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“Fallout!”: A Tale of Two Friends

Please take a moment to read through John 17:6-23. See how these words are nested within an incredible benediction:

And please have a look at this as well:

Have you ever been “UnFriended?” Like, on Facebook? It’s happened to me. Only once, granted… but still, it’s happened. Ever been in a place of greatest trial in your life, say… where symptoms have appeared of some dreadful disease, but tests have not yet begun, and all there is is that raw terror of mental and physical decline? Imagine being in the darkest hour of your existence, trusting only the smallest handful of friends with the transparency of your anguish in this moment… and having one of them turn their back, call you names, accuse you of some horrendous sin you cannot even comprehend, let alone commit. Imagine having one you have served, always treated as sacred, trusted as “treasured friend”… utterly turn on you and abandon you… not even willing to stand where you stand, even upon your death. Imagine such a thing.

How do you deal with that?

Well, there’s a “wrong” way, and a “right” way.

The wrong way is to yield to all the temptation that says, “Well, they simply lied for all that time. They never esteemed or treasured me or my friendship. They are not worth my time or trouble. If they cannot stand alongside me in my need, in this darkness, in this trial… then who needs such “fair weather friends”. They want to “UnFriend” me? Fine, then! Forget about it! I don’t need their shadow to darken the door of my Temple ever again! They lied before, they could lie now or at any time. They have betrayed my trust, and never again will I risk that!”

The “wrong way” is to declare the sacred relationship “dead”, rend one’s clothes, knock the dust from one’s shoes, turn them over to God… and let Him sort them out without any further love on our part.

Jesus taught against this in no uncertain terms, both as to “forgiveness” and “kindness even to enemies”, and as to “if you remember your brother holds something against you”. Jesus EVER moves towards reconciliation and restoration of sacred relationships! ALWAYS!

But HOW? How does He do that? How do WE do that, in Him?

Well, let’s take a brief look at: “A Tale of Two Betraying Friends”

Of course, we speak of comparing Judas Iscariot and Simon Peter. I’ve always been struck by the comparisons and contrasts of these two crucial characters of the Gospel drama. I’ve written about this before… but never with the personal application we are looking at here. There is pivotal application here to my own life, and perhaps, Gentle Reader, to yours as well.

It astonishes me to realize that Judas did not betray Jesus until AFTER: Jesus had eaten the Passover meal with him, washed his feet, spoken of the end of things… even called them “friends”.

Hold right there a moment… Judas Iscariot is among the disciple group, when Jesus declares that, because He has revealed the fullness of the Father’s love to all of them, they are now “friend” to Him, no longer merely subordinate “disciples”. Jesus has now utterly “revealed Himself” transparently, to the entire group.

But then, Jesus is again troubled by a bout of distress. He sits at the table, and anguish overtakes Him as He tells them He will be betrayed. Various disciples ask if it is they… Imagine that! Imagine “not knowing” if we would, ourselves, betray Jesus to death? “Is it I?”… Then Jesus hands the sop to Judas, and instructs that he do what must be done quickly, and Judas exits. Jesus then shares the Bread and the Cup, they all exit to the Garden, Jesus reveals that all will abandon Him before the end, and Peter vehemently denies the very possibility.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

And so the stage is set…

Two “friends”…

Two friends who betray, and abandon, Him…

Two relationships with Him, sundered denial and abnegation…

Judas betrays Jesus with a kiss and receives his payment. Peter denies even knowing Jesus with vehement curses, then abandons Him to His fate with bitter tears. Both sin, both deny, both betray, and… eventually… both know remorse for their deeds. Another post, from another time, looks at how these two (Judas and Peter) dealt differently with their remorse. “Gone Fishin'”

But now, let’s look at this from Jesus’ side of the relationship. Informed by all we know as Christians, all we learn from the Gospels and from Jesus’ teaching and requirements of us, all we experience at the prompting of the Holy Spirit within… let us look at how, if we are obedient to love as Jesus loves, how we are to deal with someone who betrays, lies about, or abandons US!

How did Jesus “get back” at Judas? How did He “discipline” him? How did He “church” him? How did He “cast Judas out?”

Sobering, isn’t it? Knowing what He knew, Jesus did nothing but continually bless Judas. He never “threw him out”, or did other than warn him of the consequences of his decisions. I’ve often thought Judas was still capable of derailing the entire Crucifixion thing right up to the point where he utterly resolved and decided to “do it”. At THAT moment, receiving a morsel from the very hand of Jesus, he gives the will wholly up to the evil of betraying Jesus, Judas “opens the door of his heart and stands fully aside” for the moment John narrates as “Satan entered into him”.

The last words Jesus speaks to Judas are simply, “What you must do, do quickly.”

As discussed in the earlier post, Judas eventually experiences remorse, but tries to make things right on his own, without ever daring to face the disciples or Jesus Resurrected. Nothing he tries works, and Judas dies by his own hand.

Now let us consider how Jesus deals with His betrayal and abandonment by Peter.

Again, Jesus does nothing but deal “normally” with Peter after telling Him of his coming betrayal. Jesus teaches him, blesses him, shares bread and cup with him, brings him to the Garden and asks him to stand watch, rebukes him for his sleep, and ultimately rebukes him for injuring Malchus with that sword as He heals the injured man. No further words pass between them until Peter’s betrayal and abandonment in the courtyard of Pilate.

Now… here’s the really hard lesson here.

Peter denies Jesus. Peter curses in the vehemence of his denial. Peter abandons Jesus.

How does Jesus “react” to all this?

Jesus makes NO CHANGE in their relationship and friendship.

It’s that simple. Peter runs to the tomb at the report of the women of the Resurrection. He sees nothing, as don’t any of the other men.

Jesus enters the room and speaks to the disciples as a group, including Peter, though they exchange no private or personal words. Jesus appears at various times, Peter experiences these apparitions.

As to the appearance of Jesus on the beach cooking breakfast, when from the boat John recognizes that the man is Jesus and Peter jumps out of the boat half dressed (stripped down for fishing) and wades to shore…

Who can imagine what words were on the tip of Peter’s tongue as he fought the lapping surf for a “private word” with the Lord? But none of it came out… no apology, no self flagellation, no confession, no worthless worm, no contrition… nothing came out.

Jesus did not rebuke, correct, accuse, or even make reference to the event. Jesus met Peter’s need for “refocus”, “repurposing”, by simply asking three times if he loved Him, and instructing Him to perform the task he was appointed to for the rest of his life. To feed and tend Jesus sheep and lambs.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Bottom line? Jesus treated Peter just as He always had. Jesus treated Peter just as He treated all other Disciple/Friends. He appeared, He spoke, He loved, He touched, He fed, and ultimately He sent the Holy Spirit to penetrate and enter into to Peter, just as all the others.

In other words, Jesus did exactly as He commands us to do… bless, love, do good, and embrace ALL… whether they love us or hate us. No difference. Forgive, from the heart, not because of anything the “other” the “forgiven” bring to the moment, but simply because so the Father does with us. We are to enter back into the sacredness of the relationship, restoring trust and love.

Easy? No. Simple? Yes. Been abandoned, betrayed, lied about, or “UnFriended”? What to do? Do nothing. Bless them, speak truth with grace, live (as far as depends on you) in peace with the other, and continue to treat them sacredly as though they had never tried to wound or do you ill. As we continue to provide a conduit for grace to reach through us to them, it is to be hoped that sacredness, peace, joy, and light will restore love and light into whatever shadows and dark corners still try to impede grace in sacred spaces of relationship!

We thus honor Him, and we thus know peace.

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Posted by on April 1, 2016 in Quiet Time, Sermon Seeds, Uncategorized

 

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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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