If it’s Tuesday, it must be . . .

jesus-goes-to-bethanyWe left Jesus and his companions in the aftermath of upturned tables in the Temple yesterday. According to the writer of Mark, they then left the city.

In the morning, today, Tuesday for us, they go back to Jerusalem. On the way, they walk by the now-withered fig tree (see yesterday, if you don’t remember). 

Its back to the Temple again, and this time the religious authorities are there to prevent any disruption. They confront Jesus head on. “By what authority are you doing these things? Who gave you this authority to do them?” jesus-and-pharisees-on-authority

What they mean, of course, is: we did not issue you a license, so how dare you act as if we did!

Jesus stumps them with his response, a question about the authority of John the Baptizer. He refuses to answer their question directly (the answer is so obvious).

So, today, when Pharisees and Sadducees challenge you, what do you say? Where do you get your authority?

The Day After

Yesterday, we celebrated Palm Sunday, marking Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem.

But we often fail to note that after this, “as it was already late,” he and his companions went to Bethany. They spent the night there.  The next day, he returned to Jerusalem.

What did they talk about that night in Bethany? Were Jesus’ companions full of the glory of the procession to the temple? Were they planning which offices they would have when he became King–whose office would be closest, whose the biggest?

The next day, today, Monday for us, they headed back to Jerusalem. In Mark’s gospel (chapter 11), Jesus curses a fig tree on the way (he is hungry and it has no fruit), and then, arriving again at the temple, he drives out the money changers and others who defile its sacred precincts. balze-jesus-chasing-merchants-from-temple

What do you suppose the companions talked about then? Were they hearing the rumors that the authorities were plotting to kill him? Were they still measuring the drapes for their new offices, or beginning to wonder if they wanted to be at his side?

When Jesus takes you somewhere you may not want to go, what do you do?

God Will Not Be Defeated

iowa-marriageAs we celebrate the Iowa court decision in favor of love, we also remember that 41 years ago today the preeminent 20th century voice for the cause of love was killed in Memphis.

Dr. King was 39 when a gunman decided to still his voice.  He would be 80 today.

Of course, the gunman failed to silence Dr. King even as he ended his earthly life.

The foes of love regularly make this miscalculation: they think that if you silence one voice–or pass one law or constitutional amendment or a hundred–that the cause will die.

They forget one crucial thing: God is love and God will not be defeated.

(picture above by Rodney White of the Des Moines REGISTER; Partners Terri Neuendorf, right, and LaDonna Kyle, both of Des Moines, kiss outside the Judicial Building this morning after the announcement of the Iowa Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriages)

Pray for Iowa

I pray for Iowa this morning.

LGBT folks, and their friends, family, and allies there are sitting on pins and needles. The Iowa Supreme Court may rule today in a court case that could result in same-gender marriage being declared constitutional.

Iowa?

Why not Iowa? This movement, which I believe is God’s movement, is pushing ahead everywhere.  The Holy Spirit of Justice is no respecter of state boundaries. field-of-dreams

Please know that I pray for all Iowans, not just the ones who get it, but also the ones who do not.

I pray all will try to listen to their neighbors rather than condemn them. I pray they will respond with respect. Most of all, I pray that they will trust God enough not to lose their dignity and decency.

Of course, I pray that the court does the just thing. And I give God thanks for getting Iowa even to this point.

Come on, Virginia!

Acting Up

I watched a moving MTV film at MCC Richmond last evening, Pedro: The Movie. We showed it in cooperation with Planned Parenthood of Richmond and the Fan Free Clinic. pedro-zamora

You may remember Pedro Zamora, the HIV+ character on Real World, who died in 1994 at age 22. He was an HIV/AIDS activist before being on the show–the MTV folks picked him because they wanted to explore AIDS and human relationships–and his life and death became a cause celebre after the episodes with him aired.

Sadly, although HIV retroviral drugs keep many people alive today, the HIV/AIDS picture is still dreadful.  

Infections are on the rise. Sexually Transmitted Infections (what we used to STDs) affect one in four people under 25. Lots of people still don’t insist on protection during sexual activity, and many fail to be tested. Useful, informative sex education is still not available in many places, including most of Virginia. And there is still a lot of stigma attached to people with HIV.

Today, I promise to do something to fight HIV/AIDS: I plan to write my Congressperson to demand funds for real sex education so young people will be less at risk.

What will you do?

Happiness 101

Happiness? Isn’t that forbidden during Lent? piety-praying-at-foot-of-cross

No. God wants us to be happy, all the time.

Abraham Lincoln, frequently afflicted with melancholia, once said, “Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be.”  Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote, “Happiness is like a butterfly which, when pursued, is always beyond our grasp, but, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.”

Could it be that happiness is more available to us than we realize?

Let’s try a bit of Lenten discipline: sit quietly for a few minutes, close your eyes, and picture yourself in a warm, sunny garden as a brightly colored butterfly flits about you and even rests on you (perhaps even your nose).

butterfly-on-nose1I bet you’ll smile. Happy Lent!