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My Good Friday God

What kind of God are you, dying like that?
I want a real God, a “fix it “ God,
not one that gets himself crucified.
You’re just as helpless as the rest of us.
Here we are dying together.
What a weird way to save a world!

Such sorrow pierced your mother.
Yet, she didn’t run away.
She stayed there suffering too.
Was she filled with a mother’s self doubt?
“Could she have done anything?
Would it have made a difference?”

I watched my mother die by inches.
Her dignity destroyed
by fourteen years of Alzheimer’s.
I’ve seen my children make choices
that would cost them for years.
I could only ask, “Am I to blame?”

I listened to my friend whose mind
had become her enemy.
I heard her pain, yet could not help.
I hate being helpless, not good enough
or smart enough to help
even the ones I love the most.

Not long ago, you did miracles
even in my own small life.
Now I just see our brokenness.

You are a Good Friday God.

I think about the expectations
you gave your Apostles.
Only Judas got the picture.
How disillusioned he became.
He must have felt that you
were betraying them all.
Sometimes I’m just like Judas,
recognizing that we
are all sheep being shorne.
I’m even as cowardly
as Peter in asking
more or less, “Jesus who?”
But I know as well as John did
that your love is perfect.
That we need nothing more.
Even though like doubting Thomas
I fear a hard ending,
you are my Lord and my God,
my only God.
So I ask for grace to follow
though through the cross you call,
my Good Friday God.

The Lonely Least of His Family

In Matthew 25:40 Jesus says, “Truly, I tell you, whatever you do to the least of my family, you do to me.”
In Gal 2:20 Paul says, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it
is Christ who lives in me.”
I doubt if many of us want to be considered the least of God’s family. Most of us aren’t too
eager to be crucified either. Yet we want to be one with Christ and to be able to say that
it is Christ who lives in us.
A missionary friend told me that the Christians in Africa pray for America, because they fear we have lost our souls. I sometimes think their fear is justified.
When you read Acts, it’s hard to see a connection to the watered down, comfortable, socially
acceptable version of Christianity we experience today. When you look around in church, there don’t seem to be many, who would admit anyway to being the ‘least’ of His family.
So, who are these ‘least’ that are one with Christ? Where do we find them? Because ignoring
them is the same as ignoring Christ.
The obvious are the homeless or foster children, but not all of us are cut out for that kind of ministry.

In our times, loneliness seems to be rampant and often emotionally crippling.  When we moved to a new city, my first grader came home after a week or so in school and said that no one played with him on the playground, so he just stood by a tree.  I asked him if there were any other children standing by the tree.  The next day he came home very excited.  He announced that he found several others standing by the tree and now they were friends and  had played together at recess.

Look around you in your office, in the pew next to you in church, in your children’s classroom, in your extended family, in your neighborhood, in the nursing homes. Who are the lonely? Whose life can you make a little better even just once a week for a few hours.  Ask God to help you to see whose lives He wants you to touch, not necessarily fix or save, just   touch.

For me right now, I have friends my age or older, who are home bound or in a nursing home, and whose children work.  Taking them out to lunch or bringing books and magazines or a batch of sugar free brownies can literally make their day.  Even just visiting breaks up a very long lonely week for them.
My four year old granddaughter loves to go with me to the nursing home. She says it’s because all the people there love her. And they do. Residents and caregivers and even visitors simply come alive when she walks in. She’s like a tiny bubble of joy for them in their bleak days.  She doesn’t have to do anything but smile.
It isn’t a dramatic ministry, though it does often break your heart. But being even a tiny light for anyone in a dark helpless time in their lives is like staying with Jesus at the foot of his cross.