The “Daily Devos” are authored by my colleague and friend, Phil Brandt, and may contain edits and adaptations by yours truly.
Monday of Holy Week – Prayer for the Week (Palm Sunday)
Almighty and everlasting God, You sent Your Son, our Savior Jesus Christ, to take upon Himself our flesh and to suffer death upon the cross. Mercifully grant that we may follow the example of His great humility and patience and be made partakers of His resurrection; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Do you pay enough attention to these prayers we say on Sunday. If you did, would you still say “Amen” so readily? The prayer notes that God sent his Son, our Savior Jesus, to take up our flesh and to suffer death on a cross. So far, this sounds good. But read that next sentence carefully. We would like God to grant us to follow Jesus’ example of humility and patience.
Are you sure you want to pray that prayer? Do you want God to say “Yes” to that request? While driving around the strangely uncongested streets of Portland, much like our own community in Michiana, Phil recounted a firsthand account he heard by a middle-aged Italian man who narrowly escaped death from COVID-19. The man spoke of the crushing loneliness of being in the busy hospital, but no one was willing to spend time with him. The nurses and doctors would come in, attend to him, but quickly leave, unwilling to be exposed longer than necessary. The rest of his hours were spent alone. Because of the sickness and the breathing equipment which saved his life, he could hardly sleep. The hours crawled by as he lay there for over two weeks with only the sounds of the ventilator to mark the moments. He was grateful to the staff who saved his life, but he felt that he had gone through a hellish loneliness. He said he would cherish every moment with his family for the rest of his life.
We pray for patience in this prayer. Patience is necessary when bearing difficult things. I need patience as I feebly attempt to provide pastoral care to the St. Peter community. In my 30 years of ministry I could never have imagined a scenario where the church could not physically gather in worship, or where I couldn’t attend to one of the flock whose been hospitalized, or care for brother or sister in faith who is in their dying hours. This is difficult on so many aspects of life for all of us. I think I would rather pray that God keeps the difficult things away from me. That is not a bad prayer, Jesus prayed it in the Garden of Gethsemane, but it is not this prayer. This week, as we come to contemplate the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus, we pray NOT that difficult things be kept far from us, but that God give us the humility and patience of Jesus WHEN such things draw near.
Pray this prayer. God answers prayer.