Wednesday, July 7, 2010

So maybe we'll start again.

I've had lots of thoughts and stories running through my head right before I go to bed, and really thought this blog might be a good way to get rid of some of them.

Some highlights of the day:

1. Story time at Burkhardt Library
Crappy library, fun story time. Jason was in his element and I felt like it gave him a little connection back to his circle time at school, which he misses.

2. Getting interviewed by WHIO at the garden with Jenny
I don't care much about the interview itself (I didn't even get to watch it on the news!), but I hope someone saw it and wanted to plant their own. We've gotten a lot of lettuce, spinach, kale, parsley, cilantro, snow peas, carrots, and zuchini so far with tomatoes, corn, peppers, black beans, green beans, cabbage, and peppers to come. Glory to God for all His gracious gifts. We planted the seeds, the Holy Spirit helped them grow; for after all in Him all things live, move and have their being (even veggies!).

3. Evening prayer with Jason participating swimmingly
Jason did a great job of singing and praying tonight--if you can't see the benefit of coming to evening prayer for yourself, you can see it for Jason. He knows all the words, all the prayers, all the songs and, therefore, a lot of scripture (it's scattered throughout). We go not for our own enjoyment, however, but because it is one hour in the middle of the week to remember that the Really Important Things of life are not doing what's convenient, but offering "prayers, petitions, and intercessions on behalf of all--kings and all those in authority..."

AND clean floors, lunch made for Mark and wine at the end of it. Again, Glory be to God for all His gracious gifts.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Week 2
What does the word Gospel mean? It is the announcement of the arrival of a new king and it is good news because he will fight for his people and usher in peace and prosperity. The Gospel of King Jesus is more than that we said….It is not a Gospel that is restricted to a period of time or place, though we must understand it from its context. This is a Gospel that will extend to the uttermost parts of the earth and beyond that. -“world without end”, we say

Daniel 7:13-14
Isaiah 9: 6-7

If anyone remembers the life of David before and after Saul was in power, Jesus life as the anointed, but not yet king, will look much like this throughout Mark. We will refer back to this point throughout the course. He will be on the run until the moment is right. He will be hopping from place to place, trying to avoid being killed, until God has appointed him to die and to take his throne. Until sin has reached the boiling point and is poured out on Jesus.

He will take his throne in three days. After Jesus takes the throne, all others are cast off their thrones. During the course of this book Jesus does not act like a king enthroned, though he is creation’s supreme ruler and author. He is a king longing for the love of his people, desiring them to believe in who he really is, not just a miracle worker. He is a king on the run, longing for a people to turn to him as their savior.

* Liturgy – Why is the Gospel lesson read where it is?
This is where Jesus walks amidst the people. The order of the service is like a musical, the lead singer, our husband Jesus Christ is played by an ordained minister. He comes out front and center under the spotlight and calls his bride. He does not just speak through prophets and literature, he speaks with the voice of man, with our own voice.

Last week we also talked about who John the Baptist was and how he prepared the way for this king. He was a priest by birth but God wanted him to be a prophet. He was reenacting the Exodus in the wilderness with the people of God and rolling out the red carpet for their king to come dwell with them... in their hearts and in their homes. This was a dangerous job and we will see later (in chapter 6), in more detail how this was actually what killed John and Jesus, i.e. the threat of the Gospel.

For example, imagine that tomorrow headlines on Television declared that a man was sailing back and forth from England to America to start a new life for his family and friends. Not just for himself, but for what he called “his people”. He was announcing that a new Presidency was going to take office and the whole system that we have known and used is going to be destroyed. He says a new President of the United States is coming (soon leaders and officials will find out that he actually has been living in the United States). He is not in office yet, but he plans to destroy the white house and build a new and better one for himself. He plans on changing what it means to be an American; in fact, you will not be a real citizen of America, says the man leading this grassroots political group, unless you swear a new oath to him now. When he takes his office, anyone who is an enemy will be destroyed. “So”, says the man (paving the way) on a ship from England, “swear your allegiance to him now before it is too late, take this journey with me back across the Atlantic…repent of your old Americanism to be a part of this new people.”

I give you this analogy to point out that there was more than just individual sins that needed to be dealt with. Sin had reached a national level. It was not just a diseased few, but rather it was an epidemic and everyone had been infected with it in some way. There were not real Americans left. There were no real Israelites left. Everyone needed the individual touch of the Savior, or national punishment would be handed out to them. All of them had to repent, and follow Jesus for all have sinned.

To the text – Mark 1:13

1. Jesus is Baptized. Why is Jesus Baptized?

Jesus is the Messiah and everything that the Messiah does represents the people. He is their face, their hands, their voice. When David went to another country and spoke with other leaders or made decisions, Israel did it through him. Likewise, our President is considered, at least in principle, first among equals. Bush is the face of America, which can be unfortunate for us. The world will love us or hate us because of him in many respects. Jesus tells his followers that the world hates him and the world will hate us because of him. He represents a kingdom that turns all the selfish motives of other rulers on their heads, declares them a wicked and vile generation, and announces that they will be defeated. All of Jesus dies on the cross, and everything that died with him, that we share in common, also died with him that day. And so it is with his baptism, we share in it.

Also, Jesus is the firstborn. We always talk about how we inherited original sin from Adam because Adam was the first, but Jesus is before Adam. Jesus reverses the effects of the curse. Romans 5:9-19

Jesus is given the words from his father “I am pleased with you son”. The Holy Spirit has marked him as His son. Why is this important? Because we also are marked as his son’s and daughters at our Baptism.

Furthermore, although God does love His son and us, he has not prepared a life of luxury and ease for his servants, but rather of one filled with joy at the end of the journey. As humans we need a literal, physical act where God comes to us and tells us he is our Father and we are his children. Jesus himself will look back on this event when he is tempted in the wilderness. You and I know and understand that this event happened, just as Jesus did, regardless of whether we can remember when the first instant it was that we really loved God and started to change. We do not become the people of God based on whether or not we have enough faith within ourselves to understand and love God like we should. Baptism and salvation is not a picture of us running away from hell, but rather of deciding to sit down at the table prepared before us as our big brother Jesus pulls out the chair behind us.

Jesus Baptism reminds us that God is a loving Father who wants his children to be empowered by His words to them. Imagine a son about to go into war. The father is a general so it will seem like he is not around. He will be preparing everyone's marching orders though. The father comes to him lovingly and tells him that he loves him and is proud of him. In the war days to come, the son will remember these words and push onward to the end, even if it seems that the Father has become his enemy based on the commands he sends down. The son looks back at the physically spoken act and he, like a good soldier, obeys those orders.

We must see our Baptism in His event. We must see God the father relating to us like he does with Jesus.

Back to the text Mark 1:14-20

John is captured for his treason to another King, King Jesus. Jesus traveled north to Galilee. Jesus takes over for John, declaring that the kingdom is here with him. “Repent and believe” this Gospel he tells them.

Jesus calls four disciples – they quickly leave their nets and their family businesses and follow him. Jesus wants them to fish for people now.

Jesus goes farther North around to the tip of the Sea of Galilee to Capernaum. He goes to the synagogue and teaches on the Sabbath. Here Jesus speaks to them as if the authority does not come from Moses, the Law, the other writers or teachers of the time. When Jesus speaks it is as if he has some kind of divine superiority and authority. Many times in that period before someone said something significant they would say “in the words of father …” or “as Moses or Joshua always say” or “as rabbi so and so has instructed”. Jesus does not do that, because he is the wisdom of the world.

5. Jesus and his four disciples visit the local synagogue. A man in the synagogue has an unclean spirit. This demon knows who Jesus is and he knows that Jesus is a threat to the whole legion of demons living in the synagogues – Jesus will visit more synagogues and cast out demons and his words will shut their mouths.

*What is the difference between a synagogue and a temple?
Remember it like this, there is only one Temple, but there are many synagogues. The Temple is in Jerusalem. This was the place where heaven and earth were meshed together in a special way; geographically, the unique presence of God on earth. A Glory cloud accompanies his presence usually here in the Holy of Holies the innermost part of the Temple. The synagogue, however, is like a place where Jews would meet together to pray and teach, much like our churches are even today. It literally refers to an assembly, or a getting together of folks. The Temple was the place of sacrifices and the special presence of God. Synagogue is where children receive their religious education and where the children of Israel gathered weekly to worship. Today the Jews have no Temple, only synagogues.

So what about these demons who's mouths are shut? The Bible says that even the devils believe and obey God.
What makes us better than devil’s?
God, in his mercy has called us His children at baptism and he has given us the grace (desire and strength) to perform good deeds. God has taken a hold of our lives in such a way that he will shape us into being like our firstborn older brother Jesus, the true human.

Philippians 1:6
He who started a good work will be faithful to complete it in you.

*A note on Lepers and Uncleanness
Jesus does not want the uncleanness to destroy them. Jesus wants these people to be restored. Leviticus 11:29-35

Uncleanness keeps one from living among the people of God. It hinders access to the Temple, and thus the presence of God in that special time and place. Jesus wants to give back the Temple access.
He is giving them back the Temple access and forgiving their sins, but ultimately he will be replacing the Temple with himself.

Jesus fame spreads throughout this region and the four disciples and Jesus go to Peter’s mother in law because she has a fever. Then everyone with a disease or a demon seems to be standing at the doorstep of Peter’s house. Again Jesus tells the demon’s not to speak because they know who he is. Why does Jesus tell the devils to be quiet?

Jesus is dead serious about keeping them quiet because if the truth is known about who he is; the messiah who would rule the world. This will kill Jesus, and his ministry time to train up leaders in his place when he is gone, would be over. Jesus could not escape his death because of who he was, but he also could not kill himself. It was foretold in the scriptures that he would die willingly, but at the hands of the enemy.

Jesus wakes up early and goes to a solitary place to pray. Jesus knows that with the growing knowledge of him his time is already beginning to run out. He prays because he knows that he will receive what he asks for. Later on in the garden Jesus weeps when he prays before he is taken by the guards because he knows he can not have what he asks for. Let this cup pass he asks, let the world be what it has to be so that I do not have to do this.

Then they go throughout Galilee casting demons out of synagogues.

A leper comes to Jesus and Jesus touches him and tells him to be clean. Jesus touches someone who is unclean, but he does not become unclean. All is clean to the pure of heart. Titus 1:5.

Imagine in your minds for a second a young man who wakes up one day and because of his sin or unknown reasons he discovers that he has this uncleanness. He will be set outside the community, and if his family is kind enough to him they will bring him food, because he will not be able to work for his own living. No one, for the rest of his life will ever touch him again. No hugs and kisses from anyone at night, no shaking hands with new acquaintances, no taps on the shoulder for a job well done. All your hands will ever touch again are sticks and stones and the food you eat but may not be able to taste. Who knows how long it had been since this man had human contact. It may have been a lifetime. Now, someone, not just anyone, reaches down and touches him.

Why do you suppose that Jesus can get away with this sort of action?
Jesus can touch the unclean and make them clean, he infects them. He has a healing antidote with the power of poison, himself.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Sunday School lessons

The Gospel of St

The Gospel of St. Mark

Week 1

Who is Jesus in the Gospel of Mark?

What does the Gospel mean?

It means good news, glad tidings, it means good news because there is a new king in town and he is going to fight our battles. The word is evangelion; this word announces the new existing power, a rising to power of a new ruler, or the victory of a ruler over his enemies.

Example: Inscription 9 B.C. –an announcement to the people under Augustus at the beginning of his rule.

“The providence which has ordered the whole of our life, showing concern and zeal,has ordained the most perfect consummation for human life by giving to it Augustus, by filling him with virtue for doing the work of a benefactor among men, and by sending in him, as it were, a deliverer for us and those ho come after us, to make war to cease, to create order everywhere…; the birthday of the god (Augustus) was the beginning for the world of the glad tidings that have come to men through him” (N.T. Wright – “What St. Paul Really Said”).

The Old Testament gives us a glimpse at these future kingdom announcments

- Isaiah 40:9

- Isaiah 52:7

Both Jew and Gentile, both God’s people and the rest of the world used this term to refer to the announcement of the new king and this new king’s victory agenda.

You will learn more and more later on in this class why it is such a great political, social, and spiritual threat to the world that Israel's king has landed. -why it matters for presidents and kings, parents, fisherman, and demons- Jerusalem has its own Gospel announcement and the rest of the world had better watch out because this one will rule from Nazareth to the ends of the world!

So what is it that the Gospel is about?

It is about the dethroning of all other powers; visible and invisible, in our hearts and on our television screens. It is about the destruction of death and hell! It is about the dawn of a new day and a new rising kingdom; this is why we say “thy kingdom come”. This was their salvation, this is our salvation.

If someone preaches the Gospel to you what are they doing?

They are announcing that Jesus is King of the world and you had better get down on your knees and pay him tribute! No one is apologizing for the fact that everything and everyone was created by him and for him; as uncomfortable as it may seem.or want It is not a matter of whether or not you like him even want to...though he does want your heartfelt devotion very very much!

Why all the talk about the Son of God

Psalm 89:20-27

I have found David my servant; with my holy oil have I anointed him:

With whom my hand shall be established: mine arm also shall strengthen him.

The enemy shall not exact upon him; nor the son of wickedness afflict him.

And I will beat down his foes before his face, and plague them that hate him.

But my faithfulness and my mercy shall be with him: and in my name shall his horn be exalted.

I will set his hand also in the sea, and his right hand in the rivers.

He shall cry unto me, Thou art my father, my God, and the rock of my salvation.

Also I will make him my firstborn, higher than the kings of the earth”.

To be the Son of God means to be Israel’s King. All of Israel are sons, but Jesus is the Son of sons, the firstborn among us, even though he is born after Adam.

As it is written in the prophets Jesus was the one who was foretold, but it was said that someone would prepare his way. These passages prophesy of a herald.

Malachi 3:1

Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the LORD, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts”.

(read) Isaiah 40

Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the LORD's hand double for all her sins.

The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.

Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight and the rough places plain”:


Why all this talk about mountains being made low and valleys being leveled out? The reason is that all of creation is taking part in a celebration of Jesus as king even if we can not see it. (example when the people are crying hosanna in the streets and Christ is sitting on a donkey the Pharisees tell Jesus to tell them to keep quiet, Jesus tells them that if he does even the stones will cry out). The idea here is that the world is rolling out the red carpet. Imagine all being made flat in your minds for a second. REALLY

John will be preparing a highway in the wilderness. The wilderness is the journey to the promised land. Isaiah in this chapter is talking to Hezekiah about how they will be lead into Babylon, but there will be a time that they will be released. The road is the journey out of exile, the end of slavery.

(read) Isaiah 52

Mark has connected the Old Testament with his own writings. So when did the Old Testament end? Did it end with Malachi, or did it end when the Gospel is preached by John. This is the common understanding by the Church. John the Baptist and his baptizing is like the commencement speech of a New Covenant. But it is all about what the prophets said…the two are connected.

So what does it mean, wilderness? Is Jesus planning on arriving somewhere out in the wild, untouched by civilization. The wilderness in the old covenant was such a place. It was a place where no plants were cultivated, weeds, flowers, trees did what was right in their own eyes. Jesus would be born into a different kind of wilderness. He would be born into a wilderness of sinners…where people did what was right in their own eyes, but not just any people, his chosen people. We will see throughout the book an interesting contrast to what might be expected. Jesus own people are looking for a God to please their very shallow and immediate needs, while Gentiles are looking for master of their souls. The worst kind of sin is the disobedience of God's people. The rest of the world was ignorant and blinded, but the Gentiles and few of his own who had the law and the prophets, will actually follow. The sin of God's people was greater (in effect - explain). Sin found a home in the temple, circumcision, and the law, because they were used for the wrong reasons.

(Ex.) These God's chosen ambassadors who were sent to be the light to the world, but they had boarded up the windows to forgiveness with their laws and with their rules about what it means to be the people of God and they had used their status for selfish and wicked reasons. The Pharisees had pulled in the boundary lines of who was officially in or out to a degree that no one else could get inside but themselves. This was a type of “click” that lied to others and made them feel like they ought to be a part, but denying them the ability to do so.

John is sent to prepare the way, he is sent as one who, just before dawn, rolls back the shades, turns the stove on, sets the table, washes the floor, and rings the bell to tell the household to be on their guard to receive this holy gift. He is like one preparing for a huge party – getting everyone all washed up and ready to receive, serve, and enjoy their king.

What happened at Jesus birth? There was no room for the King of the world, not in their hearts or in their homes – (two very similar things we will discuss more about).

In John began the gospel spirit. John was clearing the uncleanness out of his own heart, and the hearts of others and baptizing them. John was baptizing people in the wilderness. John was taking people through the Jordan and reenacting the exile from Egypt. He was then calling on them to be cleansed from their sins, not as if they would be fully forgiven from their sins instantaneously, but so that they would be forgiven when the Holy Spirit came. It was for a future remission of sins that John was preparing them for.

Why water? Water in the Old Testament was used on those who had touched something unclean. Moses kind of baptism was a complicated issue of other sacrifices, depending upon the uncleanness or the certain offense a person may have, there may be a wait for a certain period of time before they can be declared purified. But being washed was the symbol of being brought back to life. The water of the earth was a reminder of life. Unclean = Dead to the community, announced clean meant you were brought back to life among the people again. John’s Baptism was much simpler, and it was a better one, they were ready for the Baptism of the Holy Spirit after John’s cleaning.

John was not just cleansing them and making them ceremonially clean, or just dealing with the issue of forgiving sins, he did this at the Jordan river for a reason. Why?

The Jordan water is a geographical boundary line that God uses to say something spiritual with (never assume that there is something physical which does not communicate spirituality). The natural world , naturally, communicates God. We interact with it and it tells us something about him and he speaks through it. God used this boundary with Moses at the Red Sea and Joshua at the Jordan. He uses it to say that you are no longer the old people from that side of the Jordan but you are this new people on this side of the Jordan. You are the rescued ones drawing nearer to God than ever before, nearer the Promised Land. Passing through the waters of baptism represents passing through the waters of the firmament into the throne room of God. Through the water into a more glorious state.

So John, a new kind of priest has called these people to be baptized under Moses, and the Law without all the extra complexities. The new has elements of the old, it carried with it certain essentials. All the ceremony and old covenant ways were like ingredients, that after Jesus Christ was added to them it was like the yeast that burst all the other stuff into action. It came forth as a new thing. So John is is the base ingredients, water at the Jordan and repentance.

Gen 1:6

Why could John do this? Because God sent him to. John was, by ancestral rite actually a priest. But he was not to be fitted into the clothes of the priesthood and allowed the luxury of a more comfortable life (physically -in terms of food and raiment as well as prestige). But rather he was chosen for a life in the desert. John was a new kind of priest. John did not do this because all that Temple ceremony stuff was useless, John did it because all those signs and wonders and Temple art and robes were trying to point people to what it means to be the people of God, all those things were pointing to Jesus Christ and at the time of Jesus arrival his people could not see past them, they could not see past themselves! So John, unable to lead the people quietly as a priest, was chosen as a screaming prophet trying to get them to look and listen before it is too late.

John takes them back to the Jordan and reminds them, (and us) that something similar to the old days is happening, but it is happening in a new way now. John was preaching the gospel, which meant he was calling on the world to repent. He was trying to make room in people’s hearts for the king of the world. This king wants to forgive sins and live in men’s hearts, but as much as sin is allowed to rule in a heart, that is where Jesus is not welcome. He is not allowed, not because he does not have the right, but because there is no room.

--No room said the Inn Keeper.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Prayer for Mother's Day

God of Love,
listen to this prayer.
God of Holy People,
of Sarah, Ruth and Rebekah,
God of holy Mary, Mother of Jesus,
bend down Your ear to this request
and bless the mother of our family.

Bless her with the strength of your spirit,
she who has taught her children
how to stand and how to walk.

Bless her with the melody of Your love,
she who has shared how to speak, how to sing
and how to pray to you.

Bless her with a place at your eternal dinner table,
she who has fed and nurtured
the life that was formed within her
while still helpless but embraced in her love.

Bless her today,
now, in this lifetime,
with good things, with health.

Bless her with joy, love, laughter and
pride in her children
and surround her with many good friends.

May she who carried life in her womb
be carried one day to your divine embrace:
there, for all eternity,
to rejoice with her family and friends.

This blessing and all graces, we pray,
descend upon the mother of our family:
in the name of the Father,
and of the Son,
and of the Holy Ghost.


~Ed Hays

Saturday, April 14, 2007

The walls are us. We are the living stones. We are made out of the same stuff in the foundation; we with those foundation stones made from the cornerstone stuff.

Our lives are the making of the stone. It is because of what we are made of, and where we have been placed, that we all want to make something of ourselves.

Any one who has tried stone masonry will know just how difficult it is to get a stone to do what you want. You have to know how the stone was formed, you have to follow the layers in the stone or, when you chip parts of it off you might crush the whole thing. If you just pound on the part you want to break off you might break the whole thing into two or two hundred pieces. The mason can not do what he wants with any stone; the stone has to be, at least in part, made to take a certain shape even prior to the cutting.

As much as we try, we often find we do not know our own shape and structure. It is always our duty to try.

All our lives God makes the necessary changes. Water is the best source for this. However, this is not a quick fix process, even with a large mass of water at high speeds, still it slowly smooths away the stone. It does something that a sharp hammer could never do. It adds a beauty unlike what fire does; though hammers and fire do add beauty.

But if a stone would respond to the water it would not need the sharp hammer or the fire. Or rather, there may be a lot less cutting and burning.

At the appointed time the walls are inspected by the architect. Each piece individually. There may be some sticky muddy bricks made up with straw and sticks. They may be stuck to us like glue, perhaps they are part of the reason that we are there at all. The other parts of the wall may think that we look like the same sticky mess beside a whole other stone; a separate one. But the architect knows his blue prints and can remove it safely from the wall.

The stones hope that the ones beside them taken away will one day return. For a stone will keep the fossil of those sticks, shells, and bones, that have embedded themselves into its own identity. It can not forget; how could it with all those holes in the wall.

Because the walls are what they will be, but still not yet, some parts of the wall are sagging; some because of those muddy, sloppy bricks; some parts are falling and bringing others with them because they do not respond to the shape they are supposed to take and can not bear the weight of their place. Other parts are glorious, and we envy them. We want our piece of the wall to hug tight to the foundation and support those that will be built on.

The stones cry out, wondering what the foundation had in mind to begin with. The structure does not make sense.

Why did the foundation hold in its original plan something that looks so strange and takes so long?

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

History’s argument about icons flew through my mind the other day. It came at a strange time for me because I was reading some of things that Tom Wright was saying in his commentary on John. I do not think that Wright was going where my mind went, but he touched on something that sparked my thoughts.

I remember in one portion of John, at the beginning of the book he discusses how the Word (Jesus words, the words of prophets etc.) and flesh (all the things they saw him do), though in reality they are united in Jesus, are still being separated in the minds’ of His friends, relatives, and enemies. They are watching him and wanting to follow him, but not based on the reality before them. Rather, based on his miracles, words of wisdom, healings, etc; they were never looking through all those very visible things to a deeper and greater truth. Jesus did signs (icons) and people followed him because of them. He did wonders but people marched behind him for the wrong reasons. Palm Sunday and Good Friday are evidence of the fact. You have the same folk hailing him as king one day and yelling crucify him the next.

He comes with signs and wonders and he is the Image. The incarnation itself probably could have been, to some Jews, a breaking of the second commandment. It seems that Jesus own Incarnation presence poses a danger to idolatry. And like most icons we are lead away from the truth, away from the direction they are pointing because we are bent, because we see them pointing out something we want in it. These Jews in Jesus day fashioned a different Jesus. The Jesus that would give them want they thought they wanted there and then. They fashioned him using the same material (that same Jesus). Seeing the truth is not even about seeing past the icon (or sign) in a sense of subtracting out the physical bad, but rather, holding up the two and letting the flesh lead you to the Word. In the old covenant the Torah (word) lead men to Christ (flesh). In the New Covenant the Church is united with the Torah (word) and we flesh out what it means to be Christ for the world. We become the portable places where Incarnation unite and forgiveness keeps its physical resting place on earth.

So was God not being careful enough about the second commandment? I mean, people made an idol out of Jesus, and he was not. Isn’t it more important for God to be careful about these things?

Monday, April 9, 2007

“It is finished” he cried. Jesus descends into hell and the third day he is back. He reappears to his followers (what a relief), but how painful it is because they can not cling to him. He then goes away for good only to send his Spirit.

I have not been able to stop thinking about how empathy is written into the Church’s plan for Lent. Since I live in the future I have already fast forwarded to the departure of Christ and have paused there today. My mind has been there all day long.

We arrived this morning after our Easter service to find that our next door neighbors were moving. This was sad for me. I never really knew them except for a few exchanges that we shared with our children. They spoke Spanish so we never held a real conversation. They watched us celebrate our holidays and looked on with confusion; we did the same. I always wanted to get to know them but they never would give me the chance. All in all they seemed happy, but I always sensed a fear in them as if they had some secret to hide, as if I were a threat to them. I think that they did not belong to our country; they were probably illegal.

The house was already beginning to look empty as we pulled our car up. I reflected on all the faces they made with our conversations. I remember some words we shared and times when my words may have frightened them, not because I said something wrong, but if they really were illegal, it could have made them worry. They always smiled but it seemed to be more of a shield for them. I truly wanted to do something about that shield. I wonder if they ever shared the same feelings about me as I did for them.

As I brushed my teeth and looked on the dark and empty house tonight I sighed. I wish I had known them. I wish that I had loved them. They were my neighbors; they were Christ! I had envisioned our children one day playing together. I had hoped that one day our shields would drop and our hands would shake. I wondered how hard it would be to take down our privacy fences. I dreamed of our families eating together, exchanging gifts, and laughing at our cultural differences.

I have always been the type of person who wants to stay. I always want visiting friends and relatives to stay. I long for a world where neighbors stay. I know this was true for the followers of Christ. It must have been wrenching for those friends and followers who shared in Christ’s laughing, eating, drinking, working, miracles, etc. to stay while he goes. It must have been dreadful for those who betrayed, watched from distance; decided they would spend time with him tomorrow, or simply did not understand the language he was speaking, to carry on. Regardless, He was gone (as God incarnate) and those chances to share things with Him as only they could, were gone.
There is something devastating about the realization that time has passed and slipped through my fingers once more. I have always longed to experience a moment as if it could be bottled and stored, smelling it once more, drinking it, and enjoying it again and again with others. Few moments have been like that for me, but I sense it was the overwhelming consensus among the disciples and apostles. Peter himself probably wished more than any to start over with Christ and make it work better this time.

Perhaps, it was something I said that made them go. Could I have caused their home to be another temporary stop along the way? I will never have answers to certain questions, and neither will God’s people, for the moment has passed and now we must move on, but let us be moved in light of the past. Let us move and not let Him slip through our fingers without being the first one to wash his feet. For when he reappears as the gardener he will call us by our name and we will call him Lord.
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