It is Time to Wake Up

gethsemaneThe following devotion was offered by Rev. Solveig Nilsen-Goodin during the weekly online gathering for ELCA leaders on “Being Church in Times of Crisis,” Wednesday, June 17, 2020 (The Commemoration of the Martyrdom of the Emanuel 9). See video here.

On Maundy Thursday of 2020 I posted about praying like Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. Today, as tens of thousands take to the streets daily demanding racial justice and systemic change, Jesus’ call to WAKE UP couldn’t be more urgent. Dear fellow white Christians, the hour is upon us. It is time to WAKE UP!

Matthew 26:36-46 The Inclusive Bible
Jesus Prays in Gethsemane

36 Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane and said to the disciples, “Stay here while I go over there and pray.” 37 Jesus took along Peter, James and John and started to feel grief and anguish. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death. Please, stay here, and stay awake with me.” 39 Jesus went on a little further and fell prostrate in prayer: “Abba, if it is possible, let this cup pass me by. But not what I want—what you want.” 40 When Jesus returned to the disciples, he found them asleep. He said to Peter, “Couldn’t you stay awake with me for even an hour? 41 Be on guard, and pray that you may not undergo trial. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.” 42 Withdrawing a second time, Jesus prayed, “Abba, if this cup cannot pass me by without my drinking it, your will be done!” 43 Once more Jesus returned and found the disciples asleep; they could not keep their eyes open. 44 Jesus left them again, withdrew somewhat and prayed for a third time, saying the same words as before. 45 Finally Jesus returned to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping? Still taking your rest? The hour is upon us—the Chosen One is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46 Get up! Let us be on our way! Look, my betrayer is here.”

Dear fellow white Christians, the hour is upon us. It is time to wake up! 

The voice of Jesus is crying out to us through our black, brown and indigenous siblings of color. “Are you still asleep? We have been in grief and anguish, betrayed, enslaved, tortured, starved, diseased, robbed, jailed, lynched, raped, murdered, disappeared, terrorized over and over and over again on this land to this very day. Please, wake up!”

Dear fellow white Christians, the hour is upon us to heed these words of Jesus. To get up and go to the garden! 

  • Go to the garden and let the anguish of black lives pierce our souls. 
  • Go to the garden and fall prostrate on the ground in grief for what has been done and what has been left undone.
  • Go to the garden and wrestle with the painful truth that the betrayer is here and the betrayer is us.

It is time to go to the garden.

  • Go to the garden and confess that we have been asleep while black lives have been crucified. 
  • Go to the garden and confess our complicity in systems that betray the very values we claim to profess.
  • Go to the garden and confess that our spirits may have been willing but our bodies have been weak, unable to stand in solidarity without being lulled back to sleep by the comforts of privilege.

Dear fellow white Christians, the hour is upon us, and it is time — time to go to the garden and confess how scared we really are, and how defensive we can be. How ashamed we feel, and how desperately we do not want to drink this cup. How ignorant we have been, and how unprepared we feel to meet this moment. 

But I tell you this: the Holy Spirit is not concerned about whether we are prepared or not. The hour is upon us. It is time to wake up — to get up and go to the garden.

  • Go to the garden and surrender with Jesus.
  • Go to the garden and pray to the God of Creation and Liberation, “Not my will, but YOUR will be done!” 
  • Go to the garden and pray to the Spirit of Truth and Justice, “Not what I want, but what YOU want!”
  • Go to the garden and say to the Power of Love, through which all things are possible, “I surrender my life and my privilege, my strengths and my weaknesses, my fears and my fragility. I place my entire life into your hands no matter the cost — no matter the cost — so that YOUR WILL, YOUR WILL of justice and mercy and life abundant may be fulfilled for EVERY SINGLE BELOVED CHILD OF GOD, NO EXCEPTIONS.”

Dear fellow white Christians, the hour is upon us. It is time to wake up! Get up! Let us be on our way. Amen.

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