Saturday, April 4, 2009

Father, into Your Hands, the sixth word

Jesus, nearing the end of the track now, cries out in the words of Psalm 31: "Father, into your hands I commend my spirit." The words in Psalm 31 are: "Father, into your hand, I commend my spirit." The writer of Luke translated it to the plural in Greek "hands". So, we have: "Father, into your hands..."

It's a prayer of trust. Now, at the end of ego, strength, pride, and humanity Jesus comes to the place where we all sooner or later come. And, he prays the prayer of trust.

This prayer reminds me a bit of the old children's prayer. Remember?

Now I lay me down to sleep;
I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
If I should die before I wake,
I pray the Lord my soul to take.

Now, I doubt very many pray that prayer now. Our children are so sensitive now; or, parents are so sensitive that the idea that we die seems just too much for a child to handle, especially at bedtime, the time of nightmares and terrors.

Originally it was meant as a prayer of comfort. Even children who have lost puppies know about death. In fact, I find it strange that in a culture as violent as ours, and in a world as violent and death conscious as ours (someone went on a rampage yesterday and killed 14, I think, and then himself) we would be concerned about our children realizing that death is a part of life.

This prayer was meant (Now, I lay me down to sleep...) as a prayer to comfort a child or an adult, for that matter. Scripture knows that the next thing to death is sleep. We're as near to death as we can be most days when we lie down to sleep.

Jesus, now, identifying with us, entering in to the depths of human suffering and sorrow is about to sleep, to really die. There is nothing more to say, is there? "Father, into your hands, I commend my spirit..." Whatever there is of future or meaning is in the hands of God.

Dave Nichols

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Thanks for checking out my blog. I'm new to this, as you can probably see. But, I, like you, have convictions and ideas worth sharing. I hope this will be an opportunity to connect with others who are Christian and/or religious. I am happily United Methodist. I am committed to the basic teachings of our church, and to the compassionate outreach to the world.

I hope these pastoral ponderings will generate something in you that is hopeful.

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A graduate of Newberry College and Duke University Divinity School.  I have served as a pastor in the United Methodist Church since 1975.

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