Mark 14:32-42 (NRSV) Jesus Prays in Gethsemane
They went to a place called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” He took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be distressed and agitated. And he said to them, “I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here, and keep awake.” And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. He said, “Abba, Father, for you all things are possible; remove this cup from me; yet, not what I want, but what you want.” He came and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not keep awake one hour? Keep awake and pray that you may not come into the time of trial; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” And again he went away and prayed, saying the same words. And once more he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy; and they did not know what to say to him. He came a third time and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? Enough! The hour has come; the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Get up, let us be going. See, my betrayer is at hand.”
Often wanting to be control and sometimes preoccupied with memories and worries for the future, I needed to return to Gethsemane to be reminded of the important but difficult lessons that Jesus teaches us on the next to last day of his life.
On that day Jesus goes with his apostles to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray. He goes alone into the garden. He is scared. He is sure he cannot do what is asked of him. “Please God, let this hour pass.” But understanding, he concludes his prayer, “yet, not what I want, but what you want.” He returns to his community, the apostles, and three times is disappointed, finding them groggy or asleep. “Could you not keep awake one hour?”
Jesus models for us, as he does throughout his life, two important tenets of our faith. First that we must let go of our own thoughts, wants, and needs. We must let go in order to let God lead. In letting go we are “consenting to the presence and action of God,” says Cynthia Bourgeault. And second, that we must stay awake, and present. In Jesus’s last words to his apostles, he asks them to stay awake. Richard Rohr calls this request, to stay awake, alive, and conscious, “the work of religion.” And so, this is the work of our community of faith, to support one another to do the work of letting go, and letting God be present in all that we do as we relinquish control and let God in.
Dear Lord let the message of Gethsemane sink into our hearts. Help us to stay awake, letting go of our own desire so we can consent to your presence. Be with our community at LPC as we continue to support one another in the work of being present to your will.