Weekly Reflection (NEW!)
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
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This is the third devotion in our Lenten series on the Passion of Christ
Please read Luke 22:39-53 in your Bible.
"Freak Shows" have for the most part graciously become a thing of the past. I remember one summer evening when I was but five or six-years-old that we went down to the local shopping center to the see the sights and ride the rides of the most recent carnival that had pulled into town. They had set up in the parking lot and were a ragged little operation. There was the standard Ferris wheel, an assortment of try-your-luck games, kiddy rides, and in a small, white trailer right next to the Ferris wheel, a freak show.
The sign outside bragged of two headed animals, rare monsters from exotic places, and such sights of deformity as to make your skin crawl. It scared me, but my father thought we should go in. The memories I have of that place remind me more of a sterile lab with awful things stored in great jars of foul-smelling formaldehyde.
I have one other faint, dark memory of another freak show. The gauzy memory is filled with shadows. I don't remember where we are or why we are there. In my memory there is a dimly lit hallway and in that place a huge, black tank that stands about four and a half feet high, then above that iron bars painted red that go all the way to the ceiling. I am lifted up so I could see into the tank. Inside the tank there is this gray, hulking mass. "What is it?" I whisper. "A hippo," my father responds in the same whisper. "Why is it here?" "It sweats blood." "Why?" "That's just what hippos do." "Oh." It was hot in there and the hippo had been declared a freak because it did what all hippopotami do--"sweat blood." It is a sad memory.
Did you feel the sadness, the shadows, and the mist of today's reading? One odd little verse even says that Jesus' sweat rolled off of him like great drops of blood like that hippo in the freak show. The world thought Jesus was a freak, but not because he sweat blood. No, Jesus was declared a freak and hated because of what he did-loved. Oh, sure we all love, but not in the complete, unapologetic way Jesus did. Jesus loved everyone the same. He didn't play by our standards. He didn't love the lovely more. He didn't dote on the rich. He didn't give a wide berth to the powerful. He didn't exclude those that didn't measure up. He loved all people the same. The world called him a freak, and the world killed him.
We are still suspicious of those who love "too much"-of those who approach the love that Jesus showed. We call them goody-two-shoes. We say behind their backs, "Don't you think they seem just a little too nice?" We question their motives. We wonder what they must want. We suspect they are some sort of freak.
Jesus Christ's love caused him to be declared a freak by the world, but is by that love that we are saved. It is by that love we are given life. It is by that love we are made able to love. In the 1970's there was a group of Christian hippies that earned the title "Jesus Freaks" because of their lifestyle. We should be so honored to receive the same title.
Pray that Jesus will give you a love so deep and bright that you too will be labeled a Jesus Freak.