Weight of the World: Jesus, Woe, Worry and Lent
by Lexiann Grant
With another set of deadly global problems, this is now the third year of an overly-lenty Lent. Listing how long or what we are experiencing is unnecessary. We know these things all too well. Fear, anxiety, and stress at high levels, are almost always present in our conscious thoughts.
Not that I want anyone — including Jesus — to feel negative emotions, but I wish the Bible would have shown more examples of Jesus as a stressed, anxious, worried person in order to give us divine guidance on how to deal. We have the stories of human Jesus grieving graveside for Lazarus, and, sweating blood with extreme dread in Gethsemane, begging for release from his imminent, agonizing future that the divine Jesus knew could not, would not change.
But that’s about all.
It seems likely that Jesus as a person experienced stress. Consider the manifestation of his mood when he ran the money changers out of the temple. A bit intense, even for righteous indignation. Plus, wasn’t Jesus was under constant pressure to perform — usually in front of huge crowds -— to educate, enlighten and to do the impossible, like multiplying food or restoring the permanently disabled and terminally ill to health?
The gospels write about Jesus attending dinners and social gatherings. These readings focus on the lessons he taught or healings he did while there. However, there’s little description of the wine he drank and the food he enjoyed. So while his divine nature was at work, it sounds as if his human self was partaking in a bit of much needed stress relief.
It’s easy to imagine that the divine Jesus accepted the difficult emotions with grace as part of The Plan, serenely going about his work. But was the fully human Jesus a tired, sad, anxious wreck, much as we are these days?
The worried, struggling Jesus of Lent, is one to whom we can relate, especially now. Like Jesus in Gethsemane, we pray for an end to ever-mutating covid and avoidance of war on an unprecedented scale — requests which may be unfulfilled.
So this Lent let us look to the stressed, fearful Jesus who chose, despite his dread, to suffer and die, knowing because of his humanness how it feels to dwell in endless worry. But let us lean on the divine Jesus who knew the hope and Life that was to come after, and who extends to each of us his serenity amidst the present strife.
Let us pray for:
The Peace of the World
Almighty God, from whom all thoughts of truth and peace proceed: Kindle, we pray, in the hearts of all people the true love of peace, and guide with your pure and peaceable wisdom those who take counsel for the nations of the earth; that in tranquility your kingdom may go forward, till the earth is filled with the knowledge of your love; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Times of Social Conflict or Distress
Increase, O God, the spirit of neighborliness among us, that in peril we may uphold one another, in suffering tend to one another, and in homelessness, loneliness, or exile befriend one another. Grant us brave and enduring hearts that we may strengthen one another, until the disciplines and testing of these days are ended, and you again give peace in our time; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Acceptance of Prayer
O Lord our God, accept the fervent prayers of your people; in the multitude of your mercies, look with compassion upon us and all who turn to you for help; for you are gracious, O lover of souls, and to you we give glory, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, now and for ever. Amen.
Prayers are taken from the 2019 Book of Common Prayer, Anglican Church of North America, Occasional Prayers.
Lexiann Grant is a retired writer & author, a former chalicer and layreader, but still an Episcopalian who enjoys encountering God in the mountain backcountry.