Posts Tagged With: Lent

The Epic Wedding or Thirty-five Years of Better and Worse

Wedding on Vail Mountain

Wedding on Vail Mountain

Being a pastor who has officiated over 400 weddings, I know weddings have grown into epic events, sometimes costing tens of thousands of dollars. Remember “Franc” in Father of the Bride? A caricature for sure, but I’ve met her (the wedding coordinator) and that wedding was cheap compared to a couple I’ve been ignored during.

In these epic weddings, “the day of” is sometimes fretted over more than a thousand days of marriage. I feel a sermon coming so . . . let’s move on.

This was not so for Dee Dee and me. Our wedding day was—um—shall I say—far from epic. Unless a comedy of errors counts as epic. And unless epic can be had for around five hundred bucks. And unless epic can be defined by—well—see for yourself:

Dee Dee Dressed to Kill

Dee Dee Dressed to Kill

  • Our pre-marital counselor told me I was too immature and he was going to recommend the pastor not marry us. I almost punched him but that would prove his point.
  • Maybe this is why the pastor wandered in late and forgot the words to The Lord’s Prayer.
  • It snowed the night before. We were having an outdoor reception.
  • I looked like a Bee Gee wanna be in my tux (see the pic).
  • Our “photographer” was a “family friend.”
  • Dee Dee’s mom’s oven broke while preparing the food for the reception.
  • People showed up at Dee Dee’s mom and dad’s house before we were done taking pictures and began drinking punch concentrate. And there was no food.
  • Eugene Dressed to Stay Alive

    Eugene Dressed to Stay Alive

    According to a family tradition I knew nothing about, my Croatian uncle kidnapped Dee Dee to raise money for our honeymoon. Uncle Pete kept Dee Dee until many people left the reception and she missed most of it. And he only raised $50.

  • During the time Dee Dee was gone, my groomsmen decided to console me by giving me “the good punch” and I lost track of time, so to speak.
  • I’ve not seen those groomsmen since my wedding day.
  • Almost everyone was gone when we finally cut the cake.
  • We missed all the food Dee Dee and her sister and mother  prepared and arrived at our honeymoon hotel starving. Room service was closed and so we had our first meal as a married couple at Denny’s (Dee Dee’s favorite restaurant, not) surrounded by drunks.
  • My only vehicle was a vintage (read rusty, dog-tracking, oil-sucking, smoke-belching) ’64 GMC pick-up.
  • I had to borrow my father-in-law’s Pontiac for the get away car. Our friends used shaving cream to decorate the car and it ate the paint off, leaving “just married” etched on the hood.

    The Ride

    The Ride

But none of the above is Dee Dee’s fault. She tried to avoid the whole thing. She rejected my proposals twice before finally seeing the light.

Still it’s been one of our favorite stories. And as imperfect as our wedding day was, our marriage has been—not perfect, but an adventure neither one of us would have missed for the world. Never-the-less we decided it was about time to hold a do-over. Last June we renewed our marriage vows 35 years after our epic wedding experience.

Renewing Our Vows Kathleen Peachey Photography

Renewing Our Vows Kathleen Peachey Photography

We asked friends and family who have walked with us through our 35 year adventure to celebrate with us. It was epic. And beautiful. And without nearly as many faux pas.

As a matter of fact, it taught me what marriage is really about. As Dee Dee repeated her vows, the gravity of her words and the God-given depth of her love bore into my heart. I realized she has embodied those words. For better or worse.

You see, she has not only put up with me dreaming and moving and running and stumbling and messing up, she has loved me.

It’s ironic how you don’t see how true some things are until you see them in the light of time. I was too young—and immature—to know the meaning of our vows back then.

35 Years of Growing Together Kathleen Peachey Photography

35 Years of Growing Together
Kathleen Peachey Photography

But this last summer I learned that God’s love can always make our worse better, our poorer richer, and our less than epic wedding into a marriage adventure of a life-time.

P.S. This post came out of reflections on the word “love” in our daily photo-a-day Lent project @the_neighborhood_church #lentgallery on Instagram. Check it out at and join us.

Categories: belonging, Christianity, Community, dreams, Eugene C. Scott, God, Marriage | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Lent: Blinded to God in Daily Life

A list of 47 words for our photo-a-day during Lent

A list of 47 words for our photo-a-day during Lent

After Jesus performs a miracle by feeding over 4,000 people with what amounts to half a dozen Big Macs, the disciples are no closer to becoming believers. He says, “Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? And don’t you remember?” Mark 8:18

I can’t say if that describes you. But it certainly is my story. I simply fail to see all the grand and glorious grace of God in my daily life and world. Sometimes I’m distracted, sometimes angry, sometimes tired, sometimes busy, most times full of myself. I’m blinded to God in my daily life.

That is why I’ve enjoyed and been challenged by my church’s photo-a-day devotional (@the_neighborhood_church #lentgallery) on Instagram. Each day those of us participating have been challenged to take a picture somehow linked, literally or poetically, to that day’s Lenten word.

A collage of images of the word broken

A collage of images of the word broken

The project has opened my eyes! I find myself looking for God and his touch (not that I can get God to stand still long enough to pose for my camera). I am seeing life in new light. I am more aware, more thoughtful. I find myself believing that God is present and may even pull off some minor miracle to help my unbelief.

And for me that’s what Lent is about, not giving up chocolate, or TV, or radio. But rather engaging in a pursuit of the God who wants to be found. The God who loved us so desperately that he placed his Son on a cross for all to see.

It’s not to late to join us. Grab a camera, cell phone, or even simply watch what others are posting. And may God open the eyes of us all.

P.S. I know it’s been ages since I’ve posted on Living Spiritually. I hope not all of you have abandoned this blog. As you may know, I’ve been devoting all my writing time to my novel. I have finished it and now have moved into the stage of finding it a home for publication. I will keep you posted. Also I am going to post some of the #lentgallery photos here. Let me know what you think.

Categories: Art, Christianity, creation, Lent | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

The Wonder of Lent

Good Friday Art Walk, photo by Eugene C Scott

This year I couldn’t wait for Lent.  So I started early.  February 4 to be exact.  I know that sounds akin to being excited about getting fired or wearing shoes two sizes too small.  But last year during Lent I added a measure of silence to my life by fasting from television and radio.

It was delicious.  It was like an extended beach vacation where I basked in time for thinking, reading, praying, hiking, listening, watching, writing poetry and my novel (and this blog), photography, and talking with friends and my family.  And doing nothing.  It was rich.  The richest part was the freedom I gained.

There was no talking head or disembodied radio voice telling me what to buy or which current crisis to worry over.  I was free to think my own thoughts, listen to my own music, invent my own stories.  Little do we know how much ambient thought control we submit ourselves to (but that’s another blog on another day).

I didn’t go back until August when the Denver Broncos once again took the field.  Around seven months.  Even then I watched mainly football.  I mean a guy has priorities.  Fitting it was then that I again took up my mass media fast the day after the Super Bowl.

I couldn’t wait for Lent.  Why wait for a good thing?

It’s been two weeks and I’ve been surprised how easy it’s been.  The first day or two I reached reflexively for the knob on the dash.  And I’ve not even thought of television.  And that’s a little disappointing.  Last year the wrestling match in my mind was brutal.  The skinny guy won but the thought of giving up had me in a half-nelson a couple of times.

And out of that struggle came the insights, the learning.  Now I find myself falling into other patterns.  My mind has chained itself to new salve owners.  Mainly thoughtlessness.  Routine.  Low expectations.

Therein rests the new challenge.

This feast of silence will not be one of being caught by surprise.  I hope to be caught by surprise on purpose.

Photo by Eugene C Scott

I’m going to use the silence to renew wonder in my life.  In “Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places,” Eugene H. Peterson writes that as children we “lived in a world of wonders” but that “wonder gets squeezed out of us.”   He goes on to say, “wonder is deep and eternal, that we are part of a creation that is ‘very good.’”

At this point, however, I’m not sure what wonder is.  Do you know?  Let’s look together.  I’ll let you know what I’m seeing and what I’m hearing.  Maybe we can wonder together.

Categories: Art, Eugene C. Scott, Faith, God Sightings, Jesus, Lent, Living Spiritually | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

What I Heard in Silence

Snow fall out my front window

A muffler of heavy snow shrouds my world.  Only a few inches, but enough.  Fallen snow can create a cavernous silence.  Sound catches in it and rolls up like a huge snow ball to sit and wait for a thaw.  Then it breaks loose again, noisy, intrusive, grating.  Until then, a snowy night is a perfect night for contemplation.

A Feast of Silence.

In silence time passes less swift and mechanical for you cannot hear its deadly tick, tock, tick, tock, tick, tock.

In silence ideas fly free as chickadees, flitting from one bare branch to another leaving imagination in their wake.

In silence loneliness lurks, waffle soled boots, mud covered, leaving indentations and scuffs on my heart.

In silence words and stories climb out of their caves and sit in front of me like blinking children woken from fabulous dreams.

In silence I hunger for the sweet voice, familiar, resonant, of the one I love.

In silence questions pry up the rocky places in my soul and leave them bare, tender, trembling for answers.

In silence memories wander back up the trail, slapping me on the back, bidding me good day, treating or troubling me according to their given names.

In silence dreams roll over white and billowy and laden, so dragging dark bottoms.

In silence fear scrabbles up my legs.

In silence freedom like a wind drives impossibilities before it, leaving only windswept possibilities.

In silence I hear my own beating heart, the rushing of my own breath, the ticking of my own clock asking, “Is . . . There . . . Someone . . . Out . . . There?”

In silence I feel His voice fill the empty space.  Yes, I am.

Categories: adventure, Art, Eugene C. Scott, God Sightings, Living Spiritually, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Looking Back on the Year of Living Spiritually

Life is like a mountain

Life is like a mountain

The rugged 12,556 foot peak of New York Mountain sported a long cornice of snow still hanging from its barren ridge.  I was alone and miles from nowhere, as the old Cat Stevens song goes.  If I fell . . . I didn’t finish the thought.  I needed to climb over the peak and hike down the other side to reach my truck.  Part way back from a brief backpacking trip to New York Lake in White River National Forest, I had reached an impasse.  The trail disappeared before me about halfway up the face.  I thought this is where I descended a couple of days before.  But now it looked different, much steeper.  Impossible.  I searched the face, looking for something familiar, safer.  There was only one cut through the cornice.  My knees were screaming from pounding across several miles of a trackless scree field.  If that was the trail, I was not sure I could climb it, especially with my full pack.

I searched north and south along the peak coming up empty.  I started to scramble up where I thought I remembered coming down.

They say one way to avoid getting lost on a wilderness trail is to turn around–often–and look from whence you’ve come.  I had.  But it’s amazing how different your back-trail looks.  It gives you context.  Establishes bearings.  This is true especially on high, unmarked tundra trails that peter out.  And in life.

For the Year of Living Spiritually it’s time for taking bearings, for context, for looking back.  About a year ago we set out together (some have joined as we traveled) to daily look for the God-created soul in people, places, things, and life in general.  Looking back, what is it we saw?  I can only speak for myself.

People

While expecting God to show up only in flaming sunsets, if not burning bushes, I noticed God in people.  As I wrote in my January 3, 2012 post, “Writer, pastor Eugene H. Peterson says people are God’s creation too and we can see God in them just as we might a sunset or mountain scape. True enough.”  But I found myself falling back to default and looking for God in obvious places.  With 6 billion people on the planet, looking for God in people ups the possibility for daily God sightings.  Plus, seeing God’s image in others helped me judge less and love more.  Funny how that works.

Silence

Instead of giving up some meaningless food product last Lent, I fasted from noise.  I intended to turn off the radio and television for the six weeks of Lent but ended up feasting on this beautiful silence until August.  Football season.  This silence granted me awareness of life flowing around me that exploded my creativity and prayer life.  Listening to the blues, I began to hear biblical themes in that sad, gritty music.  I read more.  I heard God and sometimes listened.

Friendship

My chemical engineer friend Steve and I hiked miles and mountain biked more.  On the hikes especially we discussed politics, diabetes (he’s type 1 and I’m type 2), God and the space-time continuum, movies, apologetics, the best bike pedals, writing, our marriages, story, the ontological argument for the existence of God, the books we are writing, retirement, and sex.  Someone once said we can often see God in the space between us.  I agree, especially when we narrow the space.

May 12, 1979

May 12, 1979

Marriage

Marriage is much maligned.  In certain ways it deserves it.  As a pastor, I’ve observed and called ambulances on many a wrecked marriage.  Dee Dee and I have been steering ours between the lines for 33 years.  We’ve gone off the road a few times.  Still I never imagined how love, friendship, partnership, trust, comfort, and intimacy could grow and change.  Especially through the hard times.  Back then–in 1979–I thought our love was as big and rich as it ever would be.  The Apostle Paul writes, “And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”  In my marriage I have experienced this love that surpasses knowledge.

Sacred Space

One cold day I met with a young pastor and an Eastern Orthodox priest in the sanctuary of the Father’s church.  No, this isn’t a joke.  We sat side-by-side, equal but different, on a hard pew surrounded by icons and reminders of how faith is real.  The conversation we had was holy (meaning different from the average conversation) because of where we were.  I’ve had the same good conversation in a brew pub.  In that sacred space, however, I was pushed closer to those men and saw that, while the noisy, relentless gears of culture grind on, often determining the futures of millions, a small conversation with-in a sacred space brings heaven to earth.  I–we–need sacred spaces to shut out the false voices of fear and worry.  We need sanctuary.

The space between is often where God dwells

The space between is often where God dwells

There were more God sightings.

But in looking back, I see, as in my New York Mountain story, that I’ve not finished.  Have you?  Living spiritually takes more than a year.  And seeing where we’ve gone gives hints about where we need to go.  So, whether hanging on the face of a 12,000 foot peak or standing flat-footed, we will go on.

But before we do, turn around a take a look at your back trail.  Get your bearings.  Drop a note here and tell us where you’ve seen God.  Then we’ll move on.

Categories: adventure, authenticity, belonging, Eugene C. Scott, Faith, God, God Sightings, Jesus, Living Spiritually, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Lent Is Over. Now What?

During the last 60,480 minutes I’ve missed a few things. That’s 1,008 hours for those of you not handy with math. Forty-two days. That’s how long I gave up TV and radio for Lent. Now several days after Easter, the day Lenten fast’s finish, I’m wondering if I really missed anything.

Sure, news happened, even important news. But did I really miss anything?

Rick Santorum suspended his presidential campaign. Newsman Mike Wallace, banjo virtuoso Earl Scruggs, and painter Thomas Kincade all passed. These were great losses. Looming less large, so did Scottish champion darts player, Jocky Wilson and probowler LaVerne Carter.

Also during Lent, Madonna was banned from a talk show, Lindsay Lohan was released from probation and given a warning by a judge, and Ninjas attacked a medical marijuana delivery man.

Depending on your point of view, I may or may not have missed anything.

Sacrifice is always dangerous. It’s an act of release, opening oneself up, vulnerability. When you give something up or away, you always stand the chance of ending up empty-handed or, worse, hurt. That’s also why sacrifice is powerful.

But often in taking a risk, we discover that our sacrifice also makes room in life for something new. That’s why, in my opinion, I don’t think I missed anything in my self-imposed media ban.

I gained.

Freedom.

My daily thoughts have not been held captive by the commercially driven yammering of some talking head or disembodied voice. I’ve not spent one moment worrying about who the next President of the U.S. might be (though I will inform myself and vote), whether it might rain on my parade that day or not, or what the insane governments in Iran and North Korea might do.

The Swallow Trail on Easter by Eugene C. Scott

My mind has been free to notice life and people near and around me. I’ve taken more pictures, seen spring fight off the blandness of winter, and my voice memo function on my iPhone is full of ideas for sermons, books, articles, and blogs. I’ve rediscovered music. I feel wildly creative. I started writing poetry again.  And I’m partnering with gifted musician, Cliff Hutchison, in writing song lyrics. I’ve prayed for my friends and family more consistently as God brings their names and faces to mind in the absence of media noise.

I gained.

Time.

I simply don’t feel as rushed. Standing in my living room as night closes down the day, I’ve often asked myself what I should do next.  It’s a wonderful, languid feeling. Usually I’d be vegging in front of the TV. I’ve taken longer walks with Dee Dee, my wife, and had spontaneous conversations with her. Gone to bed earlier. I have time to write my novel and I’ve read around seven books. Leif Enger’s novel “So Brave, Young, and Handsome” gets better each time I read it. I’ve journaled almost everyday of 2012.

I’m gaining.

Insight.

It’s not been all sweetness and light, however. This Lenten silence has allowed me to recognize who I am and who I’m not. I, maybe like you, am a pretty flawed person. The noise of TV and radio often allowed me to cover that fact. My journals are just as full of inanities, complaints, and judgements as they are prayers, poems, and pretty prose. And some things have only shifted. Instead of carrying on an imaginary debate with some TV commentator, I now do so with a Facebook friend. Argh.

The ancient but honest theologian and philosopher, Paul of Tarsus, expressed it this way, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” 

Lent’s Over. Now What?

Bench on Swallow Trail by Eugene C. Scott

Still I’m not willing to give the reins of even my messy life back to some advertising executive pulling levers behind a curtain. Monday I watched, or rather slept through, the Colorado Rockies’ home opener. But, I’m not going back. Yet. I’ve gained too much to gorge myself on media again. The silence has been exceedingly rich and I’ve seen living spiritually–for me–cannot happen in a world dominated by media noise.

After  60,480 minutes I’ve found I missed nothing. Rather I gained–even if the most disconcerting as well as comforting truth is that I cannot live spiritually, become a better person, on my own. I must agree with Paul again. “Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

Eugene C. Scott loves listening to the blues, which has nothing to do with this blog, but is worth saying anyway. You can join the Living Spiritually community by following that blog and clicking here and liking the page. He is also co-pastor of The Neighborhood Church.

Categories: authenticity, Bible, Christianity, Eugene C. Scott, Faith, God Sightings, Jesus, Living Spiritually, TV, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This Day in History: A Meal Fit for a King–and You

By Eugene C. Scott

My eyes didn’t know what to fix on, so they darted from one delight to another. Oh, this is wonderful–but too much. Delightful, but I should have given Solome more guidance. The Master will . . . he will what? You may call me double-minded with my wonder and worry together crashing over me in waves. But you were not there. You never tried to serve the Master, to please him. I was never good at guessing what went on in that mind of his. When I looked for his praise, he chided me and when I knew I had failed him, his eyes spread patient love over the hole my hope had escaped from.

But this was too much. Little did I know that a sumptuous feast was the least of our worries.

Lamb, and bread, hyssop, herbs–bitter and sweet, jars of wine, fish, and candies sagged the long tables. This is a meal fit for a king, not our Master. I rubbed my hands together but I could not otherwise move. They would be here in moments. Dozens of oil lamps bound in iron to the walls burned softly, lighting the low ceiling with rich gentle arcs.

“You like it, Ruben?” A familiar voice touched me from behind. I turned.

“Solome, how did you do all this?” I asked kissing her cheeks. “The Master will . . . Is this what the Master asked for?” Solome had not prepared a simple Passover meal but a lush Roman style Reclinium. Pillows rimmed the low tables ready for our guests to lounge and rest on as they feasted. Table cloths covered the rough wooden boards.

“Who knows?” Solome said with a shrug of narrow shoulders. “He said to prepare the Upper Room. And I have done so. He was not more specific.” She swung her arm across the room.

“But the cost,” I complained looking at the dozens of candles burning on the tables. “He will surely say we spent too much and should have given all this to the poor.”

Solome rolled her eyes. “The poor. We are giving this to him. No one has less then the Master.”

My feet, dancing beneath me, carried me around the room. Just then voices, loud and laughing, filled the house below. And up the stairs came Peter and John. The Master, Jesus followed them. Then all the disciples streamed in and filled the room with noise and odor and expectation. Over a hundred of them. He surveyed the room. I clenched my eyes.

“Master, I’m sorry,“ I shouted. “You know Solome. Extravagance is her real name.”

I know, it was low of me to blame her. Can you honestly tell me you would have not?

“And yours, my dear Ruben, is Worry.” His whole face widened in a smile.

“Peace,” he called to us. He patted me on the shoulder.

I smiled at how the Master assumed charge, became the host, even in my own house. My worry drained away.

Had I known this was our last meal together, I would have spent my entire estate on this meal. I would have hired guards. I would have . . . .

“Abba,” he prayed lifting the Kiddush Cup and the murmur of voices stilled. “Bless this our meal of Passover. Deliver your people tonight as you did our father, Moses long ago.” He passed the cup and directed us through the keeping and remembering of God’s commands for his people. He never read from the scroll I had provided but spoke from memory. James, his brother corrected him when Jesus gave new meaning to one of the old readings or prayers. Peter nudged James to quiet him.

The Master led us through the Maggid Cup, asking us the Passover questions. He let the children answer first. And we ate. I ran back and forth refilling cups and plates. I never spoke to the Master again that night–never spoke to him again ever.

He blessed the Birkat Hamazon Cup and passed it.

Then the trouble began. And in my house. Lord, forgive me. In the middle of this–I did not see what happened as I was busy serving wine, though you can ask Matthew because he wrote it down, and of course I know now–Judas–how I hate that man–shouted, “Surely not I, Rabbi” and ran from the room. Thomas stood to go after him but stopped under the Master’s gaze. How would the world be different if Thomas had stopped Judas?

At last came the unleavened bread. Jesus began in a whisper, tears in his eyes and we all leaned in to hear about the night, because of the blood of the spotless lamb, God’s angel of death passed over Israel.

He prayed, “Give us this day our daily bread.” Then he said–I didn’t understand it that night–”Take and eat; this is my body.”

He handed the broken bread to John, who had a confused look on his young face. Then Jesus lifted the fourth cup, the Hallel Cup, and blessed it saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Father’s Kingdom. Do this in remembrance of me.”

So, I still have trouble believing it, on Jesus last night in the world, he spent it with me–and you.

And so, thinking it may be the last night of our world, on every Yom Ree-Shon, the first day of the week, (you call it Sunday) we obey the Master and fill the Upper Room, spending it together, serving a Love Feast–though not as lavish as the last supper with Jesus that night. For whenever we eat the bread and drink the cup, we proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes again–and as he said,  he “will drink it anew” with us.

Read Matthew 26:17-56, Mark 14:12-42, Luke 22:7-46, John 13:1-17:36

Also, go to tnc3.org for info on how The Neighborhood Church is remembering this week in history.

Two thousand years ago this week one man turned history upside down. I would give anything to have been there, seen him, heard his voice. Instead we can only use our imaginations to re-enter ancient history. Each day this week, called Holy Week, we are going look at this day in ancient history through the eyes of a fictional character who witnessed part of that day as Jesus lived it. Join us as we believe a better story: the greatest, truest story ever told.

Categories: authenticity, belonging, Bible, bible conversation, Christianity, church, Community, dreams, Eugene C. Scott, Excitement, Faith, friends, Fun, God, God Sightings, Jesus, love., Meaning, story, Uncategorized, worship | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This Day in History: God Breaks a Heart of Stone

By Eugene C. Scott

What if the place Jesus spent his last days could tell its story? The story of how God broke a heart of stone.

Granite to the core–a heart of stone, they said. And they were right. That the death and destruction, tragedy and violence I’ve witnessed in my 6,000 plus years on this earth would have crushed anything less than stone is true.  But even a heart of stone, they claimed, should have turned to dust, and like grains of sand been scattered in the desert wind.

In my long life I was smashed and left desolate by Canaan, Egypt, Philistia, Assyria, Babylon, Greece, and Rome. Only to rise up again. Why? How?

I can’t say. Knowing such things does not always come with age. I can say this. At one time I was the proudest of my kind. I weathered siege after siege because I was proud and strong. They all desired me. My temple was unrivaled. They say gods walked my streets. Though–again–I can’t say. I did not pay much attention to such things, until . . . .

. . . . until the week of the Jewish Passover in the days when Rome thought she owned me. A desert flea of a Jew, lauded as a king by a few hundred peasants, rode a scrawny colt through my east gate. I paid little mind. My walls were full of Jewish pilgrims, crawling through my alleys like ants. I blinked and forgot him. Then onYom Reeve, the fourth day of the week, counted in the Jewish fashion–sundown to sundown–and the day before the Passover, this Jew tickled my ribs and woke me from my slumber.

“Do you see all these things?” this man with only one ratty robe asked, pointing to the temple shining like a moon on my highest hill. Those with him nodded recognizing my magnificence.

“I tell you the truth,” he said, “not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be torn down.”

I laughed. The Babylonians had torn down my temple, but it rose from the dust; Alexander the Great had considered turning the temple to ruble but wisely reconsidered; Antiochus Epiphanies had desecrated her; he later paid dearly. And today she towered still. Each time my temple was sacked she rose again more magnificent than before. Not one stone left on another! Who did this man think he was? God?

I was not sure why what this man said mattered at all. Why I cared. I was one of the greatest cities of stone ever raised up on a desert hill. He was dust.

It may be because seventy years later his prediction came true. Rome tore me stone from stone and my temple still lies in its grave.

It may also be because of what he said to me, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. Look, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’”

This man saw me for what I was, a stone facade. My name “The City of Peace” has never been true. And it never will be, until he returns to walk my streets again. A city cannot bring peace, not the kind her people need. But can a city have a heart, stone or otherwise, you may ask? I can only speak for myself. Two days after he predicted my ruin–on a hill that looked like a skull–the last Jewish prophet to enter my gates wet my dirt with his innocent blood. I watched him breathe his last. I shuddered and that night my heart of stone broke.

Today, 2,000 years later I long to feel his sandals on my stone. I will say, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.”

If Jesus saw the art in me, a hard, proud city of stone, think of what he can see in you.

Read Matthew 23:37-24:1-51, Matthew 26:3-5, Mark 13:1-37, Mark 14:1-2, Luke 22:1-2.

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Also, go to tnc3.org for info on how The Neighborhood Church is remembering this week in history.

Two thousand years ago this week one man turned history upside down. I would give anything to have been there, seen him, heard his voice. Instead we can only use our imaginations to re-enter ancient history. Each day this week, called Holy Week, we are going look at this day in ancient history through the eyes of a fictional character who witnessed part of that day as Jesus lived it. Join us as we believe a better story: the greatest, truest story ever told.

Categories: Art, authenticity, belonging, Bible, bible conversation, Christianity, church, Community, creation, dreams, Eugene C. Scott, Faith, God, God Sightings, grace | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Fifth Most Important Day in History: Are You a Giver or a Taker?

By Eugene C. Scott

I could hardly breathe the narrow streets were so crowded. This was the fastest way to the temple but it was not a good part of the city. I hated these grabbing people. Not Grandmother. Grandmother hated no one. Nor feared them. She hobbled along using her cane to pry her way through the middle of the crowd as if she owned the city. She moved fast for an old cripple.

“Grandmother, wait,” I called as she turned a corner.

“Grand . . .  ,” I began again but a rough dirty hand crushed my voice back down my throat. I tried to scream but the hand clamped harder. I tasted blood, like metal. The man drug me me backward into a doorway. I kicked and twisted, crying. He forced me to the ground and bent over me, cruel eyes raking me. He grabbed at my body and tore my robe. I screamed. Then I saw Grandmother behind him. She raised her cane and brought it down on his hairy ear. Blood burst from his head and he howled. I jumped up and ran and got stuck again in the crowd. I couldn’t breathe, even to cry. Then there was Grandmother suddenly beside me, smoothing my hair, taking my hand.

“He was an animal,” she spit. “But Yahweh is our strong tower, our protector,” she said shaking her cane. She did not release my hand all the way to the temple. I looked at her thinking she was my protector.

My tears dried by the time we reached the temple. But my heart still quailed. A shabbily dressed, skinny Rabbi was teaching there. We stopped to listen. He looked up and there was peace in his eyes.

“Wait here my child,” Grandmother told me and limped across the court to the temple treasury. A man in purple robes, with a gold phylactery tied on his forehead, pushed in front of her and threw a large purse in, shrugging at the temple guards. He relished their silent praise. I shivered.

Men. Even in purple robes they were animals.

Undeterred Grandmother bowed her head and dropped her coin in on top of the man’s wealth. This is why we had come. To thank Yahweh for all he had done for her.

The Rabbi’s voice came soft but strong from right beside me, “I tell you the truth this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”

How did he know Grandmother was a widow? I wondered. That we were poor was obvious.

Then the Rabbi turned and faced me and all my questions faded. This man saw inside me, knew me. But he did not need anything from me. I could see in his face–strong, plain, firm, satisfied–he was not a man like all the others, like that animal.His smile landed on me like a gift not a demand. It covered me like a cloak. He gave it expecting nothing in return.

Grandmother and I returned home by the longer road.

“Did you know that Rabbi?” I asked her.

“No, child.” she said.

Four days later we heard he was killed as punishment with two other thieves. At first I thought it was a mistake. But Grandmother said it was true. He had died on a cross. Still I knew it was a mistake. That man I had seen at the temple was no thief. That man knew about giving, not taking.

This day–the fifth most important in history: Jesus has four days left in what we call life. The Temple courts are full of people from all over the world. Rich people, powerful people. Yet he notices an old woman with no money and no influence. And he admires her. Like him she is a giver not a taker. Does Jesus receive hope from her actions that his gift too will be bigger than it looks?

Read Matthew 21:20-23:39, Mark 11:20-12:44, and Luke 20:1-21:4.

Also, go to tnc3.org for info on how The Neighborhood Church is remembering this week in history.

Two thousand years ago this week one man turned history upside down. I would give anything to have been there, seen him, heard his voice. Instead we can only use our imaginations to re-enter ancient history. Each day this week, called Holy Week, we are going look at this day in ancient history through the eyes of a fictional character who witnessed part of that day as Jesus lived it. Join us as we believe a better story: the greatest, truest story ever told.

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True Son: The Power of Story

By Eugene C. Scott

God gave me a vivid imagination and a deep love for stories.  With a mere turn of a page and flick of a neuron I have always been able to transport myself into another world, especially in times of difficulty.

A novel called “The Light in the Forest” by Conrad Richter, set in the Pennsylvania wilderness in the 1700s, carried me through the excruciating year following my father’s death.  In my imagination, I fought with my grief and ran the forest with True Son as he too struggled with his emotions and decisions while facing the loss of his Lenni Lenape family.

True Son’s real name was John Cameron Butler before he was taken from his Pennsylvania farm in a raid by the Lenni Lenape Indians. He is adopted and loved by the chief and after eleven years does not remember his former life and has become True Son. Suddenly, as a teen, a treaty forces True Son’s Lenni Lenape father to send him back to the Butlers.  In the loss of True Son’s father is where I connected with True Son.

Reading that story, I learned so much about myself–how fragile I was and how powerful my emotions.  How much I needed a father.

I didn’t know anything about God at the time, but that did not stop God–a few years later–from using that story to call me to see Jesus as the archetypal True Son and to trust God as my True Father.  I began to yearn for a Father who loved as did True Son’s.  This was the seed God planted in my heart and imagination to adopt me and show his love for me a few years later.  That day in my history reached beyond my wildest imagination.

If God can do all that through a fictional story, imagine what he can do through the better story of the True Son, Jesus.  Last year God used story and my imagination to dig even deeper into my soul.

Beginning with Monday, I read what took place in the life of Jesus that particular day of Holy Week.  I imagined myself there.  I imagined how I would feel and respond as Jesus purposefully walked toward his painful death.  I called it “this day in history” and it brought me a deeper understanding of who Jesus is and who he wants me to become.

This year I am writing a brief story each day about a fictional character who witnessed this day in history and what Jesus did on that day.  My hope is that this will help me, us, relive the truth of what Jesus did for us and how he loves us.

I will publish these at https://ecscott.wordpress.com and at  http://bibleconversation.wordpress.com.  Please feel free to join the story.  Also, click here for a Harmony of the Events of Holy Week.  It will lead you to readings from the Gospels that depict what Jesus did and said this day in history.  May God bring you closer to the True Son using your imagination and his better story this week.

Categories: adventure, Art, authenticity, belonging, Bible, bible conversation, care, Christianity, church, Community, dreams, Eugene C. Scott, Faith, God, healing, Jesus, loneliness, love., Meaning, miracles, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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