Wednesday, April 20, 2011

a very short Passion Sunday meditation


The story was read in chucks, with different voices reading each chunk. Everyone could be a story-teller.


Why do we do this? Why do we insist on reading and hearing the whole, long story from beginning to end in one long service? I would say we do this so that we can know the truth.
The truth of the story of who Jesus is for us, the truth of his love for us, the truth that he stepped into the way of death, for us – is the story we need to hear. What happens between Palm Sunday and Easter morning is a tale often referred to, but not often experienced. This is the day, more than any other day in the calendar, when our emotions should be called up, when our imaginations fired up, our hearts touched.

Jesus did this for us. He entered the capital city at the center of a crowd. Yes, that crowd was foolish, that crowd was shallow and fickle. But look at Jesus – what would you say about him? I would say he was brave – for he understood this was the beginning of his death. Coming into the city, in this way, with hosannas and palms and shouts – was to assure his death. Jesus was brave for us.

And out of love he sat with his closest companions and offered a spiritual meal like no other. He offered himself in love. Jesus gave himself away for us. And yes, those disciples were shallow and fickle, and would run away – but look at Jesus – what would you say about him? I would say he was in love with each and every one of them – in love with them as they were.

And so it goes, with all the scenes of that terrible night and day. Jesus, in loving courage, steps up to take our place – ‘not my will, but thine be done,’ He says to God his Father. And so he goes through humiliation, pain, denial, desertion, torture – to die.

This is the truth – that the best one in the world – the most human Human, the most divine Divinity – went with courage and love through the some of worst human beings could do to each other – for the sake of all humanity – for all of us.

We tell this story because we need to hear the truth once more. The truth is = you are loved. Jesus is in love with you – and even if, we prove to be shallow and fickle – he waits for us to come back. He did all this for us – come and believe.


Thursday, April 14, 2011

sorry no tooth fairy

there is no tooth fairy.
or fix a flat fairy.
or put the dishes away fairy
or wash the dishes fairy

And it's not me.

Monday, April 4, 2011

into the light

"with excuses to Sondheim - we will see 'Into the Woods' next week. Love that show.

Lent 4A, April 4/5, 2011 – “Into the Light” The man born blind – John 9

Ahh, another one of our long, long readings from the Gospel according to John. It’s a wonderful story, full of drama and development. The progress of the man-born-blind is amazing – from beggar to healed man to witness to confessor. At the beginning of the story he exists in darkness – and at the end he stands in the light of Jesus the Christ and worships the one who healed him.

Along the way – eyes are opening and closing among all sorts of people. Jesus refuses to attribute the man’s blindness to sin, probably startling the disciples. Instead he insists that this is a moment for God’s light to shine, to act. The theme of the whole story is how do people react when God’s light shines upon them? Do they, and do we – see? Or do we retreat back into darkness, into comfortable and safe places of rules and limitations? We learn about three ways of responding to the Light of the World.

The Pharisees cannot see this miracle for what it is – the work of God bringing light into the world – the presence of God as the light of the world - in the world. No, their eyes remain closed to the light, bounded by their own interpretation of sin and righteousness, their own fear for their control of religious things. They create their own darkness. All of us, except the greatest saints, I suspect, do this at times – we fear what change might bring – we cling to what has worked for us in the past. Do not condemn those Pharisees too quickly, for there may be a family resemblance.

The most poignant paragraph concerns the parents, I think – what confusion and fear they undergo! Finally, they retreat, for safety, into the dusk – not understanding what is happening to their son. Not understanding what would happen to them if they entered into the light.

Because coming into the light – experiencing the healing – the everyday elements of mud and spit and water changes everything for the man-born-blind. This nameless person – loses his identity, you see, loses his income, loses his parents, loses his place in the community, in the synagogue – but he receives everything – he learns to worship in Spirit and in Truth (from last week). He is set free for freedom’s sake – for the glory of God – and in the part of the story that is never told, he must become a disciple, a follower of Jesus, a student of the Master, a sheep of the flock, inheritor of the Kingdom of God.

Coming into the light may mean loss. Certainly loss of the comfortable rationalizations of sins – Someday I’ll do better, we say. Someday God will come first. Someday I’ll be ready for prayer, for service, for generosity. Someday God will be more important to me. Coming into the light may mean loss. Loss of sin – are we ready for that? Loss of distraction by the things of this world, loss of false directions, of false standards.

Coming into the light – means loss – and gain. That is the hope of this story – we gain so much when walk in the light. When we come to the water – as babies for the first time, or as adults remembering what God did for us (as adults witnessing this child being washed by God love) – we find a hint of what we gain –
Peace, and joy, and purpose.

We gain a chance to correct our mistakes, to step out in hope and faith, opportunities to do good, to serve, to care. We gain conviction that what we can do makes a difference. And finally, we gain hope that this life is not all there is – that we are part of a greater reality – a reality of light in the world, light that began with, yes, mud and spit and water and wine and bread and a cross and love.