At the rally before March For Our Lives here in Harrisburg, a Latinx college professor spoke of the tradition in which the dead are named aloud, and those who are witnesses respond, “Presente,” to indicate that although those we knew and loved are gone in body, they are not forgotten. The names of the students and teachers killed at Margery Stoneman Douglas High School were read, and after each one we did as he instructed and responded, “Present.”
He came and found them sleeping. He said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Couldn’t you stay alert for one hour? Stay alert and pray so that you won’t give in to temptation. The spirit is eager, but the flesh is weak.” (Mark 14:37-38, CEB)
Peter and the others were present in body, but their minds had gone to sleep.
There are times when emotions are heightened and life is fraught, and just going to sleep feels like the safest, even the sanest, thing to do. But Jesus is asking more from us. (It only gets harder for Peter; by dawn he will be denying Jesus altogether.)
In ministry, and especially if we serve a congregation, this day may be full of obligations, logistics, and technical difficulties. Are the slides ready for worship? Is the gluten-free communion bread in the house? Have we visited all the homebound folk who only wish they could attend a service in person, and will we be counting up the parents and children who have taken a vacation instead of spending Holy Week with their church family?
My hope for you all today, whatever your situation, is that you can find a little time to sit and watch and pray with Jesus. Be awake to what happened then, and feel it happening now. The world wants to rewrite him into a representative of the powers and principalities, but we know better. We know the powers and principalities were the ones who wanted him dead, the ones who killed him.
Find your moment. Say his name – Jesus! – and declare him “Presente.”
Ah, Holy Jesus, may I be awake to you and declare your presence. Amen.
This is both my Lenten blogging and a devotion for the RevGalBlogPals Weekly e-Reader.
I’m reading and blogging about Mark for Lent and using the Common English Bible because it messes with my expectations of familiar passages. I also sometimes refer to NRSV-based resources including The Jewish Annotated New Testament, and the New Interpreter’s Study Bible, as well as the online Greek interlinear Bible.