Broken

Mary arrived early at the tomb to clean up the broken body;

wrap it with soft cloth and spice.

Jesus forbad it.

       Hands off.        Don’t touch.

Broken punctured twisted bloodied naked shredded skin

A glorified body

presented to God in all its brokenness

visible to friends: see my hands, my feet, my side

Don’t hold on to me, Mary.

The world must see me just like this.

You cannot clean him up, Mary.

Let’s all stop trying to wash away the blood

and spice up the body broken.

Lest we all start believing the lie that people are basically good…

That the arc of human nature bends toward justice…

It is the disfigured figure of innocence savagedly razed to life

that testifies against the human race: a depraved race.

Holy Love embodied walks on calloused heels searching out the concentration camps of the soul:

unblinded eyes see the self-haters forgiven who embrace the leprosy-free as they dance with the lame-no-more.

Only one punishment to fit this crime against humanity:

Crucify Him.

No, Mary, you cannot clean him up.

      We must see Him as he is

as we made him

         or we will never believe it is true –

                        in denial

that we are the darkness we fear

               disguised as angels of light.

BrokenBody

Creator of the universe,
you made the world in beauty,
and restore all things in glory
through the victory of Jesus Christ.
We pray that, wherever your image is still disfigured
by poverty, sickness, selfishness, war and greed,
the new creation in Jesus Christ may appear in justice, love, and peace,
to the glory of your name. Amen.*

*Revised Common Lectionary, Vanderbilt Divinity Library (online)

Source: http://lectionary.library.vanderbilt.edu/prayers.php?id=87

Why Are You Weeping? Whom Are You Seeking?

Image

John 20:12-16

New American Standard Bible (NASB)

and she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and one at the feet, where the body of Jesus had been lying.  And they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.” When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus.  Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing Him to be the gardener, she  said to Him, “Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him, and I will take Him away.”  Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to Him in Hebrew, “Rabboni!” (which means, Teacher).

Why are you weeping?

Why are you weeping?

Each tear has a name, you know, for every pain

every loss, each hurt; all fears.

Those tears are recorded stories.

What do they say —

about love lost

or

life lost?

Mary, why are you weeping?

She was set free, you know.

Delivered.

Rescued

from a gang of dark spirits.

Now her Savior is gone.

Will they return?  What happens if they do? Who will defend her then?

Why are you weeping?

Well,

this tear is for fear of the dark, and the things that move in it.

The one trickling close behind swells with the anger born from abuse:  by men; being used by men.

From the other eye streaks one for the ladies.  

You know the ones.

They begin as mean girls and grow up to be wicked women

whose words bruise deeper than any man’s hand.

Why are you weeping?

For years lost

and

deep regrets

Not just two tears — but a tear for every lost year and every guilty regret.

Tears fall the more; falling still.

Mary weeps till her face glistens; bathed in the anguish of

depression

oppression

shunning

and

hate.

O why are you weeping, Mary?

And not one

Not nearly one tear

but a crowd of tears welling up into those crying eyes

for the One that was lost.

He once spoke of a lost lamb

worth more than 99.

Who knew He would become the Lamb that was Lost.

5,000 tears gather like a crowd in a valley

hungry

to hear the words of life pour from his lips.

Mary, why are you weeping?

For his smile.  Those eyes.  A voice resounding over sea storms

or

whispering life across miles to a child who has died.

Mary, why are you weeping?

For a life in shambles.

Never did anything right. Always.

Always

the wrong place

the wrong time

the wrong friends

the wrong side of the tracks

the wrong choices

Mary, why are you weeping?

He was her closest and truest friend.  The best of us.  He deserved a proper burial.

Don’t        

you        

understand?

It was the best we could do.  

           Sabbath was about to begin.  

This tomb was close.

           It was free.

We had no where else to take him.

She wanted to do right, for His sake.

Couldn’t even wrap him right.

Couldn’t even bathe him in fragrance.

          Always doing it wrong.

Here now, to finish the job

He’s gone.

Why are you weeping?

Do you know where he is?

Why are you weeping?

I’ll take him away!

          Why are you weeping?

                          Whom are you seeking?

Mary,

Whom are you seeking?

Relationships aren’t crutches.

They are Leg 1 and Leg 2 that gives the power to

stand up straight

move forward

jump for joy

But you have to know who it is you’re looking for… and why.

Whom are you seeking?

Some search for a lawyer type.  Someone who will defend and justify even our bad behavior.

Some look for a policeman.  Someone to enforce rules on them because they can’t police themselves.

But some,

some are searching for a helper… a teacher… a guide.

and will settle for a “gardener” —  a custodian of the dead spaces and dark places.

Someone who can offer directions, knows the markers, understands the graveyard layout.

Whom are you seeking?

Convinced that no one understands.

Sure that somebody got here just ahead of you—

taking what is rightfully yours

hiding it

abusing it

losing it

Just whom are you seeking?

If you’ve taken him away  — tell me where!

A gardener knows his way around these

tombs

Markers of forgotten memories

Resting places of lost loves and lives lost

Those sad, stone faces of dreams that died too soon.

Whom are you seeking?

Crying over an empty tomb.  What will a gardener do?

Or

Does your Hope demand something more?

A substance for Faith; Love actually:  that is, a real love that never quits

and can’t be extinguished by

mistakes or immaturity

not by torture

not even by Death.

Whom are you seeking?

Mary is here.

And He is there — standing just behind.

Blinded.

A tear drenched, swollen eyed blindness.

Sobbing over a persisting pain of the present moment.

Today’s tears prevent her from seeing clear — from seeing Him

from seeing the promise of Life more abundant

standing near

standing there — just an arm’s length away.

Whom are you seeking?

Would it surprise you to learn that the One for whom you are searching

is searching for you

“Mary”

Why do you weep?

       Whom do you seek?

Our Hope is in Him

Jesus

Through whom we are introduced, by Faith, into Grace

St. Paul — Romans 5:5

And Hope does not disappoint because the Love of God has been poured out

over us…through us…within us…by the Holy Spirit

And while we were still helpless

Christ assumed our helpless state

and by the great Mercy of God He has caused us to be born again to a living Hope

through the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

St. Peter — 1 Peter

Some say “a crutch”.

I say two legs

to stand on

two legs

to move forward in faith

two legs to jump for joy!

We find Joy in suffering.

Not because we are crazy or lie to ourselves.

But because hell moments reveal the face of Grace.

Through red, swollen eyes we will see one we mistook for a gardener

becomes the one who saves;

turns out to be the one we’ve been looking for all along.

Faith, tested by hardship and trouble and pain is purer, stronger stuff.

And though you have not seen Him, you Love Him,

and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him,

you dance with an

inexplicable

inexpressible

irrepressible

Joy

Full of Glory!            Full of Glory!           Full of Glory!

Your tears are mourning blessed to comfort

Blessed are those, too, who seek, for they will find!

—Or should I say, He found you, weeping and seeking —

The Soul saving One

Jesus.

Messiah.

To Kiss the Face of God

To be loved is one thing.

To be certain of love is something else.

Words,

Gestures:

Impotent.

Useless.

unless —

linked to a

  Truth.sunrising_holdinghands

Actuality.

Something so reliable it goes without saying:

like, “The Sun will rise tomorrow.”

 

Can I know that God loves me?

More –

Can I know that God loves me now?

God Gives me daily bread. Essentials provided.

Nice. But easily placed under the column heading: moral obligation

What about gifts?  God’s favor and blessing!

Sweet. But if it comes from the surplus of your power, resources, time…

it is only a hand-me-down of the forgotten, easily discarded at the outskirts of

your heart

your passion

your self

Well, what do you want from me?

Something that doesn’t part from you easily

Something that costs you something

Puts you at risk

Awkward

Endangered

A statement that I or they are worth the counter-intuitive, reckless, self denying

action

How do I know God loves me?

That God loves me even now?

Communion.  The  Lord’s Supper.  

True food.  True drink.

A broken body.

A life laid down.

Bleeding.

Broken.

Humiliated – publicly.

The sacrificial

act

of God’s unrelenting love for you

God loves  you.  Loves you now.

In this moment

this same crisis, failure, unlovable-worthless-wreck-of-a-life moment.

 

Don’t think too much on it:
this gesture that embodies the act

Just close your eyes

and receive it…

By receiving communion, we lean into the One who is already leaning in toward us.

God kisses.

We are kissed

with a sacrament that speaks louder than words.

 

communion

 

Undercover Boss

Hebrews 2:

For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it

Drift away.

Glide aside.

Hydroplaning is different from aquaplaning.

Hydroplaning is where water wedges the road away from the tire.

Traction is lost.

Control is gone.

Hopeless.

Aquaplaning is what happens when the rain first begins.

Oils from the road rise to the surface.

The wet, oily road reduces traction.

The car seems to have a mind of its own.

Controllable.  Still, left to its own, its destination is disaster.

Difficult but not without hope.

Just enough had gotten between where the rubber meets the road in early Christianity that the author of Hebrews cries out for course correction.

Christian, take the wheel.

Try to explain the God-Man concept and you’ll find yourself drifting, quite naturally, to the left or the right.

One side claims Jesus is a glorified angel.  A celestial being who went to the Olympics of God’s will on the Earth and came home with the gold.  Maybe Michael the Archangel.  Maybe some other unnamed angelic triathlete.

The other supposes Jesus is an exalted man.  One man, out of the entire history of humanity emerges from the human race with a perfect time and no points deducted.

Oh glory.

Now, he gets to sit in judgment over all of us.

The one guy who managed to be perfect.

This does not bode well.

 For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just penalty,  how will we escape…

Our only hope of escape is that neither of those two options is true.

Angels couldn’t possibly understand us and would never judge our actions in any merciful way.

Humans are self absorbed power mongers.  No human, exalted or not, will share glory.

...if we neglect so great a salvation?

This is what makes this salvation such a great salvation.

Our savior is neither a glorified angel nor an exalted man, but a self-humbling God who became one of us in order to save us.

 After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard, God also testifying with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by  gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will.

Undercover Boss.

Bill Executive becomes Joe Worker.

They spend approximately one week undercover, working in various areas of their company operations, with a different job and in most cases a different location each day. They are exposed to a series of predicaments with amusing results, and invariably spend time getting to know the people who work in the company, learning about their professional and personal challenges.

At the end of their week undercover, the executives return to their true identity and request the employees they worked with individually to corporate headquarters. The bosses reveal their identity, and reward hard-working employees through promotion, or financial rewards, while other employees are given training or better working conditions.

It’s not about spying on workers.

Let’s see if they’re following company policy.

It is meant to explore life through the eyes of the common laborer who banks all their future and present on the means and benefits provided by this business.

It’s about better understanding the employee so that together, worker and executive, build a better company.

But we do see Him who was made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone.

For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the  author of their salvation through sufferings.

To experience what it is to be the one who

— strains under the impossible task

–is tempted to cheat the company

— believes that no one in the ivory tower cares; abandoned, judged.

–lives in fear of being terminated…

Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives. 

To be that guy:

poorly trained, under supported, asked to do the impossible, then let go at the time clock, walked out the back door…

humiliated.

Don’t you know who I am?

Don’t you know all this is mine?

You don’t understand the power and influence I wield.

“Good luck in all your future endeavors.”

He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.

What a tragedy it would be to

neglect

reject

ignore

abandon

to glide aside from so great a salvation.

Question: What could be better than knowing, personally, the one who sits in the chair of the CEO?

Answer:  Being known, personally, by the one who sits in the chair of the CEO.

That makes the Big Boss

Merciful — to your situation

Committed — to building the business by empowering you to achieve greater.

Hands on the wheel.

The rain is falling harder now.

Don’t miss the straight and narrow that runs right down the middle of the road.

Jesus Christ was God in the flesh.

Hands on the wheel.

Saved.