Snow is still with us today. A sudden melt will send the rivers around Bobcaygeon cresting over their banks. They are brimming already.
Spiritually, it is a time where emotions run high. In this week, in this walk following Jesus towards his torture and execution, there rises in my heart a resistance.
I used to think it was just about all the busyness the special services create. Extra work, extra details, extra expectations, fill my head with distractions and I have a hard time focusing on the path Jesus walks.
But this year I have no extra messages to prepare. Our faithful, wonder-ful, worship team has created a series of experiences, dramas, and music that tell the story without need of my interpretations. There are still details to deal with sure, but they don’t explain what’s happening in my heart.
There is a tangible resistance happening in me. While I am focused on the steps through the week ahead, I know what’s coming, it’s all been planned - I find that my appetite for distractions has heightened. I just want to watch TV. I want to occupy my mind.
Matthew 26:43Again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy.
On the other hand, my patience is short for any extra work or worries. I snap at Carol impatiently as she introduces subjects outside of the tunnelvision in my head. Like Peter I want to follow - but – I hang back and snap at those who try to draw me out – I want to hide in my own little world and observe but not engage.
74Then Peter began to curse, and he swore an oath, “I do not know the man!”
It’s more than stress. There is a spiritual battle occurring within me. As I lead the Jesus people, and the onlookers, towards the renewal of resurrection power, towards redemption’s celebration, towards freedom from the corrupting clutches of guilt, worry, pride – Satan (to put it in a word) sandbags me. The earth rises and swells with energy. The rivers surge with a sweeping cleansing power. It causes me to clutch more tightly to the high ground of my illusory security. I don’t want to get my feet wet. I don’t want to get swept up into something I’m afraid I can’t handle. This freedom that Christ is heading for involves a terrible price. My life is going to be flushed down the toilet and I’m whiteknuckled gripping the slippery edges of the porcelain bowl.
Wait a minute. This is all too dramatic. I’ve been on the other side of Easter. Every year I get past Good Friday and get redeemed. Sometimes I even get a taste of the grace hidden in the Easter worship services. Joy finds me hiding in the tomb and draws me into new life; the unescapable renewing cycles of change. I find the courage to handle another year of change and maybe even face it and embrace it – awake to it. I’m still me and I only have to sacrifice what I choose to sacrifice – because I’m free, loved, living within the grace that puts my feet on a different ground; in a realm that doesn’t fear change.
The invitation – though – on this side of Easter - is to pick up my cross. The opportunity comes only once a year – and within the seasons of earth’s spin there is significance in timing – timing is everything the musician advises.
Today is the Jewish holy day of Blessing the Sun. Every year the sun arrives at this point in the season’s spin that marks the place where the Maker first arranged for sun and earth to conspire to produce LIFE. But it is only every 28 years that the sun and earth hook up on Wednesday - the third day. The third day is the Genesis day of solar-gaia matrimony. The third day eh? The third day is also when we Christ-tasters are blessed with an opportunity to resurrect and claim life that is more than earthly.
Every year this renewal happens. But only once, or twice, or if you’re lucky, three times in a lifetime does this universal moment come by.
Holy Moly! If the tellers of the Genesis tale could put the significance of sun and earth’s first lovemaking into a story, if the tellers of the Jesus tale could echo that significance with the story of Christ and Church’s wedding day, then maybe I could trust that my own little story is part of something universal. Maybe I could let some of my earthly possessions (pride, fear, cowering within comfort zones) be swept away? Maybe I could let die some earth-bound securities to make room for the universal mystery and purpose to be born in me again.
As I leave the cabin eager to post this and share the moment, three birds fly out from beneath the porch steps. I walk on clouds to tell you this wonder.
The Jewish practice is to gather together the generations, face the sun, give thanks to the Creator for the gifts that the sun brings, and perhaps read a Psalm like this one.
God’s Glory in Creation and the Law
1 The heavens are telling the glory of God;
and the firmament£ proclaims his handiwork.
2 Day to day pours forth speech,
and night to night declares knowledge.
3 There is no speech, nor are there words;
their voice is not heard;
4 yet their voice£ goes out through all the earth,
and their words to the end of the world.
In the heavens£ he has set a tent for the sun,
5 which comes out like a bridegroom from his wedding canopy,
and like a strong man runs its course with joy.
6 Its rising is from the end of the heavens,
and its circuit to the end of them;
and nothing is hid from its heat.
7 The law of the LORD is perfect,
reviving the soul;
the decrees of the LORD are sure,
making wise the simple;
8 the precepts of the LORD are right,
rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the LORD is clear,
enlightening the eyes;
9 the fear of the LORD is pure,
the ordinances of the LORD are true
and righteous altogether.
10 More to be desired are they than gold,
even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey,
and drippings of the honeycomb.
11 Moreover by them is your servant warned;
in keeping them there is great reward.
12 But who can detect their errors?
Clear me from hidden faults.
13 Keep back your servant also from the insolent;£
do not let them have dominion over me.
Then I shall be blameless,
and innocent of great transgression.
14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable to you,
O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.