Jesus Wept

jesus-wept

Lord Jesus, would You please reply

The world’s in strife, You can’t deny

We turn away from Your commands

And scorn becomes our newest stand; I hear You cry.

 

For those who still in grace believe

We ask Your healing to receive

For who from love will abdicate

Whose nations turn from love to hate; we hear You grieve.

 

Your Body now asunder torn

From accusation now is worn

The ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ denouncing calls

Not grace or love, no light at all; I hear You mourn.

 

It seems majority’s content

To claim their turf, in fact resent

Such talk of love, and grace they shun;

A pity too, because there’s none heed Your lament.

 

In spite of odds, hear Spirit deep

This gift of love and grace to keep

…and as we pray for open hearts

The gap continues, miles apart. And Jesus weeps.

A Line in the Sand

or – Our Three Denials

Line in the Sand

Often, we Christians draw a line in sand around political issues we mistake for biblical issues. Abortion, homosexuality, gun control, Muslims, Israel. Certainly we can find isolated Bible verses that support our position; we quote them often enough. I admit I have.

But I’m here to tell you I’m a red-letter kind of gal. And when I want Truth, I go back to those red letters in my Bible time and time again. And as I reread them and ask the Spirit for clarity to understand them, I continue to see, over and over, the three lines in the sand Jesus drew.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Matthew 5:43-45, Luke 6:27)

As we continue to vilify all who are not like us, treat “them” like groups who need to be condemned, isolated, in some cases obliterated, we act in fear. But Jesus calls us to act in love. He calls us to pray for enemies, whoever we might consider to be a foe, whether a rival, assailant, detractor, terrorist or sinner. We are called to be more than our basest instincts chain us to be.

“I was hungry, and you gave me nothing to eat. I was thirsty, and you gave me nothing to drink. I was a stranger, and you didn’t take me into your homes. I needed clothes, and you didn’t give me anything to wear. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t take care of me. They, too, will ask, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or as a stranger or in need of clothes or sick or in prison and didn’t help you?’ ‘I can guarantee this truth: Whatever you failed to do for one of my brothers or sisters, no matter how unimportant they seemed, you failed to do for me.” (Matthew 25:42-45)

Exactly how many starving immigrants do we have to deny from our warm, spacious homes? How many millions of refugees fleeing for their lives will continue to wander in deserts, in oceans with no opportunity for safety? How many hundreds of thousands of children will have to die before we allow the Holy Spirit to transform our hearts from fear to love?

“So I give you a new command: Love each other deeply and fully. Remember the ways that I have loved you, and demonstrate your love for others in those same ways. Everyone will know you as My followers if you demonstrate your love to others.” (John 13:34-35)

How can we say we love Jesus if we turn our backs on His words? How we can we say we follow Him if we refuse to stand with Him? Peter denied Jesus three times, but that was before he knew what we know. Before the Holy Spirit took up residence in him. Before Jesus allowed him to declare his love three times face to face to repent of those denials.

We need to stop condemning, stop finger-pointing and extend the same loving, grace-filled invitation Jesus extended to Levi the tax collector. And break bread at the same table.

In the face of those lines in the sand, will we continue to deny Jesus three times over and over knowing what we know?

Listen, Hear and Experience

Sermon on the Mount

From one CSF (Church Set Free) member to another to me, thinking on Jesus, meditating on Scripture, I picked up on one that swirled around in one member’s head and a comment someone else made: “To ‘hear’ was to ‘believe’ and to ‘believe’ was to ‘experience.’ This is how community spreads wisdom and support and love. Thank you, Paul and Don.

Jesus began his Sermon on the Mount by waiting for his followers to listen.

Seeing the crowds, Jesus went up on the mountainside; and when he had sat down, his disciples came to him. Matthew 5:1

As a former elementary school teacher, I always identify with this verse.

I would look out at my charges, a bit rowdy, having just followed me into the classroom from recess, yet anxious to learn. It was important to settle them, get their attention, because I was going to teach them something they hadn’t heard before, a new concept.

Often, instead of standing in front of the class to lecture them, I would walk over to the carpeted area, filled with comfortable pillows. It was a quiet nook, an alcove they knew was special. It was a place where they could nestle in and listen to my words.

As I sat in an old rocker, the room became quiet. They would wait in anticipation as I signaled them over, section by section. They padded over with soft steps, taking a pillow, voices nearly inaudible, while the others arrived. When I spoke, it was in a low voice. They paid attention, wanting to hear every word.

Because they listened and heard, they experienced the lessons at a deeper level. They thirsted to know, and caught on quickly. When it was time to undertake the lesson, they worked in pairs or trios and helped each other with the assignment. Application and community.

“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” Luke 6:27-28

When will we, as rowdy, reactive adults, slow down long enough to settle in and listen? When will we quiet our voices, opinions and feelings of entitlement long enough to truly hear? When will we allow ourselves to experience the message of Jesus at a deeper level?

When will we surrender ourselves to apply his words and create community instead of division?

How long will it take for us to listen to His words, really hear them, and experience how wide, how long, how high and how deep God’s love is? (Ephesians 3:18)

How long?