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Betrayal. I expect many of us have experienced it, and often in the course of our work. Betrayal happens when someone we have trusted turns on us, rejecting us, perhaps even injuring us. It’s not uncommon for people who work in highly competitive companies or industries to experience betrayal several times throughout their career. In praying with people who have been deeply hurt by others. I’ve felt betrayed a few times. And, if truth be told, I expect some former colleagues might have felt betrayed by me, no matter what I had intended.
The second of the biblical Stations of the Cross draws our attention to the betrayal of Jesus by Judas.
Today, as we prepare for Holy Week and Easter, I’m beginning a 14-part series of devotions based on the biblical Stations of the Cross. You may be familiar with the traditional Stations of the Cross, which are common in Catholic churches and retreat centers. But you may not know that in 1991, Pope John Paul II published another set of stations, each of these based on biblical passages related to the Passion of Jesus. These biblical stations take us through the last day of Jesus’s life, allowing us to contemplate what he experienced and why it matters so much.
There is another dimension of the cross that we sometimes overlook on Good Friday. We see this dimension clearly in Ephesians 2:14-16, where the death of Christ on the cross brings reconciliation, not only between people and God, but also between alienated people groups.
We were created for work. And work, as God intended it, was to be good. As creatures made in God’s image, we were to do the good work of being fruitful, multiplying, filling the earth, governing it, tilling it, and keeping it.
But then something happened to corrupt the goodness of work. Sin happened.
We know very little about the centurion who appears in Mark 15. He is first mentioned in verse 39, “Now when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, ‘Truly this man was God’s Son!’” A few verses later, when Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the dead body of Jesus, Pilate summoned the centurion to find out for sure whether Jesus had died (15:44). When the centurion confirmed Jesus’ demise, Pilate let Joseph have the body (15:45). That’s all the gospels tell us about this particular centurion.
Several years ago, while visiting a church on Sunday morning, I saw a striking communion banner. It featured a creative and tasteful weaving together of wheat stalks and bunches of grapes. I appreciated the artistry that went into the design and production of the banner and was glad to have seen it.
In many Christian traditions, foot-washing ceremonies provide a way for brothers and sisters in Christ to express their deep commitment to and care for each other. Foot washing can feel almost sacramental for those who give and receive it.
One of the things I didn’t much appreciate – and that my community didn’t emphasize – was the season of Lent. Perhaps you are in a similar situation. … Whether you are new to the season or are an experienced observer, I want to reflect with you every other Saturday this Lenten season on the above text from Psalm 50.
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