I hope you didn’t rush through this text today. Because it’s a familiar text, we can sometimes go into “auto pilot” mode when reading. It’s a story that never gets old, even when you hear it several times the same day. What spoke to you from this birth announcement as you read it this time?
There is so much packed into these few verses. God stripped himself of the majesty of heaven and came to earth as a helpless babe! There was no palace waiting for our king. Only a manger bed. That silent night was all orchestrated by God, which makes it even more precious.
Right before our reading today happens, we hear about the empty tomb for the first time. Hallelujah! Jesus Christ is risen! I hope you were able to find a way to get to an Easter celebration in a church near you. The songs of Easter are still ringing in my ears! The joy and marvel of Jesus’ resurrection – what do we do with it?
Our Easter faith simply means we put our trust in Jesus as our Messiah. We must never forget his great sacrifice for us. He did all the work, and now it’s our turn to believe. We might find ourselves blinded like those men on the road to Emmaus. We read that “God kept them from recognizing him.” Ask God to reveal himself to you.
We pick up where we left off in our last reflection, only from Luke’s perspective this time. The fact that the Roman officer had come to faith in Luke is powerful since it’s the concludes thought of our last reading (in Mark). Think about that for a minute. Who converted and worshiped God? A Roman? Seriously! That’s terrific.
Time passes quickly, and nightfall will soon usher in the Sabbath. Had Jesus’ executioners thought about what to do with the body? Or were they just so intent on getting rid of him permanently, they hadn’t figured out the next step in their plan? Thankfully, Joseph stepped up.
My focus today is on what happened that night in the garden. But, before we reflect on that, it’s good to remember what happened right before. Jesus had just shared the final meal he would share with his closest friends. We recognize the elements of our present day sacrament, Holy Communion. So many truths were revealed during the meal, I’m sure the disciple’s heads were spinning.
Jesus’ response to all of that was to pray. It sounds like praying in the garden was a regular thing. This time, Jesus was hoping the disciples would to stay awake and ponder all that was happening. Jesus knew that he needed his Father more than ever this night. I try to put myself there in the garden, too. With all that Jesus had just shared, I don’t think I could have fallen asleep!
The theme we’ve been focusing on is the “Holy Spirit & Prayer.” Understanding both are so crucial to a healthy faith journey. After a couple of reflections on the Holy Spirit, today we focus on prayer with a simple example given to us by Jesus.
You may recognize it like I did. I grew up saying the Lord’s Prayer in church every Sunday. I never realized where it came from. Matthew 6:9-13 is another place where Jesus teaches us how to pray.