Brittany Longsdorf of Lewiston, ME, USA
He was despised and rejected by others;
a man of suffering and acquainted with infirmity;
and as one from whom others hide their faces
he was despised, and we held him of no account.
Surely he has borne our infirmities
and carried our diseases;
yet we accounted him stricken,
struck down by God, and afflicted.
But he was wounded for our transgressions,
crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the punishment that made us whole,
and by his bruises we are healed. -Isaiah 53:3-5
A lovely ecumenical tradition that many college chapels and churches offer every year on Good Friday is a service centered on the last words of Christ. In the different gospel narratives these seven pronouncements cover several topics including forgiveness (Luke 23:34), hope for reunion in paradise (Luke 23:43), and deep theological questioning (Matthew 27:46, Mark 15:34).
Perhaps the phrase that always tugs at my heart the most is “I’m thirsty.” The phrase uttered by an exhausted Jesus in the Gospel of John comes just after Jesus connects his communities, his mother and family, to his disciples, and just before his final breath of release, uttering “It is finished.” “I’m thirsty,” reveals to us the full embodiment of Christ; it shows us how very human his body truly is. His basic needs to be fed, watered, comforted are the same as our needs. This primordial desire to be quenched of thirst, cried from the cross by Jesus, connects our very bodies to his in a profound way.
Barbara Brown Taylor in her book, An Altar in the World, talks about the practice of wearing skin: how our very basic bodily struggles and needs connect us to one another-connect us to all of humanity. Taylor writes that wearing skin, “is what we have most in common with one another” (42). Before the mystery and divinity of the Resurrection, Jesus is fully in his skin as a hurting, thirsty member of the human family. He is in common with us; we are a part of one bodily communion. This Good Friday, “I’m thirsty,” reminds us that Jesus is not simply for us, but is with us. Together we share in the work of the world and the call to bring hope, peace, and equality to all.
The way of suffering love leads to resurrection.
As we journey through Holy Week, we move closer to the cross. Consider the symbol of the cross in your own discipleship and its invitation for you this week. Perhaps the cross is a symbol of dying to self, of releasing what is restricting new life in Christ. Or maybe the cross is a symbol of radical solidarity with all those who suffer. Notice if your feelings about the cross have changed as you have changed and grown in your spiritual journey. If this symbol feels disruptive or resistance arises, take those feelings gently into prayer and notice where the Spirit is drawing your attention. How are you invited this Holy Week to walk the way of suffering love that leads to resurrection?
Today’s Prayer for Peace
Engage in a daily practice of praying for peace in our world. Click here to read today’s prayer and be part of this practice of peace.