So it’s spring. And to confirm this repeating annual event, the snow is receding, the skies have been sunny all week and the twisted neighbour across the street has already pressure washed his driveway. Because what’s worse than a dirty driveway in March?
However I have it on good authority that the sun actually rises and shines most days, even on the cloudy ones, and there will be more sunshine in the future.
This is important for us to know because, in other disturbing news, Mueller’s report was only partially released, Justin Trudeau is covering up something big and Ontario teachers are going to have to work harder.
But, above the clouds, the sun is still shining.
. . . Her assignment seemed pretty simple on the face of it – pray for the new legislature – but even her legislative cohorts couldn’t get her to tone down her opening prayer, though they tried. So Pennsylvania State Representative Stephanie Borowicz, apparently traumatized that they were about to swear in their first ever Muslim legislator, invoked the names ‘God’, ‘Lord’ and ‘Jesus’ nineteen times as both nouns and commas.
‘God forgive us. Jesus. We’ve lost sight of you, we’ve forgotten you, God, in our country, and we’re asking you to forgive us…’ She quoted from the Old Testament, praised Don Trump, called on ‘The Great I AM‘ and appealed to ‘… the one who’s coming back again, the one who came, died and rose again on the third day.’ Then to wrap it up she claimed ‘… all these things in the powerful, mighty name of Jesus, the one who, at the name of Jesus, every knee will bow, and every tongue will confess, Jesus, that you are Lord, in Jesus’ name’.
If she can pull off a prayer like that in the state legislature, can you imagine how much better she’d be saying grace before a big family meal? Yikes. Cold mashed potatoes.
Nevertheless, in spite of the perceived danger of a Muslim outsider in the legislature, the sun came up the next day.
But Christianity is not about issues, it’s about Jesus. I’ll say it again because communicators repeat things for effect when they make an important point: Christianity is not about issues, it’s about Jesus. It’s not about measuring or comparing or frankly, right versus wrong. It’s not about something, it’s about someone. Jesus.
Vacuum that thought up into your brain and transfer it to your heart, then let it seep into your world view and then eventually leak out into your words and actions. So next time Christians are arguing or hyper-ventilating about Muslims or sinners or any number of issues or politics or values – just be Jesus because that’s all we’re ultimately about.
Remember the story in the Bible about the woman who was caught committing adultery? Well, it’s a story about a woman who was caught committing adultery (hope that clears it up for you).
Seems some of the religious leaders caught her in the act (eew..) and brought her to Jesus as a way to trap him. They were good, law abiding citizens, remember. They knew their dos and don’ts and could pray up a storm for people to see and hear.
They knew he was very liberal with his affection for outsiders but they also knew that he would need to respect the religious law they all lived by. The sentence for the woman should be death by stoning – a much more ugly punishment than we think – and they wanted Jesus to pronounce the punishment.
So they piously ask him what they should do with the woman they caught in the act – nothing about the man on the other end of the activity by the way. Sounds like a set up.
Jesus doesn’t respond initially but stoops to write something on the dusty ground with his finger. A moment pregnant with dramatic silence.
There are many theories about what he wrote but perhaps he was writing the names of the accusers who had ‘been with her’ or the names of some of their sins. Another theory I’ve heard is that he was fulfilling the ancient role of a priest by stooping to write the names of sinners, perhaps the names of the people there.
Or perhaps he was writing these words of Jeremiah (17:13): ‘Lord, you are the hope of Israel; all who forsake you will be put to shame. Those who turn away from you will be written in the dust because they have forsaken the Lord, the spring of living water.’
At any rate, while he is writing he pauses, stands up and says, ‘If any of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.’ Then he stoops and continues his writing.
Slowly, awkwardly, eyes find other places to look and stones of accusation drop from their hands to the ground while culture, morality, expectation, judgement and legalism fall with them. Her accusers silently remind themselves of other places to be and slip away.
When only Jesus and the woman remain, he says to her, ‘Neither do I condemn you. Go now and leave your life of sin.’
And for a woman literally caught in sin, the sun shone that day.
But hey, Brian – she was caught committing adultery. Are you saying that’s okay?
I’m saying it’s about Jesus and what matters to him. And he said she was okay.
But wait, there is more. If you take a look at this story in your Bible, you will likely see a notation that says something like: ‘The earliest manuscripts do not have John 7:53 – 8:11′ – the record of this woman caught in adultery.
It seems the story bounced around (the future New Testament) for quite a few years, appearing in different places but never quite finding a place to rest until finally settling in John much later. Why do you figure that happened?
Probably because it made good religious people squirm; many of the early Christians had roots that would have reinforced the importance of judging and classifying sin. Maybe they prayed powerful prayers: Oh God! Don’t let our families hear about this immoral woman, Jesus, not being punished for her sin. Jesus. We pray in your holy and mighty name!
But it persisted, wouldn’t go away, kept re-appearing.
Well, I suspect there were many ‘sinners’ in the early Christian movement who refused to let the story die. They were the ones who knew they had adultery and murder and lying and theft and prostitution and extortion and abortion and addiction and hate and judgement and…… in their own stories. I’m sure they also knew logically that forgiveness is wrong and inappropriate; that grace is unfair and unexpected.
‘I don’t condemn you, go out and live a clean new life.’
The woman in John 8 resonated with them. This is too good to keep to ourselves, it has to be in the Story.
And the sun rose again.