Tag Archives: cross

ANTICIPATION DAYS

Ya know how you wait and you wait and you wait for special days? Anticipation takes over almost every waiting minute? Lists of things to accomplish before the event occurs? While the pit of your stomach aches just to go to sleep, so you can wake up before it arrives and get more done?

That’s what it has been like in NC this week.

Switching between the weather channel and local news. Walking outside to recheck what might need to be stashed or tied down or chucked in the trash. Checking on friends living close to the coast. Answering notes of messages of concern from friends in other states. Checking on older neighbors. Praying for, not just our coast, but all the other coasts, states and countries that are battling their own natural disasters.
The workers that stand in the gap.
The uncertainty.
The loss of stuff.
The worry.
The prayer.

‘We make this plea, not because we deserve help, but because of your mercy. O Lord, hear. O Lord, forgive. O Lord, listen and act!”~Dan 9:18b-19a

As always – knowing me well and my constant need for reassurance – my many devotions centered on the power of prayer and a merciful and loving Father who not only hears but anticipates our every need – even before we voice it. Oh but He loves to hear our voices cry out to Him, so He waits. Like us – whom He created in His own image – 
waiting – 
anticipating – 
loving – 
completely knowing us to depths of ourselves that even we don’t know.

These are the nights and the days of anticipation. The days of the shofar. Jewish tradition says that every night when sleep comes, the souls rise to heaven and record what they did that day in a book- the real good, the good, the bad, the ugly bad – and then attest to it with their signature.

A part of me likes this idea. Being accountable for my actions was drilled into me over and over as I grew up. Recording them while they are still fresh with joy or heavy with dread – in my soul seems like good parenting. Signing my name in full to the real good, the good, the bad, the ugly bad helps me face what I have done with my day. But in my mind I see something more – something so full of love that my breath catches in anticipation.

When the shofar blows at sunrise, I see a cross stamped – – – completely blotting out my deeds and signature. My tear-filled eyes blink to see His nailed-scared hand holding mine, easing the eternal back into the temporal. Our eyes meet in that silver cord second, and His smile remains within me for the rest of the day. His song singing in my soul as the sun rises above the horizon, and I swing my feet over the side of the bed to start anew.

I am fully known, fully forgiven and fully loved..

“Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.”~Ps 32:1a

  [google images/Akiane art]

MaKOM

When I was a child, kids could walk or ride their bikes just about anywhere, and you didn’t have to be 14 to do so -not to mention – helmets.  So from kindergarten on, I was always walking to school or riding my bike.  However, there was one bridge that was hard to avoid.  It scared me as I made the journey home – especially if I was walking.  The bridge seemed ancient from my 6 year old perspective – although in hindsight – it probably wasn’t at all.  Its wooden, narrow walkways were on either side of the car path that separated them; loose boards wobbled under the feet as you walked up and then down; not to mention the occasional missing board that reminded you just high over the railroad track this bridge was.  In the mid-50’s, trains passed under this terrifying bridge several times a day.  The bravest of us would often stand at the wooden railing and jump up and down as the trains approached.  Me?? I ran as fast as I could – until solid ground eased the heart palpitations, and I could turn back to watch the train and wait for my companions of the day.

“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.” Is 41:10 

loudonville RR

Not sure where this fear came from.  Others weren’t afraid, but heights have never been my friend even at the tender age of 6 or 7.  Luckily, we moved in my 8th year of life to the (proverbial) other side of the tracks, and I didn’t have to walk home over that bridge anymore.  My first real PTL moment. Instead, my new path primarily led me through Central Park and past our family church.  I don’t remember when or why I started stopping at the church…maybe I was just curious…maybe it was when my first kitty (Tommycat) died…maybe it was after dad had his first heart attack when I was 10…  What I do know is that I lost count – long ago – of how many times I open those huge, heavy, wooden doors to sit in the quiet of the of the holiest spot I knew.  Gazing at the stain glass windows, the altar, the cross, became an important part of my life.  One time our preacher found me stretched out on a pew and woke me. As we talked, he shared some of the things he found peaceful when he was in a church after he came home from a WWII prison camp. I like remembering the days when churches were never locked…in fact…I was shocked and sad when I first encountered such a church door after I moved to the city to attend college.

“And Abraham went [to pray] early in the morning to the place [MaKOM] where he stood [in prayer] before the Lord.” Gen 19:27

methodist church

Jewish wisdom and traditions have been part of my faith journey for the past couple of years as I have tried to understand more about Christ.  When tired, tested, or just needing the closeness of His Father, Rabbi Yeshua often retreated to the wilderness.  Abraham, Moses, David, the prophets – all had their special places where they would go to feel that closer connection to God.  It was their MaKOM.  In Hebrew, letters have a numerical value as well as a language value.  Without going into all the details (which I tend to find fascinating even though I hate math), Jewish wisdom says that if you square the letters of the word Jehovah, it equals the same numerical value of the word MaKOM.  Get it?

We find God in His “area”.  In other words, God honors us when we make the effort to come to a special place (area) to seek – to pray – to serve – to worship – Him.  That is why the Jews make an effort to go to the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem.

“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.”  Is 55:9 

God doesn’t make it easy on us. He didn’t make it easy on His Son, did he? He doesn’t want robots or blind, obedient children.  He wants His children to choose to love Him.  Despite the pain…the obstacles…the complacency…the fear…the doubts…or even the world, He wants us to choose Him…f.r.e.e.l.y.  A new covenant that is enhanced by the older covenant – all comes down to our choice to commit.  Do you have a special place where you go to feel closer to Our Father?

These days, church doors may have locks that keep us out, but there are always “areas” that beckon us to draw closer to God.  It is up to us to seek them out.  The Jews have an outer wall that surrounded their destroyed temple (Kotel ha-Ma’aravi).  Christ had the wilderness.  I have my shady garden and my writing desk.  God is where you stand on hallowed ground and seek Him.  Find your MaKOM and be amazed.

“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.”  Matt 7:7

june 2014 011

Lenten Journey/Journey of the Cross #32

It has been a long week for some reason. Haven’t really done that much, but every day was different. As if the wash cycle had switched to the spin cycle and then back to wash. In essence the water kept building up all week, soaking deeper and deeper until eventually, the machine just chugged to a stop. Eyes barely open; zoning out watching a favorite musical (Meet Me in St. Louis) and yawning every two seconds. Don’t know why I can’t write these journals at 5 o’clock instead of 10. And yet – here I sit – thinking about this journey. Introspection continues when I really wish I could just go to sleep. Is that how the disciples felt? What is it about this journey that pulls me in year after year after year?

And yet – it does -and has since I was a toddler and rejected a cuddly bunny for a crucifix that still hangs in my room.

“For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” Matt 12:40

Early in His ministry, Rabbe Yeshua began dropping hints of what was to come. Metaphor upon metaphor. One repentance story linked to another repentance story. Steeped in Jewish wisdom and Jewish tradition, Rabbe Yeshua taught for three years in the physical heart of the earth…Israel. But this time, He would expand the heart to include Gentiles and eventually enlarge the heart to cover the world. Salvation in practice. Instead of unblemished animal sacrifices and intercessory priests, Rabbe Yeshua would drink …”…a cup is in the hand of the LORD…” Ps 75:6

He reached out, “Then I took the cup from the LORD’s hand…” Jer 25:15

Even in His first night’s journey in “the heart of the earth”, He reached into Himself – the WORD – and brought forth the words that would link the past to the future. An unbroken chain that ties us all to Our Father. From the first garden, designed to be heaven on earth, to the garden where He wept and let the cup begin to spill upon Him instead of letting it spill upon us. He took Our Father’s wrath and spun it into unending LOVE. Love for you. Love for me. This Rabbi Yeshua Barabbas did this for all of us.

“Rouse yourself! Rouse yourself! Arise, O Jerusalem, You who have drunk from the LORD’s hand the cup of His anger…This is what your Sovereign Lord says,
your God, who defends his people: “See, I have taken out of your hand
the cup that made you stagger; from that cup, the goblet of my wrath,
you will never drink again.” Is 51:17,22

The day of pain, suffering and agony is over.

lucasgrail

Lenten Journey/Journey of the Cross #31

Rabbe Yeshua Barabbas began the last leg of His journey tonight. Betrayed by on friend. Denied by another. Hobbled by His own priests. Beaten by those sworn to His Father’s service. 

We’ve all been there at one time or another. Betrayed. Denied. Hobbled. Beaten. Verbs that bring us to our knees, Actions that break us. Pain that sears our souls. Is it any wonder that Rabbe Yeshua prayed and wept? Don’t we?

And perhaps – that is the short message for tonight. He asked his disciples to stay awake and pray three times that night. (Matt 26:36-46; Lk 22:39-46; Mk 14:32-42) His last words to them: “Pray with me.” “Keep watch with me.” So then should we pray without ceasing. keep watch. and remember – that is what He did for us. He did all of this – for us. He prayed without ceasing. He kept watch.

Betrayed.

Denied.

Hobbled.

Beaten.

And still – He prayed. He kept watch. For us. With us. Always.jesus praying