A United Methodist Pastor's Theological Reflections

"But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory (nikos) through our Lord Jesus Christ." - I Corinthians 15:57

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Dave's Deep Thoughts - A Cross & a Cell Phone

Here's Pastor Dave McDowell's weekly devotional that he sends out to members of his church. Dave is my brother and serves as the Music Minister at Stewartstown UMC in PA.

The old spiritual goes, “Ain’t got time to die,”
but maybe that is just an excuse.

Holy Week is always a busy time for many.
Not much different than it was 2,000 years ago
when everyone within the city limits of Jerusalem was scurrying
to prepare for the celebration of Passover.

A few years ago I was busy with all the things that a music pastor does during Holy Week but I took time to sit in on a rehearsal for a passion play that my church was staging.

I journeyed with the actors through Jesus’ entry into the city on Palm Sunday,
I shuddered at His righteous anger as He overturned the robber’s tables in the Temple.

I pondered the gift as the woman poured a costly vial of perfume over Jesus’ head,
  anointing His body before His burial.

I grieved when a disenchanted Judas slipped away from the disciples to plan the betrayal.

I contemplated Jesus’ attitude of servanthood as He washed the disciples feet and fed them the meal that would evermore become His Body.

I watched as disciples fell asleep at the hour when Jesus needed them the most.

I witnessed the absurdity of the arrest and questioning as those who felt threatened by Him broke law after law to find a means to put Him to death.

I heard the crowd choose a guilty murderer over an innocent healer to be spared from the death penalty.

I winced at the sound of the scourging.

I braced myself for the sound of the nails being hammered through flesh.

For me,  there is a serenity that follows after the pounding of the nails.
Perhaps it is in Jesus’ last words…………
   -The request for forgiveness to those who don’t know what they are doing
  -The promise for the repentant criminal to be with Him that day in Paradise
   -The caring for His heartbroken mother by passing His sonship onto John
   -The abandonment from His Father as the weight of Sin finds rests on His shoulders
   -The one cry of physical need as He thirsts for relief, but thirsts also for the salvation of humanity
   -The declaration of completion as He becomes the ultimate sacrifice
   -The relinquishing of His spirit to the Father, with whom He always declares unity

My busy week had melted away into deep reflection into my desperate need
  for God to save me from myself.

Then it happened. The phone rang.
That would be the cell phone of the crucified criminal to the right of Jesus,
    the criminal who only asked to be remembered and instead was granted access to the King.

The rehearsal stopped.
Absolute stillness as everyone waited in silence.

The actor playing the criminal on the right removed his hands from the roping that bound him, reached into his loincloth, and pulled out his phone.

What do you say when you take a call while you are on a cross?
All in attendance were about found out…..

Uh,  I can’t talk to you right now, I’m being crucified.”

There are many emotional responses when one watches a passion play,
but laughter should probably not be on the top ten list.

Once the laughter subsided, the rehearsal continued
and Jesus eventually rose from the grave.

We are constantly being interrupted.

What interrupts us when we should be pondering the depth of God’s grace to us?
   Maybe it’s a busy schedule.
   Maybe its indifference.
   Maybe its frustration with how church has not been what it needs to be in your life.
   Maybe its pride in not admitting that you need to be saved from yourself.

Name your interruption. 

My guess is that whatever keeps us from slowing down at Christmas,
  is the same culprit at Holy Week, and every week of the lives that we have been given.

And the culprit has every intention of continuing to ring the phone.

That interruptive phone will continue to ring in each of lives,
begging each of us to place our attention on things far less important
than on the relationship we have with our Creator.

This week, consider turning the phone off.
Considering doing something unusual that will put yourself in a position
to have time and focus to listen to the One who knows you better than you know yourself.

Refuse to allow this week to be only about jelly beans, new clothing, holiday dinners, or time off from school and work.

Eventually, we all will have time to die

Each of us have less days than we had yesterday.
Perhaps we should have less excuses as well.

He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross,
that we might die to sin and live to righteousness;
for by His wounds you were healed.
                                                2 Peter 2:24

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