The Last Word
Here we are on this Good Friday, April 19, 2019 in the rainy city of Orlando. We have just made the decision in the interest of safety to cancel our service this evening. Thus, I hope that where ever you are as you are reading this, that you take time for yourself and those who know the privilege of being loved by you.
The talk title for the event this evening is called the last word. The idea for this exploration fell upon my heart and soul as I remembered the Good Fridays of my youth, which also carried their share of weird weather that my grandmother would lovingly refer to as the Easter Snap. My days of coming of age in the city of Shreveport, LA were also filled with a myriad of opportunities of me engaged in verbal sparring match with my mother as most teenage girls did in that time where we both matched wits in attempts to have the last word. The more I think about it, I am not sure why the last word was so important to me. Was it that there was an illusive trophy or accolade or just a quiet tick in the win column for she who won the robust conversation of the day? I wish I knew and even more so, I would give anything to hear Mom’s voice again even if she was telling me to go to my room or all of the privileges that this conversation would cost me.
Remembering always stirs something within me. I remember many a Good Friday where we were packed in the car and hauled off to the longest service ever. The service would involve the Stations of the cross which never made sense to me and the Seven last words of Jesus, which took what felt like three hours and way more than seven words. So, as I sat a few weeks ago, sketching out my thoughts on how to consider the Seven Last Words of Jesus, I wished for a moment of two that I had six friends who were willing to wax philosophically on the matter, instead I decided to take a journey of seven days to explore the ideas and the ideals unfolding within me.
In The Beginning…
One of the most valuable lessons that this spiritual journey of life has taught me is the wisdom of starting where you are. Instead, I started where I was… (I know, right?) Good Friday is not my favorite day among the holy days because I would often leave service feeling broken open and bleeding from the story of betrayal of Judas, and the failed power play by Pilate and the loss and suffering felt in the death of Jesus. I know what you are thinking, “Beas, you have spent your whole life in church and surely you have not forgotten how the story ends.” You are right, I have not forgotten that this is a story… This is where the journey begins for me this day amid the meaning making within my own telling of the doing of my own story.
This is my story, this is my song…
To engage the story, I began to see the characters of Judas and Pilate emerge and the lessons of their Truth. Judas’ betrayal when lifted from the pages, becomes a deception of the Christ-nature of humanity that sets the stage for Jesus to establish the incongruity of death. While Pilate publicly comes to understand just how powerful he was not, and that God is all that there is.
- “Father forgive them; for they know not what they do.” – (Luke 23:34)
The idea of forgiveness even in our world today is perhaps among the the most selfless acts that we can be called to commit. The more I read this, the more I hear Jesus not necessarily calling upon the Divine to forgive them but calling upon the Divine within to make room both for and within him to model a measure of unconditional forgiveness.
- “… today you will be with me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:43)
These words were spoken to the two who were being crucified along with him. Unity’s co-founder, Charles Fillmore asserted that these two thieves were representative of the past and the future. Often, we can find ourselves between the proverbial rock and a hard place known as the past and the not yet. The concept of paradise is not necessarily a geographical representation of place, but one that represents time; the now moment. I believe that the notion of being with is more about the collective awareness of both now and not yet as we know the intersection of these is the Divine crossing that allows us to know more of our true oneness with God.
- “Woman behold your son! … Behold, your mother!” (John 19:26, 27)
Scholars believe that these words were spoken to Mary, the mother of Jesus, and to his disciple John as he passed on the care of his mother to one that he would call his brother. I believe that it is important to draw a measure of significance of the relational value of connection and family. This is more than the family of origin or choice, this is the family of the soul where the ties that bind are of Divine proportion and carry the power to remind us that we are each other’s and that we belong to one another.
- “‘Eli, Eli, lemana, sha-bak-thani!’ which means, ‘My God, my God, for this I was spared!’”
Amid his pain and anguish, he became the center point for prophecy of both the crucifixion and the resurrection, as he declared that this was the manifest destiny to which his life pointed.
- “I thirst.” – (John 19:28)
These two words are simple at best, but powerful in spirit that draws our attention to the dry places within our lives and within our being as a reminder that despite thirst and or hunger, the very love of God is everywhere present to, through and as us.
- “It is finished.” – (John 19:30)
I remember when I was first learning to become a trainer and how everything that occurs in the training container is of value in the cycle of living and learning and from the beginning to the ending. A dear friend of mine would always say that engaging the lessons of life is easy when you are willing to get into it, get up out of it and get on to the next thing and regardless of how it feels, trust the Truth that we know and allow it to be so.
The Last Word!
- “Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit.” – (Luke 23:46)
This statement, is like punctuation on the situation. This is the point where Jesus gives all that he had of himself back to the creator with no regard for what’s ahead or even the rest of the story. In considering the last word, that which I have in my own life fought so desperately to attain; would any of us be willing to now in this moment give it up, let it go and or release it? What word is active in your living that is not serving you in this moment? Are you done with it? Is it done with you? Are you willing to commit your last word back to the creator and make room for the newness of life?
What is your last word and are you ready and willing to commit it to the Divine and journey in the absence of it and in celebration of the release thereof?
Think on these things and as you find yourselves in the shadow of the cross this evening, remember that the most prolific symbol of the season is love, a revolutionary love that exists without the knowledge, experience or restraint of condition. Today, I replace my past feelings of loss and pain with love and peace, for within me; they have the final say as they are the last word.
May the light of grace illumine your journey from Good Friday to resurrection and beyond.