Responsive reading for Ash Wednesday. (Thanks to all who attended!)
Responding to the Last Words of Jesus: “Father, forgive them…”
And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.
[Reader] Jesus, we remember that your crucifixion began with the theft of your own clothing, and stripping of all You had by men of greed and self-centeredness. As they huddled together to cast lots to gain perishable garments of this world, they failed to look up to You as You died for their sins that they might gain welcome to the eternal kingdom.
Jesus, forgive us for loving the things we might gain in this fleeting, unstable life more than the eternal life in the unshakable kingdom You have died to give us.
[All] Jesus, forgive us and have mercy.
The people stood watching,
[Reader] Christ, we wonder at the account that many stood by as You were stripped, mocked, and murdered, and looked on simply as if viewing an entertaining spectacle, doing and saying nothing to intervene or criticize what was happening to You.
Christ, forgive us for simply watching and not saying, doing, and acting to serve those in need, to save those in danger, and to stop those who harm, attack, oppress.
[All] Christ, forgive us and have mercy.
and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, the Chosen One.”
[Reader] Lord, we tremble to read that the leaders of Israel stood on their feet before You instead of bowing at Your feet, and dared to mock and scorn You instead of being silenced in fear and adoration at the specter of Your anguish.
Lord, forgive us doubting You when we should have faith, and for challenging You when we should be worshiping You in silence and adoration.
[All] Lord, forgive us and have mercy.
The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.”
[Reader] Savior, we are startled at the demonstration of deliberate, casual cruelty heaped on You as You hung dying on the Cross, and the cynical challenge that You prove Your identity as the Savior of the world by merely acting as the savior of Yourself.
O Savior, forgive us for our indifference and unbelief in You, and for those times we use our powers, abilities, and resources to serve and save ourselves, rather than to serve and save others.
[All] Savior, forgive us and have mercy.