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Thursday, April 7, 2011

Episode 40: April 17 - An Opportune Time

This could be the moment.

There may be another chance in the garden.
But this just might be the opportune time.

When the temptations in the wilderness were
finished (or so it appeared) 
Luke tells us the devil “departed from him
until an opportune time.”                                                (Luke 4:13)
One of the more menacing lines in Scripture.

What kind of time is opportune?
When is one vulnerable to temptation?

When you are down:
      in need, in trouble, in desperation.
      You’ll do anything to get a way up.
      Or try any escape to find a way out.
Jesus already passed that one.
      How down and desperate was he after
      starving for 40 days.

When you are in the middle.
      Life is good.  Life is smooth.
      You’re guard is down.
      You can wander off track before you know it
Jesus passed that one everyday.
      He was always alert to whatever tricks
      anyone might throw his way.

When you are up.
      Riding the crest of the wave.
      Everybody loves you. You can do no wrong. 
      Or can you?
This is the opportune moment to catch Jesus.
      Ride that wave.  Listen to the crowds.
      Give them what they want.  They’ll make you a king.
      Wear that crown and lead the march to victory.
      Come on, Jesus.  Hosanna! 

“Then he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple,
and when he had looked around at everything…
he went out to Bethany with the twelve.”                      (Mark 11:11)

No rally?  No stirring speech?  No demonstration?
What a missed opportunity.  No.
There was no giving in to the opportune moment 
that would have tempted him away from his true mission.

I wish I had that kind of restraint.
I wish I had that kind of trust in God.
To be able to understand that
what looks like a moment of opportunity
is in fact a distraction
from the true path.

Episode 39: April 16 - One

would not want
to compare the will of
to a broad path.
at times it seems
there is room
to meander a little
going outside the boundaries.

At other times
the path narrows.
rise on the sides.
There is only
one way to go.

might choose not
to go at all,
for that invisible hand
placed firmly
in the small of the back
pressing forward.

doesn’t talk much,
at times
there is no doubt
what God is saying.

(Bonus question:  Is this about us, or about
Jesus facing Palm Sunday?  Or both?)

Episode 38: April 15 - Transition

Walking out of the garden,
Adam said to Eve,
"We are living in a time of transition."

History is measured
between the times of transition.
But today transitions come so fast
there is no time in between
to measure.

We have spoken of God
as the God of stability:
—the rock
—the fortress
—the mountain.
Where is God now?

God is also the God of transitions
who led Abraham and Sarah
Miriam and Moses
into new lands,
and called
Magdalene, Peter and Paul
into a new age.

Don't worry!
God does not fear change,
God initiates it!
"Go...I am with you."

Episode 37: April 14 - What Gets In My Way?

What will other people think?
Is anybody looking?

It’s not what other people will think.
It’s what I think
other people will think.

nobody is paying that much attention.
But just in case they are
I better be careful.

So in order to avoid
doing something someone might be
upset by.
I miss the chance of
doing some things someone might be
benefitted by.

It occurs to me
it is pretty much impossible
to love as Jesus loved
if worrying about what other people think
gets in the way.

Episode 36: April 13 - Do Something About It

What on earth is going on?
And why doesn't God do
something about it?

To which God replies,
"What on earth is going on?
And why don't you people do
something about it?"

Well, it's not my fault
the world is in such a mess.
I didn't do anything.

"Precisely my point!"
replies God.
"The world is
going to hell in a bucket
because you think it is not.
Because you think it is not
your responsibility
to do something about it."

What on earth
are we going to do?
God, save your people!

God rephrases:
"What are you going to do,
my people,
to save the earth?"

We are waiting for God
to step into the world and do
something about it.
And God will!
God is waiting for us
who live in the world to do
something about it.

Episode 35: April 12 - Jack

I only knew him for a few months.
We worked together on a building project.
For a mission.
A shelter for homeless travelers.
He could have been one himself.
His life had not been easy.

"It's a little disturbing."
He confided one day.
"It's the first time in my life
I haven't had an ulterior reason
for what I'm doing.
It isn't for religion either."

Good, I said to myself
Now you're getting the idea.
Jesus' idea.
Jesus was against
ulterior motives.  Including
religious ulterior motives

Doing something for somebody else
so I can get something from them
is ulterior.  So is
doing something for somebody else
so I can get something from God.

Jesus' idea was
doing something for somebody else
because that person-needs it.
That's all.
Not to be rewarded, even by God.

It was a strange idea Jesus had.
If we catch ourselves actually doing it
it's usually a little disturbing.

Episode 34: April 11 - Evidence

"Nobody loves me anymore."
She spoke from the bed that is
now her home.

"That's not true,"
I wanted to reply.
But I couldn't.
What evidence do I have?

She has evidence.
Those who used to love her
are gone.
Every long day that passes
without a visitor
is evidence
that nobody loves her anymore.

"Some people still love you.”
I could say it . . .
but can I prove it?
Who will give the evidence:
a visit,
a card,
maybe even a flower?

"What reason do I have to live?"
she asked,
Maybe the reason
is so we can learn
how to say,
"I love you"
not just with words
but with evidence.

What is her name?
She has many names.
You probably know one of them.