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Month: April 2012

Easter and Those Bad People

All the hymns we sang Easter morning were full of me’s. Me, me, me, paired with the occasional I. Jesus died for me. Jesus saved me. Jesus sacrificed for me. I am not worthy of what Jesus did for me.

What if we changed the me? What if we made it, Jesus died for the man sleeping on the sidewalk whom you just walked by?

Jesus died for drug lord sitting in the prison cell.

Jesus died for the rapist and the child molester and the Ponzi schemer and the banker who never saw a conflict of interest he couldn’t ignore and the woman who believes it’s all hers and expects honors if she choses to share just the tiniest bit.

Would we still like such a man, one who died for all those bad people? Or would we think, what a waste!

here’s to creative synthesis . . .

Holy Week and the Sour Wine

I always saw the “sour wine” incident as just ugliness. There Jesus is, dying, and those watching run and put sour wine on a stick and offer it to him. Taunting him, it seemed to me. “Yeah, he’s calling for Elijah – let’s see if Elijah comes to him.” This Palm Sunday, I heard the incident differently.

When Jesus called for God, the bystanders believed he called for Elijah. Wine was given to him not to taunt but to help him live a little longer. The bystanders wanted Jesus to live at least long enough for them to see if Elijah really would come to him: “and gave it to him to drink, saying, ‘Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down.’

Their minds weren’t made up. A part of them believed it could be so. As they stood watching the crucifixion, the witnesses still weren’t sure if they were actually killing the Son of God.

How many of us this Holy Week will stand by during an incident and wonder if we are watching a killing of God’s presence in this world?

here’s to creative synthesis . . .

Holy Week and the Kiss

The Kiss, for me, has always been one of irony: Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss. My reaction this Palm Sunday was different. This time, I saw the necessity of the kiss.

Judas had to have a sign to identify Jesus because he couldn’t be picked out of the crowd. Jesus didn’t “look like” a rabbi. He wasn’t wearing “leader” clothes—no suit and tie or embroidered vestments for him.

Nor was his attitude such that those sent to arrest him would know—okay, that’s him. Jesus practiced what he preached: he was one of the group.

How many of us this Holy Week are willing to make ourselves no more than part of the group?

here’s to creative synthesis . . .

Holy Week and the Best of Intentions

Peter’s betrayal of Jesus has always seemed so predictable to me. Jesus just told you that you would betray him! Weren’t you listening? But this Palm Sunday, I saw Peter differently.

Before, I’ve always seen Peter skulking in the courtyard, afraid of being recognized. But what if Peter were in the courtyard because he was trying to stay as close as possible to Jesus? Unsure exactly how he could help his Lord, he knew one thing: he had to stay close to do it.

Aware he’d be run off if he were exposed as a follower of Jesus, when confronted, he denied it. Adamant, he shushed those trying to expose him and ruin his plan. He was, in fact, doing exactly what he’d earlier told Jesus he would do: die with Jesus if must be. In the process, he denied his Lord.

How many of us this Holy Week will, with the best of intentions, “stick to our guns” and end up denying Jesus?

Holy Week and The Other

Most likely, you know that Barabbas, in contrast to Jesus, was a real criminal. I admit I must have conflated him with the two bandits who were crucified with Jesus, because only this Palm Sunday did I hear his actual crime.

According to Mark, Barabbas was in prison with the rebels who committed murder during the insurrection. The insurrection, I assume, refers to an armed insurrection against the occupying Romans.

So when the crowd shouts to release Barabbas, they aren’t just—irrationally—picking a common criminal over the Son of God. They are choosing the armed leader, the military hero. They are choosing as their way violent overthrow of the Romans, rather than Jesus’s way.

Jesus’s way, one could argue, was harder. Jesus asked the Israelites the same thing he asks of us: to examine the injustices in our own society, rather than blaming outsiders for all our ills (that “plank in the eye” business.) It’s an unpleasant suggestion, since it’s always easier to aim our anger at an outside group than it is to examine our own behavior.

How many of us as we prepare for Holy Week are choosing to blame “them” for the delay in the arrival of God’s Kingdom?

here’s to creative synthesis . . .

Holy Week and Money

For fifty years, I’ve attended Palm Sunday services. Every service has featured a Passion Play. This Palm Sunday, thanks to the presentation co-produced by Virginia Ralph, I heard something different. Actually, I heard many things differently. I’ll share them with you this Holy Week, beginning with the anointing of Jesus.

I’d always heard this scene, where the woman breaks the alabaster jar and pours ointment on Jesus’s head, as one primarily of foreshadowing: Jesus, about to die, has his body anointed for burial. This Palm Sunday, I heard the actual disagreement that occurred.

After the woman did her thing, the others were angry. To be specific, they were mad about the waste of money. They scolded her and argued with Jesus about money. Immediately thereafter, according to Mark, Judas betrayed Jesus for money. Speculation abounds over Judas’s motivations, but Mark wrote his Gospel where a rift over money is followed by a betrayal for money. I’d never before heard the pivotal role that money played in the Passion story.

How many of us, present at the most important spiritual moment of our lives, are sidetracked by thoughts of money?

here’s to creative synthesis . . .

© 2017 - Ellen Morris Prewitt |