Jesus came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives; and the disciples followed him. When he reached the place, he said to them, “Pray that you may not come into the time of trial.” Then he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, knelt down, and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; yet, not my will but yours be done.” Then an angel from heaven appeared to him and gave him strength. In his anguish he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down on the ground. When he got up from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping because of grief, and he said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray that you may not come into the time of trial.” – Luke 23:39-46
This Sunday begins Holy Week.
I wonder if you, like me, feel a little overwhelmed by it all. No matter how prepared we feel, Holy Week and Jesus’ walk to the cross is upon us.
To be honest, I feel like I didn’t quite pray enough this Lent, or do enough spiritual practices to really take seriously this time of reflection. I wonder, did I fail Lent? Did I do enough? Am I good enough? Did the disciples who fell asleep because of grief and who struggled to pray enough to face the trials ahead feel like this too?
A young person I talked to recently was worried about not confessing all of their sins. They asked if God would forgive us if we forgot something, or didn’t realize we did something wrong. I think I understood the heart of their question and identified with the concern—Is God unhappy with how I lived this Lent? Is it too late to turn it around and repent heartily enough? Are there some prayers or fasting or giving that could be added on right at the end of Lent?
But here we are.
And we might be asking ourselves, is God’s grace enough for me?
The answer, I believe, is that Jesus isn’t leaving us on this journey alone. It’s his journey, but it’s also our journey. God’s love and grace is enough. Jesus’ presence is enough.
Even though I feel like I’ve disappointed myself and others this Lent, I’m grateful that it’s never too late to walk this journey with Jesus. It’s not too late for the disciples who Jesus asked to wake up. It’s not too late for me to wake up and pray, and it’s not too late for all of us seeking to follow Jesus in the way of the cross.
I’d like to invite myself—and all of us—to spend some time today or this weekend before worship on Palm Sunday to look at our Lent with love and grace, to examine how we might approach Holy Week with a renewed hope-filled perspective.
Some of you are headed out of town for spring break, and others have a normal work or school week. I wonder if we might see how we could cut out an unnecessary thing or two and give ourselves a little bit more buffer for prayer and reflection—maybe choosing one or two services to attend that we normally might not, or showing up 10 minutes early so we aren’t rushing. (This for me could be a real spiritual practice and invitation, as I feel like I’m always rushing to arrive.) Or if we’re away, could we find a church to attend, or livestream a St. David’s service, or spend a little bit longer with the wonderful devotions written by St. David’s parishioners.
Perhaps you take 45 minutes and walk, alone or with a friend, the Stations of the Cross in the Old Churchyard (or join the guided walk this evening at 5 pm). If you can’t make it in person, you can light a candle, perhaps burn some incense, and create your own reflection time by listening to the St. David’s Lenten Evensong or going on a walking meditation with my favorite Lenten Stations of the Cross music by Cardiphonia: Songs for Lent.
When I have struggled to turn to Jesus this Lent, or wonder if I am “doing enough” for God, I recall with gratitude that Jesus doesn’t leave me alone on this journey. That because of his great and extravagant love for us, all that we have—and all that we are—is both enough and truly a gift.
The Lenten closing prayer from the Pray as You Go podcast sums it up so well. Let us pray it together in gratitude for where we have come and where we are going together this Holy Week—to the cross and to be with Jesus.
Let us pray:
You have given all to me.
To You, Lord, I return it.
Everything is Yours, do with it what you will
Give me only your love and your grace
That, is enough for me.
The Rev. Emily Zimbrick-Rogers