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