alone, good friday

11 Apr

alone, Good Friday

The Video below shows a giant trench being dug on NYC’s Hart Island to bury coronavirus victims. These are the people who died alone and unmourned. They are in unmarked pine coffins: totally forgotten. They are the unclaimed.

Their lives claim no individual tears; buried in and among others forgotten, they are the utterly homeless and forsaken. No one looks or could even find them if they tried. This public cemetery is now getting five times the usual number of unclaimed bodies every week. The forsaken dead are a mass grave.

They are the unloved, the unheard; the unseen. They are unclaimed.

Psalm 25:16 speaks a prayer that could touch, be on, and live in each of these unclaimed thoughts and lips. It is a pleading prayer.

‘Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted.’

This prayer calls up another Psalm, a prayer for himself Jesus quoted on the cross,

Psalm 22, begins….

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Webster’s dictionary defines forsaken as, ‘meaning to leave without intending to return.’

This word, forsaken, also occurs in two Gospels — Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34 — as Jesus is hanging on the cross. He is alone, except for one close companion, death.

Yet, in this death cry, for Jesus, and all the unclaimed dead, even though may seem to that death cries are unheard and unanswered, there is an ultimate and essential truth here: we will have, hold, see and have been heard, seen, by a loving God.

Where is the hope of a loving, seeing a God?

It is the the very Psalm Jesus calls out. He says with His last breathe a prayerful cry from the Psalm on being ‘forsaken.’

But Jesus had to know the Psalm’s conclusion. It was, as all scripture, in his heart. The ending of Psalm 22 speaks a silent prayer, the prayer of the ‘unforsaken;’ the claimed:

22 “I will tell of your name to my brothers;in the midst of the congregation I will praise you:

23 You who fear the Lord, praise him!All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him,and stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!

24 For he has not despised or abhorredthe affliction of the afflicted,and he has not hidden his face from him, but has heard, when he cried to him.”

Though we may feel abandoned, he sees and turns to us; though we believe no one hears, as we pray, he hears and loves; listens and draws close, ‘when we cried to him.’

Jesus on the cross knew loneliness; he experiences death. Broken, he cries and, and that cry that is the opening of a despairing Psalm. But in crying out, he claims this Psalm for all the abandoned, for all the grieving at a hospital bedside; for the family members who could not say a final farewell. For the community that did not meet. For us….the ending of Psalm 22 speaks of us, Jesus’ posterity, His redeemed,

30  “Posterity shall serve him;

it shall be told of the Lord to the coming generation;

31  they shall come and proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn,

that he has done it.”

Jesus finished it. Done. Sorted. Cried over and ‘proclaimed’ -claimed- as His. Done.

It is done; and we shall live beyond any pain and loneliness. We and the ‘yet unborn.’ He knows and loves us all. All our sins, flaws, failings. He died and washed all away with this one cry: ‘forsaken.’

We are the rescued and remembered. His, …his-…his.


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