Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Yesterday I worked at my loom finishing a piece of cloth for a customer. The cloth is for the wedding dress of a rich gentile woman. My cloth is soft and fine, made from cotton grown in the Galilee. As I took the cloth off of the loom so I could finish the edge, I caught my hand on one of the hooks. I didn't know it was bleeding until I saw the bright red drops on the fine fabric. I cried out and covered my hand with my apron. I caught the fabric and carried it to the bucket of water slipping the part with blood on it into the water. As I bandaged my hand, tears came to my eyes. It wasn't that my hand hurt or that I had soiled the fabric; I realized that the tears have been close to my eyes since I saw the man Jesus. I know he is going to die and I want to meet him. But I am a foolish woman!
I wiped the tears on my apron and finished bandaging my hand. I then carefully washed the corner of the fabric as best I could. The blood left the slightest stain which was very obvious to me, but then, I knew it was there. I finished the edge of the fabric and folded it. I had hardly put it down when the door to my shop opened and the gentile woman came in. I hoped she would buy the fabric quickly and leave, but instead she talked incessantly about her daughter's wedding - the food and wine they were going to serve; the flowers that would adorn her hair...on and on. Then she picked up the fabric allowing it to unfold. "What's this?" she asked looking at the still damp edge. "Oh, I replied, a bit of water..." "But," she continued, hardly giving me a chance to explain, "it's got a stain on it." "Oh," I replied, "but it's very small." And then the truth came out of my mouth, "I pricked my hand on a hook and just a drop of blood fell on the edge..." The woman dropped the cloth as if it were poison. "Your blood is on this cloth? The cloth for my daughter's wedding? I cannot possibly take it with a Jew's blood on it! You will have to weave another piece." I stepped back as if the woman had hit me. The woman continued in anger demanding that I weave another piece but I simply said, "No." After several more difficult exchanges she left the shop. I refolded the fabric and sat down. Why did I tell her the truth? Why not a lie?
I left the shop quickly and went back to the gathering place at the city gate where I had been the day before. There were even more people than before. As I sat watching the pilgrims come into the city for Passover, a woman sat down beside me. "It's getting crowded." "Yes," I replied, "I wish it were over." The woman looked at me and said, "You sound sad." "Yes," I replied, "I suppose I am. I don't like the festivals. I have no family here and I'm not very religious." We sat in silence for awhile. She touched my arm and said, "My friends and I are going to celebrate Passover together, will you come and join us?" Perhaps she saw the surprise in my eyes. "It's quite alright, we're from Bethany and we wish to gather with our teacher to celebrate the feast. There's always room for another and besides we will mostly be in the kitchen." "Your teacher?" "Yes, his name is Jesus and we...." I grabbed her arm before she could finish. "Jesus! Your teacher is Jesus?" She was calm as if she were used to such exclamations. And then she began to tell me about him. Soon she stopped herself: "Why don't you come for Passover to hear him?" I don't even remember going back to my shop, but soon I was at my loom, the events of the morning far away. I am going to get to meet Jesus...
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
In the square near the gate to the city I found some friends who were full of news about this man Jesus. They said he went into the temple and, well, it sounds like he gave them a piece of his mind. I think I heard them say that he called the temple priests thieves! Oh, I would have loved to hear that! He made a mess by turning over the tables of the money changers and people were jumping to pick up their coins! I need to know more about this man.
Last night I went back to the square hoping that Jesus would be there with his group of followers so I could meet him but I learned that he had left the city to go back to Bethany. I heard rumors that he was staying with a family there. The story I heard then was phenomenal! One of the members of that family died and Jesus brought him back to life after he had been dead for 4 days! Rumors are so unpredictable... I'm sure that didn't happen, but it has everyone talking. I was standing not too far away from one of the temple guards who was speaking so loudly that anyone could hear him. He was saying that if Jesus tried to enter the temple again they would run him through with their swords! There is so much anger against Jesus. I wonder what the government could fear from this one gentle eyed man? But anger is everywhere - people are tired of the Roman oppression and they are tired of not having enough work and money. The air is electric with fear...Something bad is going to happen.
Sunday, March 28, 2010
From the "holy" to the very, very ordinary things of life: I finished the rag rug I crocheted for my bathroom. It turned out pretty good and is nice and thick under my feet. This is a picture of the finished product:
Saturday, March 20, 2010
Julia Betz deciding which necklace to wear!
Michael Betz loving Katie!
Sunday, March 14, 2010
For the love of God is broader
Monday, March 8, 2010
The gospel lesson for yesterday was so provocative (Luke 13:1-9). It is a lesson that easily fits into our contemporary situation. Jesus is teaching and someone brings up a disaster that happened in Jerusalem. Some folks from Galilee have gone into the temple to make a sacrifice and Pilate takes soldiers into the temple and slaughters them. It was of course illegal for anyone but the priests of the temple to make sacrifices, but Pilate's action is really an over reaction - this brutal slaughter was unnecessary. The people in the crown want to know why these people had to suffer in this way. Isn't that our question when we read about the earthquakes in Haiti and Chile, and so many other violent situations in the news? Jesus is quick to point out that these Galileans were NOT being punished by God for their sin. They were no more guilty of sin than we are. Jesus uses another contemporary picture - a tower in Siloam falls on 18 people and kills them. They were not being punished for sin...it was an accident which resulted in tragic deaths. There is a quote from Frederick Buechner that I love: "God does not reveal his grand design to us. God reveals himself." Suffering happens and it comes into our lives in so many ways. Blaming our suffering or someone else's suffering on God as punishment for our sin is not helpful, nor is it a part of Jesus' teaching. Of course suffering can be a result of sinful actions, but it is our actions and not God's desire to punish.
The parable Jesus tells at the end of this lesson is one of grace. The owner of the fig orchard inspects his trees and finds one that is barren - it does not bear fruit. This owner instructs the gardener to cut the tree down - it is taking up good ground and doing nothing. The gardener asks the owner to give him one more year with the tree - he will feed it and fertilize it and perhaps next year it will bear fruit. I can hear Jesus' voice whispering into God's ear: I know the struggles of living in the world Father, give me time with your people. I will feed them and care for them and they will bear fruit. It is a picture of Jesus' participation in our suffering. There is no suffering Jesus has not experienced and he knows our hurt so well. This is comfort in the midst of so much misery in the world.
Yummy Colors in Ruth's Store!
The beginnings of a "Felted Easter Egg"