Thursday, March 20, 2008

A Cry for Help

Two of the gospels tell of a moment that took place as Jesus enterred Gethsemane on the evening before his crucifiction. In both of them Jesus said "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death, stay here and keep watch." At which, he went off to sweat blood alone and they promptly went to sleep.

Jesus was calling out for help. 'I feel like death' may be one way of looking at it, but 'I am so depressed I might die' may be closer. He was the son of God, fully divine, yet also fully human. His humanity was at an end of its resources. He needed company - someone just to stay up and watch out for him while he agonised over the issues he was facing.

I wonder if any of the 17 teenagers who have killed themselves in the last few weeks in Bridgend, South Wales, had approached anyone with the information that they felt so down? Is it possible that the Chief Constable of Manchester who is alleged to have taken his own life on a bleak mountainside last week actually gave out enough hints that others should have read the signals? Maybe they did.

And are there any 'Gethsemane people' who are at the end of their resources around me? I suspect that there are. The terifying thought is that I may be too dull, or too tired to recognise their cry for help. While I snooze they bleed. While they pound their fists on a rock and heave with great sighs of sadness, I snore with self-contented ease.

Of course, the disciples didn't realise what was going on. You can't blame them. It was late and they had travelled a long way and were very tired. But they failed to read the signals and missed the most profound moment in the life of Christ and possibly the history of the world.

'Lord, please forgive me for ignoring other peoples' cries for help. And also for missing your own. I was asleep when you nudged me to pray the other day, and missed the moment. I was tired when that lady phoned and so was correct but curt with her - she was hurting, and actually it was you on the line ('for as much as you do it unto the least of these...'). When I could have got out to serve you I dozed, and now I know that you needed me to be there. Thank you Lord for your mercy, forgiveness and grace'. Amen.

Have a good Easter weekend.