Ashes

Easter solitude...

Easter solitude...

We don't know what the first Easter was like for its main character. Jesus didn't ring in that Sunday morning with bright pastel colors, mimosa-filled brunches, large family get togethers, or any of the other modern occurrences we associate with the holiday. I imagine the first Easter to have been very quiet (given its unexpected nature). No one expected Jesus to come back, and so his welcoming committee was probably rather sparse.

Ashes 15: Can you see...

Ashes 15: Can you see...

This story is honestly one of my favorites, mostly because in this scene, you see a different side of Jesus: the mildly frustrated, cut-straight-to-the-point, unable-to-mince-words Jesus. He's just had another go with the Pharisees, men so caught up with legalism and stringent piety that they fail (on a regular basis) to see God's presence and activity right in front of them. Even after observing countless healings and miracles, these guys are obstinate enough to ask for a sign. Jesus' response: No. You aren't getting one. At least not the one that you seem to think is going to change your mind.

Ashes 14: Held hostage...

Ashes 14: Held hostage...

I am so incredibly disappointed and hurt right now. I am frustrated. I am infuriated. I am saddened. How have we gotten to a place where the Gospel, where the supposed "Word of God" can yet again be used as a weapon against a group of people that have been hurt over and over again? How can so many of "God's people" think it is okay to show such blatant hostility against "the least of these" simply because they've been told that Matthew 18 says it's okay to do so.

Ashes 13: Quality of life...

Ashes 13: Quality of life...

Jesus' intent for most if not all of his encounters with people isn't just about living. It's about thriving. It's about being a part of community, about having a place to call home. Often, after Jesus healed someone in scripture, that person would ask to follow Jesus, would show a desire to be a part of the work he was doing. More often than not, Jesus' response was, "No. Go home. Go back to where you belong." It wasn't that Jesus' didn't want the company or the friendship. It was that his healing a person was always more than just a physical act. It was holistic, encompassing the whole of a person's life.

Ashes 12: Go home...

Ashes 12: Go home...

So the demons are gone, the man is made whole, the pigs have run off, the crowds are terrified, and Jesus is literally getting on a boat to leave. Our guy, restored and transformed, asks... begs Jesus to come with him. Jesus response is probably the most horrifying piece of this whole story: go home...

Let them see how you've changed...

Let them see who you are, who I made you to be...

Go home and be real, be transparent, be authentic...

Let go of your demons, be free to be yourself, and let your world be transformed just as you have been...

Ashes 11: Harvest...

Ashes 11: Harvest...

In order to be healthy, we must develop the skill of telling the good truth from the bad, the nurturing from the infectious. When we do this, we grow into the kinds of people who know how to love more deeply, to accept others openly, and who can look in the mirror and see ourselves for who we truly are: people who are loved, valuable, and worthy.

Ashes 10: Give life...

Ashes 10: Give life...

Growing up, I remember hearing the phrase "Jesus came to die" over and over and over. Back then, I simply believed it, took it at face value. As I got older and struggled with depression and thoughts of self-harm, the idea that the person who was supposed to save me only showed up to die was pretty heartbreaking....

It had to be about more than death...

Ashes 9: Unlawful...

Ashes 9: Unlawful...

...what good is legalism, what benefit is there to blind faith, if it doesn't lead is into right relationship with God, with self, and with neighbor? How does self-righteous asceticism make us more like God? How does lording our "morality" over others evince God's love flowing into us and out of us? Often, to be on God's side means challenging the status quo, means turning the world upside down, even at the risk of our own lives. After all, doesn't Jesus teach us that the greatest example of love we can set is the willingness to lay down our lives for those around us...

Ashes 7: Legion...

Ashes 7: Legion...

In the midst of the phone calls, emails, bills, responsibilities, and basically overbearing nature of trying to be a whole person in a world moving too fast, I hear the Peacegiver tell me to calm down, slow down, and sit down. I hear him speak to my depression and self-loathing, to my paranoia and anxiety. In a gentle, subtle, almost playful yet incredibly endearing fashion, he puts a finger to my lips, stares me in the eye, and tells me kindly to shut up.