--luke 22. 33-34
We have almost come to the end of the line, we pilgrims. We’ve followed Jesus from a rigged trial and awful scourging until they pushed the cross beam on his shoulders. We watched him fall and fall and fall and remembered those other falling so close to us. Too close. There was a lump in our throats as he saw see him peer from blood-streaked sad eyes at his mother who stood close by. Could one smile carrying a cross—I think he almost did when he saw the dear, dear daughters of Jerusalem standing near and open-mouthed and stricken with grief--but with eyes of love. He smiled because not many who said they loved them came—but they were there. We tried to avert our eyes as they stripped every garment from his bruised, wounded body. But our eyes kept coming back hoping this Lamb of God who we understand can take away the sins of the world will have mercy on us too. We need it, don’t we?
So stopping at this eleventh Station we see he has climbed his last hill—broken his last bread—put his arms around the last of the children he laughed with. This is almost the end—but not quite. And so here they hammer and hammer and hammer the nails into his hands and feet. God, how it must have hurt. The crowd was used to crucifixions it was the Roman way of keeping them in line. And it worked. But somehow this cross, this nailing was different. For from that hill has come a great river of hope for every sin and every sorrow. Those out-stretched, nailed-down hands have touched us all.
With so much going on I was visiting the hospital one day and a nurse aide, a black woman got on the elevator. As the door closed she asked, “Aren’t you Dr. Lovette?” I nodded. She said, “Didn’t you preach down here on a Good Friday last year?" I said, “Yes.” She said, “I remember. I still got my nail. I think about it all the time.” The door opened and she was gone. She didn’t know what she had done for me. I had given her a nail. And she gave it back to me. Looking back now I know that moment in that elevator was one of the graces that kept me going.
(I am indebted to African artist, Bruce Onobrakpeya for his 14 linoleum-cut prints I have followed on our Lenten journey this year.)