Posted by: jblevins | April 7, 2009

Holy Week Reflections

Friends of the Eco-Justice Program,

This year, we invite you to include as part of your Lenten practices to consider your impact upon God’s Creation – and what steps you can take in your own life to bring yourself back into relationship with it. Each Sunday, we will send an email including the lectionary text for that week, a brief reflection, some study questions, and then daily actions.

Henry Nouwen writes, “In the midst of a turbulent, often chaotic, life we are called to reach out with courageous honesty to our innermost self, with restless care to our fellow human beings, and with increasing prayer to our God. To do that, however, we must face and explore our inner restlessness, our mixed feelings toward others, and our deep-seated suspicions about the absence of God.” It is this journey that Lent is all about, and this year, we invite you to join us in it.

Click here to download our reflection for Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday.

Maundy Thursday

Lectionary Text: John 13:1-17, 31b-35 (NRSV)

13Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. 2The devil had already put it into the heart of Judas son of Simon Iscariot to betray him. And during supper 3Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, 4got up from the table,* took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. 5Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him. 6He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, ‘Lord, are you going to wash my feet?’ 7Jesus answered, ‘You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand.’ 8Peter said to him, ‘You will never wash my feet.’ Jesus answered, ‘Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.’ 9Simon Peter said to him, ‘Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!’ 10Jesus said to him, ‘One who has bathed does not need to wash, except for the feet,* but is entirely clean. And you* are clean, though not all of you.’ 11For he knew who was to betray him; for this reason he said, ‘Not all of you are clean.’

12 After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, ‘Do you know what I have done to you? 13You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are right, for that is what I am. 14So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. 16Very truly, I tell you, servants* are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them. 17If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.

31 When he had gone out, Jesus said, ‘Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. 32If God has been glorified in him,* God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once. 33Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, “Where I am going, you cannot come.” 34I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. 35By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.’

Other Lectionary Readings: Exodus 12:1-4, 11-14; Psalm 116, 1 Corinthians 11:23-26


This reading brings to mind for me, almost instantly, the plight those living in poverty face from environmental degradation. Whether it be the threats of climate change, the toxic fumes of factories often located in low income communities, or the destruction of native lands being done by the border fence, I think these realities say something about whether or not the world recognizes us as disciples of the one who knelt and washed feet.

What does it say about our love of others as ourselves when are willing to use more than our fair share of resources, as people in the United States consistently do? What does it say when we are willing to waive more than 30 environmental laws to expedite building the border fence? It seems to me that, when it comes to our care for God’s Creation, and those living in poverty due to our lack of care, that we have forgotten the example of Maundy Thursday. The example of kneeling, and washing the feet of another. Of being willing to humble ourselves, and display love for the rest of Creation. To do the work of the Servant for the betterment of all.

Love one another – through serving. It is how the world will be able to identify us as disciples of Jesus Christ. And one of the most telltale signs of that love may well be how we care for the rest of God’s Creation.

Guiding Questions

1. How do you think caring for God’s Creation shows servant love for one another?

2. The passage in 1st Corinthians reminds us of the New Covenant of the blood of Christ. How does Creation Care play into how we live that covenant out?

Daily Action

To get a better handle on the impact you have on the degradation of Creation, take a quiz to establish your environmental footprint. And then seek out actions that could show better love of others and Creation.

Good Friday

Lectionary Reading: Isaiah 52:13—53:12

See, my servant shall prosper;
he shall be exalted and lifted up,
and shall be very high.
14Just as there were many who were astonished at him*
—so marred was his appearance, beyond human semblance,
and his form beyond that of mortals—
15so he shall startle* many nations;
kings shall shut their mouths because of him;
for that which had not been told them they shall see,
and that which they had not heard they shall contemplate.

53Who has believed what we have heard?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
2For he grew up before him like a young plant,
and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
3He was despised and rejected by others;
a man of suffering* and acquainted with infirmity;
and as one from whom others hide their faces*
he was despised, and we held him of no account.

4Surely he has borne our infirmities
and carried our diseases;
yet we accounted him stricken,
struck down by God, and afflicted.
5But he was wounded for our transgressions,
crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the punishment that made us whole,
and by his bruises we are healed.
6All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have all turned to our own way,
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

7He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.
8By a perversion of justice he was taken away.
Who could have imagined his future?
For he was cut off from the land of the living,
stricken for the transgression of my people.
9They made his grave with the wicked
and his tomb* with the rich,*
although he had done no violence,
and there was no deceit in his mouth.

10Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him with pain.*
When you make his life an offering for sin,*
he shall see his offspring, and shall prolong his days;
through him the will of the Lord shall prosper.
11 Out of his anguish he shall see light;*
he shall find satisfaction through his knowledge.
The righteous one,* my servant, shall make many righteous,
and he shall bear their iniquities.
12Therefore I will allot him a portion with the great,
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong;
because he poured out himself to death,
and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
and made intercession for the transgressors.

Other Lectionary Texts: Psalm 22, Hebrews 10:16-25, John 18:1-19:42


What did Jesus die for? Why the violence of Good Friday? For what purpose?

So that we might have the ability to live in right relationship with God and the whole of the created world. On this day, we remember the terrible violence that was the ultimate result of humanities separation from God, and inability to live in relationship with God and through God with each other. This text, lived out in our gospel reading for this day from John, put on display the result of failed relationships of human beings, and ultimately separation from the Creator.

In this is also the ultimate challenge of Good Friday. Good Friday allows us to live out the promise of Palm Sunday and Easter. The kingdom of God has comet o all of us, and we are now called to live in communion with God through Jesus Christ, and thus mirror right relationship with the rest of God’s Creation. It challenges us to break out of the way we have been living – that has continued to perpetrate separation from the Divine and lack of relationship with the world around us. It has brought about an ever expanding list of endangered species, communities in the Pacific Ocean seeing their communities swallowed up by rising waters, and forests around the world decimated by clear-cutting.

Jesus died so that the world may have life – and that we may be able to bring that life out. By communing with God, remembering the Kingdom that Jesus brought into this world – one that turns over the tables of the money changers, kneels and washes feet, and loves one another – we are called to right relationship with Creation. This is the challenge of Good Friday for us all.

Guiding Questions:

1. What does living in right relationship with the rest of Creation look like to you?

2. What does it mean that we are able to commune with the Divine?

Daily Action:

Commune with the Divine today, in God’s Creation. Visit a state or national park, or click here to find a place in the newly established National Landscape Conservation System, and learn from God in the wilderness.

Easter Sunday

Lectionary Reading: Mark 16:1-8

When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. 2And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. 3They had been saying to one another, ‘Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?’ 4When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back. 5As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. 6But he said to them, ‘Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. 7But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.’ 8So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.

Other Lectionary Texts: Isaiah 25:6-9, Psalm 118, 1st Corinthians 15:1-11


Oh, the celebration! All the other texts for this week, the feast of Isaiah, the praise of the Psalm, and the call to belief of 1st Corinthians, celebrate what God did on this Holy Day. And, celebrate we should. But, in the Mark passage, there wasn’t much celebration – not yet.

They were afraid. Sometimes I think we are still afraid – afraid of what this means. Afraid of the reality of the empty tomb. No longer is our human nature an excuse for inaction. God has overcome it. This doesn’t mean we will always get it right – but it means that our faith compels us to try. To try to live in right relationship with all of God’s Creation. To try to commune with God, and love one another as God has loved us. With grace, servanthood, and sacrifice. The empty tomb means we, my friends, have work to do.

The promise of Palm Sunday has become reality one week later. The coming of the kingdom is complete – God has overcome the separation of human beings, and reconciled us with Godself, and enabled us to live out that reconciliation with Creation. But we are afraid – for it is our very reality and way of life that is at stake. The empty tomb calls us to examine our lives, and in light of the promise empty tomb holds. Does the way we live our t the empty tomb holds. Does the way we live our lives proclaim the celebration of the feast of the Lord, praise God? This is the challenge of the empty tomb. It is the fear of Mary and Mary. And it is our fear. So, during our celebration, don’t back away from that fear. Look at it, and find new life through the overcoming of it!

Guiding Questions:

1. What feelings does the reality of the empty tomb invoke within you?

2. What do you fear about it?

3. What does the empty tomb enable you to do?

Daily Action:

Celebrate today! Celebrate the empty tomb – plant a tree, change all your light bulbs, take a hike. Click here for other ways to physically make the empty tomb a reality in your faith community.*



  1. This is a hoot! Thanks for the laugh.

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