“I am not.” Dear God, how many times have I denied being a disciple of Jesus Christ? When the heat is on and the cost of following your Son is high, I have said in word or deed, “I am not a disciple of Jesus of Nazareth.” When Jesus bids me come and die, I turn away, choosing safety over faithfulness, false promises of loyalty over real acts of sacrificial love and empty piety over fullness of life.
On this day of your suffering, Lord Jesus, I need desperately the forgiveness you grant from the cross. Forgive me, because I am among those who all too often know what I do, and do it anyway.
When violence and war send people fleeing in search of safety, I hear your words to welcome the stranger, but when the question is called, “Are you ready to open your home to them?” I say, “I am not.”
When children are shamed for being hungry and poor, I hear you say whatever I do to the least of these I do to you, but when the question is called, “Are you going to feed them?” I say, “I am not.”
When justice is perverted and systemic sin keeps people in their places rather than opening the door to abundant life, I hear you proclaim that you have come to set the oppressed free, but when the question is called, “Are you willing to stand with the vulnerable, give voice to the voiceless and jeopardize your own privileged for their sake?” I say, “I am not.”
And the cock crows. And the sun grows dark. And the earth shakes. And I know, it is finished.
On this day of your death I need to sit with the reality of my denial and remember the countless times you have asked, “Are you going to come and follow me?” and I have answered, “I am not.”
Only then will I know in the depth of my being my need for your forgiveness offered from the depth of you pain. Only then will I know that no matter how often I abandon you, you will not abandon me. Only then, when you ask on Sunday morning, “Are you going to Galilee?” will I answer, “I am, because I know you will meet me there.”