Thursday, March 21, 2013

Before entering the chaos of Holy Week: "He went away again across the Jordan . . ."

Bedouin resting by the River Jordan
The gospel lesson for this morning (John 10:19-42) is long, multi-layered, convoluted and tense as it portrays the conflict between Jesus and “the Jews.” Violence oozes between the lines. Sadly it is one of those passages that has been used to justify the persecution of Jews down through the centuries. It is hard to read, and tempting to skip.

It is therefore perhaps a perfect passage to set the stage for the chaos of Holy Week, with Palm Sunday, the Last Supper, the betrayal of Jesus, the mockery of his trial and his death-by-execution on the Cross.

But before we enter the abyss of Holy Week, please notice the very end of this passage (verses 40-42):
“He went away again across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing earlier, and he remained there. Many came to him… and many believed in him there.”
Jesus withdrew to the place where his ministry began, the River Jordan. He returned to the river that stands between life and death. He went to the cool waters where many people – including Jesus – had given up their old life to take up a new life. He returned to the river of his baptism where life comes out of death.

May each of us find that place as we go about our lives, especially in those moments of tension and chaos, pain and hurt.

As we enter these holy days, my prayer for each of us is we will return to the rivers of new life with gratitude and awe. May we remember at the core of our soul our baptism and the living Christ who is alive within us. May we discover anew the newness of life that the Holy Spirit gives us each moment of our existence, and see ourselves as God’s miracle. May we touch these life-giving waters despite whatever chaos surrounds us, and may we make each week of our life Holy. Amen

By James Richardson, Fiat Lux

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