God’s Hands, Our Hands: A Holy Week Reflection

Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.  Luke 23:46

So many people across the globe have been on my mind throughout this Lenten season. One image haunts me even as it steadies my thoughts. Hands. God’s hands and our hands. Jesus’ hands. The hands of mothers and fathers and children in Ukraine. The hands of health care providers in places near and far. Hands that have the power to harm and destroy. Hands that break bread on Maundy Thursday. Hands that bless.

I offer these words as a liturgical reflection on hands during Holy Week 2022. The reflection explores various meanings of the word “commend” in Luke 23.

The realities of our lives—
All that we read about in the news or see happening around us:
To what
To whom
do we commit these things?

“Father, into your hands I commend my Spirit.”

The things we value—love—hold dear
To whose hands do we entrust these things.

It is a part of life. We hand in
Hand over
Hand on
Hand off
“Put your hand in the hand of the one…”

Jesus—as he is dying—commends himself—his soul—the marrow of his bones– into God’s hands.
The hands of the One who delivered from the womb of creation
dolphins and dandelions, marsupials and marigolds
The hands of the One who ripped apart seas
to make a freedom way.
The hands of the One who scooped up mud from the river:
“We are the clay; you are the potter. We are all the work of your hands.”

What if God’s work—continues on beyond crucifixion
in our hands?

Gentle hands that have put Hello Kitty band aids on skinned knees. Arthritic hands that knit or build or garden through pain. Large hands that have held tiny hands as first steps were taken. Hands that set music free from pianos or organs or guitars. Hands that calm with a touch or write with a flair or feed with a fierce desire that none will go hungry. Hands that serve or wash or repair. Hands that resist with everything in them other hands that with clenched fist or the stroke of a pen or the push of a button mark the world with violence and hatred—

God, the potter.
We, the clay.
Our hands—the work of God’s hands.

“Father, into your hands, I commend my Spirit.”

Do we?
our lives—our well-being—our thoughts and feelings and wildest imaginings
Do we commend
our contingent existence
the whole of our lives in their radical temporariness–
Do we commend all of it—into God’s hands?

Too many too soon forget this—
the uncompromising impermanence of human living.
Or perhaps we—they—are all too aware of it—
So they—we—live in fear.
React to others with fear.
Soak faith in the bitter herbs of fear.
Cling to what little postmortem knowledge we have
with clenched hands animated by a redacted hermeneutic of fear.

But Jesus—in the end—
After splashing up out of Jordan’s waters
After calming seas and eating with tax collectors
But Jesus—in the end–
After refusing to be made king
After holding children in his arms
After breaking and blessing and giving
Here—Jesus—crucified—dying—even here:

“Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.”

“And having said this, he breathed his last.”
Jesus died. A childhood prayer on his lips.
Words of his mama’s faith—
Words learned as sun was setting on growing up days of laughter and play
now slipping from his pain-ridden body.
Psalm 31: “Into your hands I commend my Spirit.”
Last words.
Intimate words.
Breathed out to the One who breathed into him the breath of life.
Breathed out to the One who breathed into all creation—into you and me
the breath of life.

“Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.”

Do we?

Will we?






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