NIGHT PRAYER: Friday 3/12

REMINDER: Friday is a traditional day to meditate on the suffering and death of Jesus and the Fridays of Lent have a particular claim on our hearts in this regard.  In Lent, then, Friday's Night Prayer will bring us to the Cross of him who laid down his life that we might have life and have it to the full...  We've reflected on Jesus accepting his cross, Jesus carrying his Cross and Jesus falling under the weight of his Cross. This week we turn to Veronica whom we find at the sixth of the fourteen Stations of the Cross. There's no scriptural basis for Veronica or for her wiping the face of Jesus as he carried his Cross to Calvary or for the image of Jesus' face being imprinted on the cloth she used to comfort him. Still, the legend is a beautiful one and  worthy of our reflection and prayer.  The striking image here is from the Stations of the Cross at Saint Augustine Cathedral in Lodwar, Kenya.

A Personal Note: the Story Behind the Prayer   After writing the introduction above and having decided to focus our prayer tonight on Veronica's simple, caring gesture, I decided to go out for a walk before both the sun and the temperature went down for the evening.  I wasn't too far into my walk when I passed a house where a woman was standing at her front steps, facing the door. A large box at her feet, on the stairs.  I was several doors farther along when it dawned on me that she was probably standing there trying to figure out how to get the box into her house.  I turned around and called out, "Do you need some help?" She turned around, in tears, and said, "Oh, yes, I do!"  
     I walked over and could see the box was at least 6 feet long and about 8 inches square in width.  Propped against the 4 stairs leading to her landing, the bottom end had broken open and what appeared to be bed rails were sticking out about 6 inches.  She thanked me for stopping and said, "My apartment's on the second floor!"  I told her I was sure we could manage it together and instructed her to take the other end.  When we tried to lift the box I realized it probably weighed 75 pounds: 75 pounds of awkward weight spilling out one end! I inquired about the contents of the box and learned that it held the parts for an assemble-yourself daybed.
     We turned the box so that the contents were falling in and not out.  The outdoor stairs were not too difficult - the interior staircase was much steeper and narrower!  We sort of slid the box up the stairs - haltingly: my lifting the bottom end one step at a time while the woman made sure the top end cleared each next stair on her end. We finally made it to her apartment door and slid the box inside. Team work! Success! Delivery!  And one very happy, relieved, grateful woman...

Oh, Jesus!  
Talk about grace in my face!
How often do I pass you on the street
or in the aisles of the grocery store
or in a parking lot,
or in so many places
where you're right in front of me
in need of a little help,
a gesture of support,
a word of greeting,
a warm smile,
a helping hand, 
and offer of assistance?
How often, Jesus,
do I pass by you without seeing you,
without noticing you,
without acknowledging your being there,
even purposely ignoring you? 

I'm so grateful I left for my walk today
thinking about Veronica,
of her reaching out to you
in the simplest way,
to wipe the sweat and blood from your brow,
to cleanse your face of the street's dust,
to offer a touch of tenderness
in your suffering, in your agony...
I'm so grateful, Lord, 
that you were standing at your front steps,
just this afternoon on Trapelo Road in Belmont;
I'm grateful that you needed help I could offer;
I'm grateful that you accepted my assistance;
I'm grateful that for a few moments
your story and mine were one story, shared,
with love and care the only motive,
an encounter of grace, the story's end...

And I'm grateful that I saw your face 
in the face of the woman I helped...
I'm grateful, Lord, 
that your face was imprinted on my heart,
framed in the smile of the woman
who needed my help at her front steps...

I know I've missed you many, many times, Lord,
when I've passed you in all my comings and my goings:
please, don't let me miss you the next time
or the time after that or the time after that
but let me see you and reach out to you
that you might once again,
leave the imprint of your face upon my heart...

Protect me, Lord, while I'm awake
and watch over me while I sleep
that awake, I might keep watch with you
and asleep, rest in your peace...


Tonight's music is a simple refrain that repeats a number of times
and I think that's just what this song should do!  It's recorded at
a worship service where the vocalist is leading  a large congregation.
You might want to turn up your volume a bit for better audio.

 Turn Your Eyes by Hillsong

Turn your eyes upon Jesus
look full in his wonderful face 
and the things of earth will grow strangely dim 
in the light of his glory and grace...

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