You Fit The Description

Jesus talks to women . . . touches lepers . . . invites children forward . . . makes a Samaritan the hero . . . and an older brother a chump.

While a kid in Sunday school, then scheming to become Roy Rogers or Dan’l Boone, I learned about Jesus’ “unless you become like a child, you won’t enter the Kingdom of Heaven.” I didn’t have a clue about Heaven’s Kingdom, but I thought it swell others should be like me. Of course we’d bellow out, Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so . . .

Much later, though never achieving my Roy-ness or Dan’l-ness, I learned almost everything Jesus did was radical (even inviting kids onto his lap), contrary to the expectations of his society. And yet, as a faithful adult, I often take the radical nature of Jesus for granted. Ho-hum, he touched a leper; such a sweet tale about that nice Samaritan; chatted up a woman at the well . . . pleasant way to pass the afternoon, eh?

The 3rd Sunday of Lent – for March 27, 2011

Then the woman left her water jar and went back to the city. She said to the people, “Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done! He cannot be the Messiah, can he?” (John 4:28-29)

A Samaritan woman came to draw water. What an innocent sentence. What a mundane event (John 4:5-42).

Not. At. All.

In Jesus’ time, a man conversing with a woman not his wife, nor in the extended family, was at least unsettling and possibly dangerous. And she wasn’t merely a woman. A Samaritan, she would’ve been despised, avoided because good Jews shunned her and her ilk. However, Jesus talked with her. Radical! Continue reading →

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L is for . . .

LENT

  1. Lent: From the Latin lencten, meaning spring.
  2. Lent: a misspelling of what you realize has dropped out of your navel and is now piling up under the bed.
  3. Lent: a time of navel-gazing in anticipation of Easter.
  4. Sure, all of those.

At an Ash Wednesday service I once attended, the priest said he thought of Lent as “my Christmas.” I understand. We celebrate Christmas with Santa circling chimneys that are designed to filter particles (maybe including Santa) and listen to recorded carols while retailers trick and rarely treat us. We barely survive December each year.

Lent, an artificially created season to prepare for Easter, ranks high on my list of essential celebrations. And in preparing—waiting, reflecting, sacrificing—for Easter, I don’t want to rush ahead. As for me, I want the time to gaze at my “lenty” navel. And much more. I want the 40 days to remember all of what makes me “me,” and place before God my longing to grow closer to the Creator’s way of life.

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Cold Call

An unexpected knock on the door. The late night call. Ever received one?

Carol had a doozie. A church member who always seemed upbeat, she personified the glass half full perspective. Carol worked the graveyard shift, sleeping during the daytime. Her husband had “normal” hours, leaving in the morning, returning in the afternoon.

It’s midday. Carol’s asleep. Someone knocks on the front door. The visitor’s persistent, ignoring the “Do Not Disturb Resident” sign posted in an obvious place.

Reluctantly, Carol answers the door. Two people, seeking to share their faith about God’s love and Jesus’ promises. They are sincere, even polite, but Carol interrupts their prepared spiel, and explains she must get sleep. She suggests—equally sincere and polite—that returning in the evening before she heads for work would be fine.

The second Sunday of Lent – for March 20, 2011

He came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God. (John 3:2)

They promise to return. And they do. But it’s days—not hours—later. Carol again answers; the chat’s much shorter this time.

They’re back next week. Carol, with the glass of water looking awful empty, but still clinging to nice, asks them to leave, please and thank you. One visitor—I think this was how Carol put it—cheerfully promises they’d return. Though exhausted, she manages to convince them to provide their phone numbers. She promises to call and arrange the “best” time to talk. Continue reading →

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