Day 39 - Pauses for Lent - Gethsemane

4/19/2019

My first year at Duke Divinity School, my husband and I did what every good southerner does, we went to the first home football game of the season.  When we got there we soon learned that Duke had not won a football game in the past 3 years and unlike the basketball games where you have to camp out for even a chance at a ticket, all you really needed to do for the football game was show up.  As the game began, it started to pour down rain, buckets and buckets of rain, but we remained.  We stayed the entire game, because…wait for it…Duke was winning!  In fact, they had their first win in three years defeating the East Carolina Pirates.  We stormed the field, tore down the goal posts, and celebrated!
 
At the game one of my friends despite the past few years kept cheering, “We believe, we believe!”  Now that is where you separate the bandwagon fans or “fair weather fans” from true fans.  The ones who stand completely soaked as the rain continues to fall and proclaim, “We believe,” despite the fact that everything around you is telling you there is nothing to believe in.
 
But this isn’t just a story about true sports fans.  What sticks with me is this picture of a soaking wet individual, standing and yelling in the midst of the storm, holding on to hope, and refusing to leave the game.  This is who we are as disciples.  For all of us engaged in this life of ministry we call church, sometimes the most difficult part is standing in the midst of the downpours of life and proclaiming we believe when everything around seems to be saying there is nothing to believe in.
 
This is what we do today, Good Friday.  We journey to the cross and stand in the presence of death.  We join Jesus’ first disciples as it all falls apart, and there is no jumping to Easter morning.  No, we are meant to stand in this place.  We can’t go from Hosanna to Hallelujah without stopping to hear Crucify him and It is finished.  We can’t, as one theologian says, rejoice in the hope and promise of the resurrection without truly grieving at the cross and we can’t truly grieve at the cross without the hope and promise of the resurrection.  This is our day to say to the world that as a people of faith, we know what it means to proclaim, “We believe,” despite the fact that everything around us is telling us there is nothing to believe in.
 
Gracious God, on this day you stand in solidarity with us, for our pain is your pain.  We believe – help our unbelief.  May we stand as witnesses to your great love for all the world, revealed in the outstretched arms of Jesus Christ, our Lord.  Amen.
 
Rev. Dawn Flowers, Senior Pastor, Parkway Hills UMC (Madison)


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