Saturday, April 23, 2011

A Very Dark Sabbath

It was a very dark sabbath for the followers of Jesus!

Jesus spent the Saturday resting in the tomb and it may had been the time of transformation. The pain was over for Him but for his followers the pain was great. How could this have happened?

They had believed that Jesus was the promised one and now what? They  had expected him to become King of Israel. But there was one clue for them that it was not quite over. Jesus had sung the first line of a favorite psalm of victory that begins "My God, my God, why have your forsaken me?" What we know as Psalm 22 starts in pain but ends in a great victory. Was Jesus telling them that in this death was his victory?

How many of them doubted it and how many held out the hope that it would be a victory? How often do we doubt in the midst of despair? For the followers of Jesus it was a dark Sabbath of despair and doubt - and I am sure of some true hope as they remembered his teachings. Today we remember that day of despair and pain for the followers of Jesus but we know the out come was the Resurrection.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Why is it "GOOD" Friday

As a youth I wondered why they would call it "Good Friday" when the most awful thing happened on that day. It was a paradox that I did NOT understand. This was the day of the week that Jesus was crucified and endured such horrible pain and death at the hands of the Romans.

Later I understood that out of that most terrible event came the very best result.


The paradox is still almost too much for me to deal with and I still wonder why it had to happen the way that it did. We could blame it on the Jews of Jesus day saying if only they had accepted Jesus as the Messiah but it would have turned out so different if they had. Would the gentiles [non-Jews] have accepted the faith in ONE God?

It was this earth shaking event that changed everything and for me the paradox of Good Friday makes all the difference.

Today is a day for fasting and prayer! Think and pray about what happened that day for YOU!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

C+ Disciples

The Disciple of Jesus that is often regarded as the number one Disciple is Simon Peter and yet on the night when Jesus was betrayed by Judas Peter denied knowing Jesus not once but three times. He and the other disciples seemed to have a difficult time grasping the message Jesus was teaching. Sometimes they seemed to understand and then it was like they missed a day of classes and failed the test/ 

Peter gives me a lot of comfort. He was a C+ student of the Rabbi Jesus and yet he has a place of honor. We see him with all his questions, weaknesses and foibles and he was just like us.

So there is hope for you and I as well.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

When Jesus Got Angry

On Monday of Holy Week we remember the day when Jesus went to the temple in Jerusalem and got angry. Yes even Jesus felt that very human emotion of anger as we all do from time to time.

When people came from distant lands to visit the Temple during Passover they needed two things in order to worship: an animal to sacrifice and temple money.

According to the laws found in Leviticus the sacrifice had to be perfect with out blemish. Each animal was inspected by a priest to be sure it was acceptable. If it wasn't you had to go find one that was and make an exchange. Off duty Levites on the Temple mount itself and even in the temple had pre-approved exchange animals that you could have for a price. Perhaps too much of a price. Perhaps a disapprove sacrifice one day might be on sale the next as pre-approved.

Because you could not make an offering with money that had the face of a human the Jews minted coins without a human image on them and it was referred to as "Temple Money." If you got to the temple with foreign coins you needed to exchange for a price your foreign coins for Temple coins.  The exchange rate could be high. 

Many worshipers felt that they were being cheated right there in the temple. So when Jesus over turned the tables scatting coins and animals he was most likely cheered by people wishing they could do the same thing. In the Gospel according to Mark Jesus said, "It is written, My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations but you have made it a den of robbers."

Righteous indignation became anger and Jesus drove them out of the temple.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Last Fire of the Season

Our Fireplace at Christmas
Sunday morning was cold but the weather forecasts indicate that it is the last day of the season for it to be that cold. Our wood rack in the house still had some fire wood stacked in it. Saturday night we decided to have one last fire on Sunday morning and use up all the wood in the house.

My darling was up early and lit the fire so that it was going strong by the time I woke up. The fire is always mesmerizing and I sat in the recliner watching it. My darling brought me a cup of coffee and a muffin and I sat there trying to focus my mind on that fire.

While she was busy in the kitchen I sat in silence and as I often do said my morning prayers. Part of my prayer time is to simply be silent in the presence of the almighty. I gave thanks for the winter fires that kept us warm and gave us joy. Finally I was interrupted by a sweet voice asking if I was ready for more coffee. Yes I am spoiled by my sweetheart.

Now today my first task is to clean up the fire place for the summer season and put the tools away until the fall.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Different Crowds

Today is Palm Sunday and the beginning of Holy Week in the West. 

Palm Sunday is the day we celebrate the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem with the CROWDS cheering him on the way with palm branches and shouts of hosanna. 

I was in a bible study with some fellow clergy when the leader started ranting about the fickle crowds that cheered Jesus on Sunday and jeered him on Friday. He wondered how could they could do that? My response was it was a very different crowd.

On Sunday - the first work day of the week for the Jews - were common people out on the road leading into Jerusalem. They looked to Jesus as the coming Messiah and they rejoiced.

On Friday Jesus had been taken captive in the middle of the night with no crowds of commoners around. He had been tried in hostile courts during the night and returned to Pilate for a final judgment very early in the morning hours. The crowds there were not the same common people on the road into the city but carefully selected people who would do the bidding of the political leaders who wanted Jesus out of the way.

Enjoy your devotions during this Holy Week.