Hungry for the sunrise

It is the eve of the Triduum, Maundy Thursday, and I am hungry, starving, ravenous for the Man of Sorrows in Gethsemane. I go first to my church, and it is holy and sacred there. I walk up with head bowed to receive communion, the Bread and the Chalice, and the women serving say it quiet in the dark sanctuary, "The body of Christ, broken for you, Genevieve. The blood of Christ shed for you, Genevieve." I eat and I drink, but I am still hungry, soul-hungry.

I emerge from the dark sanctuary to a glorious sunset that speaks of the holiness of this night. Two thousand years ago, Jewish followers of Christ preparing for Pentacost. Jesus, washing dirty feet, serving bread and wine, speaking of the mysteries of faith.

I go to another church. Recite the Creed, pray on my knees as they do here, take communion. They say again, "The body of Christ, broken for you. The blood of Christ shed for you." In silence at the end, the altar is cleared, the lights are dimmed to near darkness, and most go out in silence. I stay on knees aching and pray for deliverance, as He did that last night.
Good Friday comes, and work is hard and long, but the hunger in my soul remains. I go to another church, not mine, and sit in the dim sanctuary where the cross is now draped with black and the only light is that of the sunset coming through the stained glass windows. Tonight is about the Cross, the moment when Christ took the sins of the world upon His ravaged body and willing soul. A familiar hymn is sung, and I am still singing it still today...

Jesus, Lamb of God,
You take away the sins of the world.
Have mercy on us.
Jesus, bread of Life,
You take away the sins of the world.
Have mercy on us.
Jesus, Prince of Peace,
You take away the sins of the world.
Have mercy on us.
Grant us peace.
Miserere nobis.
~Agnus Dei (sung here in Latin), English translation, based on John 1:29~

Another church. I kneel again. Ask for the continual redemption He promises for our daily different from the solitary moment of salvation, when we choose to be followers, believers. What I need today is the power of the Holy Spirit who came to dwell in me at that moment of salvation - I need Him to help me resist and to turn away from sin and to count blessings instead of spewing cursing. Continue to work out my salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12). A friend's words whisper in my quiet mind, being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ (Phil. 1:6).

This, my friends, is the hard road of sanctification...the red road of Gethsemane upon which we are slowly freed from the clutches of sin that so easy crowds in and crowds out...this depression, this spiritual battle, this day. It is redeemed already, yes - but sanctification, like salvation, is entered into by choice, and it is work. Sanctify: to set apart for sacred purpose, to free from sin, to purify.

To work out one's salvation is to be hungry, for we are never filled. It is to ache with emptiness, for we are not yet perfected. It is to count successes and to grieve failures, to be broken over and over again for the sins of self and the sins of the world. And yet...Jesus said it there, hanging bloodied on the Cross, to the thief who had no hope of a lifetime of sanctification: paradise. At the end, paradise. Free at last, free at last, thank God Almighty we will be free at last! (Martin Luther King, Jr.)

We process through the stations of the Cross, singing as we go: behold the wood of the Cross, on which hung the Savior of the world. As I bow in the dark church empty of Jesus, even the statue of Him carried out as it was to the tomb, my thoughts turn to His journey in those 3 days between death and resurrection. I am shattered with thankfulness. Filled with hope. Truly, all hope rests in the resurrection, the sunrise of Easter Sunday and the empty tomb. For what have I to fear if not death itself? As I fast in vigil tonight, it is with hope and an expectant soul: for sorrow may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.

Five Minute Friday