Wednesday Lent Message from the Land 3-18-20

Lent Wednesday Message

Wed- Mar 18, 2020

Mark 15: 1-5, 15 Jesus judged by Pilate

Mark 15:1-5 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Jesus before Pilate

15 As soon as it was morning, the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council. They bound Jesus, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate. 2 Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” He answered him, “You say so.” 3 Then the chief priests accused him of many things. 4 Pilate asked him again, “Have you no answer? See how many charges they bring against you.” 5 But Jesus made no further reply, so that Pilate was amazed.

Mark 15:15 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

15 So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released Barabbas for them; and after flogging Jesus, he handed him over to be crucified.

Hello. Grace and peace to you today in this time of uncertainty and anxiety. Grace and peace to you from Jesus. And from me. And from the New Life community of faith. Grace and peace to you from this land, which has held us in worship and holds the memory of all of our prayers here.

We are not meeting in person tonight for worship, and we are meeting here, online, and here in prayer together.

Please keep checking our website, for links to worship materials to use at home, and for updates about our activities together in a new way of being church. Please keep checking in on each other, and on your neighbors. Please keep praying for each other and for our communities and the world.

Please keep going outside wherever you are for fresh air, and to be close to God in nature. Know that the stations of the cross walking trails, labyrinth, and birdwatching blind here on the land are open and available for you, if you are nearby and need a place to walk and pray.

Luckily for us, we are used to doing things differently, to being creative and thinking outside the box at New Life. We already know that church is not a building.

Luckily for us, we have our faith to lean into in times of uncertainty. Luckily for us, this faith story is the story of one who walked into difficult times in human history, and into all the hard places. Jesus showed us how to bring the Kingdom of God closer in all of the hard places, through all fears and sadness.

We have been walking the stations of the cross together here at New Life during these Lent Wednesdays. We read and sang about Jesus being betrayed by Jesus (station 2) and Jesus being denied by Peter (station 4) the past two weeks. Now we read about Jesus being judged by Pilate, which is station five.

No one is or was having a harder day than Jesus: betrayed by a friend, denied by a friend, arrested and tried by a dictatorial governor of a cruel empire.

And Jesus sidesteps Pilate. Will not argue, will not play political games. Pilate is trying to get him and the Jews to take the bait, to pass the buck. “Are you the King of the Jews?” “You say that I am.” And Pilate “washes his hands of it,” or tries to. He tries to blame the Jews or get Jesus to condemn himself and his people. But only Romans crucified people, and only he could order it, and he would be remembered for centuries, called out in creeds. As would Judas. And Peter comes out better in the end, but his sins are recorded as well.

And that is where we leave our story today. Pilate washing his hands as we all wash our hands over and over, trying not to shrug responsibility, but take it: to take care for our neighbors. Jesus in an angry crowd as we try to avoid crowds, to shield our friends and loved ones who are healthcare workers from the nightmarish overwork conditions we see in Italy in hospitals. Jesus’ friends scattered, while we are self-scattering.

And we know the rest of the story, thank God. Jesus will extend grace to all of them - “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Jesus will go to the cross and then the grave. And then come back. Easter will come. As estimated times for isolation continue to lengthen, we can remember Easter will come. With Spring, in our part of the world, where we see New Life all around us.

And we know the next part of the story, too. The friends that were afraid will find each other. And at first they will huddle and be scared in dark rooms. And then the Holy Spirit will blow over them and give them the courage and strength they need to go out and share the news of God’s great and unending and enduring and all-conquering love. And they will figure out how to be a new kind of faith community. A new church for a new world.

And so will we. What an interesting Easter and Pentecost this will be! I’m so glad to be figuring out church with you, together.

Watch: Over the Waterfall and Angelina Baker, performed by Out of the Blue. Usually we have them with us on Wednesday nights in Lent. I hope this message and listening to them play will bring some welcome worshipful time to your evening and Lenten journey. A recording of this message is also on our New Life YouTube channel:

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