Waiting for Easter

Cross by George Wharton JamesWhen I saw the priest swipe the Ash Wednesday cross on my baby’s forehead, I cried.

“Ashes to ashes, dust to dust,” the priest said, and I looked at my round-cheeked, bobble-headed, newly-born gift, and I was terrified. He will die one day, I thought, and the simple truth of the human condition quickened inside me. I spent this last January in the hospital with that child, now a growing seven-year-old. He was gravely ill, and, for a time, the doctors didn’t know how to diagnose him.

If you’ve ever lingered in a children’s hospital, you know it is a hallowed place. It tears you up to see young bodies worn thin with illness and bloated with medication, to watch toddlers toting IV poles, and to find children who should be running and jumping and laughing bedridden.

There’s an instant respect and gratitude for the nurses and doctors and workers who battle death every day and long through the night.

There’s a strange kinship that comes with intuitively recognizing the fear and powerlessness on fellow parents’ faces stretched tight with worry.

We named our eldest son Dominic, because it means belonging to the Lord. I’ve always believed it, but facing the reality that our son didn’t in fact belong to us, that we couldn’t heal him or sustain him or hold on to him — it was a hard place.

It’s also a place where dysfunctional coping mechanisms come in handy. The ability to emotionally disconnect, to push past the pain and fear and instead smile at my weak and feverish child was a strange gift that made the days endurable. The breath-stealing moments came at night, when the room was quiet and my boy slept, and I curled in to the hard plastic couch and cried a soundless prayer, the kind where no words come and your body prays for you, the kind I last prayed when we miscarried a baby, the kind that comes from the gut.

© Copyright Renjishino1 and licensed for reuse at Wikimedia.

© Copyright Renjishino1 and licensed for reuse at Wikimedia.

One afternoon I was able to slip down to the prayer chapel, where the thick doors shut out the muffled sound of the hospital. It was late December, so the nativity still sat at the front of a room framed by four stained glass images. Next to that was a kneeler facing Mecca. Opposite, a spreading tree curved over the wall. And behind that, a glass cabinet, filled with every religious symbol you can imagine. This was a place where no one could escape the truth of mortality, where a parent’s deepest fears confronted them face-to-face — a place where everyone reaches for God.

I had the chapel to myself, which was good, because emotion is loud and desperation bottles up inside, and all I could think was: NOT MY CHILD.

The past four years have wrung us dry as a family. Circumstances have squeezed tight from every possible angle, and brokenness and sin have nearly choked the life out of us, and as 2014 dawned I couldn’t face this new gauntlet.

“Please, God,” I begged. “Not that. Not my son.” I refused to bookend this with a rote request for God’s will to be done.

I was afraid of God’s will.

I know well the stories of Job and his inexplicable loss and Abraham climbing the mountain with his boy and the woman who dared to believe Elisha’s promise of a son only to lose him. I wanted life and health for my child. If something else came, well…the thought of it was, and is, intolerable.

I confessed this to a friend who gently reminded me that no, thank you must be a permissible prayer, because there was Another who prayed the cup of suffering be taken from him. And I held tight to that when the diagnosis finally came, when it turned out my son’s rare disease was treatable but had long term consequences, when we learned that he had cardiac damage that may or may not resolve, when the doctor quietly instructed us how to spot the signs of a heart attack in children, when we learned that at seven years old, he has heart disease. I am deeply thankful for that outcome. I know it could have been much worse, and that for many children it is.

© Copyright Jerzy Hulewicz and licensed for reuse at Wikimedia.

© Copyright Jerzy Hulewicz and licensed for reuse at Wikimedia.

Writing medical updates for friends and family reminds me of this. I can’t make myself form the expected vocabulary. “Praise God,” seems like what I ought to say to preface every good report.

But it rings false in my mouth, because it feels myopic and premature. I’m grateful, yes, but I’d have much rather passed on the whole experience. And what of the other children? The ones who have only bad news to report?

Easter is far off and while the hope of God’s victory frames all of life, we live in the shadowlands where children’s hospitals are still packed full. I can’t stop thinking about the families who don’t get the “Praise God” report. Many days I find myself back in the hospital chapel, panicked in the face of suffering children, and shouting: NO, THANK YOU. Because disease and death? I hate them.

In the front of the chapel, there was a large book filled with written prayers. Pleading prayers, and resigned prayers, and prayers for strength, and messages of love to dead children. Because children die. Parents sit in that room and plead and cry and God doesn’t take the cup from their boy’s lips.

They are left bereft and empty-armed, and I can hardly breathe when I think of that played out. I can make no sense of the “why?” questions, and while my head does fine with accepting the sound theological parsing of suffering, my heart can’t swallow it. On this side of mortality, there is no answer to the reality of that kind of suffering.

There is only Jesus.

A wounded Savior, I’m desperate for him. It’s moments like those where I need the crucifix. I need to see God himself coming to enter into suffering and death. I need to see him draw near to us in the face of our doubt and grief and show us the wounds in his hands and his side.

© Copyright Michael Saludo  and licensed for reuse at Wikimedia.

© Copyright Michael Saludo and licensed for reuse at Wikimedia.

When I hear stories of loss, a friend whose newborn baby died after four months of battling in the hospital, the woman whose five-year-old was suddenly given a few months to live, the dying mother who stores up letters for her four children to read after she’s gone, the missionary who came home on furlough to find a terminal cancer diagnosis, the Code Blues ringing through the hospital halls —it is too much for me. Death, our great enemy, steals in, and how can we endure it? 

I don’t know. There are no theological answers that make the pain bearable. Death is part of our world — a strange, beautiful, holy, and terrible thing about being human.

Lent gives me space to receive this, it brings me into the wilderness with Christ, who took on a body destined for dust. The ashes on all of our foreheads become a quiet chorus that whispers: death comes to us all. Though we must accept death, there is no way to normalize it. I think of this as I wonder how one copes with the suffering and untimely death of a child. Or of anyone, really, because is death ever timely when we were made for life?

I’m having trouble ending this post, wrapping it up with some sort of tidy conclusion, but I think that’s perhaps appropriate. There is no conclusion for the Lenten moments – no tidy answer for my empty-armed friends, for the mothers still pacing floors, for the hollowed-eyed fathers in the hospital coffee line, for all of us who cry wordless prayers of pain.

Together, we wait with the suffering, gasping, beautiful world, believing hard that Easter is coming.

 

Mundane Faithfulness

Readers’ Theater for Good Friday or Palm Sunday: The Gospel of Luke

Download the reading: Luke Readers Theater (with readers’ parts highlighted: Luke Part 1Luke Part 2Luke Part 3Luke Part 4).

This reading has four parts, preferably two female (1, 2) and two male (3,4) readers.  This reader’s theater script is taken from Luke 22:39-23:56.  Click the link for access to the passion narrative according to Matthew or Mark.

If the division of parts is confusing, it may help to think of this as a fast-paced narrative, almost as though the different readers are stumbling over one another and cutting each other off to tell the story.

The congregation plays the part of the crowd. In your bulletins, you will see your responses and the line that precedes them. Please join us for those responses. Also note that the congregation stands when the people come to Golgotha.

1:        Hear the passion of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Luke:

3:        And he came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives,

1:        and the disciples followed him,

3:        and when he came to the place, he said to them:

4:        “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.”

2:        And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed,

4:        “Father,

1,2,4: if you are willing,

4:        remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”

3:        And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him.

2:        And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly;

3:        and his sweat became like

2,3:    great drops of blood

3:        falling down to the ground. And when he rose from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping for sorrow, and he said to them,

4:        “Why are you sleeping? Rise and pray that you may not enter into temptation.”

1:        While he was still speaking, there came a crowd.

2:        And the man called Judas,

1:        one of the twelve,

2:        was leading them.

1:        He drew near to Jesus to kiss him, but Jesus said to him,

4:        “Judas, would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?”

1:        And when those who were around him saw what would follow, they said,

2,3:    “Lord, shall we strike with the sword?”

1:        And one of them

2:        struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his right ear. But Jesus said,

4:        “No more of this!”

1:        And he touched his ear

2:        and healed him.

1:        Then Jesus said to the chief priests and officers of the temple and elders, who had come out against him,

4:        “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs? When I was with you day after day in the temple, you did not lay hands on me. But

1234:            this is your hour,

4:        and the power of darkness.”

PAUSE

2:        And they laid hands on him,

1:        laid hands on him and seized him.

2:        And they brought him into the high priest’s house, and Peter was following at a distance.  And when they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat down together,

3:        Peter sat down among them.

2:        Then a servant girl, seeing him as he sat in the light and looking closely at him, said,

1:        “This man also was with him.”

1234:            But he denied it.

3:        “Woman, I do not know him.”

4:        And a little later someone else saw him and said,

1,2:    “You also are one of them.”

1:        Again,

1234: he denied it.

3:        “Man, I am not.”

1:        And after an interval of about an hour still another insisted, saying,

1,2,4: “Certainly this man was also with him,

4:        for he too is a Galilean.”

2:        But Peter said,

1234:            “Man, I do not know what you are talking about.”

2:        And immediately,

1:        while he was still speaking,

2:        the rooster crowed.

2,4:    And the Lord turned and looked at Peter.

3:        And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him,

4:        “Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.”

3:        And he went out and wept bitterly.

PAUSE

2:        Now the men who were holding Jesus in custody were mocking him as they beat him.

1:        They also blindfolded him and kept asking him,

2,3:    “Prophesy!

1:        Prophesy!

2:        Who is it that struck you?

1,2:    Prophesy!

1,2,3: Prophesy to us, you Christ!”

PAUSE

4:        When day came, the assembly of the elders of the people gathered together,

3:        both chief priests and scribes.

4:        And they led him away to their council, and they said.

2:        “If you are the Christ,

1,2,3: Tell us.”

1:        But he said to them,

4:        “If I tell you,

1234: you will not believe,

4:        and, if I ask you, you will not answer. But from now on the Son of Man shall be seated at the right hand of the power of God.”

1:        “Are you then the

1,2,3: Son of God?”

1:        And Jesus said to them,

4:        “You say that

1234:            I AM.”

1:        “What further testimony do we need? You have heard his blasphemy from his own lips.

2:        Blasphemy!

3:        Blasphemy!

1,2,3: Blasphemy!”

2 looks at the audience to address them

2:        People, what is your decision?

1,3,4,C: He deserves death.

PAUSE

1:        Then,

1,2,:   the whole company of them

1:        arose and brought him before Pilate.

3:        And they began to accuse him.

1:        “We found this man

1,2:    misleading our nation

3:        and forbidding us to give tribute to Caesar

2:        and saying that he himself is Christ, a King.”

3:        And Pilate asked him,

1:        “Are you the King of the Jews?”

4:        “You have said so.”

3:        Then Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowds.

1:        ‘I find no guilt in this man.”

3:        But they were urgent, saying,

2:        “He stirs up the people, teaching throughout all Judea, from Galilee even to this place.”

1:        When Pilate heard this, he asked whether the man was a Galilean.

2:        And when he learned that he belonged to Herod’s jurisdiction,

3:        he sent him over to Herod, who was himself in Jerusalem at that time.

1:        When Herod saw Jesus,

1,2,3: he was very glad,

2:        for he had long desired to see him,

1:        because he had heard about him,

2:        and he was hoping to see some sign done by him.

3:        So Herod questioned him at some length,

4:        but Jesus made no answer.

1:        The chief priests and the scribes stood by, vehemently accusing him.

2:        And Herod with his soldiers

1,2:    treated him with contempt

2:        and

1,2:    mocked him.

4:        Then, arraying him in splendid clothing,

3:        Herod sent him back to Pilate.

2:        And Herod and Pilate became friends with each other that very day, for before this they had been at enmity with each other.

1:        Pilate then called together the

1,3:    chief priests

1:        and the

1,2,3: elders

1:        and the

1234: rulers of the people

3:        and said to them,

2:        “You brought me this man as one who was misleading the people. And after examining him before you, behold

1,2,3: I did not find this man guilty

2:        of any of your charges against him. Neither did Herod, for he sent him back to us. Look,

1,2,3:             nothing deserving death

2:        has been done by him. I will therefore punish him and release him.”

1:        But they all cried out together,

1234:            “Away with this man!

3:        Release to us Barabbas!”

1:        Barabbas was a man who had been thrown into prison for an insurrection started in the city

3:        and for murder.

4:        Pilate addressed them once more, desiring to release Jesus, but they kept shouting,

2:        “Crucify!

2,3:    Crucify!

1,2,3: Crucify him!”

4:        “Why? What evil has he done? I have found in him no guilt deserving death. I will therefore punish and release him.”

2:        But they were urgent, demanding with loud cries that he should be crucified.

1:        And their voices prevailed.

2:        “Crucify him!

2,4:    Crucify him!

1,4,3: Crucify him!

2:        Crucify him.”

2 looks at audience to address them

2:        People, what will you do with Jesus who is called Christ?

1,3,4,C: Crucify him!

PAUSE

3:        So Pilate decided that

1:        their demand should be granted.

3:        He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder,

2:        for whom they asked,

3:        but he delivered Jesus

1,4:    over to their will.

PAUSE

4:        And as they led him away,

1:        they seized one Simon of Cyrene,

3:        who was coming in from the country.

1:        and they laid on him the cross, to carry it behind Jesus.

3:        And there followed him a great multitude of the people

2:        and of women

3:        who were mourning and lamenting for him.

2:        But turning to them, Jesus said,

4:        “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but

2,4:    weep for yourselves

4:        and

2,4:    your children.

4:        For behold, the days are coming when they will say,

2:        ‘Blessed are the barren and the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’

4:        Then they will begin to say to the mountains,

3:        ‘Fall on us!’

4:        and to the hills,

1:        ‘Cover us!’

4:        For if they do these things

2,4:    when the wood is green,

4:        what will happen when it is dry?”

3:        Two others

1:        who were criminals

3:        were led away to be put to death with him.

1:        And when they came to the place that is called The Skull,

THE CROWD STANDS

1:        there

1234: they crucified him

1:        and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left.

2:        And Jesus said,

4:        “Father

1,2,4: forgive them,

4:        for they know not what they do.”

3:        And they cast lots to divide his garments.

2:        And the people stood by, watching,

1:        but the rulers scoffed at him.

2:        “He saved others;

3:        Let him save himself!

2:        If he is the Christ of God,

1:        The Christ of God!

2,3:    His chosen one!”

1:        The soldiers also mocked him,

3:        coming up and offering him sour wine and saying,

1234:            “If you are the King of the Jews,

2:        Save yourself!”

1:        There was also an inscription over him:

1,2,3: This is the King of the Jews.

2 looks at the audience to address them,

2: People, hail your king.

123C:            Hail, King of the Jews!

PAUSE

3:        One of the criminals who were hanged

1,3:    railed at him, saying,

3:        “Are you not the Christ?

1,3:    Save yourself!

1:        And us!”

3:        But the other rebuked him.

3:        “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man

1,2,3: has done nothing wrong.

3:        Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

4:        “Truly, I say to you,

1234:            today

4:        you will be with me in paradise.”

2:        It was now about the sixth hour, and

1:        there was darkness,

2&4:  darkness,

1&3:  darkness

1:        over the whole land until the ninth hour,

3:        while the sun’s light failed.

2:        And the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.

1:        And the rocks were split,

2:        and the curtain was torn,

3:        and the earth shook,

2:        and the curtain was torn,

1:        and the rocks were split,

3:        and the earth shook,

2:        and the curtain was torn,

4:        and the tombs were opened,

1,2,3,4 All repeat their lines in a muddle and building noise until 2 interrupts

2:        and the curtain was torn in two, from top to bottom.

1:        Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said,

4:        “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!”

3:        And having said this,

2:        he breathed his last.

THERE IS A PERIOD OF SILENCE

1:        Now when the centurion saw what had taken place,

3:        he praised God, saying,

2:        “Certainly, this man was innocent.”

4:        And all the crowds that had assembled for this spectacle,

3:        when they saw what had taken place,

4:        returned home, beating their breasts. And all his acquaintances

1:        and the women who had followed him from Galilee

4:        stood at a distance watching these things.

2:        Now there was a man named Joseph, from the Jewish town of Arimathea.

1:        he was a member of the council,

3:        a good and righteous man,

1:        who had not consented to their decision and action;

2:        and he was looking for the kingdom of God.

3:        This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus.

4:        Then he took it down,

2:        took it down and wrapped it in a linen shroud and

1:        laid him in a tomb cut in stone

2:        where no one had ever yet been laid.

3:        It was the day of Preparation, and the Sabbath was beginning.

2:        The women who had come with him from Galilee followed and

1,2:    saw the tomb

2:        and

1,2:    how his body was laid.

2:        Then, they returned and prepared spices and ointments.

4:        And on the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment.

PAUSE

4:        Here ends the reading.

Reader’s Theater for Good Friday or Palm Sunday

Download the reading: Reader’s Theater Mark Passion Narrative

One Easter, I looked everywhere for a reader’s theater version of the Passion narrative found in Matthew’s gospel. I was unsuccessful, so I wrote my own script for each of the gospels, which you can access here. I post Mark’s version below in the hopes that if someone else is hunting online they might come across it and find it useful.

This reading has four parts, preferably two female (1, 2) and two male (3,4) readers. If the division of parts is confusing, it may help to think of this as a fast-paced narrative, almost as though the different readers are stumbling over one another and cutting each other off to tell the story.

The congregation plays the part of the crowd. In your bulletin, you will see your responses and the line that precedes them. Please join us for those responses. Also note that the congregation stands when the people come to Golgotha.

1:        Hear the passion of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Mark:

3:        And they went to a place called Gethsemane. And Jesus said to his disciples,

4:        “Sit here, while I pray.”

2:        And he took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be greatly distressed and troubled. And he said to them,

4:        “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death. Remain here and watch.”

1:        And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that,

1&2:  If it were possible,

2:        The hour might pass from him. And he said,

4:        “Abba, Father,

1,2,4: All things are possible for you.

4:        Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but you will.”

3:        And he came and found them sleeping, and he said to Peter,

4:        “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not watch one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

1:        And again he went away and prayed, saying the same words.

2:        And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy, and they did not know what to answer him.

3:        And he came the third time and said to them,

4:        “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? It is enough; the hour has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.”

1:        And immediately,

1&2: while he was still speaking,

1:        Judas came, one of the twelve,

2:        And with him a crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders.

1:        Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying,

3:        “The one I will kiss is the man.

1,2,3: Seize him

3:        And lead him away under guard.”

2:        And when he came, he went up to him at once and said,

1,2,3: “Rabbi!”

2:        And he kissed him.

PAUSE

1:        And they laid hands on him,

2:        Laid hands on him and seized him.

3:        But one of those who stood by drew his sword, and

1:        struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his ear. And Jesus said to them,

4:        “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs to capture me? Day after day I was with you in the temple teaching, and you did not seize me. But let the Scriptures be fulfilled.”

2:        And

1,2,3,: All the disciples

2:        left him and fled.

3:        And a young man followed him,

2:        With nothing but a linen cloth about his body.

3:        And they seized him,

2:        But he left the linen cloth and ran away naked.

PAUSE

1:        And they led Jesus to the high priest.

3:        And all the chief priests and the

2,3:    elders

3:        And the

1,2,3: scribes

3:        came together.

4:        And Peter had followed him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest.

2:        And he was sitting with the guards and warming himself at the fire.

1:        Now the chief priests and the whole Council were seeking testimony against Jesus to put him to death,

1,2,3: but they found none.

3:        For many bore false witness against him,

1:        But their testimony did not agree. And some stood up and bore false witness against him, saying,

2:        “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this temple that is made with hands,

3:        Destroy this temple, and in three days I will build another,’

2:        Another temple – not made with hands!”

1:        Yet even about this their testimony did not agree.

2:        And the high priest stood up in their midst and asked Jesus,

3:        “Have you no answer to make?

1:        What is it that these men testify against you?”

2:        But he remained silent and made no answer.

PAUSE

2:        Again, the high priest asked him,

1,2,3: “Are you the Christ

2:        The Son of the Blessed?”

1:        And Jesus said,

1,2,3,4:“I AM

4:        And you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.”

3:        And the high priest tore his garments, and said,

1:        “What further witnesses do we need? You have heard his blasphemy.

2:        Blasphemy!

3:        Blasphemy!

1,2,3: Blasphemy!”

2 looks at the audience to address them

2:        People, what is your decision?

1,3,4,C:         He deserves death.

PAUSE

2:        And some began to spit on him

3:        And to cover his face

1:        And to strike him,

2:        saying to him,

1,3:    “Prophesy!

2:        Prophesy!

1,2,3: Prophesy to us, you Christ!”

3:        And the guards received him with blows.

PAUSE

4:        And as Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the high priest came,

1:        And seeing Peter warming himself, she looked at him and said

2:        “You also were with the Nazarene, Jesus.”

1,2,3,4:But he denied it.

3:        “I neither know nor understand what you mean.”

4:        And he went out into the gateway,

3:        And the rooster crowed.

1:        And the servant girl saw him and began again to say to the bystanders,

2:        “This man is one of them.”

1,2,3,4:Again, he denied it.

1:        And after a little while the bystanders again said to Peter,

1,2,4: “Certainly, you are one of them,

2:        For you are a Galilean.”

1:        But he began to invoke a curse on himself.

1,2,3,4:”I swear to you

3:        I do not know this man of whom you speak.”

2:        And immediately the rooster crowed a second time.

1:        And Peter remembered how Jesus had said to him,

4:        “Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.”

2:        And he broke down and wept.

PAUSE

1:        And,

1,2,:   As soon as it was morning,

1:        The chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole Council.

3:        And they bound Jesus and

2,3,:   Led him away

3:        And

1,2,3: Delivered him over

3:        To Pilate.

1:        And Pilate asked him

2:        “Are you the King of the Jews?”

4:        “You have said so.”

3:        And the chief priests accused him of many things.

1:        And Pilate again asked him

2:        “Have you no answer to make? See how many charges they bring against you.”

3:        But Jesus made no further answer, so that Pilate was amazed.

1:        Now at the feast he used to release for them one prisoner for whom they asked.

3:        And among the rebels in prison,

2:        Who had committed murder in the insurrection,

3:        There was a man called Barabbas.

4:        And the crowd came up and began to ask Pilate to do as he usually did for them.

3:        And he answered them, saying

2:        “Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?”

1:        For he perceived that it was out of envy that the chief priests had delivered him up.

3:        But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release Barabbas instead. And Pilate again said to them,

2:        “Then what shall I do with the man you call

1,2,3,4:The King of the Jews?”

1:        “Crucify him!

1,4:    Crucify him!

1,4,3: Crucify him!

2:        Crucify him.”

2 looks at audience to address them

2:        People, what will you do with Jesus who is called Christ?

1,3,4,C: Crucify him!

PAUSE

2:        “Why? What evil has he done?”

1:        “Crucify him!

1,4,:   Crucify him!

1,4,3: Crucify him!”

3:        So Pilate,

2:        Wishing to satisfy the crowd,

3:        Released for them Barabbas. And having scourged Jesus,

2:        He delivered him to be crucified.

PAUSE

4:        And the soldiers led him away inside the palace,

1:        That is the governor’s headquarters,

4:        And they called together the whole battalion.

2:        And they clothed him in a purple cloak,

1:        And twisting together a crown of thorns,

3:        They put it on him.

4:        And they began to salute him,

1:        “Hail!

1&3:  Hail!

1,3,4: Hail!

1,2,3,4:Hail, King of the Jews!”

2 looks at the audience to address them.

2:        People, hail your king.

1,2,3,C: Hail, King of the Jews!

PAUSE

2:        And they were striking his head with a reed,

3:        And spitting on him,

1:        And kneeling down in homage to him.

2:        And when they had mocked him,

3:        They stripped him of the purple cloak and put his own clothes on him.

1:        And they led him out to crucify him.

PAUSE

4:        And they compelled a passerby, Simon of Cyrene,

3:        Who was coming in from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus,

4:        They compelled this man, Simon, to carry his cross.

3:        And they brought him to the place called Golgotha, which means the Place of a Skull.

THE CROWD STANDS

3:        And they offered him wine mixed with myrrh,

2:        But he did not take it.

1:        And they crucified him and divided his garments among them, casting lots for them, to decide what each should take.

3:        And it was the third hour when they crucified him.

2:        And the inscription of the charge against him read,

1,2,3,4:The King of the Jews.

3:        And with him they crucified two robbers,

1:        One on his right and one on his left.

2:        And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads and saying

3:        “Aha! You who would destroy the temple,

1:        Who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days,

1,3:    Save yourself!”

1,2,3,4:”If you are the Son of God,

2:        Come down from the cross!”

4:        So also the chief priests with the scribes mocked him to one another saying,

2:        “He saved others;

3:        He cannot save himself.

1:        Let this Christ!

2:        This Christ!

4:        The King of Israel!

1:        Let this King now come down from the cross

2,4:    And we will see and believe in him.”

1,2,4: Those who were crucified with him

3:        Also reviled him.

4:        And when the sixth hour had come,

1:        There was darkness

2&4:  Darkness

1&3:  Darkness

1:        over the whole land until the ninth hour.

2:        And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice,

1,2,:   “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

3,4:    Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?”

3:        And some of the bystanders hearing it said,

1:        “Behold, he is calling Elijah!”

4:        And someone ran and filled a sponge with sour wine,

3:        And put it on a reed,

4:        And gave it to him to drink, saying,

2,3:    “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down!”

4:        And Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed his last.

THERE IS A PERIOD OF SILENCE

2:        And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.

1:        And the rocks were split

2:        And the curtain was torn

3:        And the earth shook

2:        And the curtain was torn

1:        And the rocks were split

3:        And the earth shook

2:        And the curtain was torn

4:        And the tombs were opened

1,2,3,4 All repeat their lines in a muddle and building noise until 2 interrupts

2:        And the curtain was torn in two, from top to bottom.

3:        And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said,

2:        “Truly

1,4:    Truly

3,4:    Truly

1,2,3,4:Truly, this man was the Son of God.”

PAUSE

2:        There were also women looking on from a distance, among whom were

1:        Mary Magdalene,

2:        And Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses,

1:        And Salome. When he was in Galilee, they followed him and ministered to him.

2:        And there were also many other women who came up with him to Jerusalem.

3:        And when evening had come on the day of Preparation,

4:        That is, the day before the Sabbath,

3:        Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the Council,

4:        Who was also himself looking for the kingdom of God, took courage.

3:        Joseph took courage and went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus.

2:        Pilate was surprised to hear that he should have already died.

1:        And summoning the centurion,

2:        He asked him whether he was already dead.

3:        And when he learned from the centurion that he was dead, he granted the corpse to Joseph.

4:        And Joseph bought a linen shroud, and,

1:        taking him down,

4:        wrapped him in the linen shroud and laid him in a tomb that had been cut out of the rock.

3:        And he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb.

2:        Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where he was laid.

PAUSE

1:        Here ends the reading.