Take Joy

dancing-joyScripture Text:  Romans 16: 25-27

Now to God who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but is now disclosed, and through the prophetic writings is made known to all the Gentiles, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith–to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever!  Amen.


The words in this short Scripture pretty much say everything.  When it is all said and done, when there is nothing else left, when you don’t know where to step next, there is God.  There is the God who came and comes and will come over and over again.  This is the God of mystery and revelation, the God of strength and gentleness, the God of what will come and what is.  Some think that it might be possible that these words that come at the end of Paul’s great treatise known as The Letter to the Romans were sort of attached later as a doxology.  It is indeed a statement of response, a doxology acknowledging what God has done and what God is doing.  It is true.  The Incarnation of God, the Coming of Jesus Christ, invokes our response, elicits something from us in response to God or, really, it would be meaningless.  As the words say, the response is our faith.  God comes not as an answer to generations upon generations of want and need; God comes as a question, an openness, to which we are asked to respond.  God comes and invites us into this mystery, to walk where we haven’t dared walk before and to know what we wouldn’t let ourselves know before.  The whole of the Gospel–the proclaimed Coming of Christ, Jesus’ birth, ministry, life, death, and resurrection–are made full by our response.  If that were not the case, the Gospel would not have continued to write itself into people’s lives.


In 1513, Fra Giovanni Giacondo, a Franciscan Friar, wrote a letter to Countess Allagia Aldobrandeschi on Christmas Eve.  Here are the incredible words:

I salute you. I am your friend, and my love for you goes deep.  There is nothing I can give you which you have not. But there is much, very much, that, while I cannot give it, you can take. No heaven can come to us unless our hearts find rest in it today. Take heaven! No peace lies in the future which is not hidden in this present little instant.

Take peace! The gloom of the world is but a shadow. Behind it, yet within our reach, is joy. There is radiance and glory in darkness, could we but see.  And to see, we have only to look. I beseech you to look!

Life is so generous a giver. But we, judging its gifts by their covering, cast them away as ugly or heavy or hard. Remove the covering, and you will find beneath it a living splendor, woven of love by wisdom, with power. Welcome it, grasp it, and you touch the angel’s hand that brings it to you.

Everything we call a trial, a sorrow or a duty, believe me, that angel’s hand is there. The gift is there and the wonder of an overshadowing presence. Your joys, too, be not content with them as joys. They, too, conceal diviner gifts.

Life is so full of meaning and purpose, so full of beauty beneath its covering, that you will find earth but cloaks your heaven. Courage then to claim it; that is all! But courage you have, and the knowledge that we are pilgrims together, wending through unknown country home.


Take heaven!  Take peace!  Take joy!  It is what the words from Romans were saying.  God came and comes but God does not desire to dance alone.  The fulfillment of God’s promise, the culmination of God’s Vision of what Creation will be lies in us.  It lies in our response.  It lies in our faithful response.  Its meaning and its purpose come when we claim it for ourselves.  It lies in our stepping up and taking all of the gifts that God offers.  We must take heaven.  We must take peace.  We must take joy.  Perhaps it means that we have to lay down the things we are holding.  Perhaps it means that we have to make room.  Always it means that we respond by saying “yes” to God.  God comes toward us with arms outstretched, inviting us to dance.  God does not desire to force us into mindless obedience; God does not pick us up and carry us away to places that we do not want to go; God desires that we respond with arms outstretched and, even when our steps are faltering and filled with doubt and fear, we dance as one who has taken and embraced joy, one who has taken God into one’s life.  Take heaven! Take peace! Take joy!


Faith can be described only as a movement of flight, flight away from myself and toward the great possibilities of God. (Helmut Thielicke)


FOR TODAY:  Put down what you are holding.  Take heaven.  Take peace. Take joy.  Breathe them in and dance.


Grace and Peace,



Waiting on the World to Change


Door near Bethany, Jerusalem
Door near Bethany, Jerusalem

Scripture Text:  Hebrews 13:2

Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.

Imagine that you are at home one evening. You’ve just finished dinner and the dishwasher is humming with the satisfaction of a job well-done. All the leftovers are put away in the refrigerator. You have settled in for the evening—full stomach, warm house, a time of togetherness, the house locked up and the alarm is set. You look at the clock: 9:00—just in time to settle down to watch that recording of “The Good Wife” that you haven’t had time to watch. Just then, there is a knock on the door. Who in the world? You peer out through the peephole and see a man standing there—dirty, disheveled, unshaven, a far-away look in his eyes.  Hmmm!  Not sure what to do…maybe he will just go away.


After all, the world is a scary place.  You don’t know who this is.  And he was so dirty…really, really dirty…The man is dirty because he has traveled a great many miles on the open, dusty road. He is disheveled because he is tired. He has gone from house to house asking for help. Most people do not answer the door. He knows they’re at home. He can see the eyes through the peephole and hear them inside. But who can blame them? It’s been days since he’s had a chance to shave. He’s almost at the end of his rope. He’s worried and afraid and he’s sure it shows in his eyes. So he turns and heads back down the block toward the car that only made it this far. He has no idea what to do. He has no money left after the long trip—no money for gas, no money to fix the car, no money for food for him and his wife. And the time is almost here. The baby is coming. But there’s doesn’t seem to be room anywhere he goes.   Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus…


So, what ARE you expecting?  For what are you waiting?  For what are you preparing?  God comes in ways that we never expect.  God comes into those places where the needs are the greatest, where the hurt is the deepest, where the wilderness seems to close around us.  And there…there God comes.  While we are waiting on the world to change, God comes.  While we are wondering why someone doesn’t fix things, God comes.  While we are watching riots and marches, poverty and wars, and politicians arguing over who is in control and bemoaning the fact that the world seems to be coming apart, God comes.  On the darkest of nights, when the world is so loud we almost can’t stand it, God tiptoes in through the one door of our lives that we forgot to lock, forgot to decorate, perhaps forgot was even there, and is born in a stable and laid in a manger because there was no room.  While we are waiting for the world to change, God knocks on the door to our lives and shows us that it the change has already begun.  Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus…


The Advent mystery is the beginning of the end in all of us that is not yet Christ. (Thomas Merton)


FOR TODAY:  Through what door is God coming into your life?  What have you done to make room for God in your life?  Be the change that you are waiting to see.


Grace and Peace,



Advent 3A: Not Quite What We Were Expecting

995-103100Lectionary Gospel Passage for Reflection:  Matthew 11: 2-11

When John heard in prison what the Messiah was doing, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?” Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them. And blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.”  As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to look at? A reed shaken by the wind? What then did you go out to see? Someone dressed in soft robes? Look, those who wear soft robes are in royal palaces. What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written, ‘See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.’ Truly I tell you, among those born of women no one has arisen greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.

We usually think that we have it all figured out.  We walk through our lives with grand plans and grand illusions of what the world should look like and what we should look like to the world.  John was no different.  He loved Jesus, loved the things that Jesus represented–freedom, peace, righteousness.  And so he had set to work telling everyone how he saw it.  But then all of a sudden, he realized that Jesus was doing things differently. Essentially, what Jesus was doing was not in the mold of what John had envisioned.  John was going around preaching repentance in the face of what was surely the Kingdom of God coming soon.  And here was Jesus healing and freeing and raising the dead.  John probably didn’t see it as wrong—just sort of a waste of time.  After all, in his view, there were people that needed redeeming, and redeemed NOW!  We need to get busy. “Jesus, really, this was not quite what we were expecting!”  So, he asks Jesus, “OK, are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?”  (As if to imply that we may need to wait for someone that will get this show on the road and make everyone get on board the way we think it should be.)

Well, the truth as we know it is that Jesus WAS Emmanuel, Jesus WAS God Incarnate, Jesus WAS the Savior for which the world had waited for so long.  The problem was that the world (and even John) could not see Jesus standing right in front of them because they were too busy looking for what they had expected.  They had expected a mighty warrior.  (Well, where was he?)  They had expected a king to whom everyone would box.  (Well, that wasn’t happening!)  They had expected someone who would clean things up and make life easier.  (And you want me to do WHAT?  Hob-knob with the unacceptables and give up my place to those who haven’t worked for it and share my fortune with the less fortunate and essentially begin to go back down the ladder of progress to find what I’ve been missing?)  Truth be told, the world was expecting a warrior politician and got a baby.  Surely, THIS can’t be right!  I mean, really, how can we put our trust and our faith in one who is essentially one of us?  So, should we wait for another?

A few years ago, the Today Show had a feature story about some young Panda bears who had been brought up in captivity.  But the plan was to eventually return them to their natural habitat.  So, in order to prepare them for what was to come, their caretakers thought that it would be better if they had no human contact.  So to care for them, the people dressed up like panda bears.  In order to show them how to live the way they were supposed to live, they became them.  Well, isn’t THAT interesting!  I think that’s been done before!  In its simplest form, the Incarnation is God’s mingling of God with humanity.  It is God becoming human, dressing up like a human, and giving humanity a part of the Divine.  It is the mystery of life that always was coming into all life yet to be.  God became human and lived here.  God became us that we might see what it means to change the world.   God became like us to show us what it meant for us to be like God in the world.  The miracle of the birth of the Christ child is that God now comes through us.

Jesus really didn’t “fit in”.  Jesus was not anything that any of us were expecting.  That’s the whole point.  Perhaps Jesus calls us to be what the world does not expect.  God did not come into this world to calm and affirm how well we were conducting things.  God came to show us a different way of living, a different way of being.  God came as one of us, Emmanuel, God With Us, to show us how to be one of us, to show us how to be human, fully human.  Who would have ever come up with that?  That was NOT what we were expecting.  Because you see, the miracle of God is here, dwelling in our midst, dwelling in us.  This is the mystery of the redemption of the world.

This text speaks of the birth of a child, not the revolutionary deed of a strong man, or the breath-taking discovery of a sage, or the pious deed of a saint.  It truly boggles the mind:  The birth of a child is to bring about the great transformation of all things, is to bring salvation and redemption to all of humanity.  As if to shame the most powerful human efforts and achievements, a child is placed in the center of world history.  A child born of humans, a son given by God.  This is the mystery of the redemption of the world; all that is past and all that is to come.  All who at the manger finally lay down all power and honor, all prestige, all vanity, all arrogance and self-will; all who take their place among the lowly and let God alone be high; all who see the glory of God in the lowliness of the child in the manger:  these are the ones who will truly celebrate Christmas. (From Christmas With Dietrich Bonhoeffer, ed. By Manfred Weber)

Reflection:  So, what were you expecting?  Where is God in your midst today?  What is God calling to be?

Grace and Peace,



clouds-floating-over-a-mountainScripture Passage:  Mark 9: 2-9

2Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, 3and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. 4And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus. 5Then Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” 6He did not know what to say, for they were terrified. 7Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!” 8Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them any more, but only Jesus.  9As they were coming down the mountain, he ordered them to tell no one about what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead.

How did we get here so fast?  Everything seemed to just fly by.  Wasn’t it just a few days ago that we were reading of the birth of a child?  Wasn’t it just awhile ago that Jesus was beginning his ministry and calling the disciples to journey with him? In the big scheme of things, we’ve gotten to this point pretty fast.  Here it is—a child born into anonymous poverty and raised by no-name peasants turns out to be the Son of God.  He grows up, becomes a teacher, a healer, and capable of hosting large groups of people with just a small amount of leftovers.  Then he asks a handful of people to become his followers, to help him in his mission.  They leave everything they have, give up their possessions and their way of making a living, they sacrifice any shred of life security that they might have had, and begin to follow this person around, probably often wondering what in the world they were doing.  And we’ve essentially read through all of this in a matter of a few months since early December.  And then one day, Jesus leads them up to a mountain, away from the interruptions of the world.

Now, this is sort of interesting.  There is no proof of an actual geographically-charted mountain.  It is presented as if it just rose up, uninterrupted, from the terrain, as if it is rather a part of the topography of God.  Even for people, such as myself, who cannot claim a single, stand alone, so-called “mountain-top experience” that brought them to Christ but rather came year by year and grew into the relationship…even for us…this IS the mountain-top experience.  And there, on that mountain, everything changes.  The clothes that Jesus was wearing change, taking on a hue of dazzling, blinding, white, whiter than anything that they had ever seen before.  And on the mountain appeared Elijah and Moses, representing the Law and the prophets, the forerunners of our faith, standing there with Jesus.  Peter wanted to build three dwellings to house them.  For me, that’s sort of an interesting part of the story.  Dwellings…I guess because that would keep them here, essentially bound to our way of living.  Dwellings…to control where they were.  Dwellings…to somehow put this incredible thing that had happened into something that made sense, to bring it into the light of the world where we could understand it.  But, instead, they are veiled by a cloud and from the cloud comes a voice, “This is my Son, the Beloved, listen to him!”  “Listen to him!”  And then they were gone and Jesus stood there alone.

The account of the Transfiguration of Jesus seems to us that it should be the climax of the Jesus story.  After all, how can you top it—Old Testament heroes appearing, God speaking from the cloud, and Jesus all lit up so brightly that it is hard for us to look at him.  But there’s a reason that we read this at this point.  In some ways, it is perhaps the climax of Jesus’ earthly journey.  Jesus tells the disciples to keep what happened to themselves, if only for now.  This is the ultimate in thin places, those places of liminality, “betwixt and between” what is and what will be, those places that if we dare to enter, we experience that glimpse of the sacred and the holy.  The light is so bright it is blinding.  God’s glory is so pervasive that we cannot help but encounter it.  And these Old Testament characters?  They show us that this is not a one-time “mountain-top” experience.  It is part of life; it is part of history; it is part of humanity.  Rather than everything of this world being left behind in this moment, it is all swept into being.  It all becomes part of the glory of God.

And then the lights dim.  There are no chariots, Moses and Elijah are gone, and, if only for awhile, God stops talking.  And in the silence, Jesus starts walking down the mountain toward Jerusalem.  From our vantage point, we know what happens there.  And he asks us to follow and gives us all the portions we need to do just that.  And we can.  Because now we see the way to go.  Let us now go to Jerusalem and see this thing that has happened.

The journey to Bethlehem was much more to my liking.  I am content kneeling here, where there’s an aura of angels and the ever-present procession of shepherds and of kings who’ve come to kneel to the Newborn to whom we are newborn.  I want to linger here in Bethlehem in joy and celebration, knowing once I set my feet toward Jerusalem, the Child will grow, and I will be asked to follow. The time of Light and Angels is drawing to a close.  Just when I’ve settled contentedly into the quiet wonder of Star and Child, He bids me leave and follow.  How can I be expected to go back into darkness after sitting mangerside, bathed in such Light?  It’s hard to get away this time of year; I don’t know how I’ll manage.  It’s not just the time…the conversation along the way turns from Birth to Death.  I’m not sure I can stand the stress and pain; I have enough of those already.  Besides, I’ve found the lighting on the road to Jerusalem is very poor.  This time around, there is no Star…

view-of-city-of-jerusalemThe shepherds have left; they’ve returned to hillside and to sheep.  The Magi, too, have gone, having been warned in a dream, as was Joseph, who packed up his family and fled.  If I stay in Bethlehem, I stay alone.  God has gone on toward Jerusalem. (“Looking Toward Jerusalem”, from Kneeling in Jerusalem, by Ann Weems, p. 14-15.)

“If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9: 23b)

Grace and Peace,



The Jordan River, Israel
The Jordan River, Israel

Scripture Passage:  Mark 1: 4-11

4John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.5And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.6Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey.7He proclaimed, “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals.8I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”  9In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan.10And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him.11And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”

And in that moment, everything changed…All of the accounts of Jesus’ Baptism leave us with the image of God’s Spirit pouring into him, changing everything.  But only in the Gospel of Mark are the heavens literally “torn apart”–not opened, but torn, ripped, dramatically separated.  The Greek word for this means “schism”.  It’s not the same as opening.  Open, close, open, close–it is something that can be done over and over again just like you open and close your front door.  But torn is different.  Torn would imply that the ragged edges could never quite go back together again.  It is a new ordering, a new Creation, with the seam between earth and heaven forever weakened, forever separated just enough that one who stops long enough to look could see through the threads.

We are told to “remember our baptism.”  Well, for those of us who were baptized as infants, that is a little difficult.  I was too young.  I don’t remember.  I know there was water; I know there were words; and maybe there was some tearing of the seam between heaven and earth.  But I don’t remember.  Well, thankfully, this sacred journey is not dependent upon chronological memory.  Remembering is not just looking back.  It is, rather, looking through that once-weakened opening between heaven and earth, and seeing ourselves in a different way, as a New Creation.  Because whether or not we remember or whether or not we noticed it, for each of us, the sacred spilled into us and changed everything.  Remembering is to remember that we are part of something far beyong ourselves and certainly far beyond what our minds could eover really remember.

As Jesus stood, dripping with the waters of the Jordan that poured back into themselves, everything indeed changed.  In that moment, Bethlehem and Jerusalem, Creation and Eternity, manger and Cross, all who came before and all who would follow, were one.  In that moment, all that was and all that would be were almost indistinguishable from each other.  In that moment, all of those who were there that day and all of those who were part of the past and all of those who would come later in this walk of humanity, were swept into those waters, swept into the memories of what would be.  Remembering means that we realize that we are part of the story, that we, too, emerge dripping with those waters.

This is a journey of remembering.  Lent is not usually the season when we read this passage or are told to “remember our baptism”.  But it is there, always there, always peeking through that now-jagged opening between heaven and earth.  Remembering our baptism means realizing that we are right now dripping wet with those waters, recreated, with the heavens forever torn apart, forever visible if we will only see.  Remembering is not limited to my memory of the words that were said when that little bit of water was sprinkled on me as a baby but rather the waters that are still dripping from each of us now.  In this and every moment, everything has changed.  Remember your baptism and be thankful.  This do, in remembrance.

Grace and Peace,


Station IX: On the Other Side

"Under the Baobab Tree:  African Stations of the Cross"
“Under the Baobab Tree: African Stations of the Cross”

Scripture Passage: Luke 10: 30-33

30Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. 31Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity.

For us, we have the sense that this procession to the Cross was some sort of grand parade but, truthfully, this was something that happened regularly.  It really was just another crucifixion in the big scheme of society.  And most would have assumed that this poor criminal, already tried, convicted, and sentenced, already rejected by society, was just being dragged to a death that he must deserve.  And, besides, this was the eve of the Passover.  There was so much to be done–errands, food to be prepared, houses to clean.  So think of all the passersby, scurrying through their lives, many complaining about the traffic and the clogged roads that the procession was causing.  So, many would have just passed by on the other side, not wanting to touch or be touched by hopelessness and despair and death or maybe just not wanting or having the time to get involved.  And, then, again, Jesus falls.

Tradition tells us that Jesus collapsed for a third time not far from where he would be crucified.  A Roman column indicates the location of his third and final fall.  It has become part of a wall of a Coptic church.  During the Crusader period, there was a large monastery here, the remains of which are still visible today.  Standing there, you can see the roof of St. Helena’s Chapel, a part of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where a community of Abyssinian monks live today.  This is the place where Jesus would fall for the last time.  This is the end of the road, so to speak.  The next station will be on the other side, preparing him for crucifixion.  This is the last place where those along the way could show mercy, the last place where they could help, where they could stoop down and gently help him to his feet.  But most would pass by on the other side.

This is uncomfortable for us.  After all, where would we have been in the procession?  I hate to admit it, but I’m not the most patient person in the world. I’m afraid that I would have been avoiding the traffic,trying to get everything done, trying to get everything in place by sunset.  We are so accustomed to living a life of faith needing Jesus.  We know we need Jesus.  We know that we are not complete without God.  We do not always live that way, often trying to fix things and change things and make it look like we don’t need anyone.  But we know we do.  We need Jesus.  But, here, here is the place where Jesus needs us.  How can that be?  How can the Savior of the World need me?  These three falls that are depicted in the Via Dolorosa, the Way of the Cross, uncomfortably show Jesus as vulnerable, as betrayed, and as needing us.  So where are you standing?

Jesus still needs us.  We are called to be there to feed the starving, to house the homeless, to clothe the poor.  We are called to be there to comfort the afflicted, to hold the grieving, to love the unloved.  We are called to be there to welcome the sinner and forgive the unforgiven.  We are called to open our church doors to all the children of God.  We are called to be Christ, to be Compassion, to be Love each and every time one of us falls.  So in this Lenten season, let us not relegate our faith to the other side of the road.  Let us walk the way that Jesus walked.

Grace and Peace,


Station V: Anonymous Bystander

Scripture Passage:  Mark 15: 21-24
They compelled a passer-by, who was coming in from the country, to carry his cross; it was Simon of Cyrene, the father of Alexander and Rufus. 22Then they brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means the place of a skull). 23And they offered him wine mixed with myrrh; but he did not take it. 24And they crucified him, and divided his clothes among them, casting lots to decide what each should take.

We know the town from where he came–Cyrene, an ancient Greek colony that became a Roman colony near modern-day Shahhat, Libya.  We know that he was a father of two sons.  Beyond that, this man Simon is essentially an anonymous bystander.  We don’t know why he was there at all.  Had he intended to come and bring his sons to this gory event or had they planned to visit Jerusalem, perhaps steep themselves in history and a little shopping, without realizing what this day would bring?  We don’t know what about him prompted the guards to literally pluck him out of the crowd.  All we know is that this man lives in history as the one, the only one, who helped Jesus carry his cross to Golgotha.

The Scriptures do not say that he responded in any way other than to do it.  It is interesting that in all those years upon years of God’s calls being met with “no, not me, please not me” that this anonymous man about whom we know little would be the one to do this.  So God calls a scared, young, no-name peasant girl to bring Jesus into the world and a foreign, probably dark-skinned, anonymous bystander to carry him out.  Isn’t that just like God?  Here, just before the end, God slips one more Divine reversal in.

You know, Simon had to be afraid.  Good grief.  Here he was in the middle of the processional to a crucifixion!  What if they killed him too?  What would happen to his sons?  His family was miles away.  How would they even know what had happened to him?  And, yet, he didn’t seem to question his role.  He put his hand on Jesus’ shoulder as if to say, “I’m here.”  Then he leaned down and picked up the heavy cross, being careful to place his hands rather than running them down the splintering wood.  And then they began to walk–Jesus and this man, this dark-skinned anonymous man who Jesus had never met, this child of God, this new disciple, this one who without hesitation carried the cross of his Savior.  He would go through the gates and up the hill, touching the edge between life and death. 

But, again, I have to ask, where were those disciples?  Where were those who Jesus had called, who Jesus had groomed, who had been part of Jesus’ ministry, who had been Jesus’ friends?  Why was it THIS man and not them?  Why was it Simon that when it was all said and done was the first to take the yoke of Christ unto himself?  After all, it seems, the disciples would have been in the best position.  It would have made a whole lot more sense.  But, then, where would we be?  Where would those of us who Jesus had called, who Jesus had groomed, who are part of Jesus’ ministry?  Why isn’t it us touching the edge between life and death?  Why do we hold back?

28 ‘Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.’  (Matthew 11: 28-30).  See, we read this with such comfort at what Jesus can do for us.  But what does it mean to “take my yoke”?  For, THAT is the way that our souls will rest.

So, on this Lenten journey, move from being an anonymous bystander to a disciple of Christ.

Grace and Peace,