God of life, today we pause to remember the power of death.
Today we tell the story of what happens when someone angers those in power.
Today we tell a story of betrayal by a friend, trial by empire, execution as a way of silencing the one who names injustice.
Today we tell a story that happened long ago in a land far away.
Today we tell a story that continues to happen today in places close at hand.
As we remember the story today help us to see its truth.
As we tell of Jesus' trial and execution remind us of those who are found legally guilty for doing and saying the right things.
As we tell of the friends who are conspicuously absent from the cross remind us how easily we slip away when the struggle for justice becomes dangerous or challenging.
As we look at the cross remind us of the power of empire in any age, and remind us of our duty as people of faith to proclaim a different empire, a different kingdom, a new way of living together.
God of life, today we pause to remember the power of those in charge to run the world.
Today we remember the many people near and far who are broken by that power:
those who live in places where peace is just a word, not a reality, not even a dream
those who are pushed to the margins because of their race, their gender, their bank balance, their marital status, their orientation, or any of the countless other ways we find to set people apart
those who live with nothing so that others may live with abundance
those who choose to challenge the injustices in their world and are crushed beneath the feet of those in charge
...time of silent prayer...
But even as we remember that power we remember that day follows night, hope replaces despair, and life will conquer death.
And now, as we prepare to leave this gathering, may we do so ready to challenge the empires of our world, even if such a challenge leads us to a cross outside the city gates.
We pray in the name of the one who showed us the depth of his passion for Your Kingdom, who taught us to live in love and justice, in whose life, death and resurrection we can find the path to Kingdom living, and who taught his friends to pray by saying:
Our Father, who art in heaven...