Weekly Reflection (NEW!)
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
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This is the fourth devotion in our Lenten series on the Passion of Christ
Please read Luke 22:54-71 in your Bible.
Did you ever get stuck on a "but?" It usually occurs when some great injustice has happened that doesn't fit with one's worldview or perhaps when assigned guilt would be more comfortable assigned somewhere else. I have been stuck on one particular "but" for over six years.
My wife, two other chaperones and myself took a youth group for a skiing trip in the Pocono's. It was cut short by an impending snowstorm. We bugged out of the ski resort as quickly as possible, and headed for home. The snow was coming down at about an inch an hour. The road conditions were quickly worsening. There were three cars in our little caravan. I was in the front in our mini-van. The other two chaperones were behind me, and my wife brought up the rear in our pride and joy--a sedan we loved. It was our first brand new car, and it was paid off. Well, you can guess what happened. The second car spun around on some ice. My wife took evasive action, but the car gently flipped over. It was totaled. Fortunately, no one was hurt.
So I have been stuck on this "but." But we left as soon as I found out about the snow. But she was going so slowly. But she did exactly what she was supposed to do. But who knew that a boulder was lying buried underneath the snow. But it's not fair. We love that car. But everything can be fixed. But we paid so much more for the car than what the insurance company gave us. But they don't make them like that anymore. It wasn't supposed to happen. It didn't meet my expectations. It didn't fit my understanding of the world. It was a shock.
In the passage, verse 54 reads in the NRSV, "Then they seized [Jesus] and led him away, bringing him to the high priest's house. But Peter was following at a distance." "But" must have been racing through Peter's mind as he was urged on by his love for Jesus, but he was held back by his fear of getting arrested himself. Jesus had spoken of his suffering, but wasn't the Messiah supposed to conquer the world. Jesus had told them to buy swords, but now he's led off like a lamb to the slaughter. Jesus can get himself out of this mess, but will he? Peter wants to stay but people are giving him accusatory glances. Peter gave up everything and followed him, but now everything is lost. Peter wants to stay with Jesus, but he wants to save his own skin too. Fear and death win out. Peter denies knowing Jesus and runs out of the courtyard with tears streaming down his face.
By the very next Sunday another "but" will dominate Peter's thinking. Mary Magdalene and some other women will come banging on Peter's door with the news that angels told them that God raised Jesus Christ. He's alive. "But he's dead" is all that Peter can think and he will not believe (at least not yet!). Lent is the season when we are invited to examine our lives and know who we are and whose we are. We are creatures of the dust doomed to die, but we belong to God and death has no power over us. We are selfish and prone to wickedness, but Christ's love courses through us and out into the world. We are in despair and hopeless, but Jesus Christ who suffered, died, and was buried lives!
So often we get stuck on the "but" (pun intended) of our own perceptions of reality and how the world is supposed to work. God in Christ shatters all that. Lent calls us to examine our lives in the first half-God in Christ died because of your death dealing ways. This examination is necessary as we journey to Easter and hear the proclamation "But he lives!"
Pray that God will open your mind, body, and soul to God's reality where the unexpected leads to life, freedom and love.