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Category Archives: Lenten Journey

A series of posts across the 40 days of Lent, 2014.

David’s Rescue: A Cautionary Tale

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We often teach or preach based on a single passage, parable, or even chapter of scripture.  But I LOVE hearing the voice of David Suchet (who played Hercule Poirot for 25 years of drama) read the Holy Bible in the NIV-UK version, and found myself listening to the Book of 1 Samuel as Mr. Suchet narrated.

In Chapter 24 we see King Saul, maddened with jealousy and fear, seeking the life of David. While David and his men hide in a cave stronghold, Saul (leading his men) enters the cave to answer a call of nature, and David has his perfect opportunity to dispatch this enemy. He refrains, not to bloody his hands in revenge against the Lord’s anointed king. To hear the encounter and its conclusion (which takes 3 minutes and 48 seconds) click RIGHT HERE.

Normally, teaching ends right there and we break until another week, or lesson, or sermon, or whatever. (After all… the chapter is ended… go in peace… etc.) But as one blessed teacher of mine was always diligent to point out… “Scripture itself” didn’t come with chapter divisions. The next chapter “looks like” it takes up a whole new topic as David deals with some new characters Nabal and Abigail.

I was just letting Mr. Suchet transport me without interruption, and for the first time I saw this really cool thing I thought I’d share.

David is prudently yet living in the “field” with his forces, as King Saul wavers between contrition and homicidal fury. In the past, David has done good things for Nabal, protecting his staff and his goods in the wilderness, preserving them from any loss. He sends messengers with blessings and courteous words, and asks for such provisions as Nabal might spare for David and his troops.

Nabal, both named and acting the fool by nature, not only refuses succor, but rebuffs the messengers with deep insults and contempt for David. David seems cut to the quick, and resolves to redeem his honor and pride by killing every male of Nabal’s holdings. Fortunately, Nabal’s servants have overheard the initial insulting encounter, report all this to Abigail the mistress of the household, Nabal’s wife, who has provisions prepared and travels to David with words of service and apology, along with praise for the God of Israel and David as His servant.

To hear the entirety of THIS part of the story, take 7 minutes 50 seconds and hear Mr. Suchet narrate RIGHT HERE.

Generally, this also is taught as a “distinct chapter”, a “unit”, and we focus on the wisdom of Abigail, the foolishness and haughtiness of Nabal, on God’s wrath and judgment of Nabal, and the “everyone lived happily ever after” of the outcomes. All well, true, and good as far as it goes.

But this time, I was arrested by David’s gratitude towards Abigail for preventing his sin against Nabal’s household. She calmed his wounded pride and thirst for revenge, and he very distinctly thanked her for that. (I wonder if it was this, that attracted him to ask her hand in marriage when she was widowed.) But his words here are…

‘Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, who has sent you today to meet me.  May you be blessed for your good judgment and for keeping me from bloodshed this day and from avenging myself with my own hands.’ [verses 32-33]

And later…

‘Praise be to the Lord, who has upheld my cause against Nabal for treating me with contempt. He has kept his servant from doing wrong and has brought Nabal’s wrongdoing down on his own head.’ [verse 39]

What struck me today was something I’d never seen before, and it only hit me because of the short time between the two narratives… but…

Isn’t it interesting how nobly David resists any temptation to avenge himself on King Saul, for his contempt, his insults, and his murderous pursuit, citing his refusal to have blood on his hands of the Lord’s anointed? And yet how soon thereafter David is roused to a murderous rage over the ill-chosen (all right, the “stupid”) words of a fool? He had cared for all those workmen in the wilderness, and they apparently loved and respected him (for it was they who went to Ms. Abigail)… and yet by this simple prick of his ego, this slight to his accomplishments, dignity, and graciousness, he prepares to slaughter who knows how many, to vent his wrath.

Rightly, he praises God and Abigail for preventing him from so great a sin, and life carries on.

But it struck me, and I wanted to share with you, Gentle Reader… how often we can sense a “large” spiritual challenge to our grace, and overcome it… only to fall to some niggling pettifogging prick to pride, ego, or dignity.

If David had killed the men of Nabel’s household, he’d have slain the very men who admired him and went to Abigail. Would such murder have been as great a sin as the regicide of King Saul? With “sin” and “God” is there such a question as “how big”?

This struck me, for myself, as a cautionary tale. It sometimes seems much easier to avoid the “big sins” in my life, only to fall so frequently to the “fleas” that seem able to niggle in past the plates of my armor. The Enemy doesn’t give up on temptation after one unsuccessful attempt, and I’ve long learned that “adrenalin is the Enemy’s favorite drug of choice”. If I can be made impatient or aggravated, if my pride or dignity can be pricked and offended, I can reach a murderous anger far more easily than I care to admit. (Cf. Matthew 5:21-22)

Anyway, just a cool thing I’ve never seen before, nor heard taught or preached… Thought you might find it interesting as well, Gentle Reader. Grace to you… Pray for me always!

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Angel’s Journal, Entry Six: “Who Could Believe This?!!”

Journal Entry:

I still can scarcely believe this day myself, but I have to get something down about all this. It all began so bleakly…

The vulgarity… the violence… the contempt… I cannot even write down my thoughts or feelings about what happened between The Master’s betrayal by Judas, and His final breath on the Cross. Perhaps later, but not now, not yet.

And then… He died.

He really, totally, died. Just like most every other man born of woman. He died. The groan throughout heaven was nearly palpable. The higher ups looked grave, but unsurprised. Even *I* realize that He had spoken clearly that He was going to die, but still… I mean… how could this be? So often, He spoke “figuratively”. I guess I had hoped this was one of those kinds of thing. But it wasn’t. He died.

His Body was taken down, laid in a borrowed tomb, and he was hurriedly washed and anointed, as even His friends had to get home before the sun fully set.

But then… then… the strangest thing(s) happened! (For one thing, “time” got really muddled between the celestial and the material. Because He remained fully Him, and yet His natures… Well, I don’t really understand HOW this all happened, but I’ll just note down what DID happen!)

Anyway, He was washed, anointed, wrapped, and left in that tomb. The Temple officials (not caring about their OWN people getting home for the Passover night), posted guards and rolled this megalith in front of the entrance so that no one could get to Him. (Ha! Little did THEY know. But I get ahead of myself…)

Anyway, no sooner had the tomb been sealed, than a little messenger sprite pops in front of me with a sealed scroll with gilt edges. I open it, and find I am summoned to the commissioning desk… I have an assignment. I shook my head… “REALLY?” I thought… “in the midst of all THIS, now it’s ‘business as usual’, and I have an assignment?” But it was better than doing nothing, I figured, so I zipped to the desk to serve as I was called.

Never did I imagine!

Twelve of us had been summoned, and the task director was just beaming all over as he congratulated us, and said if he were capable of envy he would envy us. He seemed to take delight in our puzzled expressions, and said very little as reverently he handed each of us various garments of exquisite crafting. Sandals, undergarments, finest linen tunic, sash… it wasn’t until he got to the final garments, a magnificent Robe and covering cloak that we realized Whose these were. This clothing was woven of spirit and truth, had indefinable texture as fine as spidersilk, and shone with colors no human eye has ever seen.

These… were The Master’s robes… His Kingly Robes… His Priestly Robes. These were the garments He would wear upon His return to Earth at the end of man time… and they were here… HERE… in OUR HANDS!

Our assignment was simple. We were to proceed, the dozen of us, to and into the tomb, and await The Master’s need for His clothing.

We were stunned… but delighted.

With the speed of thought, we entered the Tomb. It was large enough, with a stone niche in which The Master’s body, wound with His gravesclothes, lay. We arrived, each bearing our items, and waited.

It was not but moments before we… er… “felt”, more than “heard”, the melodious voice of The Father, His Majesty, entone with the greatest love…

“Awaken now, My Son. Well, well done, My good and faithful Beloved. Come, now, as We complete Our tasks!”

The Master arose, in the fullness of His Glorious Body, as His flesh remained within the winding sheet. Confused though we were, we knelt and sang in joy and wonder at His return. Our presence had already brought light into the space, but His arising prompted a golden glowing brilliance never seen since the Shekinah.

Always knowing the thoughts of those about Him, He smiled as He donned each garment in order, answering the confusions in myself.

I have already said, the whole “time” thing got a bit muddled in this space between sundown Friday and sunrise of Sunday (as men name these days).

“You wonder why my flesh remains here for the moment… Well, I have said My body must remain in the earth for these three days, as Jonah was in the whale. I will not appear to any on earth, until that flesh arises and the stone is rolled away. But, in this meantime, I have things to accomplish… and a dinner date at home this night with a thief.” And He smiled at us, touched us all, and allowed us to serve Him as we fitted His garments to Him.

“You may remain with Me for this time, if you wish…” He said.

We wished.

Together, He and we twelve singing praises to Him, His Majesty, and The Radiance… sped towards heaven. We thought He would return to His Throne first and foremost, to see The Father. But we were wrong…

Instead, He headed first to the Temple Not Made With Hands… the one foreshadowed and copied by the Tabernacle and Temple of Jerusalem. We stood, six to a side, as He made the Once For All Offering of His own Life, His Own Blood, in total and utter satisfaction of all debt owed by the sin of Creation. It was amazing.

Having thus completed Reconciliation, He THEN went to The Father’s Throne, to bring “closure” to His offering. They only spoke a few moments, as His Majesty raised His hands and blessed both The Master and all of Creation, in the completion of this Sacrifice of and by The Lamb of God. They embraced, The Master bowed (as did we all), and strode from the Great Hall.

Each of us were very silent, wondering how long we could tag along before being dismissed, as we fanned out from Him something like an Honor Guard. All around us cheered and bowed, as The Master passed… and He seemed vibrant with joy and celebration as He touched as many as reached out to Him.

We got to the boundary of paradise, the threshold between our dimension and others, as He said, “I have one more task to complete for the moment. Would you care to come along?” We all eagerly assented. “Very well,” He continued. “You’re about to go somewhere you have never been, and may well never go again. We depart.”

Following Him, we were shocked to find ourselves at… the Gates of Hell. More precisely, we were at the veil of the underworld, the land of shades of those passed on. Great symbolic chains, locks, bars, and barriers kept the living, the ever living, and the dead apart and separated. With no more than a mighty sweep of His arm, and a cry of, “People of faith! Walk free into the Light! Welcome to My Kingdom, ye Saints!”… all the obstructions vanished, and those whose hopes had ever been in the Lord, were now able to come to Him, touch Him, kiss Him, hug Him.

Being Who, and what, and how, He is… He could (and did) greet and embrace them each by name. Together, we all made our way home to Paradise.

When we had returned, all tasks done, The Master passed through His quarters and emerged dressed once again in His typical simple style.

He called ten of us to be privileged to care for His things for a time, and serve at a banquet being held for Him, the Father, the Radiance, the returning saints, and one recently deceased thief. Two of us (myself, disappointedly) were not among the chosen. I tried not to show my disappointment… but you can’t “hide thoughts” around Him.

“Don’t be dejected,” He said as He smiled. “I have a different task for you and Heracles, if you don’t mind.” (We smiled broadly, nodding our assent.) “I would like you to return to My Tomb, and stand vigil over My Body. In ‘our time’ here, it will only be a few moments from now. But in ‘man time’ it will be about 36 hours, and I will return. You will then break open the Tomb as I exit, and remain behind to explain what has happened. Will you deliver these messages for Me?”

We could scarcely contain our glee!

And so it came to pass. On the Third Day, Heracles and I participated in a great earthquake and rolled away the stone, watched The Master rise in His Resurrected Body of Flesh, saw Him disappear, folded His graveclothes, and awaited the women who came to anoint His corpse properly.

Should I live forever (which of course, I shall… but still…)… Should I live forever, I shall NEVER forget the privilege…

I got to sit atop a great heavy sealing stone and say to some of The Master’s very Best Friends…

“Why do you seek the Living among the Dead? He is Risen, just as He said He would…”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Who could ever believe such a thing?

No… wait… apparently THAT is now a very important question. One of those “choice” things I spoke of before…

Oh well. Enough for now. A bit more, later. Allelujah! He is Risen!

Journal Entry by — Makarion Nous, Angel 3rd Class, General Duties

P.S. I know this entry is a little longer than normal… But… well… the day was a bit unusual, too! MN

 
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Posted by on March 28, 2016 in Lenten Journey, Uncategorized

 

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Angel’s Journal, Entry Five: “A Drama of Choices!”

Journal Entry:

All is quiet now, all the tumult having died away and The Master laid into His borrowed Tomb. Now… there is… TIME!

“TIME”… that principle difference between human and angelic consciousness and thought. “TIME”… that “tick/tock” thing that people experience between one event and the next, one encounter and the next, one element of a sequence and the next. We don’t have that, we don’t know “delay”. For us, all is “sequence”… one thought follows another, like pages in a book. There is no “space” or “distance”, or “process” or “ponder”. We do not “consider” between “choices”. We CHOSE, we MADE our CHOICE, and now… for us… there is simply “discern-and-do” as to His Majesty’s will.

The other difference, a critical difference, between human and angelic consciousness is “illusion-deceit-falsehood”. We SEE, we truly see. We cannot be deceived or fooled or lied to or misled. Dark Ones cannot paint a false picture before us of specious choices, and tempt us to lean away from His Majesty’s will.

Somehow, all that… both “time” and “falsehood”… are bound up with physical matter. Since we are utterly “spirit”, those subordinate orders of being, those things that depend on material substance and comparison to have meaning, simply don’t. They have no meaning or hold over us.

It was in Eden, in the Garden of Eden, at the beginning of material Creation, when His Majesty and The Master began to weave together the spiritual and the material, the substantive, when both “time” and “falsehood” were realized from the potential to the actual. We angels can “observe” such a state of existence, and we can even “participate in” it from time to time (at His Majesty’s bidding), but we do not… we CANNOT… fully experience or comprehend it.

Facility in both spirit and matter are Divine attributes. His Majesty, The Master, The Radiance… they can all create in both spirit and matter. We cannot. But Man… Man, now… Man is fashioned in His image, can enter fully into Him, and in Him can create in both matter and spirit.

What has all this got to do with the horrendous events that have just passed? Well… EVERYTHING! They have EVERYTHING to do with it!

Because we angels are truly “sons of God” created at His hands… yes. But we are purely spirit, we made ONE and only one “choice” (to embrace Him or to repel Him), and we live apart from material time or illusion, in the Eternal. We are, therefore and fully, “servants” to Him and His will.

Man, on the other hand, lives in the material (though with fully spiritual faculties), is subject to material time (the tick-tock kind), and can be deluded and misled. Therefore, MAN lives in a state of moment-by-moment CHOICE regarding His Majesty and His will. Every moment, man gets to choose to embrace His Majesty and His will, or to repel Him.

And THAT… is EVERYTHING… about these momentous and horrendous events these days…

I wrote last of the exit from the Passover Supper into the Garden of Gethsemane on “Thursday night”. From that exit, and the separation of Judas from the group, The Master knew and tried to prepare His (now) “friends” for what the next 18 hours would bring.

So many things occurred in such a “brief” (humanly speaking) span of time… a person could spend years tracking all the threads of all the drama there. The fears, the ambitions, the delusions, the agendas… The Romans, the Politicians, the Religious Leaders, the Pious, the Exploiters, the Voyeurs, those seeking “Entertainment” (as at a train wreck, a public hanging, or a bloodsport), the confusion.

But we angels saw it all a bit differently. We don’t see all the “bells and whistles”, the “flash and sparkle”. I cannot speak to what others saw, but what *I* saw, with intense clarity, was an astonishing sequence of “choices” made by just a handful of “principal actors”, whose decision sequence summarized what happened throughout the region in those hours.

The Actors?

  • The Master
  • Judas
  • Peter
  • The Disciples/Friends
  • Pontius Pilate
  • The Crowds

I will not go through all of that here right now. The “feelings” are yet too fresh and even (odd to say) “painful”. I’ll get more detail down in entries to follow. But all these entered into a series of “Choice Chains”, sequences of decisions where they could follow their conscience (embrace His Majesty and His will), or they could yield to temptation of fear, pride, or avarice (repel Him).

Judas… his “choice chain” is so short and clear. He is likely to be vilified and condemned for millennia as the iconic “betrayer”. And yes, indeed he was… but look at him, his concerns, his decisions and choices, up alongside Peter… and there are just a couple critical places where they are distinguished.

Anyway, enough for now. More entries later. We yet wait and see what will unfold. At this moment, nearly all are consumed with despair and disappointment. The story seems ended… ended behind a huge stone in a hole in a cliff… and the great Kingdom Story wasn’t supposed to end like this!

More to come…

 

Journal Entry by — Makarion Nous, Angel 3rd Class, General Duties

 
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Posted by on March 26, 2016 in Lenten Journey, Uncategorized

 

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Angel’s Journal, Entry Four: “Utter Shock!”

Journal Entry:

Finally, bleakly, a bit tremulously, I take up quill to install another episode in this journal. I hope one day, someone puts these events together into some sort of document for the humans. It’s all just so extraordinary, it would be a shame to lose it all with one generation.

Anyway…

“Yesterday”, so to speak, I could not even attempt to get my thoughts down. Even now, they will just come in patches as I sort this all out.

But after settling down in The Temple to teach after His entry, The Master and His disciples did some preparation for the Passover Supper they would celebrate together. Again, a couple of the messenger angels here got to forewarn some of what The Master would need… a room, utensils, food and such. (There was much excitement and just the teeniest bit of jostling, as angelloi crowded the assignment desk pointing out excellent reasons that THEY were the perfect one to deliver a given instruction. Nothing discordant, mind… just a bit… er… enthusiastic. Yeah, that’s the right word… “enthusiastic”.)

So, most of us settled back a bit relaxed, thinking all was well. After all, we’ve watched for years as The Master gathers friends for dinner and parties. He heals, He teaches, He relaxes, He enjoys. It was so strange. Some of the higher ups just became ever more tense as the time approached, where most of us (myself, certainly) thought things were going well.

The meal certainly went well… as John (the youngest) entoned the traditional words, “What makes this night different from all other nights?” and His Majesty was praised for His unflagging faithfulness and love for His children. But then The Master got up, stripped down as if to fish, and washed His disciples’ feet. He spoke so incredibly of being servant to one another, and servanthood. Brought tears to the eyes of many of us angels, as we are PURELY servants, and we love our role. But never have we heard it so exalted, nor realized how fully The Master is the Ultimate Servant. We did not know we could love Him more than we always have, but indeed we do. He taught all of the disciples to become servants, and so to teach others. And then… He renamed them “friends”, no longer “disciples”. It was quite beautiful.

Then, when supper was ended, all became still and quiet when The Master took the bread and named it His flesh, and the cup of wine and named it His blood, saying they were to consume these as He was giving these over for them. That they ever were to do this in remembrance of Him.

The Host began to hum as He spoke, and ended with a choral “Amen” as He exited for the Garden.

We all saw His tragic exchange with Judas Iscariot, and poor Jemireh (Iscariot’s guardian angel) broke down in tears as The Master gave his charge the sop, and Judas dashed out to the echoes of “what you must do, do quickly.” We all tried to comfort him, knowing Judas’ choices were his own and this had ever been foreseen. But poor Jemireh yet grieved the choices his charge had made, and questioned if he could have done more to bring Judas into the light rather than the darkness. None of this was helped by the taunts of the Dark One who had captured Judas’ heart with his ambitions and fears.

But when the party moved to the Garden of Gethsemane, everything felt faster and tighter.

Oh, one odd thing at the supper… just before they went out to walk, The Master asked if they had a sword. Michael’s head shot up as if dashed with water. All his cohort began to ready their armor and weapons, thinking they’d be mobilized within moments. When they found a sword there, The Master said to take it. Never before had He commanded them to be armed. It was very odd, but He explained nothing, so we just waited.

It wasn’t very long before we saw His need… but I cannot write more of this now. It’s all yet too fresh, and all this has seemingly drained me.

More in a little bit…

Journal Entry by — Makarion Nous, Angel 3rd Class, General Duties

 
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Posted by on March 26, 2016 in Lenten Journey, Uncategorized

 

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Angel’s Journal, Second Entry: “Maybe they’re getting it?”

Journal Entry:

I want to get this down, now, while things are still so up in the air.

Clearly, His Majesty’s warning informs us that bad things are yet to happen, and there’s a whole lot of plotting and planning going on behind closed doors. (Of course, no doors are really “closed” to us, so we just have to bear with all the deceit, motionless.)

But a couple “days” ago, The Master entered Jerusalem, earth’s Holy City, where once He resided with them at the Ark of the Covenant and where He instructed (in great detail) how His temple was to be built. (Of course, that has seen better days, since that whole Babylonian debacle… still, the Temple is quite a monument to Him… and The Master always pays a great deal of attention to its goings on… But I get ahead of myself.)

Anyway, like I was saying, The Master rode into Jerusalem. Darius and Erich, on the message delivery rota for that day, were THRILLED when tasked to go to a nondescript farmer in a village near Bethpage outside the city (not the Bethpage on Long Island, but the other one outside Jerusalem), and visit his dreams with the message that The Master would need his small white colt that day, and would send a disciple to pick it up. We angels have been bound to watch these events unfold in something very close to man-time, rather than our own eternal time. But still, at least we sometimes get to participate in LITTLE ways, even if not in the “big stuff”.

Anyhow, The Master mounted the cute little colt and entered Jerusalem, packed with people, visitors there from all over the known world. As he entered, his vehicle striding relaxedly down the main road, a current seemed to move from the outskirts into the metro centre. At first just a few, the young and the quick, dashed off to inform the crowds…

“He is COMING! He’s HERE! Jesus! Jesus! He’s riding into town! He’s Here!”

It reminded me of so long before, the message some of us got to deliver… shepherds, kings, a blind man, an old woman, a priest… of course, Gabriel got to do THE Message. But still, lots and lots of us got to sing with that heavenly host as the Star shone above the Stable. It was magnificent!

And here now, these kids got to do the same. They dashed into the City, telling everyone who would listen… He’s HERE!

Ah… yes… my point. Sorry, I keep forgetting. Anyway… it was just so AMAZING! Makes me wonder if maybe this week stuff won’t be so bad. I mean, you’d swear they GET IT! The people, and I mean just about EVERYBODY, cheered Him! They cried out “Hosanna”, just as we do! They proclaimed Him “Blessed!”, just as we do! They called Him “Son of David”, and “He who comes in the name of the Lord!”, just as we do!

Could it be? Is it possible? Do they really see?

They cheered, bowed, and threw their cloaks and fronds down in front of Him. They greeted Him as the King He truly is!

Those who track the Dark Ones and monitor the conspirators against Him did not seem terribly encouraged, but *I* certainly was. Who knows, maybe this will all work out after all! I can live in hope, no?

Maybe… just maybe… they really ARE getting it?

More later, as things unfold!

Journal Entry by — Makarion Nous, Angel 3rd Class, General Duties

 
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Posted by on March 23, 2016 in Lenten Journey, Uncategorized

 

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It’s Not the Feet and Hands, but the Eyes

earth beautifulHere we are in Lent. That’s a different thing for everyone. “Seasons”, Liturgical Seasons, are wondrous times, opportunities for the Holy Spirit to focus our interior eyes on a particular aspect of grace and our relationship with God. Such seasons as Lent, or Easter, or Advent, or Christmas, or the Pentecost… all allow us to concentrate our gaze on some facet of this “Crystal Rose” in our Garden of Prayer, the King of Kings. Generally speaking, the Lenten Season is somber, reserved, reflective, looking forward through the great trials and sufferings of Christ approaching the Crucifixion, as He draws to His climax in Jerusalem and the Cross.

What should Lent be like? Well, if the rhythm of this season resonates, the experience should be whatever the Holy Spirit calls for it to be for you in your own unique journey with Christ. For some, it is a time of recollection of our own need for grace; reminder of our frailty and fallenness, sense of responsibility for our wrong decisions, and awesome wonder at all the pain heaped upon our dear Lord in our place, in payment for our own regrettable actions and decisions. For others, it may be an intense awareness of Jesus’ passion, of His strength, courage, determination to do the will of the Father no matter the personal cost. Lent may generate the intense response of admiration and worship for so noble a Lord who struggled and overcame so much to honor the will of God.

There is no “right” way to experience Lent, and no “wrong” way, as long as the Holy Spirit is given free rein to prepare straight paths for the renewal of the Truth of the Resurrection, and the glory of Jesus’ triumph over Death itself on Easter. Traditions, customs, denominations, cultures, and eras are incredibly diverse in their observation of the Lenten Season. Across my own life, the experience has been tremendously different from one year to the next, one decade to the next.

So let me invite you, let me encourage you, to make way for the Holy Spirit to use this season to bless you. Let me invite you to enter into the Scriptural experience of these days approaching Easter, making straight paths for the Holy Spirit to show you whatever nurtures your relationship and awareness of the immediate and intimate presence of Christ in your life and spirit. Your experience doesn’t have to “look like” that of anyone else, as long as the focus is on Jesus the Christ, and the scriptural elements that so richly fill these days and these pages.

This one thing I would note in addition.

That there is no meaning to Lent, no meaning to the suffering, no meaning to even the “forgiveness of sin”, or the “payment for sin”, or the “satisfaction of God’s justice”, or even the “extension of grace and mercy to man”… if those are seen as merely “functions”. If those are seen as “things God did” or “things God does”… When we see these things as simple “extensions of God’s methodology”, we miss the point entirely.

All these things… ALL that we see of grace, of God’s workings…. is direct expression of His Infinite Love and nothing less.

Embrace the awareness, the sorrow, the contrition of knowing He took our own just punishment for our own willful and willing sin… yes. Don’t reject or resist that, if that is what the Spirit leads. Embrace the awareness of His suffering, His pain, His humility and obedience, His submissiveness to His destiny and the Father’s will, in the blood and the nails… yes. Don’t reject or resist that movement of your heart into His on the Cross, if that is what the Spirit leads. But in all of that, just don’t get so fixated on the blood, the scourge, the thorns, and the nails… that we neglect to look at His face, His eyes. They radiate with the reason for it all… His Infinite Love, Our Father’s Infinite Love, the Spirit’s Infinite love… for you, personally, individually… and every other child He has fashioned as well.

Let us not gaze upon the mysteries of Lent, these incredible 40 days, or Passion Week with its horrors, spectating like onlookers at the scene of a great train wreck. If we fixate, fascinated on the scourge, the thorns, the nails, and the blood, and we miss the wondrous theme playing just below that surface… we simply witness a deep drama of horror and cruelty.

Even in grief, we want to remember that undergirding all this… is unspeakable Infinite Love. That’s what all of this is about. This is the act, prepared before the foundations of the cosmos, that embraces all of creation in the arms of Infinite Love… by the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Amazing, isn’t it? Amen.

 
 

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Hearing the Stones!

triumphalentry As they were untying the colt, its owners said to them, “Why are you untying the colt?” They said, “The Lord has need of it.” They brought it to Jesus, and they threw their coats on the colt and put Jesus on it. As He was going, they were spreading their coats on the road. As soon as He was approaching, near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the miracles which they had seen, shouting:

Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord;
Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”

Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Him, “Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.” But Jesus answered, “I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!”

When He approached Jerusalem, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, “If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes.” [Luke 19:33-42]

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I have wakened this day, and felt each moment filled since, to the echoes of a single phrase…

“I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!”

“I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!”

“I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!”
  “I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!”

We are surrounded this day, yesterday, every day… by this world, this life, this creation that we — as humans, rational beings, scientists — marvel at and usually readily admit that we do not understand. This creation supports us, sustains us, permits us life, love, relationship, growth, breath, heartbeats.

Isn’t that amazing? We live in a “cocoon”, an incredible supporting matrix that allows life as we know it to go on through time! Does that ever make us stop? Think? Thank? We did not design this. We do not know what makes it run. We could not repair this universe, if somehow it broke down. We are utterly dependent.

And why? Why does this all “work”? That is the even more amazing part. God created… God loved… God quickened, enlivened… God spoke! Yes, all of that. But look! Behold! God not only did all of that… He not only “creat-ed”… but always, at all times, every second, moment, nanosecond… He does… He “creat-es”… He utterly revealed Himself, but IS utterly REVEALING Himself through all that is, that everyone have opportunity to know Him.

I… I almost feel like apologizing here… because in this moment I am experiencing “worship” on a personal level, and normally… those are not moments I share with others. Those are “prayer closet” moments… just me and Him. If they are shared with others, that’s one-on-one, or perhaps a small group prayer or worship. I’ve never been called, or given permission, to sit here typing to blog, in this state.

But perhaps it is this content… this Triumphal Entry thing… that is creating this moment. The people, witnessing the King Himself enter into Jerusalem, are overwhelmed with their amazement and adoration. Regardless of politics, of public reputation and possible problems with the Temple and pharisees, they cry out from their hearts their praises. Their passion overcomes their prudence, and they praise without candor!

A pressure wells up inside, a pressure of Truth itself, of Truth Himself… and they cannot contain it or constrain it. They praise, they adore, they worship, they cry out.

And, they are rebuked. They are criticized, having been threatened and bribed to betray this Truth. The Churchmen, the Church Leaders, the Religious… knowing the threat to their power base that the actual Truth Himself posed… they beseech the Lord to “shush” those proclaiming His glory and His Truth.

And… He… can… not… He says, outright, were He to do so, things would go even MORE badly for the Churchmen. It would not be merely PEOPLE shouting His praise and glory… but Creation Itself… the very stones! O my! *Psst! Pharisees! Be thankful it’s only people, that you can bully and bribe! What would you do if the very environment began to sing for Him?!*

[In seeking a graphic for this post, I came across a blog post from a couple years ago by another minister I had never seen before. The post just wrapped itself into my worship, and pulled me along into the train of Jesus’ following disciples that day. Please have a look at this, and see if it blesses you as strongly as it did me. It just enriched this experience, this moment of worship so much. It made my heart just “amen” with a consistent “Yes!” “Triumphal Entry — Story Behind the Story”. ]

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But here is where this morning leaves me.

This Triumphal Entry… this parade of the victory of Jesus the Christ… came in its precisely correct moment in an incredibly dense weave of moments leading up to the Crucifixion, Resurrection, and Pentecost. All these “Lenten Events”… the miracles, the marches, the anointings, the anguished discussions or arguments with Companion Disciples, the raising of Lazarus… all these events heralded what Jesus called His “baptism” as He drank from the cup the Father had prepared for Him from the beginnings of the world.

And we, both as His children, His disciples, His friends… and as part of Creation itself… have our own role to play in this dense weave.

The King has come. He has done all that He was sent to do. Now there is only the finish, the closure, yet to endure. And we can SEE that, ENGAGE that, or not. That is OUR choice.

But whether we do, or whether we don’t… still, it is going on. Still He is revealing Himself.

Where is the chorus? Where are the voices? Where is the wonder? The joy? The Love? The passion?

I am blessed. Many days, there are those around me who “hear the music, and sing along”. Yes. But also, many days I am surrounded by only pharisees… only those trying to “shush the children”. You know them! You hear them! They can be intimidating, can’t they? Some days, they even quench MY spirit.

But then there’s THESE days. There’s these incredible… “‘Hey, Ya’ll! I”m right HERE!’ — Signed, Jesus” Days. There are these days where the very Tide of Worship draws us forth so strongly that it can scarcely be resisted.

So, let us all let go! Let us all yield to that tide. Let us be drawn to Him as He begins to be lifted above the earth in this time.

Let us listen. Let us hear. Let us hum along… Do you hear it? Do you hear the rocks beginning to hum, the trees clearing their throats, the stars tuning their instruments?

No? Well, sometime this week, make some time to get apart with Creation… stars on a clear night away from city lights, back yard garden in early morning, sunrise or sunset, quiet lake or chuckling river, seaside, mountain, or moor… whatever it takes, whatever you have. Just get apart… and LISTEN! Listen to a tree, or the grass, or the stars, or the stones.

Hear them sing, hear them praise Him. Hear them, ever so quietly, call out…

“Hosanna to the King who comes! Hosanna to the Prince of Peace! Hosanna to Our Lord, Our Creator, Our Sustainer, Our Redeemer!”

You may not be able to defeat the Pharisees in your life, but you can get apart from them from time to time… to worship, and acknowledge the wonder who is the Ever Revealing Lover God…

Just a little while more… the Cosmos trembles on the brink of rebirth!

Joy and grace to you in these moments of worship! — The Little Monk

 

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