Tuesday, March 19 – Staying Close to the Cross

Luke 9: 22-25; 23:1,2,16,18,20,24,32,46

(Jesus) told them that the Child of Humanity must undergo much suffering, and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scholars, and be put to death, and rise on the third dau.  And to everyone he said, “If anyone wishes to walk in my steps, let them renounce self, take up their cross, and follow me.  For whoever wishes to save their life will lose it, and whoever, for my sake, loses their life—that person will save it.  What good does it do someone, if they have gained the whole world, and lost or forfeited themselves…..

Having arrested Jesus, they brought him to the governor Pilate. And they began to accuse him: “This is someone whom we found misleading our people, opposing paying taxes to the emperor, and give out that he himself is the Anointed One, a king.”…..Pilate said to them, “I will have him whipped and then release him…” But they began to shout as one, “Get rid of him…Crucify him.”…Pilate decided that their demand should be granted…. 

They crucified Jesus and the criminals…Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last…

Many of us have been raised with the impression that Jesus was the primary victim of crucifixion by the Roman empire.  This could hardly be farther from reality.  The Roman empire used crucifixion as a policy of state terror, crucifying hundreds of thousands of people.  This policy was meant to keep all of the different peoples ruled militarily by Rome in fear of violence.  Crucifixion was designed as public torture and humiliation.  It almost always happened in a highly visible public place, like a high hill, a market place, or a main intersection of two roads.  Those crucified were left to die slowly in public, and in most cases left on the cross after death so that birds could start eating at their bodies.  Most crucified victims—and very possibly Jesus—were buried in mass graves without any identification, notice to loved ones, or funeral.   When we think about Jesus crucified, it is important to think of him as one of hundreds of thousands of faceless tortured masses.

In this Lenten practice of remembering that we are not alone, we are in the shadow of two important dimensions of Jesus’ crucifixion:

1)    Jesus was not alone.  He was a part of hundreds of thousands of people in his day that were brutally terrorized and massacred by a powerful empire.  So in this case, our not being alone puts us both in the company of Jesus and countless others tortured and killed by mindless power in his day.

2)    Jesus, as seen above in the scripture, challenged people to take up their cross and follow him to this gruesome death.

Consider the following focus for your daily prayer and meditation:

Notice where you feel alone, hurt, or misunderstood.  Stay close to Jesus on the cross as your companion.

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Monday, March 18 – Anger and Crucifixion

Luke 9: 22-25; 23:1,2,16,18,20,24,32,46

(Jesus) told them that the Child of Humanity must undergo much suffering, and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scholars, and be put to death, and rise on the third dau.  And to everyone he said, “If anyone wishes to walk in my steps, let them renounce self, take up their cross, and follow me.  For whoever wishes to save their life will lose it, and whoever, for my sake, loses their life—that person will save it.  What good does it do someone, if they have gained the whole world, and lost or forfeited themselves…..

Having arrested Jesus, they brought him to the governor Pilate. And they began to accuse him: “This is someone whom we found misleading our people, opposing paying taxes to the emperor, and give out that he himself is the Anointed One, a king.”…..Pilate said to them, “I will have him whipped and then release him…” But they began to shout as one, “Get rid of him…Crucify him.”…Pilate decided that their demand should be granted…. 

They crucified Jesus and the criminals…Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last…

Many of us have been raised with the impression that Jesus was the primary victim of crucifixion by the Roman empire.  This could hardly be farther from reality.  The Roman empire used crucifixion as a policy of state terror, crucifying hundreds of thousands of people.  This policy was meant to keep all of the different peoples ruled militarily by Rome in fear of violence.  Crucifixion was designed as public torture and humiliation.  It almost always happened in a highly visible public place, like a high hill, a market place, or a main intersection of two roads.  Those crucified were left to die slowly in public, and in most cases left on the cross after death so that birds could start eating at their bodies.  Most crucified victims—and very possibly Jesus—were buried in mass graves without any identification, notice to loved ones, or funeral.   When we think about Jesus crucified, it is important to think of him as one of hundreds of thousands of faceless tortured masses.

In this Lenten practice of remembering that we are not alone, we are in the shadow of two important dimensions of Jesus’ crucifixion:

1)    Jesus was not alone.  He was a part of hundreds of thousands of people in his day that were brutally terrorized and massacred by a powerful empire.  So in this case, our not being alone puts us both in the company of Jesus and countless others tortured and killed by mindless power in his day.

2)    Jesus, as seen above in the scripture, challenged people to take up their cross and follow him to this gruesome death.

This week, please read the scripture and consider the following focus for your daily prayer and meditation:

Picture Jesus and the countless others crucified.  Feel close to him and them.  Allow yourself to be angry about this.

Saturday, March 16 – Receive the Water

Draw a bath in a room lit with candles.  Soak in the tub (filled with salts or oil), savoring the smell of the candles.  Pray.  Enjoy the feeling of the water as it nurtures you.  Receive this relaxation as a gift at the end of your day.

From In Wisdom’s Path by Jan L. Richardson

God of Ages,

To whom the hours

are nothing and everything:

May I know each moment

as a sacred guest

to be welcomed,

to be savored,

to be sent

with a blessing.

John 12:1-11

Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?” (He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.) Jesus said, “Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.” When the great crowd of the Jews learned that he was there, they came not only because of Jesus but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. So the chief priests planned to put Lazarus to death as well, since it was on account of him that many of the Jews were deserting and were believing in Jesus.

Friday, March 15 – Receive Each Moment

Take a walk and breathe in the air around you.  Attempt to let go of anxious thoughts and “to do” lists.  Listen to sounds that you encounter on your walk.  Receive each moment as a blessing of time.

From In Wisdom’s Path by Jan L. Richardson

God of Ages,

To whom the hours

are nothing and everything:

May I know each moment

as a sacred guest

to be welcomed,

to be savored,

to be sent

with a blessing.

John 12:1-11

Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?” (He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.) Jesus said, “Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.” When the great crowd of the Jews learned that he was there, they came not only because of Jesus but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. So the chief priests planned to put Lazarus to death as well, 11since it was on account of him that many of the Jews were deserting and were believing in Jesus.

Thursday, March 14 – Worth a Thousand Words

Set aside time to look at a photograph of a person who has sustained you in your life.  Let the memories of that good energy fill you.  Receive the blessing of that person.

From In Wisdom’s Path by Jan L. Richardson

God of Ages,

To whom the hours

are nothing and everything:

May I know each moment

as a sacred guest

to be welcomed,

to be savored,

to be sent

with a blessing.

John 12:1-11

Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?” (He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.) Jesus said, “Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.” When the great crowd of the Jews learned that he was there, they came not only because of Jesus but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. So the chief priests planned to put Lazarus to death as well, 11since it was on account of him that many of the Jews were deserting and were believing in Jesus.

Wednesday, March 12 – Nurture Yourself

Prepare a meal that will nurture you.  Eat it slowly with a grateful heart.  Receive the blessing of the good food in your body.

From In Wisdom’s Path by Jan L. Richardson

God of Ages,

To whom the hours

are nothing and everything:

May I know each moment

as a sacred guest

to be welcomed,

to be savored,

to be sent

with a blessing.

John 12:1-11

Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?” (He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.) Jesus said, “Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.” When the great crowd of the Jews learned that he was there, they came not only because of Jesus but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. So the chief priests planned to put Lazarus to death as well, 11since it was on account of him that many of the Jews were deserting and were believing in Jesus.

Tuesday, March 12 – Allow Yourself to Receive Help

Notice each time someone offers to help you today.  Resist the urge to say that you do not need help.  It may feel unnatural to you; you may need to hesitate before saying yes.  You may first refuse the help, but with intention to go against your usual response, change your mind and agree to receive the help.  Following this occasion, think about how receiving help made you feel.

From In Wisdom’s Path by Jan L. Richardson

God of Ages,

To whom the hours

are nothing and everything:

May I know each moment

as a sacred guest

to be welcomed,

to be savored,

to be sent

with a blessing.

John 12:1-11

Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?” (He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.) Jesus said, “Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.” When the great crowd of the Jews learned that he was there, they came not only because of Jesus but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. So the chief priests planned to put Lazarus to death as well, 11since it was on account of him that many of the Jews were deserting and were believing in Jesus.

 

Monday, March 11 – Receiving

John 12:1-11

Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?” (He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.) Jesus said, “Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.” When the great crowd of the Jews learned that he was there, they came not only because of Jesus but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. So the chief priests planned to put Lazarus to death as well, 11since it was on account of him that many of the Jews were deserting and were believing in Jesus.

From In Wisdom’s Path by Jan L. Richardson

God of Ages,

To whom the hours

are nothing and everything:

 

May I know each moment

as a sacred guest

to be welcomed,

to be savored,

to be sent

with a blessing.

By week four of Lent, we have settled in.  We are in the thick of it, heavy with the emotions of this season, seeking help and companionship.  The scripture text this week, then, takes a surprising turn; instead of the temptation, terror, and grief of the weeks before, we are surprised by an opulent gift, full of generosity.  Jesus receives Mary’s gift—he does not chastise her, begrudging her the joy of caring for him, nor does he think that her gift is foolish.  He receives it.  It seems simple enough.  Doesn’t it?

How often do we deny those who wish to nurture us?  How often do we say no to our own need/wish to nurture our self?  Jesus can companion us as we allow ourselves to be nurtured.  We can imagine this story of Mary and Jesus as we enable ourselves to receive the blessings of each moment.  The message this week is to receive.  Let go.  Allow.  Release to the gift.

Saturday, March 9 – More Light

Could Be Lifted by Hafiz

If you knew the end of your story, nothing on

Any page—not one of your dramas, could bother

You as much.

 

If you knew the glorious end of your journey,

At least half of your attention could be lifted

From anything you can now focus on that may cause you pain.

 

His hand is like that, when it is realized near,

It will always turn your gaze in the direction

Of more light.

We don’t know the end of our story, but we do know God walks beside us throughout our journey.  Where in your life can you remember to allow God’s grace to turn your gaze in the direction of more light? 

Luke 13:31-35

At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to him, “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.” He said to them, “Go and tell that fox for me, ‘Listen, I am casting out demons and performing cures today and tomorrow, and on the third day I finish my work. Yet today, tomorrow, and the next day I must be on my way, because it is impossible for a prophet to be killed outside of Jerusalem.’ Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you. And I tell you, you will not see me until the time comes when you say, ‘Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.’”

Friday, March 8 – An Open Heart

Keep your heart open, even when you can’t have what you want.  It’s easy to keep our heart open to life’s magic and all its possibilities when we have what we want.  It’s more of a challenge, and more necessary than ever, to keep our hearts open when we can have what we want.  Even on the best journey, things happen.  Plans change.  Things shift and move around.  This shifting and moving causes doors to close, relationships to end, blocks and frustrations to appear on our path.  For now, that is what we see.  For now, what we know is disappointment.  We can’t have what we want, and it hurts.  When that happens, our tendency may be to shut down, close our hearts, forget all we’ve learned.  Keep your heart open anyway.  Consciously choose to do that.  Yes, you can go away, you can leave, you can shut down, but you don’t need to.  Now is a turning point.  If you choose to open your heart, even when you can’t have what you want, miracles will unfold.  –Melody Beattie

To what mystery can you open your heart today?

Luke 13:31-35

At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to him, “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.” He said to them, “Go and tell that fox for me, ‘Listen, I am casting out demons and performing cures today and tomorrow, and on the third day I finish my work. Yet today, tomorrow, and the next day I must be on my way, because it is impossible for a prophet to be killed outside of Jerusalem.’ Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you. And I tell you, you will not see me until the time comes when you say, ‘Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.’”