Category Archives: Journey through Lent 2018

Holy Week <3 Friday

And so we come to Friday.

That same youth group I started out the week sharing about took a road trip one Good Friday to some other small town in Kentucky where some other church put on a Passion type play.

It was done outside and our handful of teens and youth leaders stood amongst total strangers gathered along the street and sidewalk outside the church.

I don’t think the acting was noteworthy and I am pretty certain we may have acted squirrely and silly and having, now these many years later,  worn the tennis shoes of a parent and youth leader of teens myself, I can well imagine our sponsors asking God why they had left their kids with sitters and driven us across the county to just embarrass them here on this cold sidewalk.

But for this immature teen at least, the night took a turn that echoes deep in me still after so many decades.

Because as we half listened and half socialized, they came to the trial part and unbeknownst to us, some of the folks we had been rubbing elbows with throughout the story telling were actual part of the production.

When one of the men from the church in a poorly crafted fake beard offered up another man from the church in a matching getup as Barabbas, some of the nice folks around us began murmuring to set him free and crucify Jesus.

And then it got louder.

And then a lot of the people around us started chanting “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!”

Suddenly it all got very real.

Because it wasn’t supposed to go down like that.

This story was familiar to me. It involved Roman soldiers and Jewish Passover attendees. Pharisees and Sadducees and the likes.

Not people dressed like me.

I had sat and listened to it in a pew every Good Friday of my life up to that point.

And I had always shaken my head at how no one spoke out for Him.

Even His disciples were restrained.

But as we stood in between big men and serious looking mom-types raising their fists…my insides were screaming…but I remained outwardly silent.

I have never looked at Good Friday the same.

I find myself reading about our favorite, foot-in-the-mouth disciple, Peter and all his gaffs and rather than rolling my eyes, I say…I get it dude…I would probably have been right there with you.

Standing around the fire, eating my bold words spoken earlier about how even if they took Him to prison…yada yada…weeping bitter tears…

So I pray.

I pray for those siftings that come….those times when I want to shrink back…when the crowd gets loud and ugly…I pray to be one who stands with Him for assuredly He has never left me alone <3

Holy Week – Thursday <3

Good morning to you!

Do you know who was out traipsing down the damp sidewalks early this morning here in our neighborhood? Me, Rocco and about a million earthworms.

Eeeek…I loathe earthworms and seeing their slimy little selves glinting in the glow of street lights on wet pavement was just not the best start to my day.

But you know…it’s probably a pretty apt way for a follower of Christ to start Maundy Thursday.

Because it is a day to reflect and remember that Holy Week has come to the turn that makes it Holy by taking Christ through the most unholy of circumstances.

I have been doing some pondering this week on the events of each day as recorded in scripture and have possibly bitten off more than I can chew…because there is so much rich information and I have assigned myself to pick one small tidbit to share each day.

I am not a woman of few thoughts nor words, so it has been a challenge.

Thursday is particularly difficult to hone down into just one thought.

From the first steps inside the upper room through the arrest and various trials…until the rooster crows…there is much material.

But as I was reading here is the phrase that jumped out at me to share today.

It comes from the passage John 18:4-9 and the heading in the Bible I am using says: Disciples’ Safety Insured.

In the dark of the olive grove, Jesus asks the soldiers surrounding Him and the disciples who they have come to arrest.

They answer, “Jesus of Nazareth.”

He identifies Himself twice and then asks for the release of the others with Him.

Verse 9 tells us this was done so that the words He had spoken would be fulfilled.

And what words were those?

“I have not lost one of those You gave me.”

Yes, these were specific words, spoken to the arresting soldiers about eleven frightened men in a garden over two thousand years ago.

But God’s word speaks through the ages to every weary heart that wonders and fears…is He able to keep that which was committed to Him?

Oh yes.

He is able.

Able and willing and capable and assuredly will do so.

All those who have been given to Him by the Father…He will keep.

It may not feel like it.

It may not look like it.

But the holding does not rely on the condition of the disciple…rather on the promise of our Savior and Lord.

Be blessed this Easter as you place your trust in the One who gave His life for us <3

Holy Week – Wednesday <3

Well yes. Yes, I am corn-fused.

Because I seem to have hit a snag in my explorations and found that there are at least two schools of thought about Wednesday of Holy Week.

I say at least two, because when I saw a third option in my google searching, my head began to spin and I decided to stick with trying to puzzle out the two main views.

You see…there is the time frame that we typically go with … Last Supper was Thursday…arrest in the Garden followed…trials and beatings and such continued through Friday…then the Crucifixion and hasty burial in a sealed tomb and of course the Resurrection on Sunday.

Scenario Two accounts for a Wednesday Last Supper and arrest with Thursday being the day of Crucifixion. I have to say, it makes sense in many ways…however…

This entails an in-depth study of the time frame for Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread and how the Jews measured a day as from sundown to sundown and well…for a woman who has been time-challenged from birth…

this is just too much to process.

It would seem that the one thing all can agree on is while Palm Sunday and Monday and Tuesday were clearly designated as days with events recorded; Matthew, Mark, Luke and John cease to record the rest of the story in a bullet point fashion of time and so we are left with some variations in the details.

While I certainly would leave room to learn a new understanding of the actual days of commemoration, I have decided to opt in with the customary ways of remembering the events that matter.

However; I would give a slight nod to the fact that it would do us all good to spend a little more time putting ourselves in Jesus’ story instead of always trying to fit Him into ours…but that is for another day of writing.

For our Wednesday … if you have hung on through all of that corn-fusing chatter above…

I am simply going to reflect on something Jesus did twice in the midst of this week we call Holy.

He expressed deep sorrow.

First, as a crowd of adults and children spread their cloaks and palm branches under the hooves of the animal bearing Him into Jerusalem. The Bible says He looked over the city and wept.

The second time; as He finished a heated litany against self-righteousness, false religion, legalism, hypocrisy, persecution and injustice. The Bible says He expressed the longing to gather these He had just condemned as a hen gathers her chicks.

But they would not have it.

And I have to stop and consider this.

I can relate to a mother hen. Believe me.

I know that many times when my voice has raised in passion and I have appeared to be my most angry, it is because deep in me is a heart that is so in love with my brood that the knowledge of where they are headed drives me with a fire that cannot be quenched.

I picture every mom and dad I have ever known who screams at a child running out into the street or headed in the wrong direction or wanders off in Target and can’t be found.

I see them bending down, making every effort to instill in that child the knowledge that their future well-being depends on the obedient retention and application of the warnings being given.

Because that red-faced parent loves that child more than life itself.

That mother hen is having a melt-down because he or she longs for that little chick to learn to choose wisely every day of that sweet, precious life.

And I think of Jesus.

The Christ.

The Messiah.

The Son of God.

Who set aside heaven to come and walk among the likes of us.

Likening Himself to feathered momma barnyard bird…sweeping her speckled wing out and gathering her little fuzzy yellow checks close to her side.

And I guess it doesn’t matter what day of the week He said that.

I feel loved…

and wanted…

and safe <3

 

Holy Week – Tuesday <3

My my…Tuesday is a busy and full day for Jesus as He makes His way to the Cross.

I usually read the passages singly from the different Gospels, but using the Chronological Bible I am getting overwhelmed to say the least.

The notes at the beginning of this section mention Tuesday as a day of great confrontation with religious leaders.

I think of how non-confrontational most of Jesus’ ministry has been up to this point.

Well, relatively non-confrontational compared to the almost twelve pages of material I have been working through today as I prepare this post to go up Tuesday morning.

He starts with parables and then blasts into the “Woe to you’s” before sitting down in front of the offering box and observing the comings and goings of those bestowing their tithes and gifts that day.

And this is all before noon, mind you.

The holiday mood is in full swing and the wealthy are throwing in large sums of money but it is not one of these big spenders who catches His eye.

It’s not the guys who will have their name on a memorial brick in the sidewalk.

No.

Instead, He calls the disciples over to where he has been resting and shows them a poor widow who has put in two small coins that barely make up a penny.

This is the one who has made the largest offering today, He tells them.

I imagine them scratching their heads and wondering if the heated discourses leading up to this moment have taken a toll on Him.

Master….did you see all that the others have put in? 

Surely those two coins do not equal the large sums of the men who have given so much.

But it is an Upside Down Kingdom, He reminds them. Yet again.

For the rich gave out of their wealth…they gave abundantly but they still had plenty when they left.

She gave out of her poverty.

She gave all she had.

They gave a generous percent….she gave 100 percent.

I wonder.

Have I left everything to follow Him…or have I simply given out of my wealth and turned away emptier and poorer than I could ever imagine.

Dear Jesus, Thou knowest.

You know the places where I hold back the “all” out of fear of lacking.

You know when I have much to give but am unwilling to give it all.

You know when I have little to give and cling to a fraction of that fraction.

Always in me, the desire to preserve and protect a little something for later. 

Teach me Lord, the lesson of the widow’s mite.

That whether I have much or little, it is all for You and for Your glory <3

Holy Week – Monday <3

When I was a teenager in youth group back a century ago, our leaders did something that is only feasible in a smallish size town with one high school that your whole youth group attended.

We also didn’t have spring break around Easter, because every morning of Holy Week, we went to church early and had breakfast which was prepared by our parents, who took turns showing up even earlier so the could cook for us.

We ate and had a devotion before we piled way more kids than seat belts into whatever cars any of us had access to use and headed off to the high school.

At the time, the ride to school was probably the part that impacted me the most because… who doesn’t love the power of driving eight kids crammed into your mom’s Nova, laughing their heads off and radio blasting?

But it is the idea that we set the week apart as separate and holy from the rest of the year…this is what lingers sweet in my memory.

So I do love to recreate that memory with you each year and I never seem to have enough time to plan it well, but let’s venture into looking at the passages around Jesus’ last days on planet earth again in 2018….climb on in.

We will share a morsel of the Word and be warned.

There are not enough seatbelts in the back and you may have to cozy up to make room for everyone…but let’s do this thing…

<3

The events of Monday of Holy Week are jam-packed into all four Gospels.

As I go through the Chronological version, it reads rapid fire as Jesus starts out cursing a fig tree for not having figs, with the interesting addition of this information…”because it was not the season for figs.”

From there He cleanses the Temple of money changers and those selling animals for the sacrifice.

There are all kinds of extras’ roles for the scenes that play out from there including people coming to Him for healings and children still hyped up from the Triumphal entry praising Him and then the furrowed brows of Pharisees plotting how to stop Him without losing popularity with the crowds.

Add to this a booming voice from Heaven, audible to the masses, declaring that God’s Name is glorified and would be glorified; and we have the makings for quite a Monday.

No wonder He and the disciples opted to escape to Bethany for a good night’s sleep.

So what jumps out at me this morning from all of these passages?

Definitely the cleansing of the Temple.

Part of it would be because of one of my most listened to teachings ever, “My House Shall be a House of Prayer” when Jim Cymbala spoke at a praise gathering. I have listened to this numerous times and it never fails to move me to my feet at the end.    Including link…hope it works <3       https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=40F5wMbjugE

The other reason this passage moves me is because I have to stop and wonder how Jesus would react this fine Monday morning if He walked through the lobbies of our modern churches…or better still…how is He finding the inside of the hearts in which we have invited Him to tabernacle…to dwell.

Our churches, our homes, our lives…is He pleased when He walks through?

Is it a place where His glory is dwelling?

But it is only for me I can answer.

And so I want to ponder what He finds as He enters the street on which I live, comes up on the porch and enters the front door….what does He see and notice in my heart and in my mind…my activities and my choices today?

Because surely He is present.

I invited Him in when I traded my sin for His sanctification.

I gave Him full access to all of me, when I receive all of Him.

So I welcome the cleansing.

I invite the scourging of that which has taken up a booth space and needs to be evicted.

Lord Jesus, would you walk through the places in our hearts where we have allowed clutter and profit to push out prayer and worship? As we enter into this Holy Monday, would you visit us and cleanse away our unholiness…that we might be made whole again … whole and holy…for Your Glory <3