34. LET HIM BE CRUCIFIED

THE ‘LET’ OF JESUS IN HOLY WEEK – GOOD FRIDAY
Friday, April 2nd

Read Matthew 27:20-50.

Pilate said to them, “Then what should I do with Jesus who is called the Messiah?”
All of them said, “Let him be crucified!” Then he asked, “Why, what evil has he done?”
But they shouted all the more, “Let him be crucified!”

Matthew 27:22-23 (NRSV)

We have come to this terrible day – Good Friday, the day we recall Jesus’s suffering and death by crucifixion. I almost feel as if any of my words are inadequate for reflection. The depth and magnitude of this day are hard to comprehend.

But on this awful day I find two incredible gifts…

Early in Lent, we remembered that Jesus became one with us as a tiny, helpless, human baby (5. LET US GO TO BETHLEHEM). Jesus also became like us when he chose to be baptized (6. LET IT BE SO NOW). And today, most significantly, Jesus became one with criminals as he suffered and died with them. His death wasn’t one superhuman death, his was one terrible death among others who suffered in the same way.

Jesus has experienced everything that we do, and even more; he knows what human life is like, what joys and sorrows we face, and he understands and relates with us completely. Jesus was born in a humble human birth even though he is the Son of God. He was baptized though sinless. He was crucified though innocent. Jesus lived and died doing everything the lowly did. We have this friend who will love, help, understand, forgive, and guide us – because he has done it all, too.

The second gift is the gift of forgiveness that Jesus exemplified on this terrible day. Forgiveness is choosing to stop the hurt instead of returning it with retaliation or revenge. Marty Troyer says it well:

When Pilate asks Jesus if he’s really a king, Jesus replies, “My kingdom is not recognized in this world. If it were from this world, My servants would be fighting for my freedom.” (John 18:36) Instead of entering the expected cycle of violent retribution or choosing to flee, Jesus chooses nonviolent self-sacrifice and forgiveness. Instead of a justifiable war cry, all we hear from Jesus is “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34) At the precise moment one would expect divine anger to boil over into a kind of tit for tat, Jesus refuses every form of retribution imaginable.

And when the rubber meets the road and a disciple has wrongly used violence to protect Jesus (Matthew 26:52) he responds, “Put your sword back into its place, for those who live by the sword will die by the sword.” When Jesus first sees his followers who each hid out of empire’s gaze as he dies a painful death, his words are anything but vengeful: “Peace be to you.”

Rather than tit for tat, Jesus absorbs hate, returning good for evil.1

Even as a fully human being, sharing our struggles, feeling our fears, hearing judgment and criticism, bearing pain and suffering, Jesus chose to stop the violence and hatred. Jesus died, absorbing what was inflicted upon him without spreading it further. Jesus asked God to forgive us even while he was slowly suffering and dying on the cross. His was an act of pure and ultimate love.

~~~~~

On this day, let us fully and humbly thank Jesus for becoming one with us all the way from birth to death. And as we try to fathom his terrible suffering and agonizing death, let us kneel in sorrow and gratitude for his incredible forgiveness.

~~~~~

Our reading for tomorrow will be Romans 13:11-14.

1God’s Non-violent response to violence – The Peace Pastor (chron.com) – Marty Troyer 

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Bible verses taken from https://classic.biblegateway.com/

33. LET US PERSIST

THE ‘LET’ OF JESUS IN HOLY WEEK
Maundy Thursday, April 1st

Read Mark 14:32-50.

Get up, let us be going. See, my betrayer is at hand.
Mark 14:42 (NRSV)

Day after day I was with you in the temple teaching, and you did not arrest me.
But let the scriptures be fulfilled.

Mark 14:49 (NRSV)

Jesus answered, “I told you that I am he. So if you are looking for me, let these men go.”
John 18:8 (NRSV)

Yesterday we sadly remembered the inner turmoil and anguish that Jesus felt during his last days. Today we again find that, despite his deep fears and grief, he remains determined to continue. Just after Jesus prays in Gethsemane, he awakens his sleeping disciples to say, “Get up, let us be going. See, my betrayer is at hand.” And we find Judas is there with the crowd to take him away. Jesus could have easily left the disciples sleeping and slipped away in the darkness. Instead, he chose to stay. With every step, he persisted in moving ever closer to the cross.

When the crowd then arrests Jesus, he tells them, “Day after day I was in the temple teaching, and you did not arrest me. But let the scriptures be fulfilled.” Jesus knew that terrible pain and suffering were to come, but he persisted in remaining true to his deeper purpose.

In John’s writing of Jesus’s arrest, he includes a brief conversation between Jesus and the soldiers. Jesus asks the crowd whom they are looking for, and when they reply, “Jesus of Nazareth,” Jesus responds, “I am he.” He then admonishes them to let his friends go. Jesus persisted in taking full responsibility and by keeping his words, “I did not lose a single one of those whom you gave me,” in his prayer to God moments earlier (John 17:12).

The Merriam- Webster definition of ‘persist’ includes two interesting perspectives: to go on resolutely or stubbornly in spite of opposition, importunity, or warning; (and) to remain unchanged or fixed in a specified character, condition, or position.

It seems to me that Jesus was able to “go on resolutely… in spite of” because he “remained unchanged in character…” Jesus was determined to continue because he could do no less. Jesus was able to remain courageous and faithful, hold true to his purpose and mission, take sole responsibility for the safety of his disciples, and continue this way until his death, because he held fast to his identity in God. To do anything less than remaining who he was, knowing what he stood for, and living (and dying) with integrity of the character of God, was not an option for Jesus.

There have been other faithful martyrs who persisted in living a life of steadfast faith. Even as they faced death, these courageous people never wavered from their integrity and purpose in God. They lost their lives, but they never lost their identity. That is a challenging but worthy invitation for us today. May we become so deeply grounded in God that nothing can shake our foundation. May our lives exemplify our integrity as beloved children of God. May we trust so deeply in God’s loving salvation that we have no need to fear even death.

~~~~~

May we let Christ Jesus become so centered within us that we begin to truly live with his identity, integrity, and persistence.

~~~~~

Our reading for tomorrow (Good Friday) will be Matthew 27:20-50.

Photo by Carolina Pimenta on Unsplash

Bible verses found at https://classic.biblegateway.com/

32. LET THIS CUP PASS FROM ME…

THE ‘LET’ OF JESUS IN HOLY WEEK
Wednesday, March 31st

Read Matthew 26:36-39.

And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed,
“My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not what I want but what you want.”
Matthew 26:39 (NRSV)

Have you had times in life when you had to put on your “brave face”? Those times when you were worried, grieved, or fearful – but you knew it would do no good to let others see that you were?

I have had a few of those moments. I was a resident advisor in my college dormitory during a winter blizzard that left us without heat or water. I tried to display positivity while we manually cleaned out toilets and shivered from the cold. Another time, I smiled and waved to my preschool daughter as she was taken away for minor surgery. And a few years ago, I cheerfully chatted as the infusion nurse started my IV of chemotherapy for the first time. Each time, my outer countenance appeared peaceful, confident, serene. My inner soul? Not so much. In my private moments, personal prayers, and sleepless nights, I let my worries surface, my tears flow, my heart ache, and my fears reign.

Yet none of these moments come close to what Jesus had to face…

In yesterday’s reflection, Jesus’s countenance seemed peaceful and calm as he spoke his loving words of assurance to his disciples. Today, we see a different side to him in the Garden of Gethsemane. His human anguish is very real and raw. I feel SO sad to witness his doubt and agony – to see the inner struggle beneath his brave face. But this moment also deeply impacts and blesses me. For I begin to understand how terrible this was for him, how completely he loved God and all of us, and how he chose to do what would bless the world despite his great inner turmoil.

Our invitation for today is to remember that Jesus was human like us… to try to fathom how desperately he asked God to let this cup pass from him… to be deeply grateful that he endured everything anyway, while trusting God to make good come from it all.

~~~~~

May we never forget and always be grateful for the human suffering and anguish Jesus felt, for we know that in him, God was truly one of us.

~~~~~

Our reading for tomorrow will be Mark 14:32-50.

Photo by Joel Swick on Unsplash

Bible verses taken from BibleGateway.com

31. DO NOT LET OUR HEARTS BE TROUBLED

THE ‘LET’ OF JESUS IN HOLY WEEK
Tuesday, March 30th

Read John 14:1-27.

Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me.
John 14:1 (NRSV)

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives.
Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.
John 14:27 (NRSV)

I cannot imagine such a love as this. Even as he is aware of all the pain and suffering he would soon endure, Jesus spends time with his disciples this way: sharing his love, encouragement, instruction, and hope-filled promises. He assures them of all the reasons they should not let their hearts be troubled. What a beautiful gift this is for us, too. Do not Let our hearts be troubled is our invitation for today.

Aren’t his words the greatest gift of our faith? His words give us our reason for hope, peace, and even joy in the midst of our worldly cares and hardships…

~ In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also (verses 2-3). Even as I find peace and hope in God for my everyday losses and resurrections, I am always grateful to hold this promise of an eternity that will be even better than I can fathom.

~ I am the way, and the truth, and the life (verse 6). When my world is muddled and murky, I am blessed to pray, “I have no idea what I am doing or where I am going. But you are enough, Jesus. Guide me through this time. I put my trust in you.”

~ The one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these… (verse 12). Jesus calls me to serve others in love, but he also empowers me to do more than I can imagine, more than I could ever do on my own, especially when I team with others. Because of him, I can live and love abundantly.

~ And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of truth… he abides in you and he will be in you… the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you (verses 16-17). When I wonder about the meaning of my life, whether I am doing what I am here to do, if my thoughts, words, and actions are pleasing to God, Jesus gives me the Spirit to show me all I need to know and be and do.

~ Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you (verse 27). I find my peace because Jesus gives it to me. Freely. Generously. Constantly.

Through Jesus, we have the promises of God here with us now, as well as the hope of a better life to come. We have the intercession and wisdom of the Spirit for every moment. We have the power of Christ to live a life of abundant love. We have the confidence that flows from trusting the One who is our companion, guide, power, strength, source of hope and peace. Every day. Forever.

We have Jesus himself, who knows our earthly sorrows and pain because he has already experienced them. When we face our most difficult hour, we have his friendship with us, his strength and assurance for each moment, the truth of his love and life, and always his promise of a better ending.

Do not let our hearts be troubled.

~~~~~

May we not let our hearts be troubled, for we can be certain that Jesus’s words and promises are true and trustworthy – because he needed to fully trust them himself.

~~~~~

Our reading for tomorrow will be Matthew 26:36-39.

Photo by Karen, Hurricane, WV

Bible verses found at BibleGateway.com

30. LET HER ALONE

THE ‘LET’ OF JESUS IN HOLY WEEK
Monday, March 29th

Read Mark 14:1-9.

But Jesus said, “Let her alone; why do you trouble her? She has performed a good service for me.
Mark 14:6

“Why was the ointment wasted in this way?” the disciples asked. While they were sharing a meal with Jesus, a grateful woman came to him with a jar of costly ointment, broke it open, and lovingly poured it on his head. Of course, some of those gathered around the table immediately questioned her extravagant actions! The ointment was expensive, and Jesus clearly wanted to help the poor and feed the hungry. The ointment could have been sold and the money given to the poor. From what we know of Jesus’s life and teaching, I would ask the same question!

What might we learn from this short passage? First, Jesus tells his friends to let her alone, which reminds us that we are not to judge or criticize others. He goes on to say that she has performed a good service for him; she has anointed him ahead of time for his burial. In this, we are reminded to refrain from making assumptions and to be mindful that there is usually more to the story than we observe. Finally, even as Jesus held his deep concern for the poor, perhaps he knew that her need to serve him was the greater need in that moment. We are reminded that Jesus knows our greatest needs more than we do.

Today, our spiritual invitation is to Let her alone – but with a different perspective.

Let’s imagine that Jesus is telling us to let ourselves alone. We can be our toughest critics at times, can’t we? Yes, we are imperfect, often broken, but we are always beloved, just as this woman was. When we have failed in some way, we are invited to repent (in order to heal and grow), but we need not remain critical of ourselves. We can be grateful to be forgiven as we strive to do better. When we make mistakes, instead of assuming all is lost, we can trust that God will bring a deeper meaning and perhaps even greater good from them. There will always be more to our story. And when we feel helpless to address the great needs of our world, we can let God use what we can do – our small acts of lovingkindness – to make more of an impact than we might imagine.

~~~~~

Today, let’s walk as beloved children of God, doing the best we can with what we can, trusting that Jesus is using us for good in all things. God will guide, forgive, and love us through each moment. We can learn to let ourselves alone – because we know that God won’t!

~~~~~

Our reading for tomorrow will be John 14:1-27.

Photo by Oshin Khandelwal on Unsplash

Bible verses found at BibleGateway.com

29. LET US BE JOYFUL

THE ‘LET’ OF JESUS IN HOLY WEEK
March 28th (PALM SUNDAY)

Read Luke 19:35-42.

But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy.
Psalm 5:11 (NRSV)

Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have crushed rejoice.
Psalm 51:8 (NRSV)

But let the righteous be joyful; let them exult before God; let them be jubilant with joy.
Psalm 68:3 (NRSV)

As we enter into Holy Week, our inspiration focuses on the Lets of Jesus. We will look at the incredible ways Jesus let God’s will be done – as he approached the cross of Good Friday.

The events of Palm Sunday are perplexing, aren’t they? We begin to envision this day as one of great joy and victory for this lowly king, as the people welcoming his entry into Jerusalem praise him with palm branches and strewn cloaks. Then we remember that Jesus knows the rest of the story. He has already told his followers several times what was to come. And in verses 41-42, Jesus weeps over Jerusalem, for he sees how the people are missing his purpose and the “things that make for peace.” This day encompasses so much of what is in store for us this week – as we move between joy and sorrow, praise and lament, hope and despair.

But on this day, Jesus chooses to let the people be joyful. Jesus accepts the joy of his triumphal entry even as he knows that terrible days are coming. Sometimes I wonder if this day was a gift for him, as saw how the grateful crowd had been touched by his love, his teaching, his healing; their adoration could confirm that his life had been worthwhile, that he had blessed God and done all he could. And yet, knowing Jesus, we understand that this procession was not about his glory or recognition, but about giving his people a time to hope, to be joyful, and to celebrate. He brought them joy and he received their joy during this one momentous occasion. He let them be joyful.

Jesus does the same for us today. He wants to give us us an abiding joy for all of life. Jesus promised his disciples – and he promises us – his constant companionship and the joy that comes from our relationship with him:

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. ~ John 15:9-11 (NRSV)

We know what the future days hold for Jesus. But in this present moment, may we find joy and gratitude for all he has done in our hearts and lives. We do not know everything our future holds. But we do know that Jesus will remain with us, share his love, and bring our joy. Let us be joyful!

~~~~~

May our praises ring out today, as we stand in the presence of Christ – the One who brings our joy, shares our joy, and is our reason for joy – today and every day.

~~~~~

Our reading for tomorrow will be Mark 14:1-9.

Photo by Levi Hernández on Unsplash

Bible verses found at https://classic.biblegateway.com

28. LET US HOLD FAST TO OUR CONFESSION

THE ‘LET’ OF LENT – Friday, March 26th

Since, then, we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens,
Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession.

Hebrews 4:14 (NRSV)

Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering,
for he who has promised is faithful.

Hebrews 10:23 (NRSV)

“When the going gets tough, the tough get going…”*

This well-known expression has been said during challenging times to inspire and encourage people to keep trying, to not give up, and to remain tough. At the time this letter to the Hebrew people was written, Jewish Christians were being badly persecuted for their faith; the going WAS incredibly tough. But instead of imploring them to remain tough and keep up the fight, here the writer encourages the Hebrews to hold fast to their confession.

In fact, earlier in chapter 4, he is calling the people to keep the practice of sabbath rest – to cease from their labors and enter into the rest of God. He reminds them that the practice of sabbath rest is a sample of the eternal rest in the goodness of God they will enjoy one day. These are great words of comfort and hope for those who were facing hardship, persecution, and even death because of their faith.

When do we need to hold fast to our confession? I find it easy to confess my faith through my written or spoken words when life is good, when I am among like-minded people, when blessings abound. But if trials come, or my faith and integrity are challenged, or if I were to be criticized or threatened (as the Hebrews were), I need to hold fast to that confession. I must cling to my faith as my stronghold and rest in the goodness of God.

Imagine ourselves floundering in a sea of trouble. We may thrash, yell, swim, tread water, fall below the surface, gulp for air, struggle, become exhausted. Jesus offers us his life-saving help, reaching out and calling us to take his hand. As soon as we take hold, we can stop floundering and rest. We allow Jesus to pull us closer, out of the waters, into his arms. Every morning during a particularly difficult time in my life, I sat on the edge of my bed, held out my hand, and asked Jesus to hold it and go with me through the day. That ‘holding fast’ helped me to cope and to hope.

If we read on in chapter 4, we are assured that we can come with boldness to the One who has ‘passed through the heavens’ and has experienced and endured as much or more than we ever will. We can rest in the One who sympathizes with our weaknesses and showers upon us mercy and grace to help in (our) time of need. Christ Jesus knows and understands our struggles very well. And he reaches out his hand and invites us to hold it fast.

~~~~~

May we hold fast to our confession of everything we know of Jesus and need of him – especially our love for him, and his for us. He who has promised is faithful. In him, we have our stronghold for every trial.

~~~~~

There will be a daily devotional for all of Holy Week. Our reading for Palm Sunday will be Luke 19:35-42.

*The original quote has been attributed to several people, including John F. Kennedy, Joseph Kennedy, and Knute Rockne.

Photo by Roan Lavery on Unsplash

Bible verses found at https://classic.biblegateway.com

27. LET US LOVE

THE ‘LET’ OF LENT – Thursday, March 25th

Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.
1 John 3:18 (NSRV)

Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God;
everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.

1 John 4:7 (NRSV)

Let all that you do be done in love.
1 Corinthians 16:14 (NRSV)

Very early in our relationship, I knew I had deep feelings for Jim but I was nervous about sharing them with him, wondering how he would react. But one day I was overwhelmed with affection, and I asked him, “Is it okay if I love you a little bit?”

Our spiritual invitation today is to Let us love. We are called to love others with an agape love, a love that is unconcerned with the self and concerned with the greatest good of another. Agape isn’t born just out of emotions, feelings, familiarity, or attraction, but from the will and as a choice. Agape requires faithfulness, commitment, and sacrifice without expecting anything in return.1

Maybe the secret to loving greatly is by loving in little bits. Jesus loved the world, but most often he reached out with love to one person at a time. I found some thoughts on agape love that speak to this idea of loving in small ways…

~ “Agape’s object is always the concrete individual, not some abstraction called humanity. Love of humanity does not surprise you with inconvenient demands. You never find humanity on your doorstep, stinking and begging.” ― Peter Kreeft, ‘Love’, ‘Fundamentals of the Faith: Essays in Christian Apologetics’, 1988.  

Isn’t this so true? Oh, we can sincerely pray for, care about, and suffer with all of humanity. But loving the individual is more difficult, more demanding of us. We grieve for the two million people worldwide who have died from this pandemic, but our grief becomes raw when we hear the personal stories of victims or lose a loved one ourselves. We donate to World Hunger, but hesitate to feed the man on the street corner. I speak and write to support LGTBQ students, but I hesitate to offer a much-needed support group for them. Loving others on a personal level requires more of us.

~ “Just as God, above all, is free of every need and self-interest, the spiritual man who has the Spirit struggles and becomes perfected in the love according to Christ, love that is delivered of all need and self-interest.” ― John Romanides.

Loving generously comes easily when we hope to be loved in return. Our loving acts may even be an effort to persuade someone to like us or do something for us. When we love others with agape love, we love with no expectation, no self-interest. We then love better, because we can love with the right amount of love to make good differences in the lives of others. We love best when we can reach out but also know when to leave alone. Help but not enable. Care but not smother. Raise up and let go. We love with a selfless love that is not about us, but genuinely about the good of others.

 “Agape doesn’t love somebody because they’re worthy. Agape makes them worthy by the strength and power of its love. Agape doesn’t love somebody because they’re beautiful. Agape loves in such a way that it makes them beautiful.” ― Rob Bell.

There are people we find so easy to love, and there are those we find difficult to love, even a little bit. We are called to love the undeserving, the difficult, the enemy, the one who hates us. These are the ones we try to convince ourselves, “don’t even matter to us.” They matter to God. They matter to God as much as we matter to God. We learn to love them with agape love, when we realize that we are “little bits” greatly loved by God, too. God’s love is what makes us worthy and beautiful. Sharing God’s love will offer the same for others.

~~~~~

May we remember all the ways Jesus has loved us greatly, by loving us with every little bit. May we then share that love with everyone – individually, selflessly, and graciously.

~~~~~

Our reading for tomorrow will be Hebrews 4:14 and 10:23.

1What Does Agape Love Really Mean in the Bible? (christianity.com)

Quotes found at 30+ Best Agape Love Quotes About Unconditional Love by Kidadl

Photo by Will O on Unsplash

Bible verses found at https://classic.biblegateway.com

26. LET US NOT GROW WEARY IN DOING WHAT IS RIGHT

THE ‘LET’ OF LENT – Wednesday, March 24th

Read Galatians 6:7-9.

So let us not grow weary in doing what is right,
for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up.

Galatians 6:9 (NRSV)

Sydney Harris was my favorite newspaper columnist when I was a young adult. I have an old book that contains the best of his “Strictly Personal” columns, but I treasure one particular story:

“I walked with my friend, a Quaker, to the newsstand the other night, and he bought a paper, thanking the newsie politely. The newsie didn’t even acknowledge it.
“A sullen fellow, isn’t he? I commented. “Oh, he’s that way every night,” shrugged my friend. “Then why do you continue being polite to him?” I asked. “Why not?” inquired my friend. “Why should I let him decide how I’m going to act?”
As I thought about this little incident later, it occurred to me that the operating word was “act.” My friend acts toward people; most of us react toward them. He has a sense of inner balance lacking in most of us frail and uncertain creatures: he knows who he is, what he stands for, and how he should behave…1

I imagine we have all asked ourselves at least once, “Why do I even bother?” We enthusiastically teach a class, then at the end of the year discover how little the students learned (or cared). We keep offering to help a neighbor, but our help is never accepted. We ask for forgiveness but receive only silence. We long to befriend someone but it is not returned. We clean up trash along our road, but soon more trash reappears. We do our best to bring good to our corner of the world, but see no lasting results. Are we making any difference at all?

But Jim has a similar story with a different ending. On his early morning walks, he greets a gentleman who sits in the low light of dawn to have a cigarette. For over a year, the man had never replied, but Jim continued to be friendly. Then one day, the man returned the greeting! Since then, the gentleman has introduced himself – and his wife – to both of us! A new friendship has been formed.

Let us not grow weary in doing what is right. Let us keep doing all the good and right things we can, leaving the results to God. Let us keep doing what is right through our calling and our desire to become more Christlike – even if for that reason alone. We may never know what good might come when we do what is right, but we are blessed in the doing, in the integrity of spirit that comes from living this way.

And Jesus will help us to not grow weary. Hebrews 12:3 reminds us to Consider him who endured such hostility against himself from sinners, so that you may not grow weary or lose heart. Jesus knows how we feel. Jesus has experienced frustrations, futility, and even hostility for doing what is right. We are in good company with the one who can help us endure and continue.

~~~~~

May we not grow weary in doing what is right, but ask the Spirit to help us persevere, trust that Jesus goes with us, and let every action demonstrate our gratitude to God.

~~~~~

Our readings for tomorrow are 1 John 3:18 and 4:7, 1 Corinthians 16:14.

1Harris, Sydney J. The Best of Sydney J. Harris. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1976. Print.

Photo by Wan Chen on Unsplash

Bible verses found at https://classic.biblegateway.com

25. LET OUR GENTLENESS BE KNOWN TO EVERYONE

THE ‘LET’ OF LENT – Tuesday, March 23rd

Read Philippians 2:1-11 and 4:5.

Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.
Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus
Philippians 2:4-5 (NRSV)

Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near.
Philippians 4:5 (NRSV)

To gentleness belongs ability to bear reproaches and slights with moderation,
and not to embark on revenge quickly, and not to be easily provoked to anger,
but free from bitterness and contentiousness, having tranquility and stability in the spirit.
~ Aristotle

Today our spiritual invitation is to Let our gentleness be known to everyone. Gentleness is a sensitivity of disposition and kindness of behavior, founded on strength and prompted by love.1 Why is our gentleness essential as we seek to show and share the love of Christ Jesus?

Gentleness is not timidity or weakness; gentleness is built on inner strength and love. Our gentleness comes from centering ourselves in God, trusting we are infinitely beloved, and finding an inner strength to withstand hostility, insults, criticisms, or blame from others. When we are wounded, we need the strength of the Spirit to keep from wounding back; to respond instead with grace, mercy, and dignity. Gentleness is choosing to act with the “sensitivity of disposition and kindness of behavior” that comes from our love for God and humanity.

The gentleness of Jesus in the Philippians 2 passage helps us understand why he was so compelling – why people were willing to drop everything and follow him. Jesus emptied himself, looked to the interests of others, and only sought to humbly and obediently serve God and God’s people. This sense of gentleness and acceptance in his presence certainly beckoned people to come and follow him.

Today I fondly recall a small chapel on the campus of Lourdes University, a Franciscan university sponsored by the Sisters of St. Francis of Sylvania, Ohio. Portiuncula Chapel is modeled after the 12th century chapel in Assisi, Italy, in which Francis received his first followers. When Jim and I lived in the area, we loved to go to the chapel for prayer and reflection.

The quiet chapel rests at the back of the campus, humbly welcoming guests to come inside and pray, light a candle, kneel at the altar rail, or sit and reflect. As soon as we entered the door, we were embraced by a warm, sacred, cloistered atmosphere. We were comforted by the soft fragrance of burning candles. We were hushed by the dim glow of lamplight and the reverence of lingering prayers from those who had been there before us. I have found that even without intentional prayer, my time in the chapel brought great peace and stillness to my soul.

When we are gentle in spirit, we become like this chapel – a haven of peace and stillness. Our gentleness makes us more approachable, less intimidating. Those who have been wounded themselves will find in us a safe sanctuary where they are received with kindness and invited to drop their burdens. Standing in the strength of God, we become both the refuge and the open door. In us, people will see the Christ who welcomes them in, embraces them in warmth, comforts their wounds, and provides sanctuary for their souls.

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May we Let our gentleness be known to everyone, as we trust that Christ Jesus warmly welcomes us into his presence and grace. Our Lord is near.

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Our reading for tomorrow is Galatians 6:7-9.

1Gentleness Definition and Meaning – Bible Dictionary (biblestudytools.com)

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Bible verses found at https://classic.biblegateway.com