REFLECTIONS ON HOLY WEEK

As we enter Holy Week, I’ve been thinking about the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I hope you’ll follow along.

Saturday, a devotional I use invited me to read Matthew 26:14-27:66. Then on Palm Sunday, the congregation followed a little donkey across the church grounds to the front doors as a minister led us in a dramatic reading of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem.

PalmSundayCollage

We were given palm fronds to wave like the crowd that called out, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.”

Once inside the sanctuary, the dramatic reading continued using the text from the same scripture I read on Saturday. Chosen for this season in the life of the church, the long passage lays out events from the Last Supper to Jesus’s burial.

What transpired that week rocked the world, especially Jesus’ disciples and other followers. As I read and then listened to the account of his arrest, trial, and crucifixion, I tried to put myself in their places. How confusing and frightening it must have been. Even though Jesus attempted to prepare his followers beforehand, they couldn’t begin to understand until after His resurrection and the coming of the Holy Spirit.

Birds: Five Points to Ponder

Thought Provoking Question

Saturday’s devotional asked me to identify the “threshold” moments I saw in the account. (One definition of threshold is a place or point of entering or beginning, doorway, entrance, portal.)

I thought more about what had been ripped away from Jesus’ followers than a new beginning. The actions of Judas and Peter are so well known, they were the easiest to identify.

How could Judas betray Jesus for money?

And blustery Peter — all talk.

Then there were the disciples who slept while Jesus prayed, the Jewish officials bent on killing Him, members of the mob, mocking soldiers, Pilate, the thieves crucified with Him, the Centurion, casual passersby, Joseph of Arimathea, and the women who watched from a distance.

All had a role in what we’ve come to call the The Passion of Jesus.


Many women were there, watching from a distance. They had followed Jesus from Galilee to care for his needs. 56 Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of Zebedee’s sons. Matt. 27:55-56 NIV


MAKING IT PERSONAL

How easy it is to judge poor Peter through hind sight, until I ask myself how often I have run away and hidden. The truth is, I doubt if I could have summoned the courage to follow and watch the proceedings in the face of such danger.

I don’t think I’m alone.

The reading stirred questions about the Church in 2017.

I HAVE TO ASK

Sea Art

Does maintaining the status quo ever justify packing the court in favor of our position?

Does our need for acceptance prevent us from thinking for ourselves?

Are we tempted to use our power to humiliate someone with a differing opinion?

Do we avoid accepting responsibility by pawning if off on others and washing our hands of unfair consequences?

Are we brave enough to honor someone who falls out of favor and is “crucified” by public opinion?

Are we strong enough to be as faithful as the powerless women who kept watch during the worst day of their lives?

Are we humble enough when we’re guilty of wrongdoing, to admit it and seek forgiveness. Or do we make excuses because we’re too proud to admit our misdeeds?

MOMENT OF TRUTH

Don'sCrossEach time I

fail to stand up for the truth of the Gospel

seek to work out my own plan

vote with the crowd

look out for myself first

I deny and betray Him.

GOOD NEWS

But the Good News is, even when I’m at my worst, Jesus understands my frailty. And thankfully, His resurrection didn’t depend on undependable followers.

I look forward to Sunday when we’ll celebrate Jesus’ resurrection. But until then, I invite you to remember with me what He suffered on our behalf.

Through the power of His cross, he still invites us to step across the most important threshold of our lives — the one that leads into eternity with Him. All we must do is acknowledge our need for a Savior and accept His sacrifice.

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Faith is a mystery that each of us has to explore. But this I know from experience, when we honestly seek Him, He will come. Whatever happens, I want to be found faithful like those women who kept watch — especially when I don’t understand.

flower-crossI hope you will consider Jesus, the Lamb of God, who came to take away the sins of the world.

If you’ve met Him, I am certain you will be honoring Him come Easter morn.

For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled with God by the death of his Son, much more, now reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. 

Romans 5:10 JUB

 

HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY

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One passed me as I entered the grocery store. Head down, clutching a bouquet, he trudged toward the parking lot like a prisoner going before a firing squad. Inside, men of various ages milled around the floral section and frowned over candy displays. One young fellow confidently shifted an armload of pink roses so he could study the Valentine cards, but he was the exception. Most of those guys looked anything but self-assured.

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I watched them, hiding my smile as I remembered my husband’s early attempts to please me on Valentine’s Day. I can still see him clutching a vase of red roses as he strode through a sea of women toward my cubby at work.

His expression was so hopeful that I made over those beautiful flowers. But I’d like to believe I would have raved even if they’d been half dead.

 

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I’d like to believe that the women those men labored to please today will respond like their gifts are absolutely PERFECT.

If they knew how hard their sweethearts worked at choosing them, they would.

 

 

However, if the truth be told, some of those women won’t be able to hide their disappointment.

Expectations can trip us up—even make us behave less admirably than we should.

camiliasMake us forget how loved we really are.

You know. You had your eye on that diamond drop—even hinted at it, but he produced a pearl pendant instead. You forced a smile and hoped he wouldn’t see your disappointment.

Maybe you forgot there wasn’t room in the budget for diamonds.

That actually happened early in our marriage. Afterwards, we discussed how we couldn’t afford diamonds.

It still makes me blush.

But  it was a turning point. I’m happy to say I’ve learned that my husband is the kind of man who’s more comfortable buying me a card and a giant Dove or Hershey bar than shopping for diamonds.

You know something?

I love chocolate. The more, the better.
little-free-library3

 

These days, I shop for my own diamonds.

That’s because he’s busy renovating my bathroom.

Or building a Little Free Library.

Or enlarging a window in our kitchen.

 

Or the absolutely most romantic thing of all—writing me a love note on the lawn with grass seed. (It made my stoic friend cry.)

love-note

That’s the kind of love I wish for you.

Of course, a bouquet is always nice, too. I’ve been known to buy my own.

Happy Valentines Day!

 

Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God

has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

Romans 5:5

 

 

UNTANGLING TROUBLE



One of my summer pleasures is slipping outside early in the morning while the air is cool to water the plants on my porch and deck. Terry rigged up collapsible hoses that coil easily into pots in both locations to make the process more convenient.





The front porch pot is smaller
than the one in the back.


Although it doesn’t take long, this quiet ritual often sets the tone for the day. I learned early on that if I don’t pull the hose out of its container before turning on the water, it will puff up, making removal difficult.

But sometimes I get in a hurry, and I don’t realize the entire hose isn’t free until I’m halfway across the porch and it pulls me up short of the next flowerpot. 

I generally give it a gentle shake to coax it to untangle, then I tug again. Sometimes that works. However, more often than not, I have to retrace my steps and free the hose by hand. 

You could say it tests my patience. 

I’ve been known to tug harder and berate that little black conduit before giving in to the inconvenience and going back. 


In most cases continuing to yank makes the situation worse by tightening the crisscrossed loops into stubborn knots. 

A TEACHABLE MOMENT


As I freed the bulging hose today, I thought about how troubled relationships only get worse when we attempt to deal with them from a distance.

These days, email seems the communication of choice—even though everyone knows it’s fraught with the danger of misunderstanding. 

So why do we do it instead of picking up the phone and calling—or better yet, sitting down, talking face-to-face and really listening with our hearts?
I TOLD you
I am NOT mad.

I suppose sometimes we simply don’t care enough. Or perhaps we dread what we may hear about our behavior. 

I’m not referring to toxic personalities and situations we all need to avoid.


Today I’m thinking more in terms of the times we get offended or hurt by a friend or family member. But instead of picking of the phone and setting things right, we engage in the fine art of passive aggression. 

We may shoot off an angry email full of CAPS to send them on a Guilt Trip. Or we may simply resort to the Silent Treatment.

Granted, sometimes, we need a cooling off period, but there’s danger in allowing it to go on too long.

We all have our weaknesses. You may already recognize yours and someone else’s way of handling conflict, especially if you’re close to them. 

I used to tease one of my grandsons out of pouting by calling him the Incredible Sulk. If I gently persisted, pretty soon, I’d see one corner of his mouth quirk up. He just couldn’t help it and soon we’d be giggling. 

DELIVER ME FROM STUBBORNNESS

It’s difficult to admit, but there are times we just don’t want to say we are 

WR…  
WRO… 
WRONG. 

I hate being wrong. Don’t you? But everyone’s at fault occasionally. In fact, I suspect in most misunderstandings, both people bear some responsibility. 

Let’s give each other grace.
If communication has broken down, someone has to take the first step. 

As a Christian, I know I’m called to forgive, turn the other cheek, seek reconciliation. (I hate to tell you this, but the scripture doesn’t say one word about using email instead of talking to the other person face-to-face.)
Because I seem to need to talk things out, I’m likely to pursue a conversation as long as I feel safe. But I already know I shouldn’t be spending time with anyone I don’t feel safe around.

I may start with a note, then follow up with a phone call. And I just might show up on their doorstep if they don’t respond. 


If you ever find me standing at your door, it’s because I love you. I hope you’ll greet me in the same spirit. 

Even when we’re at odds, we can’t fail if we put on the love of God.

Is there someone you need to write or call? 

Please don’t wait.

Love is patient, 
love is kind. 
It does not envy, 
it does not boast, 
it is not proud. 
5 It does not dishonor others, 
it is not self-seeking, 
it is not easily angered,
 it keeps no record of wrongs. 
6 Love does not delight in evil 
but rejoices with the truth. 
7 It always protects, 
always trusts, 
always hopes, 
always perseveres. 
8 Love never fails. 
I Cor. 13:4-8

Copyright © Reflections from Dorothy’s Ridge 2016. All rights reserved