The posture of pain and betrayal is defensive: back turned, shoulders hunched, head bowed, knees tucked in, arms crossed. We curl our skeleton around our soft core for its protection. The fetal position is not only defensive but also comforting, a reminder of the wombs that held us and the arms that cradled us. Interestingly, we adopt a similar posture around our smart phones—shoulders high, chins bent, arms up—whether in defense or for comfort may be an unconscious reaction.
By contrast, the tone of Psalm 70 invokes an image of an open posture, a body reaching out and up. The psalmist stretches out with a plea for help, heart extended to grasp deliverance. The seekers fill their lungs to sing and shout with praise. Meanwhile, those who sought to shame the psalmist are themselves turned and bent with shame. Those who wanted the psalmist to slouch and cringe instead have dishonor heaped upon their heads.
The grace and help of God cause a reversal of the body’s posture from defensive to celebratory. The psalmist’s need becomes a reason to lift the head, roll back the shoulders, and open the mouth to sing. When enemies come, the body has no reason to hide. When insults are spit out, they do not weigh down the righteous. When trouble stirs, God can still be glorified.
Even with a troubled spirit, Jesus stretches out to share bread across the table with Judas.
We consider Jesus. We consider the psalmist. And instead of recoiling from the fear that wearies us, we stretch out with a courageous heart. We open our ears to the lessons of each morning. We stand, unburdened, alongside the cloud of witnesses. We do not tire of breaking bread with our enemies. We take the vulnerable, daring posture of deliverance.
Lord God, will you help us when we are defensive? Will you deliver us when we are troubled? Will you comfort our hearts so that we might find the courage and perseverance to lift our heads and sing your praises? Amen.
This week’s readings take us through the depths but then into the eternal light. We walk each step with Jesus, who suffers betrayal, abandonment, and death. But it is more than that. In his suffering, Jesus also enters into the brokenness of our human condition and feels our pain, such that on the Cross he even feels abandonment by God. He walks through the valley of the shadow of death because of God’s amazing, reckless love for us. This is the power of Holy Week. But that is not the end of the story. Jesus’ steps do not end at the Cross, for he walks out of the tomb! Now we can follow in his steps and participate in his new life. He is risen indeed!
Read Isaiah 42:1-9. How is God calling you to be a light? How does God empower you to follow God’s call to you?
Read Psalm 70. What is prompting you to reach out for God’s help today? In what ways do you ask for that help?
Read John 13:1-17, 31b-35. What acts of service does Jesus’ example in this reading move you to perform? Choose one act you will do today in remembrance of Jesus’ humility.
Read John 20:1-18. When have you, in the light of God’s love, let go of the way you thought your life would be in order to live a different reality that God intended for you?
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