Some thoughts frm Rev. Philip Payne for MAUNDY THURSDAY
‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me (Ps 22:1; Mat 27:46)
It is Maundy Thursday and Holy Week approaches its climax. Tonight, I invite you to join me in spirit at the evening Eucharist. Tonight, of all nights, our Eucharist takes us, in spirit, to the Last Supper – that great forerunner of every Eucharist. It was here that Jesus washed the feet of his disciples; a graphic reminder that in Jesus’ kingdom, greatness and service go together. It was from here, too, that Jesus set out to the Mount of Olives where, immediately before his arrest, he would utter that agonized prayer …. Take this cup from me …. Yet not my will but yours be done. (Matt 26; 39).
Now picture your church as this Eucharist draws to a close. The sanctuary is filled with all the trappings of worship and the daily life of the church: fabrics, candles, plate, furniture. For a moment all is still, all is quiet. You have made your communion and now you wait quietly for the service to draw to a close.
“My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me …..” A lone voice calls out these words which Jesus cried from the cross. Then, as Psalm 22 is read, the candles are snuffed out, the fixtures and fittings, the fabrics and the plate, are all taken away, and only the naked table stands in an otherwise empty sanctuary. Once again, we sit or kneel in silence until, one by one, we too slip quietly into the dusk.
This year, perhaps more than most, these two prayers come alive “My God, why have you forsaken me?” and ‘if there is a way, take this cup from me’. Tonight, as we linger, perhaps we add a cry of our own ‘where is God in all this?’ Tomorrow, perhaps, we shall see. For now, the darkness thickens and night crowds in.
Yet prayer persists even while we sleep. As we go, the spirit of our Lord lingers, in prayer; in our prayers; in the prayers of countless number of our forebears down the years, above all, in his prayer in the garden, ‘Not my will but yours be done’.
(A copy of Psalm 22 is attached)
Psalm 22 – Plea for Deliverance from Suffering and Hostility
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning?
O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer; and by night, but find no rest.
Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel.
In you our ancestors trusted; they trusted, and you delivered them.
To you they cried, and were saved; in you they trusted, and were not put to shame.
But I am a worm, and not human; scorned by others, and despised by the people.
All who see me mock at me; they make mouths at me, they shake their heads;
‘Commit your cause to the Lord; let him deliver — let him rescue the one in whom he delights!’
Yet it was you who took me from the womb; you kept me safe on my mother’s breast.
On you I was cast from my birth, and since my mother bore me you have been my God.
Do not be far from me, for trouble is near and there is no one to help.
Many bulls encircle me, strong bulls of Bashan surround me;
they open wide their mouths at me, like a ravening and roaring lion.
I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint;
my heart is like wax; it is melted within my breast;
my mouth is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to my jaws;
you lay me in the dust of death.
For dogs are all around me; a company of evildoers encircles me.
My hands and feet have shrivelled; I can count all my bones.
They stare and gloat over me; they divide my clothes among themselves,
and for my clothing they cast lots.
But you, O Lord, do not be far away! O my help, come quickly to my aid!
Deliver my soul from the sword, my life from the power of the dog!
Save me from the mouth of the lion!
From the horns of the wild oxen you have rescued me.
I will tell of your name to my brothers and sisters; in the midst of the congregation I will praise you:
You who fear the Lord, praise him!
All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him; stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!
For he did not despise or abhor the affliction of the afflicted;
he did not hide his face from me, but heard when I cried to him.
From you comes my praise in the great congregation;
my vows I will pay before those who fear him.
The poor shall eat and be satisfied; those who seek him shall praise the Lord.
May your hearts live for ever!
All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord;
and all the families of the nations shall worship before him.
For dominion belongs to the Lord, and he rules over the nations.
To him, indeed, shall all who sleep in the earth bow down;
before him shall bow all who go down to the dust, and I shall live for him.
Posterity will serve him; future generations will be told about the Lord,
and proclaim his deliverance to a people yet unborn, saying that he has done it.
Readings for Maudy Thursday and Good Friday can be found on Downloads