D evotion for Friday, April 10 

Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother's sister,
Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.
     John 19:25 (NIV)
We know from biblical scholars that the women above were positioned very near to the Cross on the Friday afternoon of Jesus' crucifixion. They were close enough, it is said, that they could actually touch him if they so desired! Being in such near proximity, they would be able to hear every groan of discomfort and every sigh of anguish. They would be able to see every drop of sweat and every trickle of blood. They would be able to feel every wince of pain and spasm of muscle. And yet they stood "near the cross of Jesus"-not for a minute or two, but for hours. They had the love and devotion to accompany their Jesus through his entire crucifixion experience.
We don't always spend a lot of time contemplating the crucified Christ. As Protestants, we tend to put our theological emphasis on the empty cross as the sign of Christ's victory. How much hope, comfort, and joy we have in our belief that Christ conquers death once and for all! We celebrate that when our trials on earth are over, we reside in the presence of God for all eternity.
The image of Christ on the cross crucified, however, is one to which we must also attend. For when we hold it in view-when do not look away from his wounded body-we gain a new understanding of our Lord. We see our Savior, not as high priest who is aloof and distant from our struggles, but rather as one who understands what it is to suffer, what it is to feel weak (Heb. 4:15). Then in turn, when we are beaten and wounded (either physically or mentally) by life's circumstances, we can look to him, "share in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death," and subsequently "know him and the power of his resurrection" intimately. (Phil. 3:10)
We can also gain strength in our ability to stand alongside those around us who are suffering. Instead of turning the channel on the news when the horrors of understaffed and underequipped hospitals are aired, and instead of opting out of enews that depicts families in deep financial crisis, we can pause for a moment and hold them in prayer. Instead of kicking back with our family and forgetting our elderly in the nursing center, we can make a phone call or send a card. There are so many ways that we can really show others that we see them in their suffering and we will not look away!
This Good Friday may we pause at the foot of the cross and gaze at our crucified Lord. May we consider his incredible sacrifice for us along with all its pain and anguish. May we join whatever struggles we're enduring with his woundedness so that we may eventually rise in Resurrection victory.
                                                                   Deacon Erin Maurer
820 Almshouse Road  Ivyland, PA 18974
215 357-6998   stjumc@aol.com