Thursday, March 24, 2016

Tenebrae

Somewhere in the last week or so, I read an article by someone who talked about Maundy Thursday and Good Friday as being God, thru Jesus, joining us in the darkness.  I don't remember where I read the article or who wrote it.  But I want to thank them and give them credit for the thoughts they triggered below.

I have not written lately.  There are lots of reasons.  Most of them have to do with darkness.  The darkness of "being kept in the dark" by people who should be communicating.  The darkness of a world where we watch bombs going off all over the world on continuous news feed.  The darkness of friends with terminal diagnoses.  The darkness of my own fears and imperfections.  The darkness of not knowing what comes next for me or those I love.  The darkness of living in a world where torture is discussed and carried out as a commonplace event.  The darkness of........

Well you get the picture.  And while I know and love Tony Campolo's famous, "It's Good Friday, But Easter's Coming,"  the truth is, it's Good Friday.  It's Maundy Thursday.  It's dark out there; and it's dark in here.  I'm not peddling (nor carrying) a massive clinical depression.  But I'm not naive either.  It's dark.  Inside and out.

I got to thinking of stories I have heard and read by POWs and political prisoners.  Tapping morse code messages on the walls.  Whispered conversations through cracks in stone blocks.  A presence in the darkness providing hope and comfort.

The events of Maundy Thursday and Good Friday are certainly more that what I wish to say about them; but they are not less:

They are God joining us in the darkness.  Jesus was not, is not, some separate puppet used by God to beat up on instead of us.  A belief in the Trinity and the prayer "the Lord our God is One" tell us that the Jesus who lived those days was God's own Self.  God has joined us in the darkness.  We hear God whisper through the cracks and tap on the walls, "I am here.  You are not alone."  God did not, does not, stand apart from our suffering; but joins us in a world where persons abused as children still carry the memories of that abuse in their bodies.  A world where learned helplessness is used by the powerful to control the poor and then to blame them for being helpless.  God is here in our darkness.  To claim that "the Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never overcome it: is not to deny the darkness, but to claim the Presence of the Light there.

It is also to acknowledge that having heard the whispered words of comfort, deciphered the tapping message of hope, we do not have a right to simply enjoy it for ourselves.  There are others sitting in the darkness with us.  Whisper down the corridor, tap on the walls.  Tell the message: "there is Someone here in the dark with us from Home...we're not alone."

I know it does not totally "fit".....but I need to close with the words of Eric Bogle's Singing The Spirit Home. It is a song from the days of apartheid in Africa.  It is a song from a prison there, sung to one who was about to be executed.  Sometimes the darkness seems to win.  But even when we cannot see the Light shining, we can hear it singing

"Courage brother, you do not walk alone.  We shall walk with you and sing your spirit home."

I believe that in these days of darkness in the life of Jesus, and in our lives, God sings to us as God joins us in the darkness:

"Courage brother/sister, you do not walk alone.  I shall walk with you and sing your spirit home."

Shalom and Amen 

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Anointing

Did he remember in that moment-
    surrounded by bickering disciples,
  and the heavy presence 
          of the one who would betray him-
the rush of tears falling on his feet
  loosened hair
       cascading in front of her face
used to wipe feet dirty from the road?
And did he hear in his mind
    the jar of ointment breaking open
  as soft hands and lush hair
       spread the perfumed oil
massaging it into rough skin?
Did he remember
   that sacred moment of grief/gratitude
 as he shucked off his outer robe
        and wrapped a towel around his waist
    moving from disciple to disciple
with his bowl of water?
As she was with me
      so I chose to be with you.
  as I have been to you
so should you be to the world.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Jesus Was An Extremist

Jesus was an extremist
  Insisting that in God's Kingdom,
the one we're to pray comes here on earth;
       that prodigals get robes and sandals
   lepers get healed
and both get to go home.
That the frightened lost sheep
         on rocky ledges or under concrete overpass
            get sought for and found.
That the hungry get fed,
  and no one on that green, green grass
        is asked about their status
as loaves and fishes are handed out.
     That the prisoner is freed
in Gitmo as in Galilee and Pelican Bay.
        His extremism gave sight to the blind
   lifted the crippled to his feet
            stopped the bleeding preexisting condition
    all without asking about their insurance.
That the poor got to hear the good news
        that their lives
and the lives of their twelve year old
      and the lead levels in their drinking water
Matter.
They Matter.
Jesus said They Matter.
Every crippled, diseased, homeless, abandoned, bedraggled
   dragging themselves home in shame
one of them.
Because Jesus was an extremist.