Surrender

How do we walk with the Lord on His journey? Especially in this year of so much change and uncertainty. Surrender. Endure. Grieve. Resurrect. That’s how.

Day #1: Surrender

Can I introduce my sister, Denell?

Just to clarify, because after watching her video, it’s possible you might think we are actual sisters. We’re not. But like attracts like and Denell exploded into my life on a retreat in 2016.

She is the owner/creator of Coffee As You Are, a Catholic online community. Just recently she quit her day job to dive into spiritual coaching full time–so recently that her website coffeeasyouare.com, is still being rebuilt. But you can find her on Facebook and Instagram (@coffeeasyouare).

We asked her to guest for us during Holy Week because, in her own words, she “LOVES Holy Week!” She’s a Catholic convert, and converts come into the church at the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday–so Holy Week takes on another meaning for them. But I’ll let her tell you:

Spy Wednesday: When a Duck is not a Duck

Today is Holy Wednesday, or Spy Wednesday in older traditions. This is of course a reference to Judas Iscariot, who makes his deal with the scribes and elders to turn Jesus over for 30 pieces of silver.

It is also the day when Mary, sister of Martha and Lazarus, anointed Jesus with expensive oil, prompting the disciples to question whether the oil could have been sold to feed the poor. John is the only Gospel that names Judas as the one who asks the question (12:5), and also notes that Judas asks not out of real concern, but because he carried the purse for the Apostles and embezzled from it.

Jesus knew Judas’ game from the get-go. John 6 tells us that Jesus knew there was a betrayer among the 12, and who it was. He was not fooled by Judas’ display of “concern”.

But here’s an interesting piece to add–In Matthew’s version of the anointing in Bethany, he tells us “When thedisciples saw this (the anointing) they grew indignant, protesting: What is the point of such extravagance? This could have been sold for a good price and the money given to the poor” (8-9). Mark says “There were some who were indignant. “Why has there been this waste of perfumed oil?  It could have been sold for more than three hundred days’ wages and the money given to the poor” (14:4-5). Seems odd that the disciples–as opposed to the Apostles, the Twelve–would have ever questioned Jesus in his presence. Unless–they were led by one of the Apostles. Judas, sowing seeds of discord.

Theologians have spent centuries debating Judas’ role in what happened to Jesus. Their opinions are widely available. But I always see Judas as a cautionary tale about whom we trust with authority, because Judas looked like a duck, walked like a duck and quacked like a duck for three years before he betrayed Jesus–but he was not a duck.

How disheartened Jesus must have been, so near to his death, to know that his followers still had not heard him. To know they could be so easily turned by one with bad intentions.

We too have been turned, at some point and place. We have allowed a Judas to harden our hearts, instead of reaching for patience and surrender and trust.

So today–in preparation for the days to come–let’s pray about the ways our hearts are hard, and how they got that way. Who is Judas in our life? And how can we limit our exposure to those who sow seeds of discord?

Tomorrow: Guest Vlog by Denell Woller of Coffee As You Are on Surrender, the first step on Jesus’ walk to our Salvation.

Revival

It’s Holy Week and I have this whole thing cooked up in my brain about how THIS Easter in THIS year is going to be the one that brings Revival.

Hear me out.

On the macro, Jesus came here to save us by becoming our sin on the Cross and defeating death.

But also, you know my great belief, influenced by Father Richard Rohr, that the Passion, Death and Resurrection of the Christ are also a roadmap for walking the traumas and dramas of our own lives.

In a nutshell, the bad stuff cannot be avoided because it is impossible to live a trouble-free life. Bad things happen. And also we suck at handling bad things as a people in general, because we don’t like pain or accountability or sacrifice or shame or guilt or sickness or death. So we duck and dodge the bad stuff in our lives, or we set up shop there and never leave, and neither of those options makes for happy healthy humans.

The micro of the passion death and resurrection of Jesus is a road map of how to walk bad stuff: straight through, sisters, eyes and ears open. What has to be done, has to be done. The divorce. The job loss. The cancer. The grieving. The aging. The sobering up. The truth-telling. Have to shoulder the cross and walk it. Have to hang there and suffer. Have to die to what came before. Have to. Otherwise there is no resurrection.

When was the last time the world suffered together? World War 2? Long enough that we forgot the lessons. Long enough that we fought it every step of the way and what did we learn? We’re still here, laying in the tomb, waiting on Sunday.

This week, we want to talk about the Resurrection–the one that saved the world and the one we’re going to experience in the coming months. We didn’t live through COVID to go back to the way things were. We died to that life in March of 2020. If we try for that life again, we’re just coming out of the tomb and climbing back onto the cross.

Think of all the things the Resurrection did for us–how it saved us, freed us, changed everything. Two thousand years later, we are an Easter people.

Now ask yourself–how will you be coming out of COVID saved, freed, changed? How will Easter live in your life?

There was a post on Facebook asking what everyone was going to give up for Lent. A woman posted “I don’t think I have the bandwidth this year. I’m just going to try and be a patient mom and get everyone through this.”

When I tell you that I felt this in my bones, I mean that I levitated off my bed. For the rest of my life I will be jealous that I did not say it first: Lent 2021 is cancelled.

Mostly because Lent 2020 NEVER ENDED.

For a year we have been victims of not only this illness, but the jackasses around us, which also forced a roll call over this question: WHO KNEW THERE WERE SO MANY?  My whole life I’ll never forget the way they forced us to sacrifice meaningful life events at the altar of their self-righteousness and callous disregard for the lives of others.

We won’t get back the time we spent trying to reason with them before we realized we were throwing good words after bad into a giant wind tunnel of stubborn, willful, privileged ignorance.

I am joking about this, kind of, because if I really opened up it would overwhelm me.

I know how serious it has been, every day since this time last year. I see the numbers of dead. I know that we are still in it, which means we have not yet begun to reap what was sown in the hearts and psyches of the first responders, medical personnel, teachers, parents. Our kids. The decision makers who just tried to do what was right with the information they had while the peanut gallery screamed for their heads on platters.

This is my point. Like the mom said, we are out of bandwidth. We have been sacrificing so long that we are numb to hope. I hear more and more people talking about “our new normal” like we are post- apocalypse and counting down to the zombies. A traditional Lent with a focus on guilt, denial and sin could push us into despair.

So, nuh-uh. Not doing it. Maybe you can. Go along then.

But over here, we will turn our faces to the light. Easter is coming and our Lenten reflection will be this: Our great, glorious, loving, mighty and ever-faithful God is God in the valley AND on the mountains.

And after a long, scary, tense and uncertain year, we are climbing, sisters.

Vote for Hope

In 2017, 6 days after the inauguration of President Trump, I came here to write about my concerns for our country under his leadership.  I was scared because the new administration seemed to be so uninformed  about the beauty of the constitution and the workings of the government.   I asked you to join me in lighting a candle in your window to signify HOPE for the leadership of our government to put the people of the US and the world first over personal gratification and demagoguery. 

Right before the midterm elections I again wrote requesting that all like minded people continue with the candle in the window, but I also encouraged you all  to vote, to encourage everyone else  to vote and to support the candidates who would put duty first over the pursuit of wealth or popularity.

Now we are in a major crisis.  As of today, October 30,  2020, almost 240,000 people have died from a virus that was trivialized and ignored.   Once it made its  ugly presence known we realized that we were totally unprepared.  The greatest country in the world did not have enough masks, gowns and respirators to keep our health care workers and patients safe.  We cannot provide enough testing to assure who is safe to work and who isn’t.  The federal government alternates from making national pronouncements about behavior to abdicating responsibility to the governors of the states, then insulting them for taking needed measures for control of the situation.   The President releases from duty or fires any person who criticizes or questions his orders.  There is no one in charge who seems to understand the seriousness of the situation.  Again, it seems that our President is reading the first sentence of the report and ignoring the rest of the important information

The election is tomorrow.  So I ask you again to please put your candle back in the window to symbolize HOPE.  Hope that the world working together will find a cure for this pandemic.  Hope that our people will have sufficient food and necessities to get through this situation.  And as a reminder that we all must take seriously our duty to vote for the best candidate, one who is honest and thoughtful, who will choose a strong Cabinet and surround himself with those who understand that the US and the world need to work together for the good of all nations not only in this terrible situation  but in every daily activity.