Poems and Prayers for Lent 9

For better or worse, we have made a choice at Collins Street.  For the duration of Lent we’ve elected to stay with Mark’s passion narrative, chapters 14 & 15, to linger there in all the painful detail.  The lectionary purists will shake their heads and with some justification.  They are hard work, these chapters … dark and foreboding stuff.  It’s like taking a slow and laboured walk through mud: scene after scene of struggle, betrayal, denial and injustice.  For good reason these stories are usually held together for Holy Week.  To linger there for such a long time is exhausting!

Yesterday Carolyn reflected with us on Jesus’ prayers in Gethsemane.  The depth of Jesus’ emotion in the story is extraordinary.  He is distressed, agitated and grieved.  He throws himself on the ground before God.  He prays.  He pleads.  He bemoans his own weakness and feels his fear.  It is a very human picture of Jesus but one of ultimate surrender and obedience.

As Carolyn reminded us, while this story is commonly cast as an illustration of the disciples’  failure, it is as much a story of the faithfulness of Christ, and of the father who stays with us in all the pain and struggle of faith.  This discipleship that Jesus calls us to is anything but a fast track to glory but one in which we are assured of his sustaining presence.

Late last week in our daily readings we used this prayer.  As I reflected on the Gethsemane story again this morning, it feels appropriate.

O God, take me as I am.
I can come no other way.
I am frail,
I am uncertain,
I am afraid.
I am as full of doubt as I am of faith,
as full of anxiety as I am of confidence.
I am up, I am down.
I am with you, I ignore you.
I want to hear your voice,
and I block my ears
afraid of what you will say.
O God, take me as I am.
I can come no other way.

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