Month: March 2018

Holy Week: Humanity at its worst – and best

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Holy Week, the week before Easter is the best example I know to show humanity’s weaknesses and strengths.
We begin the week on Palm/Passion Sunday with a palm-waving announcement of Jesus’ royalty “Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurray for Jesus”
and by Friday we hear “Crucify him! Crucify him!”

Why did all those palm-wavers turn into fist-shakers five days later?

An uprising against Roman control had recently been put down and leaders, including Barabbas, were in prison. The city was crowded with people who had arrived for the new year celebrations and the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Passover). The stories were flying about the miraculous cures that Jesus was performing on a regular basis, including Lazarus’ resurrection from the dead. The Jewish religious leaders were meeting to figure out how to protect the temple and the city from Roman retaliation for Jesus’ popularity and they decided that one person’s death was a small sacrifice to assuage the mighty Roman government. It only took a few rumors and the crowd followed along, choosing Barabbas over Jesus when Pilate offered them the choice.

How often have we ourselves swung emotionally 180 degrees like the people of Jerusalem 2000+ years ago? We follow sports stars, TV personalities, and politicians as long as they are doing what we like, but if they fall out of favor, we can quickly yell “Crucify her (or him)!” It’s much harder to hold on to our faith when everyone around us is talking trash about someone.

Yet we have an example in the same story of someone who stood there and took the harsh and demeaning treatment of others and did not respond in kind. In the garden Jesus reminded the disciples that violence did no good and in front of religious and political leaders, he didn’t attack or fight back. He held to his teachings of three years. Love is greater than hate, justice is stronger than politics, and faith is powerful.

Holy week is a time to reset our moral compass so that we can remember that we don’t have to follow the crowd, clamor for retaliation, or attack to protect ourselves. This is not an easy path to follow, yet it is the path that we are on in our daily faith walk. We are human and God has already forgiven us for our human foibles and weaknesses.

God’s Covenants

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So far during this season of Lent 2018, we have studied four covenants that God has made with God’s people.

  1. The covenant with Noah (Genesis 9: 8-17) represented by every rainbow in our skies.
  2. The covenant with Abraham and Sara (Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16) to be God of all people and nations.
  3. The covenant of the 10 Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17) that justice and mercy will be the rule of the lands.
  4. The covenant of forgiveness (John 3:14-21) through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

It is easy to focus on the “thou shalt nots” and the punishment stories of the Bible, yet God calls us to remember that God’s covenant with us is in spite of our behavior. God made a covenant with our ancestors and reaffirmed that covenant in human form as Jesus Christ and then again in the presence of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. Our challenge is to live in an ongoing response to God’s covenant by pausing, reflecting, confessing, and accepting the gift of pardon. John 3:17 says: “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”  That is the covenant that God has made with us. Thanks be to God.

Hasta ahora durante esta temporada de la Cuaresma 2018, hemos estudiado cuatro convenios que Dios ha hecho con el pueblo de Dios.

  1. el pacto con Noé (Génesis 9:8-17) representado por cada arco iris en nuestros cielos.
  2. el pacto con Abraham y Sara (Génesis 17:1-7, 15 y 16) para ser Dios de todas las personas y Naciones.
  3. el Pacto de los 10 mandamientos (Éxodo 20:1-17) de que la justicia y la misericordia serán la regla de las tierras.
  4. el Pacto de perdón (Juan 3:14-21) a través de la muerte y resurrección de Jesucristo.

Es fácil centrarse en los “harás pobres” y el castigo historias de la Biblia, sin embargo, Dios nos llama a recordar que el pacto de Dios con nosotros a pesar de nuestro comportamiento. Dios hizo un pacto con nuestros antepasados y reafirmó que el Pacto en forma humana como Jesús Cristo y luego de nuevo en la presencia del Espíritu Santo el día de Pentecostés. Nuestro desafío es vivir en una continua respuesta al pacto de Dios, al detenerse, reflejando, confesando y aceptando el don del perdón. Juan 3:17 dice: “Porque Dios no ha enviado a su Hijo al mundo para condenar al mundo, sino para que el mundo sea salvo por él.” Ese es el pacto que Dios ha hecho con nosotros. Gracias a Dios.