A New Leaf

Ponderings in Changing Seasons


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My Fickle Heart

It’s Wednesday. In what some call the Week that is Holy.

Now back to Sunday.  In what some call the Sunday of Palms.  It was Holy!  The Sabbath.  The day for doing no work.  Yet, here came Jesus, riding on an unridden colt of a donkey.  Low.  Humble.  And the crowds cheered!  “Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the LORD,” they chanted.  Some cut palm fronds and laid them upon the road he would traverse.  Some simply took off their cloaks, their coverings and laid them under His Feet.

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I imagine what that would look like:  the green of the palms, the MANY COLORS of the raiment of the people.  The unison of the crowd calling out their “Hosannas” ~ a sight to behold!

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It was a moment foreshadowed.  Joseph, the favored son of Jacob, had a coat of many colors.  He is famous for it.  But the back story isn’t so pretty!

Joseph was the long-awaited son of Rachel whom Jacob loved.  And Rachel was the long-awaited wife of Jacob for whom he bound himself to Laban, her father, for seven years ~ TWICE!!  You see, Laban’s heart was fickle, calculating.  He promised to give Rachel to Jacob for the indemnity of service for seven years, not uncommon in the days of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  But then he broke his promise, tricked Jacob and instead gave him her older sister Leah in matrimony.  Jacob could not decline this unwed, uncomely sister of His Beloved because of his heart’s desire. He was at the mercy of this merciless one.  And so they were wedded.  And then Jacob worked another seven years for the sake of Rachel.  He obtained the Victory, the Prize for whom he had set his eyes and on whom he had set his heart.

But then, Rachel was barren.  Meanwhile, Leah and her concubine Zilpah were bearing him  sons ~ Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah and eight more.  And Rachel for the solace of her barrenness gave him her concubine, her maid Bilhah to conceive and bear him progeny.  To fill her aching arms with Child.  In that day the child of a concubine was considered the child of the wife.  Still Rachel bore no children.

But one lovely night, deep in the tent of Jacob, love expressed conceived.  And from their union was born the long-awaited child Joseph.  He was to have a little blood brother Benjamin.  Yet Joseph remained the Favored One, the First Born of his Beloved!!  Jacob, his father, gave him a many-colored coat to wear to show Everyone he was SPECIAL!  And he did ~ wear it and wear it and wear it!! (You know how sibling rivalry runs!!  Some flaunt; others become jealous.  And there can be Hell to pay!)

Joseph’s brothers plotted to literally kill him, but Reuben, the eldest, persuaded them just to leave him in a pit to die.  And they told their father a wild animal had killed him, deceived him as he had once deceived his own father Isaac.  (Oh, the generational patterns we weave as we deceive!)

This coat, these colors, these patterns.  Jesus rode a donkey’s colt who trod upon the cloaks of many colors.  He trod upon our jealousies, our deceptive habits, our wanton self-centeredness, our anger and our angst.  He trod upon our depressions and our anxieties.  He trod upon our heartaches, our confusion, our fear.  Color these red and blue and green and yellow and orange and black.  See the green palms ~ LIFE ~ laid in and amongst the many colors.  Hear again the crowd’s loud acclamations of Hope and Hosannas!  Surely NOW! Surely THIS MAN!  Surely MESSIAH had come!

But now it’s Wednesday.  The crowds are silent.  They’ve gone back to their work, their families, their mundane lives.  The Hope has waned.  How intense the passions of the crowd.  It is contagious.  It wanes in solitude.  Our fickle hearts!  My fickle heart!

Tomorrow is what is called Maundy Thursday.  On that day we remember.  We who are Disciples, Christ followers, we take Communion and we remember.  We remember that Jesus washed the feet of His Disciples.  Where the crowds laid down their colorful cloaks, He laid down His Life.

He took the Bread and the Fruit of the Vine of Passover Remembrance and called it His own:  His Body, His Blood.  And He prayed!  And prayed! And prayed!  In the Garden.  It is told that He sweat great drops of Blood as he travailed.  And then:  He was betrayed.  By His friend.

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He was led away without flexing His muscles, without calling all Heaven down in manifestation of His Glory.  He was ridiculed and shamed and beaten and tortured ~ to death!  Where were the crowds then who so acclaimed Him five short days before?  Oh, yes, they still were passionate.  They still cried out in unison.  But now their words were, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” And that generational thing?  These were their words, “His Blood be on us and on our children!”

My fickle heart can quickly change from passionate admiration and loyalty to resentment and resistance.  My fickle heart cries out at one time “Save me! Rescue me from this world of woe. Hosanna!”  Then just as quickly, my fickle heart can switch to “Where are You? Why have You not done NOW what I wanted?” and it bleeds out in moodiness and stubbornness and self-focus. Those around me are the recipients of my angst!

He came to call me from my brokenness into His Wholeness.  He came to offer me Mercy and Grace.

He came to save my fickle heart.  He, the Favored One of the Father, came to give me Favor!

And so on this quiet Wednesday, again I sing:  

Hosanna, Hosanna!   Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the LORD!                                                                                               


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come as you are

An Invitation:  to a Celebration!

A Come As You Are Party

No need to purchase an outfit:  what you have on right now will do just fine.

No need to check your calendar for conflicts: come right now.

No need to find out who else is invited:  YOU ARE and that is all that matters.

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A week ago Wednesday was Ash Wednesday, the start of the Lenten Season for 2016.  It will go on for 40 days.  Many who believe Jesus was and is the Son of God will spend this time in humble gratitude for what Jesus did for them.  They will fast some food or some activity that is significant to them.  Or, they will, as in my case, decide to stop a bad habit and acquire a better habit in its place.  They will allow this “Season” to be one of transformation.  Just as the humble caterpillar enters its cocoon and emerges a graceful butterfly, those honoring this Season hope to emerge a better, more grace-filled version of themselves.

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In many of my former years, I have elected to fast sugar .. or coffee .. or, not just sugar, but  sweet pastries .. or some other exercise in self-denial.  I emerged grateful for the aforementioned, embracing the delectable tastes once more. But, if I am honest, I cannot say I was changed, let alone transformed by the exercise in any discernible way.  Over the years, though, I have to believe that there has been a gradual transformation.  I now am fascinated by the WORD  and the Words of God!  I carry HOPE eternal in my heart that this world of woe belies.  I believe in the Power of Prayer to effect change.  ALL these things ~ and MORE ~ are due in part to my commitment to honor this Lenten Season which leads to the Via Delorosa which leads to Calvary which leads to the Tomb which leads to RESURRECTION MORNING!!!

What Lent requires of us is to Stand before Jesus, then to bow low.  I don’t easily bow low; my natural self prefers to STAND TALL!  But it is only in the laying low of self that the Journey to Truth occurs.  Only the Journey to Truth leads to Redemption.  And who doesn’t want Redemption?

“Taste and see that the LORD is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!”*

There’s a Party goin’ on .. non-stop!  And YOU – Me – We ALL are invited, “just as we are”!  We don’t have to get cleaned up or prepped in any way.  All that we need do is say, “YES!”  The saying is true that the ground is level at the foot of the Cross.

That means ALL are welcome.

Why not enter into Lent this year, if this is not your pattern?  Even though we are just a bit more than a week into Lent, if you commit the remaining time to draw apart from the usual, to draw in to taste His Living Water,** you will never thirst again!  You will find strength and peace for the day.  Not a placid, no troubles place is this peace.  Rather, it is a peace that looks beyond what sight sees and trusts that there is far more in the Invisible than all that is in the visible.*** It is a peace that endures EVEN in the tumult!

Jesus is the one who invites and His Holy Spirit says, “Come!  See!  Receive!” He was the First to show us LIFE Everlasting.  We, too, can have not only Strength for the day, but LIFE abundant and Life Everlasting.

Jesus says simply, “Just come!”

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*Psalm 34:8     **John 4:13-15; 7:38     ***Colossians 1:15-20