Meditation

"The greatest thing in this world is not so much where we stand as in what direction we are moving." 

-Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, 19th century, writer and scientist


"The measure of a man is what he does with power." 

-Plato, 4th century B.C.E.



Week of April 14 - Palm Sunday

“Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him... Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet...” (from John 13:1-17)  

Dear Friends,

As we conclude our Lenten journey and begin to make our approach into Holy Week, I began thinking about one of the most powerful acts of servitude Jesus does within his ministry: washing the feet of his disciples after sharing a final Passover meal with them. Jesus knelt down and washed the feet of each disciple, even the one who would soon betray him. 

For centuries, it has been a papal tradition that the Pope commemorates Jesus’s act by washing the feet of twelve Vatican priests. It became a beautiful ritual, one that eventually lost any real power or impact. In the usual tradition, on Holy (Maundy) Thursday Pope Francis washed the feet of twelve priests... and then he opened the circle much wider. He knelt down and began to wash the feet of women, Muslim migrants, prison inmates, the homeless, the disabled, and the dispossessed.  Many were appalled that the Pope would do such a thing. And in doing so, the ritual of Jesus’s act of servant-leadership had regained its shocking, inspiring impact once again.

Sometimes, the only thing harder than humbling ourselves to “wash the feet” of others, is to allow our own “feet to be washed.” Accepting and receiving the deepest love of another is often (paradoxically) more difficult than providing that kind of love. Peter struggled with it. He initially refused to allow Jesus to wash his dusty feet. But Jesus modeled how we are to act with one another by kneeling before his friends: “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.”

We are told by Jesus to assume a posture of humility and care for the needs of those around us, sometimes the most physical and tangible needs. And just as importantly, we are told by Jesus to allow others to care for us in the same way. This can be the deeper challenge for many of us, as it was for Peter. May we have the grace to both give andreceive humble, loving care, in the way our Servant-Leader, Jesus, showed his disciples.

Yours on the Journey,
Jennifer



Meditation


“Generosity is not in giving me that which I need more than you do, but it is in giving me that which you need more than I do.” 
― Kahlil Gibran

“That's what I consider true generosity: You give your all, and yet you always feel as if it costs you nothing.” 

― Simone de Beauvoir 

Meditation

 

“We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men

are afraid of the light.” 
― Plato

“How far that little candle throws his beams!  So shines a good deed in a weary world.” 
― William Shakespeare

Week of March 17

 

Set me as a seal upon your heart;
Tattoo me on your arm;
For love is stronger than death,
Fierce enough to overcome the grave.
Waves of water cannot extinguish love,
No disaster can drown it,
No amount of wealth can replace it.

Song of Solomon 8:6-7

(paraphrase by Rev. Jack Perkins Davidson)

Dear Friends,

It is hard to be human.

We hear the news from New Zealand of the atrocious mass shooting at a mosque, a gunman killing scores of faithful Muslims as they attend afternoon prayer. Our hearts break at this devastation, and over the hatred, fear and violence that caused it. We hear news of an airline crash in Ethiopia, killing all those aboard the flight, followed on the heels of the crash in Indonesia. Our hearts break for all those lives lost, and for the families shattered by grief. And too, each of us carries our own burdens of grief, loss, loneliness, trauma, and suffering.

It is hard to be human.

Yet, even as we know deep in our bones—on the molecular level-- that we “are dust, and to dust we will return”, we are also promised that love is stronger than death: that the love we have for another one cannot be conquered or overcome, and that nothing can separate us from the love of God.

This week Carter and I will be engaged in a sermon dialogue focused on the cross. Titled “Cross Talk,” we will attempt to speak to what the cross means to us and why the cross, however we understand it, stands at the heart of Christianity.  As we move deeper into Lent, and sit with the reality of a world that at once holds suffering and joy, I believe the cross can be a place where we discover the God who knows first-hand how hard it is to be human, the God who meets us in our own suffering, and promises that the final word is not death, but love.

 Yours on the Lenten journey,

Jennifer