We Live in Hope

Weekly Reflection, Sunday, March 25, 2018

By: Bob Hetherington

Jesus entered Jerusalem in triumph. His new understanding of how God’s loving presence works in the world has taken hold. His followers came to Jerusalem to celebrate the victory of their mission and to work for the transformation of the Jewish system of temple worship.

What began with so much hope and promise ended very badly: there was the confrontation with the money changers in the temple; the decision on the part of the Jewish establishment that this rabble rouser from the country had to die; the arrest of Jesus; Jesus being passed back and forth between Pilate and Harod, Harod and Pilate. Finally, Pilate’s decision to let Jesus die because the Jewish leaders were so adamant about it.

On that first Good Friday, Jesus hung upon the cross and there he died. The mission was over. What had begun with such hope and promise had come to nothing. Everything the disciples hoped and believed about Jesus died on that cross. The forces of darkness had won the day. The world had descended into meaninglessness and despair. On Good Friday we keep watch at the foot of the cross and watch an innocent man die.

Palm Sunday ushers in Holy Week. Everything slows down as we move toward the cross on Good Friday. We bring all our questions about how a loving God could let such a terrible thing happen. It is time to examine our own doubts and fears about life. Where is God when we need God most? Sometimes it feels like we are surrounded by silence.

The Lenten journey relentlessly brings us to the foot of the cross. It is hard to be there. We would rather be anywhere else. So, we wait. Is this the way life ends?

Of course, as Christian people we know the story does not end here. God’s greatest miracle still lies ahead. However, we cannot understand the power of God’s transforming presence unless we keep watch at the foot of the cross.

Among the religions of the world, Christianity has the deepest understanding of suffering. God gave his son to die on the cross so the whole world would know about the depth and power of God’s transforming love. Every depth of human suffering can be reached by our God.

We live in hope.

Be Still and Know

Lenten Reflection, Sunday, March 18, 2018

By: Sydna Street

When I was in the second grade the word, practice, made my heart sink. There, always on a beautiful sunny afternoon, I would hear, “Sydna, come inside and practice your music.” I would drag in with dread, of course, as I was picturing the upcoming spring recital.

Only in the last few years has the word practice become a positive word. All it took was a slight reframing of the word to turn me around. A soft voice of instruction, “remember, this is just practice.”

“It’s just practice, not a performance” … suddenly my shoulders softened, my thoughts stopped racing, my breath slowed and deepened.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu put it this way in The Book of Joy, “physical and spiritual practices are not ends in themselves. There is no spiritual competition. Practices reward and deepen through continued efforts. The more we practice, the more we benefit.”

The Brothers of SSJE have provided us with a Lenten offering, Meeting Jesus in the Gospel of John. The beautiful workbook and thoughtful meditations have offered me “practice time.” I call it “Be Still time.”

“Be still and know that I am God.” -Psalm 46:10

After listening to and reading the Brother’s message, it’s time to practice being still, to allow the body and mind to let go, to fast from words and be quiet, and I simply breathe. A favorite practice of mine is a simple breath prayer to be done while sitting or walking.

Simple Breath Prayer:

  • Breathe in deeply.
  • Breathe out as slowly as possible. Continue simply breathing and listening to your breath.
  • After several breaths you may add a word or a prayer, such as…
  • Breath in “Our Father” or a favorite name of God.
  • Breath out “Hallowed be thy name” or a favorite phrase.
  • Or breathe in, “breathe in me,” and breathe out, “breath of God” or any favorite word or phrase will do.
  • Continue simply breathing and listening to your breath.

Remember, it’s just practice!