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Maundy Thursday

Last night, following a Eucharist/Agape meal complete with foot-washing (or washing of hands as an alternative), the VTS community gathered processed from Key Hall to the Chapel for the Prayer Vigil.  This is journaling from my hour beginning the vigil (12-1 am): 

Most have gone off now into the night, save for a few souls who wait and watch with Christ in the Garden.

The chapel is still and quiet.  The credence table is draped in black and placed middle of the choir.  On the table is one of Peggy Parker's woodcut prints, the Sixth Stations: "Veronica wipes the face of Jesus."

Jesus is bound by chains and Simon of Cyrene is bearing the Cross because Christ is not burdened at this juncture.  At least not with the timber of the tree.  But do not be fooled.  With each stumbling step which moves Jesus closer to Golgotha, the burdens of this sinful world are heaped up upon Christ's shoulders.

The scourge marks on his left arm are visible.  Deep ruts of blood-red rawness torn open by the cat o' nine tails wielded by the soldiers.  His arms hang at his sides in a stooped posture of resignation.  The die has been cut.  The text set. The story is in motion and cannot now be stopped.  Yes, Jesus will die.  For you and for me.  So long ago.  Once and for all of our sins.  This Jesus must die.

But amidst this moving horror of a story, a woman steps forward to comfort Jesus.  I just learned today that when we hear the 'comfortable' words of Jesus, they are meant to strengthen us.  Veronica tried to offer Jesus a moment of comfort, of strength, in his trek.  She is comforting him who has probably comforted her often.  Perhaps even now.

SP (my companion during this watch) is singing now.  I would join her but this is her devotional practice.  I am content to sit and listen.

Two lone votive candles burn presently on the eight-candle stand that is positioned front and center at the crossing.

Veronica's right hand holds a kerchief or napkin to the left cheek of Christ as her left hand rests on his right shoulder. Does she remember his scarred backside?  Does Christ?  Or is he numb with shock?  Can she feel the dampness of blood soaking his tunic?

The gaze between the two of them is sorrow through love, or love through sorrow.  There are soundless 'Thank Yous' being passed back and forth between them.

The thorned crown still rest upon his head.  And the cross cannot be far behind.  Golgotha looms ahead and the journey continues.  Such sacrifice made for all the sinful world, once for all, then, now, and for for those still yet to come after.

Thank you, Lord, for your mercy is great.  You died for me, a sinner.  God's grace and your act of obedience overwhelm me.  I hope that I might a good servant be, this day, and in the years to come.