All this month, I am focusing on this painting by Rogier van der Weyden called “The Seven Sacraments Altarpiece.” I have asked several friends of mine, who just happen to be women pastors, to comment on this painting using the following as their guide:
Community—Seasons—Sacrament— Sacrifice — Cross— Christ
I remember when Jesus led James, John and Peter up to the mountain to the exuberant experience of his transfiguration, to strengthen them spiritually and give them something to hold on to– knowing how they would be facing testing times in the future. By doing this, Jesus demonstrated how he shared a special relationship with these three disciples. Where did they go?
I remember how after the Last Supper, Jesus went out to pray in the Garden of Gethsemane and again, he takes his three beloved disciples: Peter, James and John. When I read this story, I can understand how Jesus was tired at the end of his ministry, and how he longed for solitude to prepare himself for the journey to the cross that is coming. After they reached Gethsemane, Jesus tells them, “Sit here, while I pray”. That’s all he wanted. Jesus says in vs 34 “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death, remain here and watch.” Three times Jesus asks them to be awake and watch, but they were sleeping and resting each time. They were sleeping souls when they should be awake and watching out.
Even Jesus’ most beloved disciples, let him down. How could they do that? Did they understand what was going on? Surely not! Otherwise there is no way they could have fallen asleep. They were simply oblivious to what is happening around them, and so they fell asleep. Because of this, when the testing times came, they were not prepared for the worst. Where are they when he is being crucified? Jesus must have been totally disappointed and heartbroken then.
What about now? Are we asleep to the warnings and signs for the day that we might have to take up the cross of Christ? Are we able to recognize the Christ event on the cross when it is happening to one of our brothers or sisters? As we will soon enter the Passion Week, let us resolve to stand beneath the cross, to weep and to remember to be wakeful because we know that we will celebrate his glorious resurrection morning.
May God bless these words.
Pastor Surekha Nelavala was born in Sullurupeta India and now lives in Frederick Maryland where she is the Pastor and founder of the Global Peace Multicultural Community: A Lutheran Fellowship. This is a mission congregation created to be a welcoming place for worship and communion for people of diverse background and cultures. This mission particularly aims to reach out to the people interested in cross-cultural forms of worship and a community that aims to provide a church of muti-colors and cultures. We welcome everyone who wishes to join our worship services, gatherings, Bible studies, meetings and discussions of Spiritual Formation, retreats, events, and celebrations. We aim to incorporate social, cultural, spiritual elements in all our activities.
I hope you will listen in on one of Pastor Surekha’s sermons. Her voice is beautiful and the opening joke is priceless:))