Invitation
A Noon Collect:

The Seven Last Words

            We come to this reflection on the 7 last words—sentences really—of Jesus the Christ as we always do—as fallible humans caught between heaven and earth, life and death.

His words mirror our own, our experiences of the world find echoes in his final words on the cross.

In fact this service was first created several centuries ago in response to a horrible earth quake—reminding those victims that Jesus too experienced such despair.

And This message is still needed today—after hurricane Sandy, the slaughter in Syria, and the killings in Newtown.

We steel ourselves for the certainty of death, we mourn, we lose those we love and those who are familiar to us.

Our lives are uncertain, our faith can be frayed.

We find forgiveness, last chances, and commend ourselves to our God.

We, with the Marys and the other disciples look upon the life-giving cross, on which hung the Savior of the whole world.

 

First Word: “Father Forgive Them”—Luke 23:32-38

How could they tell who he was, there on the dreadful hill?

How could they tell there, surrounded by criminals?

How could they know?

Would we have known?

Do we know—when we do such things?

Like them.

Unable to see the very act of murdering God.

 

Do we hear him?

Do we hear his request to God?

Do we hear his pleading for our sake?

“Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

In that very moment—on the cross

He puts away responsibility

He chooses mercy over justice

He ends any thought or worry of vengeance

Any dread of bitterness

We did not see him, we did not know what we did.

He sees us, and knows who we are, and forgives us our faults.

 

Second Word: “Today You Will Be With Me In Paradise”—Luke 23:39-43

Maybe I spoke too soon. It seems someone noticed.

Someone noticed the tragedy unfolding.

The tragedy of misplaced justice.

Perhaps he didn’t see fully—there beside Jesus.

But he saw innocent suffering.

 

In Jesus’ eyes perhaps he saw unshaken conviction.

Perhaps it was a desperate plea

Either way he asked—and received.

Knocked and the door was opened to him.

 

A God of second chances…

That phrase doesn’t get to the depths of this

Ours is a God of last chances

A God who will call in His final hour

Calling that thief even in his last breath

Calling us, promising us:

“Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

 

Third Word: “Woman, Here Is Your Son”—John 19:25-27

I can’t imagine it.

She watched her son

The one that was so little in the manger…

She watched strangers, watching him.

Watching him—as a mere spectacle

Not as her baby boy.

 

Such pain in losing a son—a child—your baby

Losing yourself—experiencing such loss

Abandoned as he was abandoned

 

What can we say to Mary?

What can we say to somebody in such distress?

 

He says to her, here is your son.

And to him, here is your mother.

He provides them

A home.

 

 

Fourth Word: “My God, My God, Why Have You Forsaken Me?”—Mark 15:33-34

We celebrate Emmanuel—God with us.

And here he is.

A mirror of our lives—writ large

A loud shout to a silent God

An empty response from heaven

Truly sharing our darkest of moments

God abandoned by God

Truly a human being—crushed by sin, death, and the devil

Aren’t we all?

 

Yet—also quoting the psalm

The psalmist sings, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me–

And later sings out in that same psalm,

“He did not despise or abhor the affliction of the afflicted;

he did not hide his face from me, but heard when I cried to Him.”

 

Fifth Word: “I Thirst”—John 19:28-29

“I thirst.”

A dryness that goes all the way down

Dehydration—exposed out on the cross

Such an immediate need

Such a physical need

Looking for help—water in a time of need

All he finds is sour wine—like Judas’ sour kiss

 

He thirsts as well for us

as the deer thirst for a stream of living water

As a lover thirst for his beloved

That’s why he’s up there—thirsting

For us.

 

Sixth Word: “It Is Finished”—John 19:30

At His birth the Word had become flesh

At His baptism he was declared Lamb of God

He called disciples

He cleansed the temple

He taught the teachers

He taught the Samaritans and the Sinners

He healed the sick

He preached with authority

He fed the people

He brought to life Lazarus

He washed his disciples’ feet

He called on us to love one another

All God’s work

All done

Done

Done in the surprising brutality of it all

“It is finished.”

 

Seventh Word: Father, Into Your Hands I Commend My Spirit—Luke 23:44-46

There—in the drama of darkness—in the failing sun

With the Holy of Holies punctured—the curtain torn

There—on that cross

There Christ addresses God as Abba

As we do in that famous prayer “Our Father who art in heaven.”

He’s forgiven those who kill him

He’s called the thief to paradise

It’s done and he cries to his beloved Father

A somewhat peaceful cry for a dying man.

A dying man who trusts God will receive his weary soul

God is faithful—a rock and fortress

God’s right hand a refuge for the soul

“Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.”

And for us

His words are true too

He knows our burdens,

all of them

to the very end.

So we may commend our spirit to Jesus Christ

The one who commended His spirit to the Father.

 
Repetition of Christ’s Last Words

First Word: “Father Forgive Them”—Luke 23:32-38
Reflection
Repetition of Christ’s Last Words

Second Word: “Today You Will Be With Me In Paradise”—Luke 23:39-43
Reflection
Repetition of Christ’s Last Words

Third Word: “Woman, Here Is Your Son”—John 19:25-27
Reflection

Behold the life-giving cross, on which was hung the Savior of the whole world.
Oh, come, let us worship him.
Fourth Word: “My God, My God, Why Have You Forsaken Me?”—Mark 15:33-34

Reflection

Behold the life-giving cross, on which was hung the Savior of the whole world.
Oh, come, let us worship him.

 

Fifth Word: “I Thirst”—John 19:28-29
Reflection
Repetition of Christ’s Last Words

Sixth Word: “It Is Finished”—John 19:30
Reflection

Repetition of Christ’s Last Words

Seventh Word: Father, Into Your Hands I Commend My Spirit

Reflection
Repetition of Christ’s Last Words

Prayer

Benediction

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