Friday, April 19, 2019

Good Friday

"And they said to him, 'You're not one of his disciples are you?' (Peter) denied it and said, 'I am not.'"
"When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his clothes and divided them into four shares, a share for each soldier."
"It is finished."
John 18:25, 19:23, 30

Listening to the Passion in John's Gospel this morning, particularly these three passages, I pondered the journey toward death. While we won't die as horrifically as Jesus died, there are similarities in all of our end-of-life stories. Our journey toward death is a letting go. We let go of people; gradually there may just be a few taking those final last steps with us. In John's Gospel, Jesus had his mother, Mary Magdalene, another Mary and John with him at the very end, but where were the crowds of well-wishers who had welcomed him into town earlier in the week? And where was Peter, his rock?The crowds drift away as death nears and only a few, if we are blessed, stay with us. Second, we let go of our stuff. All the more reason to let go of it now, I say. Jesus had so few things in his possession, but that didn't stop the soldiers from dividing them and rolling dice to see who got his tunic. Willingly or not, we let go of our possessions; we don't need them anymore. Finally, we take that last breath and let go of our very selves. We let go of the "us" we have come to know throughout our lives. Kathleen Dowling Singh, who studied death and dying at the bedsides of many people, says that it can be such a peaceful release, a looking beyond the now and reaching toward something beckoning us. Jesus knew his work was complete. He'd done all he could do and all that was left of letting go of his very self; the self he had come to know in his human form. As we go about this somber day thinking of that road to Calvary, let us thank God for our own journey, too. We don't know when or where or how our lives will end, but we know that Jesus will be with us and that Jesus has walked it first. All blessings and good to you on your Easter weekend. Love, heidi

Thursday, April 18, 2019

From the feet to the heart...

"He came to Simon Peter who said to him, 'Master, are you going to wash my feet?'"
John 13:6

What is the deeper meaning of Jesus' washing the disciples' feet in today's Gospel? I think it feels deeper and richer every year for me. I see such an act of humility and service--Jesus down on his knees, washing the grime from the road off of the lowliest part of the human body. Jesus came to tend and nourish the hearts of humans, but he chose to show that by washing feet, which seems like a stretch, even for Jesus! The distance between the heart and feet is quite far, depending on how tall a person is! But what is it in witnessing this humble act of service that changes our hearts? For it surely does. First, there is the possibility of eye contact, which is so powerful. Looking into the eyes of someone washing our feet tweaks the heart like nothing else. Maybe tender words are spoken because it is such a loving gesture. There is a deep vulnerability in someone caring for us so intimately, too. Our hearts can be opened wide as our feet are washed; I'm not sure exactly how. And as we put all of these elements together, we realize that Jesus is asking this of us, too. We are asked to get down on the floor and tenderly, lovingly wash the feet of others. Looking into their eyes, speaking tender words, washing the dirt of the earth off the farthest part of their body from their heart, to touch and nourish their heart. Today, as we go about our Holy Thursday, let's think about the act of washing each others' feet. It is far more than just dealing with the dirt of the road, it is meant to touch the heart. Love, heidi

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Judas as teacher?

"Then Judas, his betrayer, said in reply, 'Surely it is not I, Rabbi?'"
Matthew 26:25

As I listened to this reading on Pray-As-You-Go this morning we were invited to check in with our own feelings about Judas. Are we angry with Judas? Disgusted? Do we identify with Judas in some way? It's easy to look so far back and see how all the apostles were clueless, but especially Judas. What could have he been thinking? I think I identify with Judas' statement here, "Surely not I, Lord!" But I can also recognize that I am complicit in the betrayal of Jesus when I don't love others as Jesus tells us to do. I may not be selling Jesus' whereabouts for thirty pieces of silver but I'm hurting Jesus through my harsh judgments of others, my impatience and my surveying everything from my pedestal of privilege. The next question on PAYG, was can we see how gently Jesus treats Judas? That I can. And I see Jesus treating me the same way. And that, in itself, compels me to want to do better. Jesus isn't letting either Judas or me off too easily, but Jesus' gentle love urges me to share it with others, not repaying wrong with wrong, but forgiving others and giving them another chance. This Holy Week, let's learn from the whole cast in our Passion story, even the ones with whom we'd rather not identify! Love, heidi

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Accept and reflect...

"We humans are always unwhole, but we still receive and can ever more perfectly reflect our divine identity in God."
Richard Rohr, "Wondrous Encounters--Scripture for Lent"

In today's first reading, God is having a wondrous encounter with Abram inviting him to a covenant relationship. God promises Abram that he will be the father to a host of nations and will be exceedingly fruitful. (Genesis 17:3-6) When I heard that on Pray-As-You-Go, I wondered what a "fruitful" life would look like in 2019. We are invited to the covenant, too. Our lives are promised to be fruitful, too...what does that mean? Then I read the above quote from Richard Rohr and it all made more sense. Our being fruitful in our covenant with God means we reflect our divine nature in our everyday lives. Our divine DNA is in every cell of our bodies, we reflect that in how we interact with our fellow God-Reflectors. Because, you see, it's not just us that reflect God's divine DNA, it's everything. Everything created by God, reflects God's imprint. So, how I can reflect God's love in my daily life is how I am fruitful. And, notice what God says to Abram exactly, "I will make you exceedingly fruitful..." (v. 6) In other words, we just have to receive. We don't initiate the process at all, God does. We just have to be aware and receive. God does all the heavy-lifting here. Let's realize that as we go about our April Thursday! Love, heidi

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Serpent vs calf?

"...and the Lord said to Moses, 'Make a seraph and mount it on a pole, and whoever looks at it after being bitten will live.' Moses accordingly made a bronze serpent and mounted it on a pole, and whenever anyone who had been bitten looked at the bronze serpent, he lived."
Numbers 21:8-9

As often as I have heard and read this reading, and shuddered at the whole serpent thing, today was the first time I ever thought, "Wait! What's the difference between a bronze serpent and a golden calf?" The people of Israel made the golden calf and worshipped it while Moses was off meeting with God. But the bronze serpent was actually God's idea...what gives? Wasn't the serpent a sort of idol? I guess the difference was between life and death. The golden calf was just there to be mistakenly worshipped by the people instead of God, who had brought them out of Egypt. That was life-taking, in other words, didn't give them life but sucked life out of them. The bronze serpent, on the other hand, was life-giving for them. Those who had been bitten by serpents were healed after looking at the bronze serpent on the pole. God is always life-giving to us. We, left to our own devices, come up with things that work to take away life, or zap the life right out of us. Think of addictions and our ill-advised substitutes for real joy--they take life from us. What God offers us is real life, real realness, in God and with God. Okay, so the whole bronze serpent thing is a weird distraction, isn't it? But the point is, that God offers us life--abundant life! Love, heidi

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Mind the gap!

"But Moses implored the Lord, his God, saying, 'Why, O Lord, should your wrath blaze up against your own people, whom you brought out of the land of Egypt with such great power and with so strong a hand?'"
Exodus 32:11

Pray-As-You-Go had a great take on this this morning, mentioning that Moses stood in the "gap" between the people and God. In this verse, he is pleading with God to relent in punishing the people for building and worshipping a golden calf. PAYG asked who, if anyone can we think of, in our own day, is "minding the gap" for us now? Is there anyone we can identify who is reminding people to turn away from the many idols of our day and return to God? Pope Francis, certainly, comes to mind! Now, the harder question: Can we ever picture ourselves in the position of helping people return to God? Not in a preachy, obnoxious, fear-mongering way--for that will never truly win people over to God. But in a genuinely loving, compassionate way? Can we be that person in the gap for someone else? We may not feel up to the task of negotiating with God as Moses is here, but can we live in such a way to remind people that God loves them? Maybe that can be our task for this April Thursday...
Love, heidi