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The Apostles Creed
~
I Believe :
Jesus was Crucified, Died, and was Buried




The Apostles' Creed 



Cuthbert cross

Jesus was Crucified, Died, and was Buried

Read : Luke 23: 26-56  


This reflection, for a Holy Week Reflective Service, took the form of a guided contemplative meditation. . . .

Make sure you are sitting comfortably on your chair. Be aware of the chair supporting you. Be aware of the ground supporting your feet. Relax and let the tension drain away. Put aside your worries. Be aware of the stillness and peace here. Listen to the silence. Feel yourself breathing in and out . . .  

You open your eyes in your mind. You are standing in a dusty street. Behind you are square, white walled houses. Away to your left, you can see city walls, and a huge gateway. Crowds of people are milling around. People around are you talking. One says, "How can it be wrong to heal sick people. But I hear that the healer Jesus will die for it today" Someone replies, "That makes no sense. Jesus made my blind son see. Our whole family love him for that." People are looking to the right. They seem to be waiting for something to happen. Then rows of Roman soldiers come marching round the corner of the street.  

You look around. What do you see ? . . . hear ? . . . feel ? What do you do ?

Soldiers are passing in front of you now. Behind them is a man carrying a heavy wooden cross. More soldiers. Then another man with a cross. More soldiers. Then a third man with a cross. So many soldiers with them, means someone must be expecting trouble. You look closely at each man with a cross, but none of them is Jesus. 

Just in front of you, a man almost surrounded by soldiers, stumbles and falls to his knees. He looks as though he's been badly beaten. Shouting soldiers roughly pull him up, and shove him forward. Just before he stumbles away, he looks in your direction. You recognise him. It is Jesus. 

The last soldiers are passing in front of you now, heading for the gate in the city walls. A large crowd of people are following them. They are going to watch today's crucifixions.  

You look around. What do you see ? . . . hear ? . . . feel ? What do you do ?

Outside the city walls, the path up the hill seems much steeper and longer than usual. By the time you're near the top, your feet are tired and dusty from the uneven path. While you were walking up, the soldiers have been busy. One cross is already fixed upright, but you don't recognise the man on it. As you move forward, a second cross is pulled upright and secured in the ground. Now it's Jesus turn. The soldiers are offering him something to drink. He tastes it, but refuses to drink. You hear Jesus saying, "Father, forgive them, they don't know what they're doing." People jeer, while his cross is pulled upright and secured in the ground. 

Many of the soldiers are leaving to return to the city. Some stay behind to guard the men on the crosses. The soldiers in charge of Jesus have taken his clothes, and are dividing them between them. One says "This garment is seamless, let's not tear it," so they cast lots to decide who will get it. Then they sit down to keep watch.  

cross

You look around. What do you see ? . . . hear ? . . . feel ? What do you do ?

You see Jesus' mother standing nearby. Some of the women who follow Jesus are with her, and so is his friend John. Mary looks frail and old, hardly able to bear her grief. Tears stream down her face. She seems torn apart by what she is seeing. As John puts an arm around her shoulders, she leans on him gratefully. 

People in the crowd are shouting at Jesus. One man yells "You, who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!" People laugh. The religious leaders are here too. Mocking Jesus. One says, "He saved others, but he can't save himself!" They laugh. Another says, "He says he's the King of Israel! Well, if he comes down from that cross now, we'll believe him." More laughter. The first man says, "He says he trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, after all he said, `I'm the Son of God.'" Still laughing, they move towards the path that leads back to the city. Several times they look back. Each time, they laugh again. 

You look around. What do you see ? . . . hear ? . . . feel ? What do you do ?

The man on the left-hand cross shouts at Jesus "If you're the Messiah then save yourself and us!" The man on the other cross replies "Don't you fear God? We're under the same sentence as him. We're getting the punishment our deeds deserve. But he hasn't done anything wrong." Then he says, "Jesus, remember me, when you come into your kingdom." Jesus replies, "I tell you the truth, today you'll be with me in paradise." 

You look around. What do you see ? . . . hear ? . . . feel ? What do you do ? You look up at Jesus, and it feels as though you and he are alone on the hill. Do you speak to Jesus ? Does he speak to you ?

Time passes. 

It is about noon. The sun beats down from high in a clear blue sky. The scorching ground is rocky and uneven beneath your feet. Suddenly the sun is blotted out. Darkness covers the whole land, until three in the afternoon. Jesus cries out in a loud voice "My God, why have you forsaken me?"  

Later, Jesus says, "I'm thirsty." The soldiers soak a sponge in wine vinegar. Put the sponge on a long stick, and lift it to Jesus' lips. After drinking some, he says, "It is finished. Father, into your hands I commit my spirit." Then he bows his head, and dies.  

The ground all around you shakes violently. Rocks split apart. People are screaming. Even the soldiers look terrified by the earthquake. Someone shouts "Surely this man was the Son of God!" The watching crowd have had enough. Some are beating their breasts, as they start running towards the path back to Jerusalem, and away from here. But the people who knew Jesus, stay, watching everything. 

You look around. What do you see ? . . . hear ? . . . feel ? What do you do ?

Time passes. 

Joseph arrives. He is a friend of Jesus. He looks important, official. He is speaking to the soldiers guarding Jesus. After some discussion, his servants take Jesus' body down from the cross, and carefully wrap it in a cloth.  

Joseph arrives. He is a friend of Jesus. He looks important, official. He is speaking to the soldiers guarding Jesus. After some discussion, his servants take Jesus' body down from the cross, and carefully wrap it in a cloth.  

You look around. What do you see ? . . . hear ? . . . feel ? What do you do ?

The small procession arrives in the garden. There are rows of olive trees here. Off to one side, you see a well. Near the well is a small shabby hut, probably used by the gardener. The garden is quiet. In one corner, rocks rise up steeply. There is a cave there. It has been carved into a tomb. It stands empty. 

Carefully Joseph and John, place Jesus' body into the tomb. Mary stumbles as she goes inside. She kisses her son, then weeping bitterly, has to be almost carried out again by John.  

A huge rock stands to one side of the entrance. At a signal from Joseph, his servants strain and struggle, pushing the rock into the entrance of the tomb, sealing it. Jesus' body is now safe and secure in the sealed tomb.  

The sun is low in the sky. The day is almost over, and soon the Sabbath will begin. Very slowly, and very gently, John and the other women, lead Mary away. 

What do you do ?

Ruth GIllett, 2010

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