A Cross Between Two Thieves

Not my will, but yours…

    I know that I have heard these words hundreds, if not thousands of times in my life in the church. They are words of Jesus as he prays before being arrested. They are words of Jesus as his closest disciples fall asleep. However, most of the time that these words hammer through the noise of my brain, I hear them as words of surrender and resignation on the part of Jesus. Today, for whatever reason, I heard the deep seated struggle of will that is inherit in these words.

    Jesus, really, really struggled to let go of his own will and follow the will of God.

I am thinking about this not so much because of some struggle of will that I have in my personal life as a member of the Jesus Revolution. I have those struggles and I probably always will but they don’t upset me all that much. Today I was struck with these words as they described the relationship between two parts of the Triune God and what that could mean for Christian unity today. In my mind, there are few things more broken in our world than the idea of Christian unity. We simply suck at getting along with one another.

I get the sense from so many people that “being one, as the Father and I are one” – the very prayer Jesus had for his followers – is something that should be simple and easy for us to accomplish. I get that sense from those who say, “Just follow the Bible and we can have unity” as well as from those who say, “Just love like Jesus loved” and we will have the unity for which Jesus prayed. I think both groups – and I can be found lurking around in either from time to time – totally miss the real struggle the Son had with the Father over this picture of unity.

What if the unity found between Father and Son, between Jesus and the God-Head, is more akin to struggle than it is to a sense of peace. (Images of Jacob wrestling in the night for a blessing come to mind.) I know that we all want peace, but that is not what Jesus infers in the Garden, on the cross or even to us. Yes, he leaves us a “peace that is not like the world gives” but perhaps that peace is what we find when we allow grace to abound with ourselves (as we struggle in ourselves) and what we find when we allow grace to abound amidst the struggles we have with those whose idea of God’s will bumps up against a difference in our hearts.

Listen…I know that this is not a completely fleshed out, well-thought bit of theology I am espousing today. It is a start to say the very least. Perhaps you can add to the discussion. Perhaps I can capture it better in another use of language too:

 

The battle of will
is a thumping of the heart,
a throbbing of the mind,
and a bleeding of the soul.

Or so it seems. Or so it seems.

It is a battle, a battle among thieves:
One who steals freedom in the name of holiness
And
One who steals holiness in the name of freedom.

But maybe, perhaps maybe…
On those days when the battle wages
within and without
with an intensity that hurls invective and certainty
like arrows into the always soft flesh of the gut –
Perhaps, just maybe,
There is another war cry
A cry that is heard
among the wounded,
the stilted,
and even on the lips on the silent
as they breath with Spirit Sound
the truest cry of unity.

Grace.

Grace for self. Grace for others.
Grace like that offered by a Savior,
A Savior between two thieves.

 

©2014, Scott Sears

The Trap

There is a trap that waits –

    waits to spring its gnarled teeth out of the hearts

    of those who choose to love –

        choose to love, despite:

        differences,

        appearances,

        thoughts,

        and actions.

 

It’s teeth are those that gnash and lash
at those whose heart is already tangled
in knots,
in thoughts,
in endless, water-falling false hopes
of being right above all else.

 

The trap waits for all who choose the way of Jesus…

Lover of all…
Lover of those who follow…
Lover of those who fail…
Lover of those who get up again and again to love…
Lover of those of other flocks…
even the Lover of those caught in the knots, the thoughts,
the false hope of holiness on their own.

 

 

 

The way of love, love above all else
releases the trap with a harmless snap.

Yet drops upon the shoulders
the weight,
the heft,
the feel,
of a cross.

 

© 2014 Scott Sears

Served Two Ways

I can see righteousness…

in those who claim to do no wrong…

who hold the commandments

for all to see.

Who work without ceasing to have them posted

on walls

in courts

on public ground.

Who stand beside the written word of God

And silence the voices

Of women…of those perceived as created unequal…

Who silence the voices of the very ones who listen to the Word

but choose to bow to the Author, not the reader.

 

And I see righteousness…

    In those who stand beside:

the one about to die for crimes…

the couple whose love is shunned…

the homeless one whose whole buggy-bound world

    cannot be found in this world at all…

the one who is dying while holding the hand of her

    crying, angry child…

their husband of sixty-five years

    and steal a kiss in public…

no one in particular, but who stand:

    in love, joy, peace, patience,
kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness

    and self-control.

 

I see righteousness served two ways:

    From the hubris that is potently human;

    And from the very Spirit of Jesus

        that lives within.

 

 

For more please see Romans 6:8-11

 

 

The eyes of all

The sun stretches over the mountains
ready to offer this day a heartfelt hug.

Songs bounce on the wind from bird to bird to bird
to land in the ear of the Holy One.
Buds peak out of branches,
blushing against their grayish limbs.

Flowers – still waiting for showers of wind and rain

to baptize their petals – shout “Alleluia” nonetheless.

 

It’s the season of Lent – the world around me rejoices.

 

It’s the season of Lent – I shall join their chorus directed by God.

 

 

Based on Isaiah 49:8-15

© 2014, Scott Sears

Stitches

Occasionally,
there are things that cut so deep
my body is in need of the healing power of stitches.

A knife slips while slicing onions,
and my watery eyes do not take note
of the quick movement
towards the taut, stretched skin of my finger.

[Shouted…] “Crap!”

Off to the healers for stiches.

Occasionally, words cut…
cut through the roughness and toughness
of my calloused exterior.
They find their way – these cutting, ripping words –
to a place deep inside
slipping inside my psyche
twisting in the depths of my soul.
A tongue slips during a time of greeting
to lodge an “observation”
about sloppiness and lack of attention
to detail.

That tongue slices through
my taunt, stretched smile
and lays bare the nerves that lie deep within.

Blood collects on my own bitten tongue

[Unspoken…] “Crap!”]

Off to the healers…for stitches.

“Thank you for offering kind words to my friend…”
“Thank you for checking on us and caring for us…”
“Thank you for sharing your story…”
“It’s nice to know we have a pastor who truly is human…”
“I love you, Daddy.”

 

©2014, Scott Sears

Inspired by www.pray-as-you-go.org and John 5:1-3, 5-16 (NRSVA)