Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Holy Week Reflections: Sanhedrin


“If he were not a criminal,” they replied, “we would not have handed him over to you.”

John 18:30

Trumped up charges. Deception. Misinformation. Half truths. Embellishments. Lies. Lies. Lies.

A reflection of modern day culture.

Lies. 

"We cripple ourselves with lies." - Jim Morrison 

Lies are cowardly and weak because we use them as a weapon which the other person cannot see. It's covert destruction. Incognito weapons of mass deception.

The origin of lies? Selfishness. The culprit? Culture.  

We live in a culture that teaches us from the very earliest years to look of for number one. We grow up with a self-centered mentality that learns to defend itself at any cost. The means of self-preservation become irrelevant. And lies become one of the means that causes the most pain. Not only do lies destroy the victim, they eventually destroy us as well. We can only get so much blood on our hands before someone notices.

Then you become branded:  LIAR

You become a member of the Sanhedrin.

"Crucify him!" because.... "A lie cannot live" - Martin Luther King Jr.  Lies lead to death.

"What is truth?" - Pontius Pilate

 "I am the....truth."

Jesus came into this world as the quintessential example of truth. When the world is presented with absolute truth, nothing can distort the truth but lies, because truth is truth. By lies, distortions, half truths and deception, Christ was presented as a criminal to be accused so that those in power would not be.  Lies led to death.

"Let's get him, before he gets us!"  

Lies cannot exist during Lent, because Lent is about self-evaluation. If we lie, we only lie to ourselves. Lent is a mirror, more clear than any reflection we can behold. Lent is about presenting the truth, not of others, but ourselves. If we lie, we don't falsely accuse someone else, we falsely accuse ourselves.

Lies lead to death. But through Him, we have life. 

Lord, You who were falsely accused, guide us in perfect truth as we make our way through this season of Lent. Help us to choose truth, not lies. Help us to choose life, not death. Help us to reflect complete truth to ourselves so that we can come before you completely blameless. And in doing so, help us to reveal truth to a culture built on a foundation of lies. Amen    

Monday, March 30, 2015

Lenten Reflections: Holy Week


"The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, "Hosanna to the Son of David!" "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!" "Hosanna in the highest heaven!" 

Matthew 21:9

Saturday night, the lights of the city were in view. 

JERUSALEM: Next Exit

We stretch our legs and cast off the dust that we had been carrying for 40 days.

Our long journey will soon come to an end.

It's been a "long and winding road", hasn't it?

Palm Sunday. The embodiment of Lent and all that we've been through and experienced. Utmost joy and deepest pain rolled into one. Celebration and mourning. Two birds killed with one stone.

The overwhelming welcome for Jesus and His followers would soon give way to a roller coaster ride of events and emotions that would leave Jesus rejected, beaten and killed, and the disciples scattered, confused, dejected and terrified. They had no idea what was to come.

A joyous "Hosanna!" would soon morph into a bitter and cynical "Crucify!"

The one they called "Messiah" and begged, "Save us!", would soon become someone that they saw no salvation in whatsoever.

We are no different. Standing at the gates of Jerusalem, cheering with self-righteous cries of group-think, we change what and where we find our salvation.

Yesterday morning we shouted, "Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord." 

This week we'll join the crowds: "Crucify Him!"     

Lent will soon come to an end. We will cast off the dust that we've carried since Ash Wednesday. Our mourning will turn to joy. Celebration. Culmination. Long awaited redemption.

But reality stares us in the face with those who rejoiced over 2000 years ago. Rejoicing is short lived and transparent.

We join the crowds. We condemn. We spit. We beat and torture. We crucify.

Let's not kid ourselves. We still have a few difficult days ahead of us. Have we learned enough from Lent to carry us to Golgotha? I can see it in the distance. Can you? Does Christ look better to us on his thrown, or on the cross?  

Lord, as we join with the crowds in declaring, "Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.", help us to not turn our backs. Help us not join the crowds. Help us to stand on our own if we have to. We know how easy it is to follow others, even when it means betraying You. Keep us close. Let us suffer with You as we celebrate as well. Because it is in our suffering that we find our perfect joy. Amen 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Prayer of St. Patrick

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness
of the Creator of creation.


I arise today
Through the strength of Christ's birth with His baptism,
Through the strength of His crucifixion with His burial,
Through the strength of His resurrection with His ascension,
Through the strength of His descent for the judgment of doom.


I arise today
Through the strength of the love of cherubim,
In the obedience of angels,
In the service of archangels,
In the hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
In the prayers of patriarchs,
In the predictions of prophets,
In the preaching of apostles,
In the faith of confessors,
In the innocence of holy virgins,
In the deeds of righteous men.


I arise today, through
The strength of heaven,
The light of the sun,
The radiance of the moon,
The splendor of fire,
The speed of lightning,
The swiftness of wind,
The depth of the sea,
The stability of the earth,
The firmness of rock.


I arise today, through
God's strength to pilot me,
God's might to uphold me,
God's wisdom to guide me,
God's eye to look before me,
God's ear to hear me,
God's word to speak for me,
God's hand to guard me,
God's shield to protect me,
God's host to save me
From snares of devils,
From temptation of vices,
From everyone who shall wish me ill,
afar and near.


I summon today
All these powers between me and those evils,
Against every cruel and merciless power
that may oppose my body and soul,
Against incantations of false prophets,
Against black laws of pagandom,
Against false laws of heretics,
Against craft of idolatry,
Against spells of witches and smiths and wizards,
Against every knowledge that corrupts man's body and soul;
Christ to shield me today
Against poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against wounding,
So that there may come to me an abundance of reward.


Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Lenten Reflections: Forth Sunday of Lent

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."

Matthew 11:28

We've been together on this journey of Lent for quite some time now. Four weeks are now in the rear view mirror. Four weeks under our feet. The soles of our shoes are wearing thin. The dust is building up on our hands and our faces are red from the sun. 

From Ash Wednesday to this point, we've faced the difficult aspects of who we are.  That's what Lent is all about.

Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust.

We've been humiliated, faced violence, been accused and found guilty, all by simply looking in the mirror. We've confronted our own demons of pride, selfishness, arrogance, lies, deception and looked in the face of death. We're tired. We feel the exhaustion that inevitably comes from the miles of a difficult and long journey.

But unity keeps us going. 

We're together.

United as one Body: The Body of the One we journey to meet in a few weeks, naked as we are. Resurrected and unashamed.

We unite with Him on Easter, but we've still got quite a ways to go.     

Lent can be an exhausting journey. We face things that stir up deep emotions within. Whether emotional, physical or spiritual, we all feel the miles that we've covered. 

Weary and burdened.

But today we rest....

Breath

Stretch

Sleep
 
Eat

Drink

Laugh

Celebrate

Embrace

Commune  

Today we rest.

Lord, today we rest and celebrate you. We put aside our burdens, rest our weary bones and reflect on your goodness; your grace, mercy and your love for us. Enable us to rest. Help us to turn off the distractions and refresh our minds, bodies and spirits.  Today we rest in you. Amen   

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Lenten Reflections: Naked

"...just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too.."

Romans 6:4 

Resurrection

Redemption

Hope

Restoration

Life eternal


These truths stand naked in front of us, just as Christ stood naked before our eyes on Easter morning. In truth, there is no room for covering up. We create spiritual clothing. Coverings to shield the world from who we really are. Coverings act as barriers between God and humanity. Coverings act as barriers between ourselves and others. A shirt of pride. Pants of arrogance. A dress made of fear. Shoes of selfishness. A suit of individualism. 

Coverings conceal our shame so that the true self is kept from being revealed. 

Within the Kingdom of God we all stand naked. Truth becomes obsolete because we no longer need to seek it's definition. Truth simply is what is: Truth is truth.

Through Christ truth is simply reality. Coverings fall to the floor and we stand completely unashamed before God and others. Complete unity exists when there is nothing between us. 

Just as Christ stood naked, raised from the depths of the earth, we too will one day stand naked, raised from the earth. 

Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust.

Lent reveals to us the coverings that we adorn. As we make our way through the Lenten season, we hope to loose these coverings, one by one. As we approach Easter, we embrace more truth about ourselves and others, so that as the sun rises on Sunday, we will rise with Christ; naked and unashamed. 

Lord, we cover ourselves with spiritual clothing. Coverings that hide the true self. Coverings that lie and avoid the truth. As we move closer to Easter Sunday, enable each of us to shed any coverings that hide the true person that we are in you, so that with you we may stand naked and resurrected. Amen