Friday, March 29, 2013

An arrest...a trial....a crucifixion...

Good Friday

Where would you have stood?  OR would you have left for home days ago?

The church today stands in a painful place for many of my friends and family.  It is smaller and older.  It is polarized and inward looking.  Many are caught up in the Gay Marriage disputes and how the church should think about Gay and Lesbian people.  Money issues are making ministry difficult in many places.  Communication ministry between congregations seems to be struggling.  The list of hurts is huge and ties us up into  little neatly organized labeled boxes.

A New Pope washed the feet of 2 girls yesterday...a humble faithfilled act that broke tradition and the rules!    Shakes the act of act of grace.

Good Friday....a day when God shook the earth, darkened the sky, torn the curtian, and changed the rules.  The day the faith did everything, but stand still.  When Jesus died on that cross ts made the world change.

Good Friday...God broke the box that faith had organized so neatly.  God changed the meanings and expectations.  God showed the ultimate in loving relationship for humankind.  The earth shook from the power of God's activity. we feel the power of God's change?  Can we feel the power in our lives?  Can we move beyond the boxes of neat organized religion with it's painful assumptions and expectations.....can we move into relationship and see where it takes us?

Can we allow God to do a new thing in us?  Through us?  Using us?  Can we see God beyond the boxes of traditional church/contemporary church/gay/straight/old/young/male/female.....etc etc etc?  Can we allow God to shake things up....especially us...and move faithful people in new a powerful directions of loving, forgiving, graceful relationships?

Where do you stand?  Do you stand at the cross ready for God to move us into loving each other?  I'm not opposed to church....just the judgmental, nasty, little box type places that hurt people.  I'm all for the church that lives out God's act of love on the cross that offers forgiveness, love and grace to one left out.

Good Friday

Thursday, March 28, 2013

7Then came the day of Unleavened Bread, on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed.8So Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and prepare the Passover meal for us that we may eat it.”9They asked him, “Where do you want us to make preparations for it?”10“Listen,” he said to them, “when you have entered the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you; follow him into the house he enters11and say to the owner of the house, ‘The teacher asks you, “Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?”’12He will show you a large room upstairs, already furnished. Make preparations for us there.”13So they went and found everything as he had told them; and they prepared the Passover meal.14When the hour came, he took his place at the table, and the apostles with him.15He said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer;16for I tell you, I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.”17Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he said, “Take this and divide it among yourselves;18for I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”19Then he took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”20And he did the same with the cup after supper, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.21But see, the one who betrays me is with me, and his hand is on the table.22For the Son of Man is going as it has been determined, but woe to that one by whom he is betrayed!”23Then they began to ask one another, which one of them it could be who would do this.  Luke 22:7-23

My congregation gathers for a meal this evening and so we have set the tables and prepared the room. (I know the story tells of Peter and John preparing, but the traditions of the Passover Meal include the women)  My daughters and I have done this as part of our own devotions this week.  It's humbling.  It also brings back the women who would have prepared a room for Jesus....the women who would have been journeying with Jesus preparing meals, taking care of the men, etc.  

As I reflected with my daughters on this we also talked about the women who were left behind when everyone left after dinner.  Imagine watching the conversation at dinner and then watching those men walk out of the room that night.  Did they clean up from the dinner in silence?  in frenzy?  in worry?  in fear?  Did they sit and wait for word?

We know the women were there...the scriptures present them as silent....but we know they were there...they were on the fringes watching.  I imagine they were weeping with broken hearts....fiercly angry and dismayed at their own helplessness.  Did they comfort Peter when he came after his own denial of Jesus?  Or were they angry?  Or were they so overwhelmed they watched the story unfold in numbness as it went so quickly and painfully?

I know the story of the men, but we forget the women.  They were there.  They were present.  I would have been with them.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Now the festival of Unleavened Bread, which is called the Passover, was near.2The chief priests and the scribes were looking for a way to put Jesus to death, for they were afraid of the people.3Then Satan entered into Judas called Iscariot, who was one of the twelve;4he went away and conferred with the chief priests and officers of the temple police about how he might betray him to them.5They were greatly pleased and agreed to give him money.6So he consented and began to look for an opportunity to betray him to them when no crowd was present.  Luke 22:1-6

Judas....He's a strange guy for most of us to understand.  In some ways it's hard to imagine he would betray Jesus for a bag of coins.  He had been so close to Jesus and was part of the inner circle of friends.  So, why?  Maybe he's just to too close to reality for our comfort.

Each of the Gospels deals with Judas a touch differently.  Luke, is simple.  Satan took over.  Now, I'm not a big Satan believer.  It's really hard for me to wrap my mind around a living Satan the way people think today.  I've studied too much and know that many of our images and ideas come from Dante and other authors who wrote very good vivid images that have stuck in the societal mind's eye.    Now, I do believe in evil.  I've seen way too many people who were cruel and hatefilled.  I've known the times when I was touched by evil and was hateful myself.  For those moments I'm ashamed and seek forgiveness.  Do you?

But this idea of Judas being entered by Satan and betraying Jesus still leaves the need for a solid answer that leaves me out.  You know....Judas had to do it so God made him do it....It had to be someone...he was greedy.  There are all kinds of theories about Judas that make him unrepeatable.

I think Judas is the reminder for all of us that we turn away from Jesus in our lives.  We are tempted to betray Jesus.  For most of us in the USA we live a very nice life with many comforts.  Standing up for out faith really isn't a part of our community.  In fact you can claim to be Christian and live a life that shows no sign of Jesus in it.  The ways to betray Jesus in our lives are plentiful.

How do we betray Jesus?  How do we deny our faith? 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Luke 20.20-47

20So they watched him and sent spies who pretended to be honest, in order to trap him by what he said, so as to hand him over to the jurisdiction and authority of the governor.21So they asked him, “Teacher, we know that you are right in what you say and teach, and you show deference to no one, but teach the way of God in accordance with truth.22Is it lawful for us to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?”23But he perceived their craftiness and said to them,24“Show me a denarius. Whose head and whose title does it bear?” They said, “The emperor’s.”25He said to them, “Then give to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”26And they were not able in the presence of the people to trap him by what he said; and being amazed by his answer, they became silent.

Thte question of authority is the relavant question they are striving to catch Jesus on.  He's a smart man, though and the game of authority becomes a game of whits.  Who can outwhit the other?  Here we have the question of in society.  

Luke 21

21He looked up and saw rich people putting their gifts into the treasury;2he also saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins.3He said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them;4for all of them have contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in all she had to live on.” She gives everything...she has nothing else...she puts her faith in God and gives her 2 coins.  She takes the risk and gives everything she has with the faith God will provide.   It's interesting that these questions of money are so present during Holy Week.  To think about money this week seems so out of the picture...we're supposed to be talking about our hearts, our faith, our Savior!  How often, though, does money come between us and our God?  The need for money to pay provide a roof over our  But the question stands....which is more important?

Who or what holds authority in your life over God?  Who or what holds power in your life?

Monday, March 25, 2013

Luke 19.41-48

41As he came near and saw the city, he wept over it,42saying, “If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.43Indeed, the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up ramparts around you and surround you, and hem you in on every side.44They will crush you to the ground, you and your children within you, and they will not leave within you one stone upon another; because you did not recognize the time of your visitation from God.”45Then he entered the temple and began to drive out those who were selling things there;46and he said, “It is written, ‘My house shall be a house of prayer’; but you have made it a den of robbers.”47Every day he was teaching in the temple. The chief priests, the scribes, and the leaders of the people kept looking for a way to kill him;48but they did not find anything they could do, for all the people were spellbound by what they heard.

The people were spellbound....they were so caught up in Jesus and what he had to say that they were spellbound.  When was the last time your faith left you spellbound?  Completely engaged?  Totally in the moment of faith? 

People drop off from the party of Palm Sunday as the week goes by.  Most of us start out in the crowd on Palm Sunday, waving palms, excited.  But something else comes along and we end up wandering away.  We lose our focus and we wander off.

What leaves you spellbound?  What in faith leaves draws you in and engages you completely?

Friday, March 22, 2013

Today has been a beautiful day in our house....we did nothing!  Ok, sorta.  We looked at buying a new know the discount is wasted by the delivery and set up fees?  We took our daughter to lunch.  We're headed out soon to buy stuff for our granola fix for next week...gotta be sustained during Holy Week running somehow!  The sun is shining so Michael raked sweet gum balls.  We've laughed at stupid things, stupid jokes and just plain spent time together as a family.

The weather man is saying we're going to get snow on Sunday....a crazy Palm Sunday!  A Winter Storm is strolling through Cincinnati Sunday and will mess with life as March prepares to end soon.  The trees are budding and my grass is turning green so I know this winter experience is coming to an end soon.  I don't blame the ground hog...I mean really?  They're suing the ground hog?!  That's just a waste of money, time and crappy publicity stunt.

I saw this morning the new Pope is going to have Hoyl Thursday in a "new" place this year and wash the feet of the down trodden instead of priest/cardinal type people.  I'm intruiged with this Pope.  He's stil conservative on the female leadership thing, but that's a common sin for a man.   I'm blessed to have men in my life who believe God really did create women with possibilities....not just as extra decorations for the arm.

In some ways today is my day to relax and breathe before the chaos of Holy Week begins and Easter comes flying in to end this whole Lenten experience.  I'm grateful for Lent this year...I was starving myself on a ration of task and Lent has brought me back to the healthy habits of relationships.  I was clinging to doubt and fear and have been able to find faith and grace.

Are you ready for Holy Week?  Have you cleaned out your heart and looked at the sins you're gonna leave on the cross?  Are you ready to journey past the Triumphal celebration of Palm Sunday into the truly hard part of our faith?  ....The Cross and the death.

Winter is hanging on...are you hanging onto your sins?  Winter is throwing one last party this weekend...are you holding onto those tasks/things that keep you from reaching out for the hem of his garmet in faith looking for healing? 

Catch your breath folks...the best is yet to come!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Some of my friends here have seen this picture.  Early Monday morning First Christian in Owensboro, Ky was struck by lightening and burned.  The pastor shared this picture on facebook this morning saying the sanctuary was behind this wall before the fire.  It's a stark picture of the fire and rubble it left behind.  It's also the truth of faith standing strong and calling us forward.

In many of our congregations we use our "old" communion tables in creative ways.  Church remodeling projects come along and we change the tables, the furniture and carpet.  But the old Tables stick around in different places.  I imagine the pastors who stood at this table and the Elders who prayed.  I imagine the women who carefully prepared communion the first time and set it on the table for worship.  I imagine the worship services that centered around this table in the past.

The building burned.  The ministries are temporarily displaced.  The congregation is grieving a beautiful building and lost memories.  They can never go back. 

When I  first heard of the fire it wasn't long before my thoughts turned to the possibilities they will have of defining church together....To build a building that meets the needs of their ministry and the future possibilities. 

Life is full of chaos and tragedies and moments where we are brought to our knees in grief and dispair.  In the middle is the presence of God...remember me....hold onto me....grasp me and let me comfort you....let me tell you of my love.