Into the grief and silence of death, the prophet whispers: “Drink plenty of water. Get something to eat. Remember that the rain will still come, and the seed will still grow; there will be grains to harvest and fresh dough to knead” (AP).
The prophet gathers the exiles in Babylon, the land that feels like it has dealt a fatal blow to the Israelites’ faith and culture. Daily living in Babylon is a spiritual wasteland, an empty table, a failed promise. Yet the prophet imagines a day when the people will again be a testament of God’s covenant. Until that time, they must not give in to death and despair. “Seek God, even in this foreign land, and take pleasure in the food on your tables.”
Significant moments are best accompanied by food shared in community. At a table of fellowship, we find strength for what lies behind and for what may come ahead. A bit of bread keeps our spirits grounded when we might faint with anguish. A cup of water refreshes when our minds might rage against sensory inundation. A shared camaraderie draws us beyond ourselves when we might be tempted to withdraw into spiritual cocoons.
Eat. Drink. Be together. And remember, the prophet says, the work of God is stretched out across time and creation. The word of God is always unfolding, always planting and nourishing, always dying and renewing, always carving a new path like water through a rock, like the Hebrew people across the Red Sea.
When the sea flees from its usual bed, stay nourished and watch for life. When the mountains skip and the rocks melt, drink deeply and be at peace. When death overshadows and menaces, stay together and wait for God.
Your goodness stretches to the heavens, O God, even when clouds distort our view. Your promises water the earth, even when seeds are slow to grow. Keep us nourished and keep us together while we wait. Amen.
This week’s readings take us through the depths but then into the eternal light. We walk each step with Jesus, who suffers betrayal, abandonment, and death. But it is more than that. In his suffering, Jesus also enters into the brokenness of our human condition and feels our pain, such that on the Cross he even feels abandonment by God. He walks through the valley of the shadow of death because of God’s amazing, reckless love for us. This is the power of Holy Week. But that is not the end of the story. Jesus’ steps do not end at the Cross, for he walks out of the tomb! Now we can follow in his steps and participate in his new life. He is risen indeed!
Read Isaiah 42:1-9. How is God calling you to be a light? How does God empower you to follow God’s call to you?
Read Psalm 70. What is prompting you to reach out for God’s help today? In what ways do you ask for that help?
Read John 13:1-17, 31b-35. What acts of service does Jesus’ example in this reading move you to perform? Choose one act you will do today in remembrance of Jesus’ humility.
Read John 20:1-18. When have you, in the light of God’s love, let go of the way you thought your life would be in order to live a different reality that God intended for you?
Respond by posting a prayer.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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