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My God Loves Me

April 19, 2014

Yesterday was Good Friday.

I went through my day doing my typical Good Friday things (yes, I have things that occur most Good Fridays)–wondering what in the world the kids were doing up so early on a non-school day…..strawberry picking….wildflower admiring….rushing to make said strawberries into jam before it was time to leave for church…and church.

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On the way back from the strawberry patch, the kids were happily occupied on electronic devices.  I plugged my headphones into my phone and queued up The Garden by the Liturgists.

A week or so ago, Rachel Held Evans mentioned on her blog that she did a reading for The Garden.  I discovered on iTunes that The Garden is a series of three of mediations and songs, followed by a long contemplative prayer.  It looked interesting to me, so I downloaded it.  Being Good Friday and all, I listened to Friday and it’s accompanying song.  Then I skipped to the 19 minute contemplative prayer.

It was at this time that I learned that driving does not bide itself well to true contemplative prayer.  I quickly decided to modify the speaker’s instructions to “be free of distractions” and to “close your eyes.”  I chose to get us home safely rather than following all of his directions.  However, since everyone was happily occupied, I went ahead with the mediation–doing so with my eyes open and distractions abounding.

Breathe in–fill me with God’s love.  Breathe out—send God’s love out into the world.  Breathe in–fill me with God’s love.  Breathe out–send God’s love out into the world.

My God loves me.  My God loves me.  My God loves me.  My God loves me.  My God loves me.  My God loves me.  My God loves me.  My God loves me.  My God loves me.

What a fitting mantra for that Good Friday.

That evening we attended church with a service of only scripture and music–no mediations, not homily’s–just scripture and music.  We raised our voices in song, surveying the wondrous cross and acknowledging that it was us–me, myself in fact, that crucified Thee.  The candles were extinguished as the natural light faded as well, the church slowly darkening between unlit candles and the setting sun.

I left the service with scripture echoing through my head–Jesus, remember me when you come into my kingdom…..My God, my God, why have you forsaken me…..Father, forgive them….It is finished.  I knew, when I solemnly and silently, left the sanctuary that it was my sins that killed Jesus.  I am no different than the Pharisees, even though I would like to think I am better than them.  There was no choice but for Jesus to die because of me and the rest of humanity.  He died because I am a sinner.  I left, asking for Jesus to remember to me, asking for God to have mercy on me, a sinner.

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From the service, Curtis and I headed to the labyrinth behind the church.  I walked slowly, arms crossed across my chest, feeling shameful for my humanity.  I looked down at the path I was supposed to take, looking up just to navigate around the tree.  Oh God, have mercy on me, a sinner.  Remember me, Jesus, when you come into your kingdom.  Oh, the feelings, pressing down on my shoulders, pressing me into the earth.  Oh God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

As I walked though, my mantra from earlier in the afternoon started seeping in.  My God loves me.  My God loves me.  My God loves me.  My God loves me.

It’s true, I realized.  My God loves me, even though I am totally human, sinning regularly through my words, my actions, and my thoughts, through the things I have done and the things I have left undone.  That very evening, on the way to service, I felt an awful lot like Peter when a non-Christian neighbor asked me where we headed out to for the evening (we had a sitter).  I replied dinner—I couldn’t admit to a church service on Friday night….so much like Peter in the garden of Gethsemane.  My God loves me.  I let my arms fall to my sides, walked with more confidence, and looked around at the deer that came to join us at dusk at the labyrinth.

I don’t quite understand how Jesus’s resurrection proves the love of God.  I just know it does, just like I know his death proves his love.  Instead of getting rid of those sinners roaming around Israel at the time, Jesus died.  Jesus could have called down the power of the heavens (like in the Old Testament) and caused plagues or darkness or any number of things to wipe out everyone who sinned against him.  Jesus could have responded in violence and anger.  Yet he didn’t.  His words towards the end were, “Father, forgive them,” not “Father, smite them down, every last one of them who have broken your laws.”  He treated the sinners who recognized him and who accepted fully their humanity with gentleness and love.

My God loves me.  I don’t know how.  I can’t explain it, but I know that’s the lesson to be had in Good Friday.  My God loves me.

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