Two Kinds of Leaders
This year, with the killing of George Floyd, the difference between a good police officer and a bad one has come to the forefront.
What was Jesus’ first word to his friends when he came to them the evening of Easter? It was Shalom. This is a word that means more than just peace. Wholeness, healing, living a life that has integrity and consistency. Shalom speaks of God’s providence.
Palm Sunday begins the Passion story. Like all well-told stories, the plotline is complicated. I’ve written and directed several Easter Dramas/Passion Plays. There are a lot of moving parts. Some years Pontius Pilate steals the show and people go home feeling that if this man had been different – had better motives or been more principled – then the play would have ended differently.
To be in a body is to be in a particular body. We have as much choice over these things as a seed does in where it falls to earth. Do you believe God has a plan for your life? It sure beats the alternative. Gods plan is that you die to your seedy, individualized self.
This is a good time to speak about our need for healing and the compassionate love of Jesus. The current global pandemic could make us wonder if God is testing us. Did the coronavirus come into our world to test our faith?
Jesus speaks openly about his journey to the cross. He addresses his disciples as one adult telling other adults about what he sees ahead. Then Peter responds, “You can’t do that!” Peter is using his parental voice in reprimanding Jesus.
When Jesus was baptized in the Jordan, the Holy Spirit drove Jesus into the wilderness. Note that the verb drove does not mean that the gentle and mild spirit pulled up in an RV and waved Jesus into the air-conditioned cabin before heading off to an oasis with a pool and free Wi-Fi. No, the spirit drove him like a mighty wind away from everything familiar. Covid-19 has driven us into a similar wilderness. Life is, as Scott Peck reminds us, painful. We don’t become mature by avoiding pain. We become all that God calls us to be by allowing the spirit to drive us into the wilderness with Jesus.
Jesus has been doing things with his disciples. We read about his miracles. We try to make sense of what he taught. But Jesus knows what lies ahead. He is really at the mid-point of his mission. And at mid-points, it is good to pause, take stock, and reconnect with what matters for the journey. We tend to think that religion is about what we do; the songs that we sing, the offerings that we bring, and the words that the preacher says. Religion is really about the doorway, the emptiness, the wilderness, and the lonely mountaintop.
Jesus charged nothing. We tend to say, “You get what you pay for.” That saying is nowhere in the Bible. It is a luxury to be able to pay more for something. Many people live on the edge of subsistence. We should be mindful of them as we line up for our vaccine or drive by the local food bank.
Jesus gave the Holy Spirit to those he left behind so that they might have his authority to go into this hurting world and be compassionate. Anyone who knows Jesus can be “an authority” by simply choosing to love the people around them without compromise.
Note that Psalm 139 speaks about the pseudo-religiosity of our enemies. They speak of God with evil intent. (verse 20) When the Devil goes out to recruit fools for his army, he always visits our churches. Conservative Christianity needs to renounce Trumpism.
God has intruded into our cycle of birth - innocence - rebellion - maturity - midlife - old age - and death. He has given us something eternal. What we see is not a generational division, but a timeless unity.
Mary makes a spiritual leap that I think we all should make this Christmas season, especially in the midst of our fears and the growing social unrest of 2020. She says that the Messiah will be born on the wrong side of the tracks.
As we look through the Bible, most of Jesus’ words were comforting words. He went around healing people – not just their bodies, but also their hearts. When we have been broken by life, Jesus is not there to tells us what we did wrong. He comes to bring us comfort.