Walking in the Jesus Way: A Lenten Journey — Day Thirty-Nine

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Mark 10:32-34, 46-52, The Message

Back on the road, they set out for Jerusalem. Jesus had a head start on them, and they were following, puzzled and not just a little afraid.

He took the Twelve and began again to go over what to expect next. “Listen to me carefully. We’re on our way up to Jerusalem. When we get there, the Son of Man will be betrayed to the religious leaders and scholars. They will sentence him to death. Then they will hand him over to the Romans, who will mock and spit on him, give him the third degree, and kill him. After three days he will rise alive.”

 

You know,
I want to listen.
At least,
I say I do.

But when push
comes to shove,
I’m lousy at it.

I have things to do,
don’t you know.
People to see,
places to be.

But really now.
What person, 
place,
activity
is more important
than 
listening.
Listening carefully.

No one,
nowhere,
nothing
is more important.
Even when what I hear
is hard
and painful.

Like this news,
right here.

The end of the road
is in sight now.
It won’t be long.

Walking in the Jesus Way: A Lenten Journey — Day Thirty-Eight

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Philippians 2:12-18, The Message

What I’m getting at, friends, is that you should simply keep on doing what you’ve done from the beginning. When I was living among you, you lived in responsive obedience. Now that I’m separated from you, keep it up. Better yet, redouble your efforts. Be energetic in your life of salvation, reverent and sensitive before God. That energy is God’s energy, an energy deep within you, God himself willing and working at what will give him the most pleasure.

Do everything readily and cheerfully—no bickering, no second-guessing allowed! Go out into the world uncorrupted, a breath of fresh air in this squalid and polluted society. Provide people with a glimpse of good living and of the living God. Carry the light-giving Message into the night so I’ll have good cause to be proud of you on the day that Christ returns. You’ll be living proof that I didn’t go to all this work for nothing.

Even if I am executed here and now, I’ll rejoice in being an element in the offering of your faith that you make on Christ’s altar, a part of your rejoicing. But turnabout’s fair play—you must join me in my rejoicing. Whatever you do, don’t feel sorry for me.

 

Energy.
That’s what we need.
Who knew?

But it’s a different kind of
energy, I think.
Not what we usually
picture
when we hear
the word.

And that word is coupled
with these:
reverence
and
sensitivity.

Now that’s 
my kind of energy.

You won’t find me
on the soccer field,
but you might 
find me
sitting and listening.

And you will
definitely find me
being awestruck
at the wonders that
surround us
in this place we call home.

Put those together,
and they produce
exactly the kind of 
‘fission’ that’s 
needed to
shine the light,
save the world.

At least,
that’s what Paul
seems to say.

Oh.
One other thing.
it’s not our
energy, actually.

Nope.
It’s God-sent,
originating
elsewhere.

 

Well, that’s a relief.

Walking in the Jesus Way: A Lenten Journey — Day Thirty-Seven

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Philippians 2:1-11, The Message

If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.

Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion.

Because of that obedience, God lifted him high and honored him far beyond anyone or anything, ever, so that all created beings in heaven and on earth—even those long ago dead and buried—will bow in worship before this Jesus Christ, and call out in praise that he is the Master of all, to the glorious honor of God the Father.

 

Such a sweet relationship.
A small girl,
an older male cousin.
They picture for me
what the Body is
to be like.

Warm, affectionate,
open, loving, kind.
‘Deep-spirited friends.’

That’s an important piece
of this journey we’re on.
Becoming more sweet-spirited.
And opening to more friends, too.

Walking in the Jesus Way: A Lenten Journey — Day Thirty-Six

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John 12:34-50, The Message

Voices from the crowd answered, “We heard from God’s Law that the Messiah lasts forever. How can it be necessary, as you put it, that the Son of Man ‘be lifted up’? Who is this ‘Son of Man’?”

Jesus said, “For a brief time still, the light is among you. Walk by the light you have so darkness doesn’t destroy you. If you walk in darkness, you don’t know where you’re going. As you have the light, believe in the light. Then the light will be within you, and shining through your lives. You’ll be children of light.”

Jesus said all this, and then went into hiding. All these God-signs he had given them and they still didn’t get it, still wouldn’t trust him. This proved that the prophet Isaiah was right:

God, who believed what we preached?
Who recognized God’s arm, outstretched and ready to act?

First they wouldn’t believe, then they couldn’t—again, just as Isaiah said:

Their eyes are blinded,
their hearts are hardened,
So that they wouldn’t see with their eyes
and perceive with their hearts,
And turn to me, God,
so I could heal them.

Isaiah said these things after he got a glimpse of God’s cascading brightness that would pour through the Messiah.

On the other hand, a considerable number from the ranks of the leaders did believe. But because of the Pharisees, they didn’t come out in the open with it. They were afraid of getting kicked out of the meeting place. When push came to shove they cared more for human approval than for God’s glory.

Jesus summed it all up when he cried out, “Whoever believes in me, believes not just in me but in the One who sent me. Whoever looks at me is looking, in fact, at the One who sent me. I am Light that has come into the world so that all who believe in me won’t have to stay any longer in the dark.

“If anyone hears what I am saying and doesn’t take it seriously, I don’t reject him. I didn’t come to reject the world; I came to save the world. But you need to know that whoever puts me off, refusing to take in what I’m saying, is willfully choosing rejection. The Word, the Word-made-flesh that I have spoken and that I am, that Word and no other is the last word. I’m not making any of this up on my own. The Father who sent me gave me orders, told me what to say and how to say it. And I know exactly what his command produces: real and eternal life. That’s all I have to say. What the Father told me, I tell you.”

 

Well, there it is.
Plain as day.
There is no rejection
cast upon any of us
by heaven and 
its inhabitants.

No.

The rejection happens
in us.

We are the ones who say ‘no.’

So yes, I think we will
be surprised.

And yes, we must walk
with the light that we have.
And that may be one of 
the biggest surprises of all —
just who has the light,
and how very little of it
is necessary to
reach our destination.

Time for another,
hallelujah!

Walking in the Jesus Way: A Lenten Journey — Day Thirty-Five

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Isaiah 44:1-8, The Living Bible

Listen to me, O my servant Israel, O my chosen ones:

The Lord who made you, who will help you, says: O servant of mine, don’t be afraid. O Jerusalem, my chosen ones, don’t be afraid. For I will give you abundant water for your thirst and for your parched fields. And I will pour out my Spirit and my blessings on your children. They shall thrive like watered grass, like willows on a riverbank. “I am the Lord’s,” they’ll proudly say, or, “I am a Jew,” and tattoo upon their hands the name of God or the honored name of Israel.

The Lord, the King of Israel, says—yes, it is Israel’s Redeemer, the Lord Almighty, who says it—I am the First and Last; there is no other God. Who else can tell you what is going to happen in the days ahead? Let them tell you if they can and prove their power. Let them do as I have done since ancient times. Don’t, don’t be afraid. Haven’t I proclaimed from ages past that I would save you? You are my witnesses—is there any other God? No! None that I know about! There is no other Rock!

 

‘There is no other Rock!’
Indeed.

And the rocks of earth
pale in comparison.

Rocks are solid,
sturdy,
intimidating,
challenging,
BIG.

And, I imagine,
so is GOD.

But what I love
are these words:
‘Don’t, don’t
be afraid.’

That double negative
somehow carries
weight beyond
those few letters.

It tells me that
God means it.
God means for me
NOT to be afraid.

Why?
Because rocks are
also safe places,
sheltering places,
hiding places.

And some days,
that is exactly
what I need.

 

Walking in the Jesus Way: A Lenten Journey — Day Thirty-Four

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2 Corinthians 3:4-11, The Living Bible

We dare to say these good things about ourselves only because of our great trust in God through Christ, that he will help us to be true to what we say, and not because we think we can do anything of lasting value by ourselves. Our only power and success comes from God. He is the one who has helped us tell others about his new agreement to save them. We do not tell them that they must obey every law of God or die; but we tell them there is life for them from the Holy Spirit. The old way, trying to be saved by keeping the Ten Commandments, ends in death; in the new way, the Holy Spirit gives them life.

Yet that old system of law that led to death began with such glory that people could not bear to look at Moses’ face. For as he gave them God’s law to obey, his face shone out with the very glory of God—though the brightness was already fading away. Shall we not expect far greater glory in these days when the Holy Spirit is giving life? If the plan that leads to doom was glorious, much more glorious is the plan that makes us right with God. In fact, that first glory as it shone from Moses’ face is worth nothing at all in comparison with the overwhelming glory of the new agreement. So if the old system that faded into nothing was full of heavenly glory, the glory of God’s new plan for our salvation is certainly far greater, for it is eternal.

 

There it is again.
That word:

GLORY.

I love the word,
the way it sounds 
to the ear,
the way it feels
to the tongue.

And I love imagining
what the glory of God
is like.

The sky helps me,
it reminds me
of the glory we 
know now,
a foretaste of
what comes next.

 

Walking in the Jesus Way: A Lenten Journey — Day Thirty-Three, Fifth Sunday

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Jeremiah 31:31-34, NRSV

The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt—a covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, says the Lord. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord:

I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, “Know the Lord,” for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more.

 

The Rose of Sharon,
the Lily of the Valley,
the one who brings
the law down to size,
small enough to fit
within our hearts.

Forgiven.
Sins forgotten,
we are among people,
most blessed.

And yet again,
I cry:

Hallelujah!

 

 

Walking in the Jesus Way: A Lenten Journey — Day Thirty-Two

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John 12:1-11, The Living Bible

Six days before the Passover ceremonies began, Jesus arrived in Bethany where Lazarus was—the man he had brought back to life. A banquet was prepared in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, and Lazarus sat at the table with him.Then Mary took a jar of costly perfume made from essence of nard, and anointed Jesus’ feet with it and wiped them with her hair. And the house was filled with fragrance.

But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples—the one who would betray him—said, “That perfume was worth a fortune. It should have been sold and the money given to the poor.” Not that he cared for the poor, but he was in charge of the disciples’ funds and often dipped into them for his own use!

Jesus replied, “Let her alone. She did it in preparation for my burial. You can always help the poor, but I won’t be with you very long.”

When the ordinary people of Jerusalem heard of his arrival, they flocked to see him and also to see Lazarus—the man who had come back to life again. Then the chief priests decided to kill Lazarus too, for it was because of him that many of the Jewish leaders had deserted and believed in Jesus as their Messiah.

 

Let her alone.’
An extravagant act,
welcomed by 
the very one
who defines 
extravagance.

Mary knew something.
She intuited it,
she understood it,
she acted on it.

She knew Jesus was leaving,
he was dying.
And she wanted to 
show her love.

I am sure she helped the poor,
over and over again.
But this day,
she saw ‘the poor’ in Jesus,
her master,
her friend,
the one who was dying.

And she made the truest
possible response.

Ah, help me be true, Lord.
To you.
And to the poor.

Walking in the Jesus Way: A Lenten Journey — Day Thirty-One

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Psalm 51:1-12, NRSV

Have mercy on me, O God,
    according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
    blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
    and cleanse me from my sin.

For I know my transgressions,
    and my sin is ever before me.
Against you, you alone, have I sinned,
    and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you are justified in your sentence
    and blameless when you pass judgment.
Indeed, I was born guilty,
    a sinner when my mother conceived me.

You desire truth in the inward being;
    therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart.

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
    wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
    let the bones that you have crushed rejoice.

Hide your face from my sins,
    and blot out all my iniquities.

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
    and put a new and right spirit within me.

Do not cast me away from your presence,
    and do not take your holy spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
    and sustain in me a willing spirit.

Another rich set of words.
Truth,
inward,
secret,
clean,
new,
right.

We all have secrets.
We all are secrets,
to everyone but
One.

And that is how the truth
comes in,
and makes us 
clean,
new,
right.

Even so,
come, Lord Jesus.

Walking in the Jesus Way: A Lenten Journey — Day Thirty

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Isaiah 30:15-18, NRSV

For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel:
In returning and rest you shall be saved;
    in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.
But you refused and said,
“No! We will flee upon horses”—
therefore you shall flee!
and, “We will ride upon swift steeds”—
therefore your pursuers shall be swift!
A thousand shall flee at the threat of one,
at the threat of five you shall flee,
until you are left
like a flagstaff on the top of a mountain,
like a signal on a hill.

 

I do believe
this is the key.

The key to everything.

Returning and rest,
quietness and trust.
That’s where strength
is found.

When Jesus came,
he put flesh and bones
around Isaiah’s words.

And this place hasn’t
been the same since.

Yet we resist this key . . .
we do not rest.
We do not know how.

Maybe, just maybe,
that’s because 

we do not know how
to return?

Oh, turn me, Lord!
Turn me,
that I might
return.