an interesting tale…

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(morning surf, Santa Rosa Beach, FL / Julie Cook / 2016)

The following tale is taken from a writing by Madeleine L’Engle
Waiting for Judas

“There is an old legend that after his death Judas found himself at the bottom
of a deep and slimy pit.
For thousands of years he wept his repentance,
and when the tears were finally spent he looked up and saw, way, way up,
a tiny glimmer of light.
After he had contemplated it for another thousand years or so,
he began to try to climb up towards it.
The walls of the pit were dank and slimy, and he kept slipping backdown.
Finally, after great effort, he reached the top, and then he slipped
and fell all the way back down.
It took him many years to recover,
all the time weeping bitter tears of grief and repentance,
and then he started to climb up again.
After many more falls and efforts and failures he reached the top and
dragged himself into an upper room with twelve people seated around a table.
“We’ve been waiting for you, Judas” Jesus said.
“We couldn’t begin till you came”

I heard my son-in-law, Alan tell this story at a clergy conference.
The story moved me deeply.
I was even more deeply struck when I discovered that it was a story
that offended many of the priests and ministers there.
I was horrified at their offense.
Would they find me, too, unforgivable…

But God, the Good Book tells us, is no respecter of persons,
and the happy ending isn’t promised to an exclusive club.
It isn’t -face it- only for Baptists, or Presbyterians or Episcopalians.
What God began, God will not abandon.
He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion.
God loves, everyone, sings the psalmist.
What has named will live forever Alleluia!

Madeleine L’Engle

It is indeed an interesting thought to consider that there was, could have actually been,
repentance, then forgiveness given…
to the one who seemingly sold his soul for thirty pieces of the silver for
the betrayal and life of God’s beloved son…
only to be followed by the taking of his own life by hanging over
the damning realization of his actions…

Who am I, steeped in the wretchedness of my own transgressions,
my own unworthiness, is to say, can say,
who is to be forgiven…and who is not…

An interesting tale indeed….

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick;
who can understand it?

Jeremiah 17:9

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked,
following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air,
the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—-
among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh,
carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath,
like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy,
because of the great love with which he loved us,
even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive
together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—-
and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,
so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches
of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
For by grace you have been saved through faith.
And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,
not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works,
which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Ephesians 2:1-10

limp or love

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
John 13:34-35

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(placard that hangs by my backdoor / Julie Cook / 2016)

Anyone old enough to remember the 1960’s knows that that decade was known as the decade of peace and love…
It was also the decade of war and unrest.
With much of that unrest running rampant on American streets.

The decade began with a dashing new young President who was tragically cut down prematurely in the prime of his life.
Death loomed heavily over the United States as the war in Vietnam continued on and on….
Tensions grew exponentially on our college campuses.
Draft cards were defiantly burned, young men ran away to Canada as wooden coffins continued flying home.

The war was murky and deadly…
As a new type of warfare had been unleashed.
Guerrilla fighters lurked in the jungle and rice patties as Napalm was unleashed on entire villages.
The end goal had gotten lost in Washington and no one really understood why we lingered…
If we couldn’t finish successfully what had been started, then why remain buried in all the carnage.
The country definitely exclaimed that enough was enough.

As the decade wore on, other hopeful voices were silenced…
Bobby Kennedy then Martin Luther King were each snatched away just before the turning point.

Even the Catholic Church was not exempt from the decade of turmoil as the groundwork for the first Vatican Council held in over 100 years, better known as Vatican II, saw sweeping doctrinal change–some welcomed the change, some continue to curse the change to this day.

As the bras burned and the peace signs were hoisted high, as the hair grew longer and the season of love saw a brand new dawn…some wondered if life had simply spun out of control…

In 1966 a parish priest at an inner city church, on Chicago’s south side, needed a song for his youth choir to perform.
However nothing seemed fitting for the kids nor for the times in which they were barley holding on…
Peter Scholtes penned a quick tune he felt appropriate…
It was based on verse 35 of John 13…

Almost two thousand years prior, on a warm Jerusalem evening, the night of the Passover, what we now refer to as the Last Supper, was being observed by a rag tag group of friends.
Jesus had just admonished Judas that if he was to go, to do what he had destined himself to do, he must go quickly in order to get on with it…
The air was heavy as an odd tremendous sense of sorrow hung over those gathered.
This was no ordinary Passover and the disciples all sensed it.

Jesus tells those gathered that in just a short while, he will no longer be with them.
This sends a frantic pulse racing through the group.
A heightened sense of panic now replaces the somber melancholy.

Jesus quickly tamps down the nervous chatter…his words send a powerful calm throughout the room.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Jesus knew what was soon to take place, the disciples had not a clue.
Yet He wanted to leave them with a powerful and clear path once he was gone.

The lasting legacy that Jesus offered that solitary night so long ago for not only those remaining 11 friends gathered around that table is also a continuum offered to us to this day…a continuum of love

That Love, which was culminated on a lone wooden cross, is more than an offering or gift, it is a charge.
A charge that came at a tremendous cost.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer reminds us of what that cost actually means…“It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son: ‘Ye were bought at a price’, and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us.”

Many believe, and wrongly so, that the love Christians were charged with so long ago is a passively weak sort of oozing emotional goo. A surface sort of feeling that cannot weather the impending storms of life.
And for those who do not truly grasp the depth, the demands and the drive of this said Love…
they are left lost in its wake…for they underestimated its cost and expectation…

Yet in actuality this Love is a hard love and a tough love.

It is a love that demands not a piece or part, but rather the whole…the entirety of self

It is a love that casts out both doubt and fear.

It stands in the wake of pain and suffering as it is the only thing remaining once the dust of the
battlefield of this life has settled.

The love offered by Jesus that night to his disciples, which is the same love offered to both you and me on Calvary, cost not only Jesus his life but it cost God the life of his only son….it was a life sold for 30 pieces of silver… for both you and I…
And it was paid for, for our salvation, which in turn means that we were bought and paid with Love…

So will you be recognized for the Love of Christ which radiates as your guiding force through the minefield of this most turbulent early portion of the 21st millennium or will you be recognized by your limp…

For they will know us by our Love for we are One in the Spirit….

God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
1 John 14:16-18

A small observation for pondering…

“It is odd how, when you have a secret belief of your own which you do not wish to acknowledge, the voicing of it by someone else will rouse you to a fury of denial.”
Agatha Christie

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(Rose hips in full regalia, somewhere along the Dingle Peninsula, County Kerry / Julie Cook / 2015)

During a recent conversation a friend made the following observation that gave me much pause as I slowly digested the thought…

“There is a Judas everywhere there are those doing the work of Jesus”

Don’t know as if that is meant to be some sort of warning or word to the wise, or just a sort of “know what you’re dealing with” sort of thought…but it was an interesting thought none the less…

DSCN0999(Rose hips in full regalia, somewhere along the Dingle Peninsula, County Kerry / Julie Cook / 2015)

Once, on being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is in your midst.”
Luke 17:20-21

If an enemy were insulting me,
I could endure it;
if a foe were rising against me,
I could hide.
But it is you, a man like myself,
my companion, my close friend,
with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship
at the house of God,
as we walked about
among the worshipers.

Psalm 55:12-14