John 12.13. “They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, ‘Hosanna!’
It’s very easy for us to judge the crowds who shouted ‘Hosanna!’ one week, and ‘Crucify!’ the next. Surely you knew, as you rode into Jerusalem on that donkey, that their praises would not last.
But you didn’t judge them, as we might have judged them, harshly: you loved these people, and you would finish - for them, for us, for me - what you started on that first Palm Sunday.
Thank you that you love me, despite the fact that I can praise you one day, and turn my back on you, the next.
Thank you that you love me, despite the fact that I get swayed by the crowd.
Thank you that you love me, despite the fact that even now, I falter as you ask me to take up my cross and follow you, wherever the path may lead.
Please help me to respond ever more faithfully to your faithfulness, and help me, as I go, to learn to love you, and others, the way you first loved me.
Psalm 116 [MSG]. “What can I give back to God for the blessings he’s poured out on me? I’ll lift high the cup of salvation - a toast to God! I’ll pray in the name of God; I’ll complete what I promised God I’d do.”
On this most poignant of days, Lord, we can only marvel at the way you completed what you’d promised God you would do. You took the cup, and you drank from it. And you said, ‘Do this in remembrance of me.’
Lord, we remember, today. We remember.
And we fall to our knees, in thanks, remembering the way you fell to your knees in the garden of Gethsemane. Even though you asked for the cup to be taken from you, Lord, still you drank from it. You drank it deep; because of me, and for me.
What, now, can I give back to God for the blessings he’s poured out on me? Help me, Lord, to lift high the cup of salvation, a toast to you! And help me to complete the work I have said I’d do - a response of love! - even as your own great work on the Cross is completed in me.
Psalm 1. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
I cannot imagine the joy you must have felt, Jesus, at the very beginning of time, when you, the Word, were with God, and were God, and you created with God and the Spirit all the poetry and beauty and majesty of our universe.
You were the perfect community, working in harmony. We can only guess of the love you shared with your Father, so deep, and so close.
Neither can I imagine the pain of separation you felt as you spoke these darkest words, forsaken, on the Cross. “Why?”
We can but wonder what this moment meant to you, and what it cost you. Just as we can but wonder what this moment meant to your Father, and what it cost him, the most loving parent, as he stayed his hand, and held back the angels and accepted the perfect sacrifice.
Forsaken, isolated, innocent.
My God, my God.
How could you possibly do it?
Mark 16.6 “He is risen.”
Lord, as if the shock of Good Friday wasn’t enough for your closest followers... We feel for those faithful women who went to visit you just after sunrise on that Sunday morning, and fled, trembling and bewildered and afraid.
You were not there.
Forgive us when we sanitise your death. And forgive us, too, if we belittle your resurrection! Please help us to see this most incredible of moments, this greatest twist of any plot, through fresh eyes, on this bewildering, yet most joyful of mornings.
Help us to see it through the tear-filled eyes of those women.
Help us to see it through the disbelieving eyes of the men, some of whom came running.
And help us to glimpse it through your own eyes, which must have blinked into the early morning sunlight of that first Easter Day, from out of complete, and utter, darkness, and
and creased, with a smile.
You are risen indeed.
Second Sunday of Easter - April 15
1 John 1.5 ‘God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.’
As the light from that first Easter sunrise streams from its distant horizon into our own life and time, we feel its touch, its warmth, its glow; and we draw from its energy, and we begin to see the world around us in a new light. In the light of your love.
So help us to walk in this light, in your light, this week. May our actions be in step with our beliefs. May we walk the talk. May we keep no dark secrets, nor hide anything away - especially not the light you now place within our hearts.
Help us, too, to reach out in the light of love to others: to those who still walk in darkness; to those who live in the shadows of poverty and injustice; and to those who need help to see the Way.
Light up our life, Lord, that we may shine like stars, in brilliance, in wonder, but most of all, in love.
Third Sunday of Easter - April 22
Luke 24.40-43 ‘He showed them his hands and feet. And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate it in their presence.’
Lord, God, creator of the universe, the living Word, the Alpha and Omega, the great I Am. You are beyond our human superlatives. You are beyond our imagination. You are beyond anything we could dream up, for ourselves.
And you became flesh and blood and lived among us.
And you performed miracles.
And you demonstrated the greatest love.
And such love took you to the Cross.
And you defeated sin and death.
And you rose from the grave.
And you won a cosmic battle of which we can hardly comprehend.
... you ate some broiled fish.
You are the down-to-Earth God, in whose footsteps we follow, in our amazed and joyful disbelief. Help us to glimpse more clearly the human face of your divine majesty, as well as the divine face of humanity - your humanity, and even my humanity, which back in the beginning, you looked at, and loved, and saw that it was good.
Fourth Sunday of Easter - April 29
Psalm 23. ‘The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul.’
You, Lord, are the Good Shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep. Thank you, that you know me and call me by name. Thank you that you would search and search just for one missing sheep out of a hundred -
even it were me -
and not rest until it was back in the fold.
And thank you, too, for the great words of the psalms, which comfort, challenge and inspire us. We shall not want, Lord, for we are yours, and you have given us what we need. You have give us all we need.
Thank you for green pastures.
Thank you for quiet waters.
Thank you for refreshing my soul.
Even when I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will not fear.
You, Lord, are my shepherd. You have called me by name. And you have searched, until you have found me. Enfold us in your love.
Brian Draper has produced these prayers and reflections which offer an opportunity to stop and remember the God who is the source of our life and being, and who longs with us to see creation restored and the kingdom come.
To view prayers from previous months, click on the red arrow below.