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Archive for April, 2011

Well, maybe not full…

I have four quarters in my pocket this afternoon. That’s a little unusual for me, not because I spend my allowance too quickly…I just don’t normally carry around change like that. It’s been jingling along with me all day, an added “noise” to a typically quiet walk through my school’s hallways. It’s also been an odd reminder on this Wednesday, sometimes called the Day of Silence within Holy Week. (It’s called such because we don’t have a lot of details in scripture about what happened on this day, therefore many consider scripture “silent” about today’s activities during this week leading up to Easter.)

This added element to my routine has made me think a lot about Judas today. There’s nothing really written about his activities today, per se, but we know that leading up to that last Passover dinner with Christ his “pocket” was making a bit more noise than usual.

“That is when one of the Twelve, the one named Judas Iscariot, went to the cabal of high priests and said, “What will you give me if I hand him over to you?” They settled on thirty silver pieces. He began looking for just the right moment to hand him over.”    Matthew  26:14-16, The Message

I wonder what was running through Judas’ mind with all that extra money. Thirty pieces of silver…thirty days’ wages…the price of a slave.

Whenever I find some extra money, my mind races. What could I get…probably a new book, new music, etc.  “Found” money is exciting in many ways, and extra money in our pocket is music to our ears. I wonder if Judas treated his as such? As he walked through the streets of Jerusalem, this extra amount of coins in his purse would have felt funny, heavier than usual. I wonder what was going through his mind as he listened to the extra noise these 30 silver coins made. What song did his “found” money sing?

You can almost hear the cadence of his footsteps…

You…betrayed…the King.    You…betrayed…the King.

I think sometimes it’s easy for us to judge Judas, not just for his betrayal, but because it was for such a pitiful sum. I know Donald Trump would have looked down his nose at him, and even sneer at his short-sightedness. “If you’re going to sell out the Son of God, at least get a good price for Him.”

But the reality is, I sell out Jesus all the time…

when He asks for my time.

when He asks for my focus.

when He asks for me.

And I’m sure Mr. Trump would consider me quite the rookie at this trading game, because usually my demands aren’t great sums of money. No, the price for turning my back on Christ is often much simpler…

an extra half hour of tv,

one more chapter in the book I’m reading,

a day of getting my to-do list done,

and on the cadence goes.

You…betrayed…the King.   You…betrayed…the King.

It’s a sad song, isn’t it. I think next year during Holy Week, I am going to get 30 quarters…$7.50…and carry them for the week. My own 30 pieces of silver, with their extra weight and extra noise, just as a reminder…

that there’s a little Judas in each of our pockets.

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So, one aspect of the Lenten season is for giving ourselves the mental (and maybe physical) space to actually listen. As we talked about last time, the spirit of shema is alive and well in our observance of this time, but we also said that shema is not merely the act of hearing. It carries with it the expectation that the hearer will actually take that message and do something with it.

This is where the Hebrew word lech comes into play. You know lech, it’s the Hebrew word for “get off your rear”. (Well, at least that’s my translation.) We find the word lech in Genesis 12.

By this point in Genesis we’ve dealt with the whole Tower of Babel storyline, and then the writer gives us some family background on this guy named Avram. Genesis 12 begins with God speaking to Avram (who apparently was, ahem, shema-ing) and He tells him to lech l’cha. (You pronounce this as lekh-lekha. It sort of sounds like you’re clearing your throat.) This phrase in Hebrew is translated as “go!”, or “leave!”, or even better “go for you!”  I say better because part of the meaning here is a command with an implied benefit.

This event in Avram’s life is typically referred to as the Call (as told in Bruce Feiler’s wonderful book, Abraham).  Feiler, in describing this passage says, “With these words, God asserts his decision to create the world anew.”  And we know that what begins with God calling Avram to get up and leave his current circumstances, follows through with God promising a new world that would come through Avram’s lineage. Not a new world as in Genesis 1 new world, or even “Noah and the ark” new world, but a world that is washed anew with the prospect of becoming in true communion with her Creator.

And it all begins with the word “Go!”

From the rest of the story, we know that Avram went. He listened, and obeyed. And because of his actions, a new world was “created” through his lineage in the person of Christ. Now, during Lent we find ourselves with the same opportunity. For a short 40 days we shove everything out of the way and concentrate on hearing the voice of God.  Then, He calls us to “Go!”

I find this to be a scary part of Lent, because when we follow this type of calling we don’t typically know the destination God has in mind.  We know what we are headed toward at the end of Lent, that great celebration of new life that embodies Easter. But, the destination of our “Go-ing” is often unclear. I think that this is a main reason most of us don’t truly make the space to listen to God, because we’re afraid what He might say or even where He might send us.

This Lenten season, as we focus our minds and hearts on God’s gift of Christ, on His Passion, and on His new creation that Christ’s sacrifice affords us – I pray that we will not shy away from God’s call of ‘Lech!‘ that just might come our way. I pray that, like Avram before us, this calling from God will shake us to our core and provide a wonderful, dangerous, inspired new path to where only He knows will end.

Grace and peace…

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What a day!

Today I get to do something special – something that not many people get to do. Those who take the opportunity to do this always come away blessed, and those who don’t…well, they don’t know what they’re missing.

If you’re like me, you look forward to days like today. Not just because they are special, but because of how it will impact the rest of your week, and maybe even your life. I know it has mine.

When I first got the opportunity to do this many years ago, I didn’t have a clue as to what an incredible path it would lead to. I had no idea how incredible it would make my life.

To use old cliches –  my days are brighter, the dark nights are shorter, and the colors of the world seem more vivid – all because of this day.

So, what is today you ask? Why is today so different from other days. What makes today so incredible that I had to blog about it?

I’ll tell you…

It’s Sharon’s birthday! (Shhh, don’t tell her, it’s a surprise!)Sharon at the Hermitage

And I get to spend the day celebrating who she is and how she has impacted my world.

She is what makes today special, and I plan to let her know how much she has made my world better and brighter.

I hope you’ll take the opportunity and do the same!

(Yes I know I recycled the picture form last year, but it’s my favorite one I have of her!)

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