As the Palm Branches Dry…

I haven’t posted in a very long time, but really hope to do so each day of Holy Week this year. This first is a reflection on Palm Sunday, both then and now.

When I heard he was arriving in Jerusalem, I was curious but doubtful. We had heard stories of deliverance our whole lives, knew we were the chosen people of Yahweh, but it was always hard to believe that it would happen again. That was especially true because of the Romans. They terrorized us into submission. Their might and power was everywhere we turned and most of us lived our lives in constant fear – not that something big would happen – but simply that one or two soldiers would get it in their minds that someone needed to pay.

And we paid. Our families paid. Our children paid with their very lives.

So, I was doubtful when I heard rumors that someone who would be our new king was entering Jerusalem. My curiosity was fueled as I heard more stories about him. He had a band of followers. Among them was one we knew fought against the Romans.  This known freedom fighter was the treasurer of the group. I heard that great crowds followed him in the country sides and I knew, I knew that if anyone could save us from the powers that be, it would be someone who brought so many big crowds of people together. It was the only way to overthrow our oppressors.

So I joined the crowd that welcomed him to the city that day.

I expected guards with armor to be beside him. I expected weapons in the hand of every citizen of Jerusalem. I expected royalty.

palm branchBut he came riding a donkey. Children surrounded him. People waved palm branches, not weapons. But still we cried out Hosanna and welcome to the one people said would deliver us. I got caught up in the moment. I got caught up in my dreams for freedom and safety and I joined the crowd in greeting him.

As I look back on that day, I also hear stories of how the one we knew, Judas. Apparently Judas turned him over to the authorities in hopes that this would cause an insurrection. Yes, there was money involved and maybe because of that Judas was said to be his great betrayer. That may be true. It may be.

But I also know that everyone who stood, everyone who gathered to shout hosanna, also betrayed this King. They betrayed him with their expectations. They betrayed him with their desire for safety. They betrayed him with their lust for revenge.

This man, Jesus, came to save us. But he did so by turning the world of power upside down. Where we cried out for power, he gave of himself. Where we cried out for safety, he gave his very life.

They…No, not they, but I…betrayed the very one who would come to save me from myself.

Jesus met his enemy on his journey to Jerusalem. And that enemy is anyone who would make him into what they want rather than allow him and his selflessness to be Lord.

Jesus met his enemy…and the enemy is sometimes the very one who shouts Hosanna!

Unpacking My Suitcase

If you are looking for a reason for a social media fast this Lenten season…

The Words I Have Thus Far...

My name is Erin and I don’t like to be alone.

I felt convicted that maybe I have a problem and its time to start talking about it.

The thought began with a TEDx Talk, “Social Media – Sucking Time or Saving Lives,”  by Kristen Howerton, a marriage and family therapist and professor of psychology at Vanguard University. She explains her traumatic experience with the earthquake in Haiti. During the time, she turned to packing her suitcase to keep herself sane. When it was time to leave Haiti, she found herself with the choice to take her child or her suitcase home with her. This seems like a none issue. Yet, the suitcase had become her lifeline, and for a split second, she couldn’t imagine life without it.

Each of us has our own “suitcase” in life at different times. A suitcase is a thing that distracts us from…

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X-Plan: Giving your kids a way out (#xplan)

A good plan… Pass it on.

Bert Fulks

Friends, as most of you know, I get to spend an hour each week with a group of young people going through addiction recovery.  Yes.  Young people.  I’m talking teenagers who are locked away for at least six months as they learn to overcome their addictions.  I’m always humbled and honored to get this time with these beautiful young souls that have been so incredibly assaulted by a world they have yet to understand.  This also comes with the bittersweet knowledge that these kids still have a fighting chance while several of my friends have already had to bury their own children.

Recently I asked these kids a simple question:  “How many of you have found yourself in situations where things started happening that you weren’t comfortable with, but you stuck around, mainly because you felt like you didn’t have a way out?”

They all raised their hands.

Every single…

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Eye on the Prize

Recently, I ran across a quote in book I am reading on “pastoral health” titled “The Myth of the Shiska” by Edwin Friedman. (You may recall that I used one of Friedman’s Fables in a previous blog post.) Just so you know, a Shiska is a derogatory Yiddish term for a Gentile woman who seduces a Jewish man into marrying her so that she can take him away from the Jewish faith. Friedman shows that not only is this idea a myth within the Jewish community, it is a myth across all cultures and religions. Marriages happen for lots of reasons, but seldom do United Methodists marry just to get their spouse to give up being a Baptist – or vice versa. Friedman shows that family dynamics have more to say about interracial and interfaith marriages than anything else.

The quote that caught my eye was this one:

“The world would be far better off if, instead of being concerned about our own bodies and other people’s souls, we watched over other people’s bodies and our own souls.”

That is a truly deep thought. I couldn’t help but think of a parable told by another Jewish Rabbi that goes like this:

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, 33 and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. 34 Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; 35 for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? 38 And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? 39 And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ 40 And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family,] you did it to me.’ 41 Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; 42 for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” (Matthew 25 :31-46…Jesus speaking.)

In a very real and concise way Jesus is telling his followers that they MUST pay attention to the condition of the fellow traveler’s “body” in order to be able to minister to Jesus. Looking out for one another is looking out for Jesus.

In our world today, there is a whole lot of discussion going on about caring for some of the least and last in the world. We live in a time when there are more people displaced by war and turmoil in their own countries than any other time in modern history. And we don’t know what to do in order to balance caring for those in need with our own “safety.”

I just hope and pray that we don’t lose sight of what Jesus and this other rabbi are telling us. Looking after the bodies (caring for the safety of others) is a very important indicator of how much we trust Jesus with our own lives and care – in this world and in the world to come.

I know these thoughts aren’t totally complete and I hope they give us something to think about since we are all “Not Quite Home” yet…

Real or Fake?

Wisdom from my daughter!

The Words I Have Thus Far...

I’ve always thought of myself as an open-minded person. I’ve never thought of myself as one who would shy away from having conversations with those that I did not agree with. I even spent my past summer in conversation with people about disagreements within the Christian faith community. I was always one at the table trying to be engaged with those that I did not quite understand.

Yet, recent political events have changed my self-perception and my world perception.

This political season more than ever before in my life, I caught myself thinking things like,  “Those people must be crazy to believe that way!” or “How could any sane person really think that?”

It wasn’t until this week that I understood the severity of my thoughts and why they might be happening.

One would think that these little thoughts would not be all that harmful. However, they display a lack…

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