Posts Tagged ‘peace’

pick_one

Murphy, the non-disciple, and his wife, Harpreet, have just settled in for the night–kids are in bed and sleeping. Ten feet away.

Harpreet (whispering): You’ve been talking a lot of Jesus who was executed recently.

Murhpy (whispering): Yeah, he’s back. Amazing. I think he’s God… (pause) I talked with him in Jerusalem last week. ‘Said, his way was THE WAY to live and know God.

Harpreet (louder, Murph puts a finger to her lips): God! (quieter) Sounds like India. We have gods by the bundle at home in Cambay. Which god do you think Jesus is?

Murph: Not a god–the god. How many of your family’s gods have risen from the dead and talked with you lately? Have you seen Buddha at the well this week? Jesus is the real deal.

Harpreet:  Hmm. Don’t all religions have the same end–nirvana, heaven, hope and peace with major helpings of health and prosperity? In India, we have–Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, Ganesha, Krishna, Rama, Hanuman, and goddesses like Lakshmi, Durga, Kali and Saraswati–and that’s just getting started. We also have Buddha, who teaches noble truths and an eightfold path.

Murph: Yeah, Buddha had some good things to say about self-denial, but apart from a work-around on suffering, he left you with a wheel-of-life or oblivion. While some of his followers say he passed on nirvana to get people off the wheel–he didn’t do a Pentecost with wind and languages, right?  The other gods haven’t much to offer either.

Harpreet: Well, Jesus was different.

Murph: Jesus was, or is, different because he lived/lives as you’d imagine God would live if he were a human. He was awesomely god 24/7. You met him. I’ve been with his disciples for years.

Harpreet: Yes, such a caring man! He was the nicest person you ever brought into this house. The kids loved him.

Murph: See, you get it–you know him. For those who don’t, he not only lived truth and grace perfectly–he rose from the dead! He was too much for a grave to hold. He couldn’t not live–the Jews and the Romans couldn’t put him down. They got rid of him and he came back! Everybody in Jerusalem and Judea know this story. And it’s spreading. How embarrassing for the Temple dudes.

Harpreet: Well, that does put him in a class above all the other gods and religious leaders I’ve ever heard of. So, he can’t not live?

Murph: Yep. He can’t be stopped. Not only that, he told me that if I abided in him, I’d also be unstoppable. I believe him! No grave for me–I’ve hitched my cart to him and trust his word. Ultimately, I’ll be with him, wherever he is.

Harpreet: What about me? I, too, have met him. And after what you’ve said, I believe he’s God, too.

Murph: You repent and–his words, not mine–“Love God with all you have and love your neighbors as yourself.” Most of his group were baptized, some maybe twice, when they repented and put faith in God for forgiveness. John the Baptist baptized me before he was taken to prison and executed.

Harpreet: Well, I certainly repent of my sins and I know God’s forgiven me. Who’ll baptize me?

Murph: We’ll ask the disciples who should do it, but they’ll have trouble with you, not being a Jew and all. Barnabas might help us out. Right now it’s kind of a Jewish thing. Even so, they’ve heard all the different languages when the Holy Spirit descended. That ought to be a clue. They also saw how Jesus loved me even though I’m not a Jew or a disciple. Jesus told me to wait ’cause Peter was going to have a dream and us non-disicples were going to be allowed to join The Way.

Harpreet: I guess there are lots of gods and religions, but they all have different ends. Only Jesus gives me a personal relationship with God, his Father. My faith reveals truth and grace for application in my life. I never got that through faith in Hindu gods, Buddha or the sacred rocks and trees at home.

Murph (giving Harpreet a hug; she reciprocates): Our mutual faith increases our mutual love. Love you, honey. Have a good night’s sleep.

Tr8: Pick Jesus (see the Gospels).  Jesus offers unconditional love, unmerited forgiveness and comprehensive peace.

Homework: What do other religions offer? With whom do you wish to walk at the end of your journey? Moses, Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, Buddha, Maitreya, Caesar, Jesus, Mohammed, Joseph Smith, Yoda?

John the BaptistJohn the Baptist and Benny (his last loyal disciple) sit talking through prison bars.
Benny: Brought you some honey and locusts. And a thermos of coffee from my mom.
John (head down): Thanks. Hey to your mama.
Benny: Man you look really depressed. Sorry.
John: Tell me again what Jesus said.
Benny: Well, I asked just like you said: “Are you the one or shall we look for another?”
John: And…
Benny: He looked really sad–maybe even a tear–and said, “Tell Cousin John everything you’ve seen–blind see, sick healed, dead raised, demons running, people comforted–tell him to remember Isaiah 61.”
John (smiling slightly): Ah, break out the faith…
Benny (reaching through the bars to touch John’s robe): Then he said you were the greatest man to ever be born of a woman. John, he loves you. I know he does. It was clear as day.
John (hopefully): Did he say he’d try to come visit? Man, I been praying day and night to see him again.
Benny (dropping his head): Uhh, no. Said he was moving to Capernaum. Further north. Near the beach…
John: Well, maybe John and Andrew could visit? They were good guys while they were with us. I could use some encouragement here.
Benny (shaking his head): No, they’re staying with Jesus and going to Capernaum, too.
John: Oh.
Benny (quietly): John, nobody’s coming. It’s just me.
John (looking into Benny’s eyes): Thanks, Ben. Means a lot.
Benny: It’s nothing. No trouble coming in tonight. There’s some kind of huge banquet going on in the palace. I heard Herod promised up to half his kingdom to his step-daughter for dancing.
John: I’m glad you are here. Sometimes I feel like I’ve been totally forgotten. I pray, sing and meditate and review Scripture and stuff, but seems pointless. Even so, I continue.
Benny: Sure. Things are bound to look up pretty soon.
John: Maybe. I’m God’s man, good or bad. He sent me to make a pathway in the wilderness and to declare it’s time. I wavered for a bit, but of course Jesus is THE Messiah, the Chosen One.
Quietness.
John: I can feel his spirit with us now. And, yeah, Jesus is here. How could I doubt?
Ben and John look up as keys rattle in the dungeon door. Two guards enter. One carries a sword, the other a dinner platter.

Tr8: Persevere in trials. We are loved and cared for in adversity. God’s plan isn’t always easy or painless, but it can be full of faith, hope, love, peace and joy regardless of the circumstances.

References: Matthew 11:11 and “In the Meantime” by Andy Stanley.

simpleJames and John are at Starbucks with Jesus. They’re killing time before heading over to a horse show

Jesus: Following me…do you find it difficult?

James: Not too much. When we decide to follow you — love God and our neighbors — it’s not tricky,

Jesus: Do you feel like I’m hiding stuff from you?

John: ‘Course not! What kind of friend keeps secrets?

Jesus: When I say I’ll take care of you, do you believe me?

James: Beyond any shadow of a doubt. You are way too dependable for us to think you would stop loving us. That’s just not you.

Jesus: Do you think I’d set you up for failure?

John: NO!

Jesus: So, you’re ready to roll, whatever may come?

John: The good thing about following you, is that we don’t have to be planning much beyond right now. We trust you completely. Upon whom else can we put our hope? There’s only you.

Jesus: Do you think I’m overly judgmental?

James: Jesus, you are full of judgment, but you are anything but judgmental. I’m not afraid of your judgment. Remember that woman at the well. I don’t think we have to worry about what we don’t know. The Pharisees are awash in righteous knowledge, but are spiritually blind as bats.

Jesus: Well, we gotta move on. I just wanted to check on your impressions. I love you too much to make staying with me difficult. My goal is to draw you all to the Father.

John: Let me ask something. Do we need to be worried? Are we not following you well enough?

Jesus: You’re good.

Tr8s – Keep it simple. Remember the initiation of the thief on the cross into Jesus’ kingdom? Just follow me and let the rest take care of itself.

The continuing story of two traitors: Cornelius and Peter. The night of the grill Jesus was betrayed into the hands of his enemies. Cornelius was the Roman presence as the chief priests captured and tried Jesus at Caiaphas’ palace.

Peter following the crowd to the palace gate. He sat nervously by a fire.

Bystander: It’s getting colder! Hey, weren’t you with the Messiah guy?

Peter: No. You’re thinking of somebody else.

Another bystander: No, I’m sure you were with him in the Temple. I saw you!

Peter: Seriously? You think I’d get sucked into this Messiah business? No way.

Cornelius waited at the gate as well. He wanted nothing to do with Jewish religious politics — especially with regard to Jesus of Nazareth. As long as things were relatively peaceful. He would watch, not act. He moved nearer the fire and listened.

Peter: I have a twin brother. Maybe you saw him.

Cornelius: Nah, you are one of them. I remember seeing you with him in Jerusalem a year or so ago. He healed one of my servants.

Peter: I say, ‘Hail Caesar! Not, Hail King of the Jews!’ The hell with this, I’m out of here!

Cornelius and the others watch as Peter disappears into the night muttering under his breath. Cornelius turns and walks into the courtyard. Jesus is in the middle of a group of Temple guards and clerics. He’s taking a beating, but makes no sound.

Cornelius (shakes his head and thinks to himself): Jewish justice. Religious fanatics. He doesn’t deserve this. They gripe about Rome, but look at these bloodthirsty fools!

The leaders and priests walk over to Cornelius.

Caiaphas: We need to take him to the Governor’s palace. We’ll have a riot here if we pursue this further here. Take possession of the prisoner and escort us. Pilate’s orders.

Cornelius: As you wish.

Cornelius has a front row seat for Jesus’ mock trial, beating, humiliation and crucifixion. He waits on Golgotha for the injustice to end. He’s been involved in a lot of death, but this is too much. The skies darken and all that can be heard are the sobs of a handful of women nearby.

Jesus (turning a swollen, knowing eye toward Cornelius): It is finished!

Cornelius is amazed. He has seen death take men, but never a man take death. It was like someone leaving a room.

Cornelius: Surely, this was the Son of God!

At the end of his duty shift he called for a scribe.

Scribe: Sir?

Cornelius: Take this down: ‘I, Cornelius, Centurion of the Italian Regiment, herewith resign my commission. In consideration of leave accrued, this resignation is effective immediately. I depart for the coast today and will sail with the first favorable tide.’ Deliver this to the Governor’s palace immediately.

Cornelius retired to Caesarea on the Mediterranean coast, troubled with the role he played in Christ’s crucifixion. He prayed to God with his household for forgiveness on a daily basis.

Peter was staying with Simon the tanner in Joppa when he had a dream and followed the Spirit’s leadership to Caesarea (Acts 16).

Peter finds himself knocking on a retired Centurion’s door in Caesarea. The door opens and a servant escorts Peter’s crew into the inner court. There, he is met by Cornelius and his household.

Cornelius (looking closely): I know you.

Peter (looking down): I know you, too.

Cornelius: You denied your Lord…

Peter: You crucified…

Silence.

Peter spends the rest of the evening telling Cornelius the story of the risen Christ. Confessions are made. Burdens are dropped. The gospel brings peace and forgiveness to both.

Tr8: Confession lightens the heart. Peace is in forgiveness. Bonds are forged in suffering.