True Love Lives
True Love Lives
Clear Vision – Reconciliation
Deep within the caves of Kentucky, I had the utmost experience of pitch black darkness. So dark in fact the pupils of my eyes could not adjust wide enough to see my hand less than an inch away from my face. The only way to know that someone else was physically there was by touch. Holy Saturday is the third day of the Triduum, we the guilty are buried with Christ the innocent. Yet in darkness, we are not alone as a quieted Spirit actively waits. It matters not how long or dark the tomb in which the believer is laid. Forty days or 40 years, our clarity of faith comes from within. We are forgiven and not forgotten
The season of Lent helps us to remember that we are but dust and the first signs of our disconnectedness to the Power over all creation. Early in this journey with Christ, by our own lack of faith we question God’s commitment. We soon learn to navigate the wilderness which affects our faith by allowing God to chip away at the doubt. We make straight the way by putting all manner of things aside that have no part in this journey and emerge strengthened by the once smoldering light that is now an intense burning flame within. It becomes clear that the Light desires to go ahead of us. When we finally reach the foot of the cross, anything that is still hanging on is stripped away in preparation for a new thing; fully naked, a reconciled spirit for God’s ultimate glory and not our own.
Who can command and have it done,
if the Lord has not ordained it?…
Let us test and examine our ways,
and return to the Lord.
Let us lift up our hearts as well as our hands
to God in heaven.
I called on your name, O Lord,
from the depths of the pit;
you heard my plea, ‘Do not close your ear
to my cry for help, but give me relief!’
You came near when I called on you;
you said, ‘Do not fear!’ Lamentations 3:37-58
Clear Vision – Reconciliation
Arrested, accused and condemned to death, Good Friday, the second of the Triduum, is the day in which we remember this final act of the world, carried out against an innocent man. I like the way Lamentations 3:1-9,19-33, gives us a good visualization of one experiencing condemnation;
I am one who has seen affliction
under the rod of God’s wrath;
he has driven and brought me
into darkness without any light;
against me alone he turns his hand,
again and again, all day long.
He has made my flesh and my skin waste away,
and broken my bones;
he has besieged and enveloped me
with bitterness and tribulation;
he has made me sit in darkness
like the dead of long ago.
Still today innocent people are arrested, accused and condemned to death and we don’t call it Good Friday. One organization called the Innocence Project (1992) is dedicated to exonerating wrongfully convicted individuals through DNA testing. As one might imagine thousands of cases today await evaluation as the screening process is extensive. However, as of today 316 individuals have been exonerated including 18 who previously served time on death row.
The thought of my affliction and my homelessness
is wormwood and gall!
My soul continually thinks of it
and is bowed down within me.
But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:
A sentence of death is the final blow by the system, of those who are truly innocent DNA is their hope which ultimately has the last say. Perhaps for those innocent individuals a “Good Friday” is the day, when after a long and painful process, DNA proves what they’ve known all along. For us as believers, what’s good about Good Friday is that after the world’s sentence of death, nothing else can be done. God alone has the last say. Our journey takes us to the foot of the cross where we boldly face death and everything that we’ve committed to leave on the hill of Calvary. The Passion of Christ is our DNA. In the same way that we await Christ’s resurrection we are assured of our own resurrection and reconciliation. With Christ, by the work of the Holy Spirit within, True Love conquers death.
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases,
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul,
‘therefore I will hope in him.’
The Lord is good to those who wait for him,
to the soul that seeks him.
It is good that one should wait quietly
for the salvation of the Lord.
Clear Vision – Reconciliation
There’s a commercial of a man sitting at the meal table with his family and friends as he receives a written message that he is going to have a heart attack tomorrow. Of course we don’t get those kinds of messages. Yet if we knew that one day we would get a message concerning the very hour of our own death, what would we do about it? Jesus, knowing that his last hours had come, prepares to share his last meal with his disciples. Today Maundy Thursday services remembers this intense, yet sensitive moment. Jesus washes the feet of disciples, faces his betrayer, and commands his chosen to love one another. Later he leaves them to earnestly pray among the olive trees. From this prayer his human consciousness is in distress, but it is his spiritual consciousness within, that True Love consoles. He continues his journey in obedience, with clear vision, as his physical life begins to be stripped away. At the end of many Christian services on this evening, the first of the Triduum (Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Vigil), there is a stripping of the altar. Vestments, candles, icons if any are carried out of the sanctuary. Any physical sign which represents life is removed. Additionally, there is no benediction, no postlude and no closing hymn because the service is not over. How many times in our own journey have we thought having something removed, seemingly stripped away from us, that life as we knew it was over? For the past 37 days we have prayerfully stripped away those aspects of our lives in order that we may be more whole, more complete in serving God. In reality, whomever or whatever, the stripping away is only the beginning. Our journey in Christ is not over!
Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world… John 13
Clear Vision – Reconciliation
Now deep in the midst of Jerusalem, we’ve repented, fasted, prayed, forgiven and loved. As we take a 360 degree view we realize that some who have started out on this journey have in fact fallen away. Let’s just say that in their infancy for now, they have abandoned the cause. It’s not easy to push through wilderness, as we’re constantly pulling away webs of frustration that serve only to distract. However, the fact that we still stand is a testament in itself. That others have fallen away is not from lack of trying on your part, besides significant change comes only when we are ready to hear and follow God’s calling on our lives. Whatever gift His Spirit has given us, it’s to be used for his glory, which is a far greater reward than we could imagine or hope for. It’s okay that today we may stand alone (physically) but with True Love, we are never alone in Christ! True Love defends it’s own and shows us with clear vision that God’s desire for us and our desire for him are reconciled. God has accepted our repentance, seen our fast, heard our prayers, forgiven our sins and loves us even more. We are now ready to walk out of the wilderness of uncertainty and into certainty of faith, securely defended and upheld by True Love.
The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. Mark 12:1-11
Firmly placing himself in Jerusalem, Jesus is where God has called him to be. A proliferating crowd seeming to shield the moment, yet soon to be short-lived as it only takes one pull of the cover which is weakened by the thin layers of belief of those who hang their faith on that which they can see. In Christ as True Love establishes its authority within, one by one they begin to fall away. It’s a very familiar experience for us today. As we get closer to fulfilling God’s purpose and goals, people fall away (some temporarily). They see us approaching Jerusalem, the place where we leave all that we’ve given up in the name of Christ, in order to allow God’s glory to take its place in our lives, and they say; “Naw – that’s not me.” Jesus isn’t phased by the falling off and neither should we be, because much like Christ, True Love has established itself within us and there is no turning back so we let them go, as we too emerge where God has called us to be.
…it is God who establishes us… by putting his seal on us and giving us his Spirit in our hearts… 2 Corinthians 1:8-22
Yesterday we celebrated Palm Sunday; Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem amidst a crowd eagerly awaiting a king with songs of Hosanna! Though his works have preceded him, how formidable is a man on a donkey? Is it perhaps a first century equivalent to flying under the radar? There is no flashy ride with exuberant wheels or designer clothing with pretentious bling. Even today we know that flamboyance is shallow and Jesus arrives with something much deeper within him, something that can’t be seen but felt. True Love. It scares some people away while drawing others closer. Jesus enters the gates of Jerusalem knowing that this moment, however celebrated, is fleeting, nevertheless, True Love propels. As we draw closer, and enter the gates of our own Jerusalem, we don’t always have the luxury of knowing what lies ahead, but what we share deep within is the benefit of God’s True Love and we let True Love propel.
The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. Psalm 51
“What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man (Bartimaeus) said to him, “My teacher, let me see again.” Jesus said to him, “Go, your faith has made you well.” Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way. Mark 10:46-52 We don’t know exactly when it was that Bartimaeus lost his sight. We do know that Christ was willing to return his sight back to him. Everyone at one time or another “loses their way.” Though the struggle in our own timing seems long, in the same way that Christ heard the heart of faith in Bartimaeus, God hears us. Yet, “seeing” doesn’t necessarily mean that the wilderness of doubt, fear, frustration etc., won’t continue to get in our way. However, now that we “see” we know that the way through it is to follow our faith in Christ along the way.
Therefore, since it is by God’s mercy that we are engaged in this ministry, we do not lose heart…We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed… 2 Corinthians 4:1-18 As we approach Palm Sunday, we continue to emerge through this season finding the strength to remove the “rain boots.” If we get wet we can be confident that the heat emanating from Gods light within us, evaporates all manner of rain the world has to offer. As we can see storms ahead we are blessedly assured that they will pass over. Though our bodies are vulnerable, by His Spirit our hearts and minds are being unveiled, and in Christ we prepare to enter into Jerusalem with confidence. Nothing will stop what God has already put in to place for His glory, as we realize that we are more than survivors, we are more than conquerors, we are loved.
Indeed, to this very day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their minds; but when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:7-18 Paul, speaking from his own experience and knowledge refers to a veil over the mind; a way of thinking concerning the Law of Moses. Without disregarding the law, Paul in his authority as a Pharisee and desire to serve God was forced (blinded) in order that he may think differently about God’s intended purpose for him. By his own culture and tradition blindness was considered a sin. By his own culture and tradition, only by the grace of God did he remove the veil and regain his sight. In our own desire to seek and serve God he removes every veil of in our understanding of his presence within us, that His glory may be revealed, and we too are free to boldly emerge transformed as we learn to leave all wilderness behind.