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Posts Tagged ‘cross’

cross with notesYesterday at our Ash Wednesday services, the people were invited to write on a post-it note and stick it to the cross on their way up to communion and ashes. They could put whatever they wanted, but in general, the idea was to write something that might be hindering the way to the cross: a sin, a habit, an attitude.

At the end of the evening, we hadn’t really discussed how to handle the slips, but I felt they were important and so I gathered them up as gently as I could and carried them home. I wanted to pray over them, yes, but I confess, my analytical self was curious. What had people written to Christ. What had they asked about. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be drawing from these confessions for many mirrored my own: there is nothing new under the sun.

yokeIs not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
    and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
    and break every yoke? [Isaiah 58:6]

We are all hoping to be set free from the yokes that bind us, the repetitive scripts in our heads, the damaging attitudes that habitually frame our responses.

Naturally, there were notes that rendered their sins of the flesh as getting in the way of their journey to the cross and there were individuals named specifically or by relationship: mother, father, mother-in-law, son, daughter, and so forth. But most of the words that were placed on that cross, that symbolic torture chamber, came from within.

Anger was repeated over and over and over again. Unforgiveness came next.

I can almost hear the cry of the heart saying, how do I find you Jesus when my mind and heart are filled with such rage, when I can only playback the injustice or the betrayal or the damage done to me.

anger-blocks-a-miracleLast week, I was in a workshop in which the facilitator reminded us that there are four primary emotions: Fear, Joy, Sadness and, of course, Anger. And really, I’m guessing that unforgiveness is rooted in anger.

The good news is that no anger is greater than God’s love. That sounds cliche and yet it’s true. People seem to think that their emotions are stronger than anything anyone else can handle. I remember being in a counseling session and telling the therapist that felt as though I would explode, literally. Of course, I didn’t and couldn’t. How often has a person said, “If I start crying, I’ll never stop.” Again, not true. And so it is with anger. It will not win. Love wins.

Lent begins in earnest today. Was I angry today? I was. Did I harbor a grudge or two or pull up an old exasperation about some behavior or another by this or that family member? I did. I see that. Now what?

Confess, accept, move on. Wash me Jesus in the water of grace.

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Jesus and the crossWhen he [Judas] was gone, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man is glorified and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him,God will glorify the Son in himself, and will glorify him at once.
“My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.
By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” [John 13:31-35]

Surely they were all thinking that, “Where are you going, Jesus, that I can’t go? Haven’t we gone everywhere with you?” Well, except for all those times he went to pray alone or that time he walked on the water or that time he brought Lazarus from the dead or the time he overturned the tables of the moneychangers?

I think the real question they asked in those times may have been more like, “What are you doing?”

Isn’t that the natural response to someone (particularly a child/teen) who is participating some activity that is outside one’s personal “norm?” Or worse, illegal? Or worse, stupid! “What are you doing!?” It’s as though we actually believe, that perpetrator will turn around, look at us, and see the light! “Oh, of course, I shouldn’t be doing this.”

But that’s not how it works. Rarely does the observer, the other person get what is going on, whether it’s using a beer pong in your parents’ basement or predicting one’s death at the hand of the authorities. Or maybe it’s even less clear, like a toddler artistically decorating the hallway walls or a dog marking the new furniture or a kid experimenting with a raw egg in the microwave.

In that moment of discovery, it’s chaos in the head. How could, why would, when did, where did, who’s idea was this anyway?

As much as Jesus tried to explain how it would all work, the understanding of the acts, the miracles, the symbols, the sacrifices, the lectures, the parables, all of it… came later. There was too much to process. They’d be contemplating that event from the morning and then something else would happen at Noon. How do you respond to a miracle? How do you respond to a man who claims blood line with God? How do you believe that the same guy who raised people from the dead would die himself? Brain freeze.

When any pair of friends or now, children of friends, tell me they are planning to get married, I have one piece of advice: really look and remember. It will pass by you like a whirlwind and the next thing you know, the ceremony is over, the reception is over, and you’re sitting in at the pool or beach and wondering what just happened. It’s hard to pay attention when it’s happening to us!

The disciples and writers of Jesus’s life did the best they could. They tried to capture what it felt like not to understand, what it meant in the moment without projecting out to the end.

Today, I want to imagine the moment, the feeling of the first time, the loss of Jesus without the expectation of third day. But I also want to cherish human contact today, the touch of a hand, the look in the eye, the corporateness of faith.

I want to love God and love others.

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