our silent prayers, O Lord.
Hear our prayers, Lord, and inspire us not only to pray, but to make the kinds of choices that would be answers to prayers for others. Amen