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.

The Horrible, Impossible, God-given Task

To Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church.                                                                                                 Ephesians 3:20

To Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine…

Numbers 11 recalls how the Israelites suffered from God’s gracious gifts.  They suffered from a condition called Freedom.  It relates how wretched it was to be fed miraculously, enough for 600,000 men and their families and livestock, in a desert place where little grows.

It’s easy to be facetious.

Their grumblings are just words on paper; easily mocked from our arm-chair critique.

Maybe their complaints were just.

Hard labor never hurt anyone.

There are perks to slavery: access to civilization, culture, the spoils of prosperity. If you can be content with no sense of self, no heritage and no legacy, slavery can be quite enjoyable.

Here in the desert no one is cracking a whip, sure, but the Sun is more exhausting than the hardest task master.  Mile upon slow moving mile, can any footwear drive away the heat or the rocky punishment of the ground?

In slavery there were daily goals.  Objectives.  A sense of mission accomplished.  A reason to get up in the morning.  Grumbling about oppression and voicelessness seemed more palatable over well-seasoned fish, salad and fruit.

In Egypt, being slaves, we are united by our shared suffering.

In the Wilderness, being free, we are divided by a suffering we own and cannot blame on another.

Personal responsibility is the hardest task master of all.

Being unable to imagine freedom, we stop asking for it.  To suddenly have personal freedom thrust upon us– that is a type of suffering we rarely consider.  Even with start-up capital and sustenance graciously supplied in abundance, the life adjustment is a wild-fire before an earthquake followed by a flood.

There is a reason it is immeasurably more than all I can ask or imagine.

I’m not prepared to accept it; not equipped to receive it.

It’s just too much.

Overwhelmed.

Maybe their complaints were just.

Dying of dehydration they grumble against those with running water only to wake up drowning.  

…according to His power which is at work within us…

Enter Moses.

Pitiable lifeguard at the public swimming pool of personal responsibility for the Israelites.

I can’t feed all these people.

I can’t be personally responsible for them all!

This is the horrible, impossible, God-given task.

Moses has some serious situational depression going on.

He can’t make everyone happy.

Convinced that God thinks he’s a failure,

his resignation is vocally penned with acid in the acrid words:

put me to death right now — if I have found favor in your eyes — and do not let me face my own ruin.

Then

Right there

in the middle of the pool

as the life guard, Moses,

is being taken under by a drowning man’s survival grip

an amazing thing happens.

Leaders emerge.

70 elders

They gather at the tent of meeting where Moses speaks with God.

Experiencing God as Moses does, they see what Moses sees, know what Moses knows.

Oh, that?

That’s not the amazing thing.

Help is always around us.  New leadership is developing as these words scroll past.  Veteran leadership waits in the wings for an ear willing to hear.

Leadership hinders us, daily, like heavy traffic — if you care to notice.

Oh.  You didn’t notice?  Too busy trying to get to that place or do that thing or leave somewhere never to return again?

Veterans of the highway are all around you.  Fellow sojourners. Vehicle masters. Communication experts. Entertainment program directors.  Everything you need for a long journey into a promised land surrounds you every second.

The amazing thing is the less obvious thing.

The Spirit of God was placed on each of 70 leaders.

This was not a new, divine anointing from some ethereal container but a portion of the Spirit that was already with Moses.

The Spirit of God with Moses was sufficient in measure  to inspire 70 other men.  

Is the Lord’s arm too short?

The people around you– the church– the congregation of God’s people– help carry the burden of our responsibility for one another.

The power of God already present and sufficient to bring us into a promised land.

Moses said, “I wish that all the Lord’s people were prophets and that the Lord would put His Spirit on them!”

I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophecy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions…and everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved…there will be deliverance…  –Joel 2:28-32

…to Him be glory in the church. Amen.