A Stop at Bethany, on the Way to the Cross.

This week of Lent we are led to with Christ and his disciples down a path of growing awareness, one in which each  is contributing towards something fully unknown and yet momentous. Perhaps our familiarity with the story deafens us to truly hearing the significance of the words and numbs us to the fear, anxiety and profound pain at what is to come. Yet, this week we are summoned to do just this. We are to allow ourselves to be immersed in the details, to become a part of the scene, and to experience the depth of the Passion-ate love God has for each of us.

As we make our own preparations this week, we are invited to sit too at table with Jesus at the home of his friend Lazarus in Bethany (John 12: 1-11).

As you look around the room, would you be helping Mary in the kitchen in preparing the food for all the guests that had come? Perhaps serving or greeting each so that all feel included? While part of you longs to truly enjoy the company of Jesus you also recognize that your gift of service is the way you have chosen to show your love for him.

Or possibly you would have chosen to carry that immensely extravagant gift of aromatic oil to anoint the feet of Jesus? Oh, the fragrant almost intoxicating smell that suddenly fills the room! Yes, there are drying cloths to be found somewhere, and yet the closeness of his love compels the use of the soft silky strands of your own hair.

“There is honestly no place I had rather be, and here there is only You- the one who has captured and transformed my inmost being”.


Maybe you are feeling a bit like Judas, uneasy at all the attention that Jesus is drawing?  Why can’t we do all of this in private? Do we need to display our faith for all those that do not even believe..that appear to be here simply due to the newsworthiness of it all? This money we are frivolously spending to feed and entertain this gathering is that which we will need to flee when all of this comes to its inevitable end.

How fickle my heart, oh the weakness I show.  Why can’t I grasp the importance Jesus is calling to this moment and partake in the richness of the aroma that marks a time I will never have again?

Or perchance you have arrived at this place purely out of curiosity, one of the many wanting to hear the rabbi and teacher so many have spoken of. What of Lazarus, was he really once dead and if so what does he have to say of that time? Seeing the devotion of those around Jesus you wonder what draws them close, endearing them to leave behind all to follow. Beckoned in, you take a step closer, but still are unsure if you are willing to surrender all that you’ve known- to commit to that which is far greater than yourself.  You say let it go. Yet, if you did, who would you become?

As we too enter the holiest of weeks, we are asked to pay attention to the sights, sounds and inner callings of our hearts.   Amidst the business of preparations, we are asked to see the love in our gift of service and also take the time to sit at the feet of Jesus even if for a moment. To proclaim our faith in an unbelieving world, knowing that though this life ends there is something much greater that is to come.  Not merely standing at the water’s edge we are being asked to plunge deep in committing ourselves fully the life of a disciple.  This is the invitation. Come join me as I seek to walk the way of  the cross and joyously anticipate the sight of the empty tomb! God’s blessings for a beautiful awe inspiring Holy Week!

Peace,

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Examen-ing Exhaustion

Many of us might be quite familiar with the scripture that urges us to onward to “run with perseverance the race marked out for us”. (Heb 12:1) I myself have always loved that verse, and yet there are remarkably times when endurance and perseverance are indeed in short supply.

Weak, hungry, in need of healing we stop running- begging for respite and often questioning what lies ahead. Even when our exhaustion comes from a full day of joyful or productive work, we may very well find ourselves depleted and in need of renewal to meet tomorrow with the same vigor. So then, does God leave us with a goal that is unrealistic, or fail to see our very human shortcomings? Not at all,  for God promises to refresh the weary and satisfy the faint.” (Jer. 31:25)  The utter gratitude in this knowing that the God of all is there to meet us in our every moment I find unsurpassable.

  1. In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. (Rom8:26-27)

Perhaps you find yourself so unbelievably exhausted that you are unsure of how to even pray, or words fail you completely. No worries- the Holy Spirit is there to take over when we cannot. Even the desire to pray is the beginning of prayer already.  Take this opportunity to simply close your eyes and allow your “soul find rest in God”

  1. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matt. 11:28)

Looking back on the day or days’ events are there moments when you felt God near? Maybe it is here now, in the silence of your heart, you suddenly feel God’s presence. Accept the invitation to thank God for his loving presence, mercy, and continual guidance when the way forward is uncertain. For  praise be to the Lord, who has given rest to his people Israel  just as he promised.” (1 Kings 8:56)

  1. “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” (Psalm 46:10)

What does it mean to accept that God is God and in control? To surrender ourselves worn, torn and broken and find hope in His strength? Prayerfully, I invite you to offer up yourself, paying attention to how you are feeling both physically and emotionally. Take note of the areas of resistance, to where you might be still seeking control or holding back from God’s healing touch.

   4. “I do wish, brother, that I may have some benefit from you in the Lord; refresh my heart in Christ.” (Philemon 1:20)

There is quite often something to be gained from reflecting on the time leading to this present moment. When we are exhausted we can easily blanket the day and miss incredible insights into ourselves, and the work of God around us. And yet, I find this exercise so beautiful to do as my head lies on the pillow at the close of day. Maybe, there a conversation, encounter or remarkable pause that stands out, or that you wish to return to briefly. Imagining the scene, notice the details- the sights, sounds and even smells surrounding you. Pray for openness and guidance to rediscover this moment.

5.“I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”(Phil. 4:13)

This is by far one of my favorite verses in the entire bible. Here, I am reminded that God is not asking me to continue alone or without the essentials necessary for the tasks ahead. Particularly during long stretches of time, whereby I know that my calendar is full and the demands many, I find comfort in knowing that tomorrow holds the gift of a new day. “For who is God besides the Lord?  And who is the Rock except our God?  It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure” (Ps. 18:31-32)and it is He who is my hope.

Father, thank you most gracious advocate for guiding, supporting , and strengthening me when my knees are weak and my feet no longer wish to move. You are my source of strength, and from you I now take my lead in the way ahead. Heal, nourish and allow me the privilege of offering you the gift of self though what I have left may seem small. Use my weakness to show how truly great you are.

Peace,

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