I have been attending a local Lent Group. We start as you might expect with coffee and biscuits, and carry on being fed with scripture and sharing our experiences and the book we are following. It is a discipline to go every Monday morning, but the rewards are good. It led me to thinking of the disciple band that followed Jesus; the good times and the learning experiences they had together. They chose to follow; they chose to continue following when others left; they continued in the discipline and it was good. The disciple band exploded into crowds as Jesus entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday; excited expectant crowds, it was good. The week continued busy and noisy up to the start of the Sabbath on Friday, by that time nothing was good for the disciple band or Jesus.
As I thought of Jesus during his ministry; during that week; during that day I saw a lonely figure whose loneliness and isolation increased until that cry of “My God, my God why have you forsaken me?” which resolves itself into the final words “Father into your hands I commend my Spirit”.
In this time of Lent when I am being fed in so many ways, I find myself haunted by the loneliness and isolation of Jesus. It is as if he stands among the beauty that surrounds me; the companionship of friends and neighbours and challenges me to understand the isolation of the discipline of discipleship. I need to ask myself in what way, if any, do I take up my cross. How do I tie in the comfort of the Lent group with that lonely, agonising walk to Golgotha?
Some of the trees around me are already greening up for spring and the cherry; magnolia and camellia are brilliant with their flowers, but the older beech, ash and oak still stand with their bare dark branches. They call me to seek the wisdom of God who although surrounded by men and women made in his own image chose to stand apart and die alone so that they and we may know what it means to forgive and be forgiven; to love and be loved as God does.
Perhaps I am called, as the sorrowing women and men finally did, just to stand by the cross and weep and wonder and trust him to lead me on.