Friday, March 29, 2013

Holy Week

Holy week is always a tremendous time spiritually for me. When we as Catholics go through our ceremonies of reading the gospel together, actively participating in carrying the cross, or even watching as some of our members get their feet washed by our priest; all tend to move me to really think about the Passion of our Lord and Savior. This year has been especially moving, I think because last year was so vibrant and moving that I missed parts of it (being the year I came into the church.)

What struck me as particularly moving, was a moment I haven't spent much time thinking about. As Father Don was preparing to wash the feet of these wonderful people in front of me, he took off his covering (outer robe.) and stood before us in just a stark white linen garment. It dawned one me that I didn't really think about the fact that Father Tim had done the same thing last year. Here they stood before me, just as Jesus was before his Apostles. Jesus had taken his robe off and was wearing a towel around his waist.

My mind began to wonder in awe... What must it have been like, to know that the Son of God was kneeling before you.. stripped of his outer garments? Like a servant. Bowing to wash the dirt and grime of this world, of soil that was foreign to them, soil that many still thought made them unclean. Here was the King of Glory, washing their feet. A menial task. Something meant for the servant, or for the help.

Do we realize the amount of humility it must have taken? For someone fully human, to bow themselves, knowing they had all the glory of Heaven.. but emptying themselves of it to wash a foot?  Then we see our priests, even our pope, kneeling and washing feet, and some of them kissing them in humility, every Easter. How often we criticize them for the smallest of faults! That one is angry! That one is lazy! That one, well he's just waiting for retirement.... But today.. regardless of faults.. they knelt and washed feet.

Have you allowed Jesus to wash your feet? Think about what that means. As he told Saint Peter, "If I do not wash  you, you have no part of me." Think long and hard on this next passage, it's powerful to think of during this time of reflection as we approach Easter Sunday.

When he had washed their feet, and taken his garments, and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.  For I have given you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.  Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him.  If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.

As the service finished  and Father Don walked to the front and began to put his robes back on I thought, someone should help him.. he has done so much for us today, kneeling through his pain, walking with visible pain up the steps to get to his robe.. Do we realize what he has done for us? He has reminded us of Christ... how much more powerful a gift can he give?

In Christ,

Friday, March 1, 2013

The Eyes of a Child

The other day I was attacked by a ninja in my own home. I'm pretty sure that Dustin Gurntz had something to do with it, because I've  been told he's definitely the ninja. I had left the house to get our youngest off the bus and in the interim our other daughter devised an ambush. She gathered a large sloppy snow ball, and hid inside the house with it. As we walked in I began to take off my coat and smoosh.. upside the head with a big, cold wetness. I glared... I laughed... I giggled... then I warned.  "When you least expect it, I'll get you back."

For a few days she flinched when I'd walk past her waiting for the snow ball, or the tickled attack. I never gave it to her, I simply waited. Then tonight, she fell asleep on the couch.  You all know where this is going right? I did what my father would have done, what all of us men for generations do, I got a big bucket, filled it with snow and dumped it on her in her sleep.

It was priceless! For about 20 seconds.. till I heard a earthshaking, crying scream. It was coming from to her left, it wasn't even her crying. She was shaken of course, but she wasn't as torn and demolished as the young 6 year old girl standing next to her who informed me it wasn't funny for me to make Sarah cry. My daughter, my youngest child, stared at me tears streaming down her face.. looking at me as if I were a stranger.  My world was shattered. I had scared her. She trusted me to always do good, and here I was... being probably the worst example my children could have.

Later I apologized to Sarah for dumping the snow on her and made her a promise. I would never, ever do it again. Haley laughed and said but he didn't promise either of us!  I agreed, and we all went towards the car to go get some food. Moira asked me to stay inside with her while she switched to her boots and that's when it happened. That's when God spoke through my little girl to me, with eyes looking at me with wisdom beyond their years, she informed me of my error.

"Daddy, you know you promised Sarah you would never do it again. That means you promised all of us. God is inside each of us, and you promised God that you would never, ever do it again." How many times have I sat in a room with a prayer group and reminded them to try and see God in each person they meet? Yet until this morning it had never dawned on me that when I promise someone.. I'm not just making a promise to them, but to God.. and thereby to every person made in God's image as well. Goodness doesn't just stop with the individual.. it's a communion... a community.  Did Jesus have this in mind when he said make your yes, yes and your no, no?

She looked at me with those piercing eyes for what seemed like an eternity. Then she looked down at her shoes, and when she looked back up it was happy go lucky Moira, as she danced out there in her snow boots informing me, "And I'm glad that God made feet!"

In that small moment, that instance I was taught something that Jesus told us 2000 years ago, but a lesson we learn again and again.

At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?"  And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them,  and said, "Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.  Whoever humbles himself like this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.  "Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me;  but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin,  it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened round his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. 
Mathew 18:1-6

How often we allow our studies to make us feel important and powerful.   We study theology, we study the bible, we study psychology and sociology.   We then think we have figured out God... but simple truths, they are seen by 6 year old's when a bucket of snow is dropped on their sister... a 6 year old who reminds us that it's not funny... In a society where our television shows ask us to tease one another and play jokes on each other... she reminds me that I am to be good always.   That when I sin against one of these... I am sinning against God himself.

It brings a whole new meaning to that simple phrase that David penned in his anguish, many years before the birth of Jesus, doesn't it?

Have mercy on me, O God, according to thy steadfast love; according to thy abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.  Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin!  For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done that which is evil in thy sight, so that thou art justified in thy sentence and blameless in thy judgment. Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.  Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward being; therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.  Fill me with joy and gladness; let the bones which thou hast broken rejoice.  Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. 10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right* spirit within me.  Cast me not away from thy presence, and take not thy holy Spirit from me.  Restore to me the joy of thy salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.  Then I will teach transgressors thy ways, and sinners will return to thee.  Deliver me from bloodguiltiness,  O God, thou God of my salvation, and my tongue will sing aloud of thy deliverance.  O Lord, open thou my lips, and my mouth shall show forth thy praise. 

Psalm 51:1-15