Tag Archives: Jesus

Thoughts for Thursday

“Communion with Jesus means becoming like Him. With Him we are nailed to the cross, with Him we are laid in the tomb, with Him we are raised up to accompany lost travelers on the journey. Communion, becoming Christ, leads us to a new realm of being. It ushers us into the kingdom… There we belong to Christ and Christ to us, and with Christ we belong to God. Suddenly the two disciples who ate the bread and recognized Him are alone again, but not with the aloneness with which they began their journey. They are alone, together, and know that a new bond has been created between them. They no longer look at the ground with downcast faces. They look at each other and say; ‘Did our hearts not burn when He talked with us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us?'” (Henri Nouwen, With Burning Hearts)

Have you ever felt like you were walking in a fog? Not literally a fog, but a mind-fog? Everything around you seems out of focus, you’re mind is clouded with anxiety and fear, and you’re left wondering What is going on in my life? What next?

That’s how I imagine the two disciples felt on the road to Emmaus. Some crazy stuff just went down and they are trying to figure it all out. The man they hoped was going to redeem Israel was crucified, and now nobody knows where his body is. They are doubtful about those second (maybe even third) hand accounts of angels saying He was alive. Who to believe? What does it mean? What happens now?

And then a stranger walks up and seems clueless to the world-shattering events of the previous week. Even more amazing is how he goes on to explain how those events were necessary for the prophesies to be fulfilled. This guy clearly knows his stuff, and during times of trouble, who wouldn’t want to keep someone like that close? It’s no wonder they ask this man to come and break bread with them.

I’ve been there, brothers.

How many times have I walked along my own dusty Emmaus road, my mind clouded with worry? Big things or little things, or little things that seem like big things, get in the way of seeing Jesus around me. Like the two disciples in the story I am so preoccupied with my own doubts and fears that I can’t see Jesus even when he’s standing right in front of me.

It’s only when I’m taken out of myself that the fog lifts and I can see clearly. Oh! I think. My problems and worries seem small compared to the glory of God. I may not fully comprehend what to do next, or what is going to happen next, but here’s what I do know: I am loved, and I am not alone. 

To me this is what the Eucharist reminds us every Sunday. We re-enact the Last Supper, the last thing Jesus and his friends did together. I think there is a transporting power in the Eucharist–we are not only there with Jesus and his friends, we are also with the many billions of people through the ages who have also come together to break bread. One bread, one body isn’t just about the here and now, it includes the many theres and thens as well.

When the two disciples sit down to break bread with this stranger it is only when he begins to re-enact that last meal that their eyes are opened. May our eyes be similarly opened to the presence of Jesus in those around us.

 

Thoughts for (Maundy) Thursday

by Jamie Osbourne

Mystical SupperFor I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. (1 Corinthians 11:23-26)

In today’s reading from I Corinthians we read about the last meal of Jesus. We don’t have all the details about Jesus’ betrayal, but the writer assumes that we know the context. He assumes that we know one of Jesus’ inner circle, Judas, betrays him. He is also probably assuming that we know that Jesus’ disciples run off when he is taken into custody. He is most likely assuming that we know the strongest and most vocal of Jesus’ disciples, Peter, denies he even knows Jesus. We are reminded in Corinthians that on the night of Jesus’ betrayal, Jesus knew all of this was going to happen before he washed his disciple’s feet or shared his last supper with them.

None of these things catch Jesus by surprise. He institutes the sacred meal by which his life and death and resurrection and love will be known – he shares this knowing full well that he will be betrayed, abandoned, and denied by his closest friends. Knowing all of this, he looks tenderly at his friends he loves dearly, washes their feet, and lets them know he gives all of himself for them.

It strikes me that Jesus knows me in the same way. He knows the ways that I will fail him, deny him, and even betray him. Then he stoops down to the dirty task of washing my feet. After washing my dirty feet he breaks bread and gives the wine. He knows all the ways I will fail. He sees how the idol of my own pain can blind me to everyone’s needs but my own. He knows the fear deep inside of me. With soft eyes and a tender heart, he sees my moodiness and short temper that sometimes make it difficult for others to live with. He sees all the ways that I betray, abandon, or deny him in other persons.

Jesus sees it all and I can hear him say: “Come share this sacred meal with me and see that I’m giving everything I have for you. Take it. Remember it. I’m here to show you what love is because I am Love. You can throw the bread of heaven away and deny you ever tasted it. You can reach past the cup of salvation in order to drown yourself in the cheap wine of the current world system and self. But I’ll always be here, breaking my body and pouring out my very life for you and the world. And one more thing, I want you to pay attention and do this – Love like I have loved you.”

———
Jamie lives with his wife, Lauren, and their two children, Rowan and Phoebe, in Huntsville, Alabama. Jamie is a Postulant for Holy Orders and will be attending seminary this upcoming fall.

Thoughts for Thursday

Thanks be to Thee, my Lord Jesus Christ.
For all the benefits Thou hast given me,
For all the pains and insults Thou hast borne for me.

O most merciful Redeemer, friend and brother,
May I know Thee more clearly,
Love Thee more dearly,
Follow Thee more nearly.


(St. Richard of Chichester)

I love this simple prayer. It may not be the exact words St. Richard spoke on his deathbed but they are beautiful all the same.  (You might recognize this as Day by Day  from Godspell)

How can I know Jesus better? Love him more? Follow Christ?

Those are hard questions to ponder, at least for me. I guess that’s why St. Richard is praying for help from Jesus, because he knows that these are beyond his own human understanding. And, at least according to the song, you just have to take it day by day.

One day at a time, because that’s all we really have, y’know? Every day we wake up we can find new ways to love, know, and follow. And there’s not one right answer–I think we have to figure out what that looks like for ourselves.

What can you do, today, to know Jesus better? to Love him more? to follow him?

Watch Your Ankles…

He came to save us…to save the world.  He still does it every single day.  One time, he even went all the way to hell, and back again.  He did it for you.  He did it for me.  He did it, and would do it, all over again, even if there was only one of us left. He did it for people who have no idea what or who or how he is or was or will be. He did the one and only thing he was ever born to do–he saved the world.  

 

There’s no magic in what Jesus did in his life, and with his life.  Oh sure, there are big and giant events of the radically unexplained all in and around and through and beyond his life.  But there’s no magic.  There’s just love.  There’s an absolutely transcendental refusal of the will to power, and a daily acceptance of the fact that we are broken and dying, and the only real way any of us can be saved or be called good is to love and be loved. Jesus lived fully committed and enfleshed to that reality, and stood eyeball to eyeball and toe to toe with the broken and dying world, and did the least rational and most redemptive thing he possibly could have done, and just loved the hell out of it. Loves the hell out of it.  Loves our sharp and pointy edges and wheezes and insomnia and hardness and forgetfulness and spite…loves us down to the bottom of where all those things wrestle, and sits down with us in it, and wipes our faces, and helps us get back on our feet, and put our faces to the sun, and start to become whole and…holy.

Jesus talks to Nicodemus about being lifted up the desert, like the brazen serpent of Moses, during the forty years of wandering. See, that serpent was a healing talisman, and it went up, at the head of camp, at the same time and with the same attention and fervor that the Tabernacle went up.  It was huge, and way up high, so to be seen from most every vantage point.  The Children of Israel had been tasked with treading upon the adder’s head for even longer than they had been wandering in the desert, and this desert seemed to have an abundance. People were bitten, people died.  It was unpleasant. It was not unexpected or unheard of.  But it sure made the going tougher than it already was.  A remedy was lifted, and all anyone who was bitten had to do was look at it, and be healed.

 

Sometimes, we get too deep into the fancy business of church or trying to live self-actualized and adult lives, and we get bitten.  And it stings.  The sting reminds us that we are actually kind of fragile, that no matter how hard we try we may still be caught off-guard.  When we come to that kind of understanding about our brokenness–by being broken, it’s hard to look up.  It’s hard to look at Jesus and see that the love he lived and lives is the only way to get better.  We feel bad for falling, in the first place, for not seeing a snake in the grass when we should have been paying closer attention than ever, and maybe we feel like looking up is like taking a get out of jail free card, and that’s bad, because we’re not playing by the rules.. We get caught up in the pain and shock and hurt of the bite, of the blood and the mess, and forget to look up, because OH MY GOD, NO ONE HAS EVER FELT PAIN LIKE THIS EVER, EVER, AND IT MUST MEAN I’M ALL ALONE AND FINALLY GOT WHAT WAS COMING TO ME.  Or maybe that’s just me.

 

When life bites, and it’s always when I least expect it, always at the worst time possible, always when my defenses and reserves are running low, it’s hard to remember to look up, to see Jesus and his love lifted up in front of me, and sometimes, it’s just hard to meet his gaze, to admit my weakness, my inability to save myself, my lack of vigilance and competency laid bare for Jesus all the world (or so it feels) to see. But I know that’s the only way to not die in the dust, with the curse of the ages clinging around my feet. I know it’s the way back to life, to love, and to the deep joy Jesus offers us with a life among God’s people of all shades and shapes and sensibilities. I know it’s the way I remember the some of the very best and deepest things I know–that God so loved the world. That’s you.  And that’s me.  Every single day.

 

Love,

Rachie

Image

My City, My People

my city my people

How do we overcome our treatment of others? – 10/18/13

I am a member of the Facebook page Pagans Tired of Being Misrepresented.  I enjoy seeing the things that they post and learning more about their beliefs and rituals.  This article from a Wiccan was posted on the page the other day and I found it wonderful and extremely sad at the same time.  Why do people of other beliefs have to write these kinds of letters to us?  Sometimes I get so frustrated by the limitations forced upon me by Christians I don’t understand.  I hate feeling like saying I am a Christian limits me from possible relationships.  Jesus was about being in relationships not keeping them from happening.  People should not be afraid to share their faith because they will be shunned.  Faith is to be shared!

Do you ever say that you are a Christian to someone you don’t know and they automatically shutdown?  It happens to me all the time.   I do what I call the Episcopal Dance.  I start with I’m a Christian – take a step back – but not that kind of Christian I am a nice Christian – take a step back – I like to learn from people of all faiths and from those with no faith – take a step back – I am an Episcopalian and we are very open, we ordain homosexuals and drink and have fun and don’t take our faith too seriously, we care more about people than we do about conversion – take a step back – I am not judgmental – and on and on until I am halfway across the country.  I hate it but I don’t ever know what else to do.  I don’t like having to talk about my faith that way but I also don’t like the shutdown and assumptions people get when I say I am a Christian.

I also don’t like the attitude that I am not Christian enough to some people.  Here in the South at least, Episcopalians are in an awkward position.  Most people have never heard of Episcopalians.  So when you explain our faith to them they put you in one of two categories – to non-Christians we are too Christian and to other Christians we aren’t Christian enough.  That adds to the ways we are blocked from relationship by the actions of others.  When will the day come when Christians are known for being like Jesus?  When will we be known for our loving, caring, and understanding hearts?  When will people look at us and say, that is something I would be proud to be a part of?  We are a long way off and the above letter, and the comments below it, make me wonder if it will ever happen.

Success

success

 

Success is hardly the neutral definition provided in the dictionary, especially in these United States. Success is loaded with all kinds of connotations of material gain or notoriety, impact or well roundedness, but the most invisible and perhaps most powerful connotation of success is failure. If we do not succeed we fail. Check out this amazing interview by Alain de Botton about how the American desire to crown a winner has created an equally powerful need to punish a loser.

Our faith of course calls us to turn all of this on its head, to crown the loser and send the winner to the back of the line. Or does it? In Jesus’ time were we really talking about winners and losers or were we talking about the fortunate and the unfortunate, those who had (through no fault of their own) and those who did not. This is a very different thing. Perhaps Jesus wasn’t talking about redistribution or even equal distribution, but about lack of ownership altogether of wealth and power and relationships and hope. Only then do you really see the end of the vicious cycle of winners and losers.

As the year begins to wind down and you are tempted to give thanks for your successes and lament your failures, I hope you’ll take some time to reframe, to reconsider, and to redefine the ideas you have about what success means and whether you can ever really have or want it. What else does God call us to value to give meaning to our lives? What does God value?

How do we overcome our treatment of others?

I am a member of the Facebook page Pagans Tired of Being Misrepresented.  I enjoy seeing the things that they post and learning more about their beliefs and rituals.  This article from a Wiccan was posted on the page the other day and I found it wonderful and extremely sad at the same time.  Why do people of other beliefs have to write these kinds of letters to us?  Sometimes I get so frustrated by the limitations forced upon me by Christians I don’t understand.  I hate feeling like saying I am a Christian limits me from possible relationships.  Jesus was about being in relationships not keeping them from happening.  People should not be afraid to share their faith because they will be shunned.  Faith is to be shared!

Do you ever say that you are a Christian to someone you don’t know and they automatically shutdown?  It happens to me all the time.   I do what I call the Episcopal Dance.  I start with I’m a Christian – take a step back – but not that kind of Christian I am a nice Christian – take a step back – I like to learn from people of all faiths and from those with no faith – take a step back – I am an Episcopalian and we are very open, we ordain homosexuals and drink and have fun and don’t take our faith too seriously, we care more about people than we do about conversion – take a step back – I am not judgmental – and on and on until I am halfway across the country.  I hate it but I don’t ever know what else to do.  I don’t like having to talk about my faith that way but I also don’t like the shutdown and assumptions people get when I say I am a Christian.

I also don’t like the attitude that I am not Christian enough to some people.  Here in the South at least, Episcopalians are in an awkward position.  Most people have never heard of Episcopalians.  So when you explain our faith to them they put you in one of two categories – to non-Christians we are too Christian and to other Christians we aren’t Christian enough.  That adds to the ways we are blocked from relationship by the actions of others.  When will the day come when Christians are known for being like Jesus?  When will we be known for our loving, caring, and understanding hearts?  When will people look at us and say, that is something I would be proud to be a part of?  We are a long way off and the above letter, and the comments below it, make me wonder if it will ever happen.

From the Wikipedia Wormhole

My most recent 5 hours on Wikipedia lead me here.  Thoughts and where does this lead you?

jesus-frying-pan_1_1595669c

Blind spots

blindspotAs an educated, liberal and somewhat socialist individual, I can be incredibly judgmental. Like when my new governor says “Common practices like boarding an airplane and purchasing Sudafed require photo ID, and we should expect nothing less for the protection of our right to vote,” I find myself turning off the radio as I throw an infuriated “idiot” toward Raleigh. Or when people use the word “literally” to mean it’s exact opposite, “figuratively,” and I “literally” roll my eyes in my mind.

But the last two weeks have caused me to examine my own blind spots. For every judgment I throw at conservatives, capitalists and republicans for not understanding sociology, minority identities and power imbalances, I have an equal and perhaps balancing blind spot that fails to understand the structures and human effort that go into making my life what it is: economics, research, government, corporations…

This last week in my MBA program we looked carefully at big pharmaceuticals and the AIDS crisis, the development of south african nations and the diamond industry, global warming and international agreements, personal property and national interests. It’s never as simple as it seems.

The truth is that the picture is so big and so complex that none of us can really ever have all of it. So we need each other, we need to surround ourselves with people who are different, who see a different piece of the puzzle. We need to recognize the different avenues through which human beings exercise their gifts, their passions and their love for one another. Sometimes it’s so different that it becomes hard to recognize. But in the end, isn’t that what Jesus called us to? To make the stranger  our companion? To make the other not just our friend but our guide and teacher?

So today I’m beginning a practice of looking for my blind spot, looking for new ways to explore and discover God’s world.