TWO PASSOVERS

 

The moon is up in our neck of the woods and it is full and beautiful tonight. The hubby and I were sitting outside for awhile (until the CAVS game on) as it was rising. The dogs and I took one last walk around the gardens in the twilight before we came in. Now I can see all my friends’ pictures of the full moon from different states as I sit in my easy chair.

In the Jewish calendar this full moon sheds its light on the beginning of Passover. It is a festival that celebrated the days that changed the world of the Jewish people. Changed it from a world full of chains, brutality and oppression and spun it around into a world of choices, courage and freedom.

Sometimes, I wish I was a mouse on the floor of history and could listen and watch the dynamics of historical events. Can you imagine the ancient conversations that were taking place during this week? The rumors – the rumblings – the hushed meetings as they gathered to listen – to learn – to seek wisdom in what was happening.

We tend to take for granted – as we do all historical things – the facts – without remembering the emotional undercurrents. Just like today, there must have been dissension – fear – broken families – friendships burning out as people made their choices. Follow Moses? Trust Pharaoh? G-d really in this? The evil one?

They probably all painted their doorways with the blood of a lamb. That was an easy choice and why not? Better safe than sorry. Maybe it would make the family feel better. The familiar was still there. A swatch on the left. A swatch on the header. A swatch on the right. A triangle pointing towards heaven. A whispered prayer beseeching the protection of G-d. A hope to see the dawn of a new day. A wish for easy answers. A path cut through the stormy waters to a Promised Land.

We tend to think that all the Jewish people painted their doors and gleefully followed Moses out of Egypt. After all, who doesn’t want to be free? The truth falls a little short of that Charleston Heston movie with the multitude moving towards the sea. According to Jewish Sages – the number was more like a fifth of the Ivrim, the Jewish people.

Walking away from the security of all they had known was too scary for some – just like it would be for some of us. After all, there is security in the chains of the familiar. Chains that often keeps us in a job we hate…an abusive relationship…a habit that feeds some sense of being that we think we need more than we need change.

But this is also the first day of Holy Week for Christians. It is the celebration of another Passover that set the Ivrim world on its ear. (Again, being a mouse is appealing to my curious nature.) However, I know deep within me that it was also a Passover full of dissension, fear, broken families, burned friendships. Follow Jesus? Trust Caiaphas? Is G-d really in this? The evil one?

It was not easy. Even the disciples fell away – except for one, his mother and a few others who stood at the foot of the cross. Freedom is never easy. Again, the number of Ivrim that chose to follow was just a small percentage of the nation. Who knew that these few people would change the world forever. A Passover that would change the essence of the festival to its core.

A human lamb who shed His blood in the shape of another triangle painted on wood – an inverted triangle. A left hand. A right hand. His feet. A triangle pointing down from heaven. G-d once more sending an answer to His children – an answer of a Father’s Love – a Father’s Love strong enough to break the chains forever and cut a path through the stormy waters of sin to a Promise Land beyond compare.

It is interesting to note, that when you put these triangles together -one on top of another – they form the Star of David. The symbol that flies in Jerusalem on this first night of Passover and this first night of Holy Week. Two Passovers that changed the Ivrim world and the world around it. Freedom from chain of all kinds. Freedom to remember. Freedom to chose His path or stay in our comfy chains. Freedom to humble ourselves, fall on our knees, and give thanks to the One who gave His all for us – the gift of grace and love.

“For God loved the world in this way: so much that he would give up his Son, The Only One, so that everyone who trusts in him shall not be lost, but he shall have eternal life.”~Jn 3:16   [google images]

10th DAY OF NISAN

I. Did. Absolutely. Nothing. Nada. Zero. Zilch.
And.
I.
Loved.
It.

Well – – – that is probably a tiny exaggeration. I did the usual devotional time. Wrote my daily letter for Lent. Cleaned the kitchen. Threw sticks for dogs. Mowed the tiny bit of grass that we call a yard. Visited with my egg lady and her daughter with the broken ankle when they delivered my huge duck eggs – even got some extra eggs for the Grands to color next weekend. (Can’t wait to see their faces as they color these huge eggs) Cooked super. Yawned and climbed in the hot tub.

Seriously though – didn’t read books – didn’t plant one thing – didn’t pitch any mulch – didn’t research any of those things that randomly popped up during the day – didn’t walk the dogs on their usual hike – didn’t run to the store – just didn’t do a lot of things that I usually do. Just a lazy, stretch out kind of day.

Not only a lazy day – but a day completely misnamed in my head. I kept thinking that today was Sunday. Ever do that? A computer glitch in the brain labels the day and there you go. It is SUNDAY – even if you aren’t doing all the things you normally do on Sunday. Not once did I think it was Saturday until I got out of the hot tub tonight and turned on the TV. Then it dawned on me that not only was today NOT Sunday, but tomorrow was not just any Sunday.

Tomorrow is Palm Sunday.

“This month is to be for you the first month, the first month of your year. Tell the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month each man is to take a lamb.”~Ex 12:2-3

The Western Easter calendar and the Jewish calendar do not always mesh. Sometimes the dates are just off. This is one of those years. Passover starts Monday at sunset on the 10th of Nisan – April 10th for us. The 10th of Nisan is important to Passover. It is the day families would walk to all the pens of sheep around the Temple Mount. Pens full of Lambs that the priests had declared pure and without blemish. Lambs that waited for be chosen as a Passover Lamb. Families would choose the lamb that would atone for their sins on the 10th day in the month of Nisan.

Guess what date it was when Jesus rode into Jerusalem?

“They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road.”~Matt 21:7-9a

Yupper – the 10th of NIsan. Rabbi Yeshua – declared pure and without blemish by John, a priest of Aaron’s line – climbed upon a donkey – just as Issac climbed on a donkey – just as prophesied by Zechariah – and was brought into the home of all Jewish people with great celebration and acclaim. Jerusalem. The holy mount where a stumbling man named Abram looked up and finally gave his heart in faith completely to El Shaddai.

The 10th day of Nisan.

“Hosanna to the Son of David!”
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”c
“Hosannad in the highest heaven!”
When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?”
The crowds answered, “This is Yeshua, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”~Matt 21:9b-11

[google images]

NEIGHBORHOOD

The Grands have found the joy of childhood. They have friends that live only a few yards away. A barefoot run full of laughter. A stream full of adventures yet to discover. Tree houses with screaming imaginary battles to be fought.. Broken toys refurbished into new toys and bicycles decorating yards – just waiting for the next journey.

It feels as if I am seeing my own childhood through my parents’ eyes as I listen to them play. There is a certain joy that seems to fill me as I watch mothers sitting on the ground in front of their houses as the toddlers explore the smaller confines of their yard. It all sets my mind tumbling backwards. A small yard. A bunny hutch. A dog on a lead wire. Bushes taller than the parents where a kitty grabs some tiny toes and sends me scurrying back to a warm lap and laughter.

“Praise the LORD!
I will thank the LORD with all my heart
as I meet with his godly people.
How amazing are the deeds of the LORD!
All who delight in him should ponder them.”

It is good to see the resurgence of this type of neighborhood. It is good to hear the older children fighting imaginary dragons. It is good to see a neighborhood model that I thought had been lost to the ravages of a technological age. And I am – oh – so praying that it is not an isolated one. I’m praying that across this nation, parents are walking out their doors, sitting in the yards with their kids, talking to their neighbors and allowing their children to fall, pick themselves up and explore the small part of the world around them.

Our world is a scary one on so many levels. I do worry about those Grands when I can’t see them as I’m sure my parents and Grandmother worried about me. Yet, I remember walking to my Grandma’s when I was pretty young. I remember sitting in her garden while she showed me which plant was a weed and which plant was food. I remember running to my friends’ homes when I was the age of the Grands until I heard the three beeps of a car horn which sent me running for home.

“Everything he does reveals his glory and majesty.
His righteousness never fails.
He causes us to remember his wonderful works.
How gracious and merciful is our LORD!”

I think from a very young age, Our Father let me see what the Garden could have been for all His children. I think He is letting me see it again through the joy of the Grands during this Lenten season for a reason. I’m not quite sure what that reason is yet – but you can betcha – I’m looking for more wisdom everyday. Nothing is a coincidence in this life. Nothing.

As we travel through these last few days of the 2017 Lenten walk, I can’t help but wonder if Rabbi Yeshua was thinking and feeling much the same way as I am tonight. He could see the ugliness around Him. He could see the hazy shape of the cross in the skies just over the hills. Listening to the children laugh. Watching them explore the wonders of their world. Praying for them and their parents with each step that he took towards Jerusalem.

“All he does is just and good,
and all his commandments are trustworthy.
They are forever true,
to be obeyed faithfully and with integrity.”

I’m sure the Jewish world was every bit as scary – probably more – as our world is today. Much more than I can imagine. An occupied country with all the pain and atrocities that come with it. A religion that was constantly under attack – and this is where Our Father sent His Son. To a land that needed Him the most. To a people that were stuck between that proverbial “rock and a hard place”. To a few that were still seeking and willing to explore the world with child-like eyes of faith.

“He has paid a full ransom for his people.
He has guaranteed his covenant with them forever.
What a holy, awe-inspiring name he has!
Fear of the LORD is the foundation of true wisdom.
All who obey his commandments will grow in wisdom.
Praise him forever!”~Ps 111

A son who would pay the ransom for His people. A son who guaranteed His Father’s covenant with them forever and added a new covenant for those who had been separated from the flock.

A Son who – like Issac did for Abraham – heeded His Father’s voice when He called.
A Son who – like Issac did for Abraham – rode a donkey to a hazy mount in the distance as His Father walked beside him.
A Son who – like Issac did for Abraham – carried the wood to the top of the top of the mount for His Father
A Son who – like Issac did for Abraham – would voluntarily lay himself down to be bound to that wood.
A Son who – unlike Issac who heard Abraham’s voice at the top of that mount – – – a Son who endured the absolute silence of His Father’s voice.
A Son who, indeed, sacrificed His life for the redemption of all – a redemption that would last for all people everywhere – for all time and beyond – so that His Father’s voice would never be silenced again and His children that had walked in darkness would see a great Light.

One day, the Garden gates will be thrown open and there will be many neighborhoods where parents and grandparents can sit upon their lawns, sharing with one another the beauty of the day. Children will explore wildly as their laughter, joy and song float all around the neighborhood. I feel so blessed tonight. Blessed to have caught a glimpse of His gifts once again. Blessed to hear His words echoing in my heart. Blessed to close my eyes and look forward to the Light that is just beyond that far hill. Blessed to begin the walk forward towards it.  [google images]

ORNERY SHEEP

Ornery sheep just are. They think the grass is greener on the other side of the field. Maybe they have a buzzing in their ears that keeps them from hearing the special voice of their shepherd. Or maybe – they are just adventurous and want to see what is on the other side of the mountain.

But ornery sheep are pretty defenseless. They get sidetracked by tasty grass or a lazy afternoon nap or caught between a rock and a hard place. Sometimes, those ornery sheep just miss the danger clues that a shepherd could have given them.

I would imagine that shepherds get pretty frustrated at times with their ornery little critters, and until that ornery one figures out the strange un-like sheep voice that calls them by name, life is probably pretty complicated. No matter how you look at it, loving a group of orneriness – whether sheep or humans or angelic beings – sometimes just takes superhuman love and maybe a voice that can pierce the clamor of the chaotic darkness by calling the name of the ornery one.

There came a day when Yeshua, the carpenter, cleaned his tools, talked to his siblings, hugged his mother and walked out the door in search of some ornery sheep. Since he had grown in stature and wisdom (Lk 2), he knew the voices of his lost sheep, and he knew the voice of His Father’s love and grace.

Wearing but the clothes he needed, he began a journey to rescue the orneriest of sheep. Yeshua knew the Father as surely as he knew himself. He knew that any lamb to be sacrificed needed to be declared pure and without blemish. A pure priest of Aaron in both maternal and paternal line, A priest uncorrupted by the politics of the Sanhedrin. A priest calling in the wilderness. A priest who was calling, listening, and watching for the “one to come after…” him.

“It happened that when he had baptized all the people, he baptized Yeshua also, and as he prayed, the heavens were opened. And The Spirit of Holiness was descending upon him in the form of a body of a dove, and there was a voice from Heaven, which said, “You are My Son, The Beloved, in whom I am delighted.”~Lk 3:21-22

G-d is faithful to all the feasts and covenants that He made with His people. Yeshua held them in his heart as well. When I look at all the ties between Passover and Easter, I feel deeply that there are many more things that happened like that in Yeshua’s journey, so that those with eyes to see and ears to hear would recognize the voice of the shepherd calling out.

When I imagine it in my head, I like to think that the man Yeshua chose to walk away from his earthly life around the time of the Jewish Festival of Lights – just because he would be the Light in that – clamor of chaotic darkness. The man Yeshua walked into the Jordan River to be sanctified by a priest as the perfect, unblemished lamb of G-d, blessed by his heavenly father’s voice and walked out to become Rabbi Yeshua.

A little over three years later, that same lamb – sanctified as pure and unblemished – would be condemned by the head priest as in accordance with the law as the Passover lamb. Led to slaughter for the redemption of all the sins of the ornery sheep no matter who they were – what they had done – or where they lived. The Lamb was sacrificed for all ornery sheep and became the Christus.

Ornery sheep are still out there. There is one sitting in a chair tonight and typing a blog. The shepherd is still calling. He calls me by name and the tears flow once again. Hopefully, ornery sheep everywhere will recognize His voice and run – run as fast as they can to the gate that only He can open. [google images]

UNENDING QUESTIONS

Today I ventured out into the world beyond our quirky house. Seeing as how Hubby doesn’t like to grocery shop, and my slight flu/cold/whatever virus was somewhat better, I ditched the comfy clothes and headed out to see if the world-beyond-our-neighborhood had changed.
 
Lucky for me – it had not, and I found plenty of good food with relative ease. Not so lucky for me is I was really, really tired when I came home and have felt kind of crappy ever since (so much for the virus being completely gone). Lucky for me, I will get good night’s sleep and wake up feeling even better.
 
Like usual, when I am tired and wanting to crawl into a fetal posture to recover but can’t because I’m still 20 minutes from home, I distract myself with mind explorations of things that have been at the back of the filing cabinet of consciousness. Like: I wonder what it was like for Yeshua in those missing years.
 
It is one of those questions that has been around for a very long time, and I’m sure that I’m not the first one to ponder it. The first time I remember thinking about it was in my pre-teen bedroom. Beside my canopy bed was a night stand. On that nightstand, sat a tri-fold cardboard “stain glass altar” that I made one year in Summer Community Bible school. In front of it, I set my childhood Bible. And – at some point or another – I found this verse.
 
“But Yeshua was growing in his stature and in his wisdom and in favor with God and the children of men.” ~Lk 2:52
 
And here we are some 55+ years later, and I am still wondering and trying to picture it. We know he grew in stature. Did he have best buds that he hung out with after he worked all day with the wood? Did they laugh and joke? Hang out somewhere and eat? After all it said he grew in favor “with the children of men.”
 
Was it irony or a mystery that his hands grew strong, calloused, scarred as he worked with wood? Shaping it. Sanding it. Spending time to find the beauty that it held inside. Wood that would eventually bare the stains of his blood and hold the nails that pierced those same hands and feet?
 
Did he find the pleasure that a fur-baby can bring in this life with nearby shepherds or a dog that cuddled by his side at night? Did he laugh with his family daily? Did he shake with grief or indecision when his earthly father grew sick? Was he tempted to stop it? Did his family ask?
 
Did he dance at weddings? Sing while he was working? Pray constantly? Lay back in the grass on a Sabbath and rest in blessing of the day? Play jokes on his younger sibs or friends?
 
We know from his experience at the temple when he was 12 that his wisdom was manifesting even at that age. Did he continue to debate with the rabbis in Galliee? Did people seek him out even before he declared his ministry? Did he struggle with illness, fear, love?
 
There are so many nuances to life. Yeshua – a name that comes from the base word, yasha, which means “to save, help, defend, preserve, to make free, attain victory, heal, or bring to safety”, had many nuances. He was God. He was man. He was born of woman. He experienced life with all its complexities, sorrows and joys.
 
Love wondering and someday – I hope to ask Him, face-to-face, but tonight – I think I am saying prayers, curling into my pillow and putting all these questions out of my mind. Because – like David – I know:
 
“I waited patiently for the LORD;
He turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
He set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the LORD
and put their trust in Him.” ~Ps 40:1-3
[google images]

21 DAYS

It is 21 days till Easter. 21 days of a journey left. 21 days to follow a path. 21 days till the stone exploded, breaking the binds that tethered it to an earthly kingdom and releasing the radiant light of Grace from the spiritual kingdom.

For the past few weeks, I have not written much. Instead, everyday I have been reading, walking, observing, writing, praying, and drawing a small inked cross on the inside of my wrist. I didn’t think of this idea myself. One of my favorite authors has been doing this on a regular basis for a while now, Ann Voskamp. She talks about it in her book, The Broken Way.

At first, I wondered why she would do this. What possible difference in a spiritual walk could a tiny, inked cross on a wrist do for anyone? Yet, during this Lenten walk, I have noticed a difference. A difference that – perhaps – is more on the inside of me than the physical ink on the inside of a wrist. However, true to my silly Gemini self, that ink is often different colors. One color layered on top of another on some days. Other days, completely washed away by the blessed business of the day.

There is a path just down from our house that our neighbors have given me permission to walk. The dogs and I love it. There are no cars or even so much of the sound of cars, lots of smells, lots of deer prints, and I’m sure a few snakes in the grass that I hope I never see. (Lucky for me, the dogs always run ahead of me.)

As the temperatures warmed, the grass began to appear until it has become a green carpet that pulls us forward every time we walk. Trees and tall grasses from a not too distant past line its edges. Occasionally, a fallen branch from a recent storm also lie beneath our feet waiting to trip us up. Further up the way, there are other vestiges of an older life as well. Man-made reminders of that which was: large trees around a yard of a small deserted cabin, a log shed, horse-pulled tools now covered by weeds, a small, empty water trough.

As always, I wonder about the people who walked these lands before me. Indians, slave, indentured servants, landowner. I wonder and in some weird strange way, find myself praying for them as they walked these lands.

The cross on my wrist catches my eyes as I switch the button on the camera in my phone. For a minute my breath catches, “Baruch Hashem Adonai,” I whisper, “Blessed Be the Name of the LORD.” Koey sniffs the scent of something and is off running. Ryndi rolls in the leaves and tall grass for the umpteenth time. All, just reminders that this world is temporary, and all our education, ownership, accomplishments are -eventually – just “dust in the wind”.

Baruch is the Hebrew word that means “to bless”. It also means “to kneel”. When God sent His Son to walk a footpath on this earth, He knelt in front of all humanity. He squeezed the limitless into a limited body. He folded His greatest sacrifice into His greatest blessing and laid it on the path for all to find.

Easter. Grace. Salvation.

“Therefore strengthen your hands and set your shaky knees firmly. Make straight paths for your feet, that the lame member may not fail, but that it may be healed.”~Heb 12:12-13

My knees don’t bend so well anymore, but there are times when I force them because I can’t imagine not kneeling when His presence is so close. Tonight, it is warm in our house. The cross on the inside of my wrist is faded and fuzzy. My eyes are hurting as I try to hold them open for a few more minutes. It was a warm day in NC and when you have a bit of a fever, the house feels even warmer. But – it has been a blessed day. A day to sacrifice a little. A day to sleep a lot more than usual. A day to whisper a few more times, in thankfulness for these 21 days, “Baruch Hashem Adonai.”

MARCH MADNESS

Strange to think that when we wake up tomorrow it will – officially – be Spring. We can walk out the door, and it will be sunny, warm and perfect. Right?

March Madness is never like that.

“March is the month God created to show people who don’t drink what a hangover is like.”~Garrison Keillor.

I laughed today when I read this. “In like a lion – out like a lamb” popped in my mind right afterwards. I laughed again. Spring and March Madness seems to go hand-in-hand with twisty, twirly weather, and this March seems to be no different. February spoiled us this year with its extended warmth and lack of snow. March is just doing what it always does.

Rock n’ Roll. True Madness.

Yesterday, we had a warm beautiful day when out of nowhere, a wind whistled, rain belted the quirky house while the sun continued to shine. Dogs and I stood at the back door, sun in our eyes, wind blowing small limbs from the trees across our back deck, and then we looked at each other. That swirly wind had just blown the kitchen window screen out of its resting place, across the sink and onto the floor. 10 minutes later there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. The dogs barked, and I laughed again.

Jewish wisdom says that manifestations within our world represent much more than just the things we can feel, smell, see, and touch. They are the physical representation of the essence of our linear time references…past, present and future.

Solid – fixed in place – not changing. In rabbinical thought, it is like our past. The past is fixed in place. It doesn’t change no matter how much we would like it to do so. Best yet, it is understandable when we look at it because all our questions are answered.

Liguid – malleable – displaceable – just like the present time frame. One decision can change the shape, color, direction, flow. All we have to do is put our finger in – take a step – make a choice. The questions pull at us – is it changing for the worst – changing for the best – why is it changing – how is it changing – – – will I like it?

Gas – nebulous – foggy – just as the future sits in our thoughts. It’s kinda there. We can almost see its shape but not quite. Our questions are now legion. Uncertainties shift each time we look at it. Just trying to grasp it can be frustrating and illusive.

“For it is by faith that we walk and not by sight.”~2 Cor 5:7

I am not a good student of languages, but I do enjoy trying to figure out Hebrew just for this reason: it seems to link all the important things of our lives through each separate letter of the language – grouping them into words and hidden hints of more beyond what is seen. The word snow in Hebrew, שֶׁלֶג, shows that just as snow goes through all the stages – gaseous vapor to solid to liquid – so too do humans go through all the stages of – past to present to future. Those who have come before affect us just as we affect those around us and eventually affect those who come after us.

My fallible mind looks at that one word and wonder how could an ordinary man somewhere – way, way, way back when – come up with that grouping of letters that understood the scientific process that snow goes through and link it into one entity?

March Madness is more than basketball. It is the madness of trying to decide if we should dress in layers, carry an umbrella or pull out the heavy coat again. Can I leave my windows open all day or should I turn on the gas logs? The Hubby wonders if he should ride the motorcycle or lock the four wheel tires in on the truck. That is why I just havta love Spring. It is His physical reminder that we need to not only walk by faith but live by faith.

Trust the plan.

Trust the Creator of the plan.

Trust that March leads to April when the broken seed burst forth with new life.

Trust the Son that was broken and burst forth with new life.

Trust that there is a reason to love the craziness of March Madness. [google images]

IRISH BLESSING

While Hubby has been enjoying March Madness and a Cavaliers game all on the same night and on his TV, peace reigns in our house because I have been enjoying myself right beside him.

No – I have not crossed over to the dark side. I just have not been paying any attention whatsoever to the games. Although, I loved playing basketball in high school – let’s not mention that whole guards can’t cross the mid-point line – watching multiple games, switching from channel to channel, is just not a thrilling night on TV.

However, since Hubby and I often go our separate ways during the day, I don’t really want to move to another room. If I sit in the same room, I will occasionally notice a play (when he groans or shouts some inane comment) and start to laugh and talk. It’s what marriage is all about, right? After all he watched lots of Christmas movies a couple months back, so it’s only fair.

Most of the time, my earphones are on and I’m listening to a pod cast on Jewish tradition, a sermon from my favorite preacher or whatever music I pull up on my immense library stored on my computer. Sometimes, I wonder why I ever have the TV on because I am quite content to just listen to my music and write some thoughts down.

“Grace, mercy and peace from God Our Father and The Messiah Yeshua, Our Lord.”~1 Tim 1:2

Tonight’s lesson centered on the three gifts that Our Father gives us whenever we seek him in our crazy lives. Grace over sin – Mercy over judgement – Peace over all His people. Can’t argue with that. Don’t want to argue with that. Instead I just sing along with my music and try not to sing louder than the TV, but sometimes I forget and Hubby rolls his eyes and turns up the volume. Oh well. When Reba sings “Oh How I love Jesus”, how can you not sing along?

Actually, it was as Hubby’s eyes were growing heavy and puppy was cutting farts under my feet, that The Moses Hogan Choral started singing, “Ride on King Jesus” that my feet really started going as well. Something about spirituals that just get inside of you and make you want to move. Last year, I started singing in a gospel choir, and I loved it. Unfortunately, it disbanded this year due to lack of consistency on the choir’s part. So now I am just back to singing in my chair – or kitchen – or outdoors – or – well – anywhere with my music playing in my ear.

Shouldn’t have surprised me that as I was yawning and preparing to shut the laptop down, that one of my favorite benedictions came across digitally. I sang this song in high school. My children sang it in their youth choir. And here it was – singing me to sleep. So since, tomorrow is St. Patrick’s Day, I thought I’d better remind everyone before the partying starts, that this day bears the name of a Saint for a reason. He brought blessings to his community (if not to the snakes) and lived 1 Timothy 1:2 to the fullest.

Grace over sin – Mercy over judgement – Peace over all His people.

Have a Happy St. Patrick’s Day and

“May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
The rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of his hand.
May God be with you and bless you:
May you see your children’s children.
May you be poor in misfortune,
Rich in blessings.
May you know nothing but happiness
From this day forward.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_SbKWXTsItc

KNOW

Did you know that out of all the books in the Bible, there is one book that does not mention God at all?

Reading the Old Testament has never been easy for me until I started learning about Jewish history, wisdom and traditions. Like the proverbial light bulb, I am starting to not only understand but want to read more. It puts so many questions from the New Testament to rest but then raises twice as many to the forefront of my mind.

Isn’t that always the way?

Anyway, today the Jewish people finish celebrating the festival called Purim. They read all 10 chapters of the book of Esther today in this last month of the Jewish calendar, Adar. All these centuries later, they continue to celebrate Esther saving the Jewish people from Haman’s plan of destruction. These were dark times for the Jewish people.

Dark times. Esther’s times. A time when they did not “FEEL” the presence of God. They did not overtly hear His voice speaking to them or through their leadership. They did not see His Hand steering their purpose. They did not feel His love sheltering them from their enemies. The Bible denotes these dark times by not mentioning His name or even referencing Him at all – not even once.

If you’re like me, you have to scratch your head and wonder why? Rabbinic wisdom says it is because the Bible is a book of life. There are dark times in life. Thus, these dark days have to be represented in the Torah. There are just times when we don’t “FEEL” God in anyway, shape or form. Not in our selves – in our leadership – in our culture. In fact it seems like the darker the times the less we “FEEL” God at all. The importance of Purim in the last month of the year is to point us towards the fact that at the end of all mortal things, we don’t have to “FEEL” anything – we just have to “KNOW”.

“KNOW” that Our Father is still there, just like we “KNOW” that He was there at the beginning. His Hand is still moving over us, sheltering us. His voice is still speaking to us and for us, even when we don’t hear it. His Love continues to weave a comforter around us when we are shivering and with bellies empty. His Light is still pointing out the rocks and the abysses under our feet even if we don’t recognize it.

That’s the whole point of Esther’s story…Purim. The last month of God’s year. A joyous celebration of “KNOWING” overcomes any dark time that we are experiencing. An earthly ending that is just a spiritual beginning.

The past few days as I have been rolling all these crazy thoughts over in my mind, I like to think that this is probably the time of year when Yeshua was laid in a manger. The Roman occupation of the Jewish land certainly qualifies as dark times.  Avar is the last month.  The end of a physical year. Looks like a great time for a spiritual beginning to me.  God likes His festivals. He likes to remind us of all the things He has been trying to teach us since our creation.

I don’t think it was a coincidence that Christ was sacrificed as the perfect lamb the weekend of Passover. After all – it just takes one look at the intricacies of creation to figure out that Father God is a very detailed oriented entity. Lining up things is probably one of the easier things He accomplishes. Although – the way we like to screw things up – maybe we don’t make it all that easy.

Anyway – there you go. When dark times come on the mortal side of things, the beginning on the spiritual side is just not far off. Part of me is rejoicing in this because we are definitely showing signs of dark times in this ol’ world. The other part sends me to the knees in prayer for this ol’ world.

I may not always “FEEL” God in my life – but the the Book of Esther in the Bible and Christ remind me to “KNOW” God IS with me – all the time, in every situation, for ever and ever, AMEN and AMEN. I think I know what song will sing me to sleep tonight – “Jesus love me this I “KNOW”, for the Bible tells me so…”  [google images]

EVEN SO

There have always been periods of brokenness – in self – in families – in societies – It has been there since the Adam and Eve hid themselves in a tree.

Did you know that?

In the original language, Adam and Eve did not don leaves to cover themselves. Instead, they hid in the tree. Obviously, an omniscient God knew where they were even though He asked, “Where are you?” He wanted to hear their voice seek Him as much as He was seeking them. Later though, He follows it up with another question, He asks, “Who told you that you were naked?”

Most of us who read these verses assume that the serpent told them or they learned it when their eyes were opened. However, Jewish traditions say that God told them when they were first created that they were naked in all their glory, just as He was naked in all His glory. There was nothing between them when they walked in that Garden together. Nothing that separated Creator from His Creations. Just their love – filling each other up – making what is separate  – one.

Today, amid all our brokenness, we hide in our separate trees and silently hope that Our Father doesn’t call out, “Where are you?” We don’t enjoy the garden of genders or colors or thoughts that He created for us. We are afraid. Like Adam and Eve, we each find a place to lay the blame. “It’s her fault.” “It’s his fault.” “It’s their fault.” And when none of that works, we shake our fist at Heaven and whisper – – – “It’s Your fault.”

I am reading more about God, Jewish traditions, and in-depth biographies than I have ever read in my life – well – except for the year I devoured all those orange covered biographies in our school and public libraries which sent me into a long bout of non-fiction reading on strange subjects. Good thing I worked in a library all through high school and college.

These readings keep leading me to other readings and podcasts and research that continually loop and feed into each other. Somedays, my head just aches, and I find myself impatient with the bickering of this world on whose fault it is. It is mine. Like everyone else, I have eaten of the fruit and hide my face from the One who still loves me enough to sit on the floor with me letting His love whisper, “Even so”.

“Our lifelong nostalgia, our longing to be reunited with something in the universe from which we now feel cut off…is…the truest index of our real situation.”~C.S. Lewis

As soon as they ate the forbidden fruit, our fore-parents felt that yearning – that longing – for what they thought they would never have again. Brokenness that started with one bite. The ripples extending out to where we stand today in a sea of churning brokenness tearing away the land from beneath our feet. The Garden seems further away then ever…and yet…

And yet…the Father knew – He knew our yearning would never be filled by genders, colors or thoughts of this world by themselves. They could only be filled with a reunion with the Creator. A place where we could walk with Him in a Garden. A place where we wouldn’t have to hide in our separate trees. A place so filled with His love that the yearning disappears completely, and we feel complete once more. A place where we can sit, face-to-face and hear His Son’s love whisper over and over…“Even so”.

[google images]