Church of the Magdalene?

Consider today’s blog as a pondering of sorts – musing on what would it have looked like if the Magdalene’s perspective on the Jesus message had not been supplanted by fear, power and control, but instead, had been allowed to flourish?  I entertain these thoughts not in opposition to the Institutional Church, because ultimately, I believe that the only way for the Church to survive is if both the feminine and masculine are honored, but, not unlike the feminist movement, we have to start the conversation somewhere.  So….here goes…..

 

Mary Magdalene  by Robert Place

Mary Magdalene by Robert Place

1) To begin with, I believe the Church of the Magdalene would be less concerned about saving us from sin and death, and more concerned with empowering us in life.  If there is such a thing as hell, I often believe THIS IS IT!  The Church of the Magdalene would give us tools for learning how to navigate the human condition and would help us find comfort in our losses while celebrating our joys.

2) The Church of the Magdalene’s second task would be to empower us in fulfilling the mission God intended for us.  We would be given the tools and support we need to find meaning, purpose and fulfillment in our lives through the uniquely creative way in which God desires to be known in the world through us.  We would also be given the help and support we need to overcome the inner obstacles to living that purpose.

3) In the Church of the Magdalene, the priesthood would not be one of exclusivity, but instead, would empower a priesthood of ALL believers.  EVERY SINGLE PERSON would be ordained into their unique, special and necessary mission for the betterment of humankind and our world.  Some would be ordained as healers, teachers, counselors, prophets, welcomers, nourishers, sustainers, supporters, stewards of the environment, growers, inspirers, bringers of beauty, shadow walkers, hand holders, receivers of healing and compassion, etc. etc. etc.  Yes, some would be called and empowered to pastor and lead communities, but this role would be no more important than any other vocation.  All are needed….all are empowered.

4) The Church of the Magdalene would be less about showing up for church to “fulfill your Sunday obligation” or to receive your “get out of hell free” card.  The Church of Magdalene would also be less about watching and more about doing.  In the Church of the Magdalene, everyone is the presider.  We gather together to share our lives, our stories, our journeys and we do so through contemplative prayer, as Jesus did.  Then, we are all empowered to go out and do the work that Jesus calls us to do.  Love one another.  Heal the sick.  Feed the hungry.  Give sight to the blind.  Set captives free.  In this way, it is all Eucharist. And if there is a sacred meal to be shared, it could just as well be cookies and milk as bread and wine.  In the Church of the Magdalene….Christ is ever-present…in the word, in the people, in the prayer, in our sorrows and in our joys, in the rivers and the trees, in the very air we breathe – and we are invited to see the world in this way!

5) As all of it is Eucharist, so all of it is sacrament.  In the Church of the Magdalene, EVERYTHING we do, we do with God, when we hold that as our desire and as our intention.  Yes, we may ritualize our doings through public ritual, but none of the rituals are in order that we might receive another “get out of hell free” card.  Instead, through our rituals we celebrate the amazing God that we have and we give honor to each other and mark our life transitions as sacred.  Baptism is not for the forgiveness of sin, but, like Jesus’ baptism, a time to acknowledge that we are each God’s beloved sons and daughters and with us God is well pleased!  Reconciliation is returned to its original intent as an opportunity to take responsibility for our non-loving behaviors and ask God to heal us of the fears that caused these behaviors in the first place.  Anointing of the sick becomes an opportunity to share energetic healing with another, acknowledging that we are simply the vessel through which God is facilitating healing in another.  Ordination, again, is offered to everyone when they are ready to name, claim and be empowered in their own unique vocation of service to God.

6) The Church of the Magdalene would be firmly rooted in a deeply intimate and personal relationship with God.  Love would be the only ultimate truth and God, as Love, the source of authority with Jesus’ law of love being the guiding principle

Love one another as I have loved you.

and the Beatitudes of Jesus as a way to measure our personal growth.

7) Finally, the Church of the Magdalene would be less hierarchical and more collaborative, less about power and privilege and more about honoring all as sacred, less about patriarchy and more about honoring both men and women as sacred and calling forth their unique and magnificent gifts, less about fear and more about love, less about having and more about giving, less about separation and more about unity and most importantly, less about judgment and more about compassion.

I know there is more…..but this seems like a good start.  I’m interested in your thoughts.  What would the Church of the Magdalene look like to you?

 

 

Call of the Magdalene

In my email on Sunday in regards to Sunday’s blog, I received the following response from a reader of the masculine persuasion who I have come to know as somewhat of a wise and wonderful wizard:

Greetings Lauri, nicely done. On that morning, the messenger was a woman, sent to awaken the men. 

We should have learned from that story not to be afraid, to be calm and to change the world! 

I could not have said it better myself and in these words, we get a glimpse into what it means to have received the call of the Magdalene!

Yesterday, I wrote about some of the common characteristics of men and women who have received the call of the Magdalene.  Today, I hope to flesh out what the call of the Magdalene looks like and if you have received the Magdalene’s call, what that might mean in your life.

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Who Was Mary Magdalene

Mary Magdalene was a close and intimate disciple of Jesus.  Mary was NOT the adulterous or sinful woman portrayed in scripture – Pope Gregory, something or other, made a mistake when he preached on this, thereby sealing Mary’s fate in the institutional church.  But, the demise of Mary probably didn’t start there!  Canonical scripture (the ones that made the cut) tells us that Mary was healed of seven demons by Jesus.  Modern scholars suggest that the seven demons metaphorically represent a process of spiritual healing and initiation completed by Mary and facilitated by Jesus.  Canonical scripture also tells us that Mary accompanied Jesus in his ministry and supported him and that she bore witness to his death by crucifixion (unlike the male disciples, with the exception of John, who hid in the Upper Room in fear) and that she was the first witness to the resurrection and the one commissioned to bring the news of the crucifixion to the other disciples.  Non-canonical scripture tells us that Mary was much more than even this.  In the Gospel of Mary and the Gospel of Philip, along with the Pistis Sophia, Mary was shown to have been kissed by Jesus, suggesting a the possibility of a romantically intimate relationship and that she received secret teachings from Jesus that the other disciples were not privy to.  In the Gospel of Mary, in particular, Mary demonstrates higher levels of receptiveness and understanding, compared to the other disciples, and that Jesus appeared to her for instruction that the other disciples did not have access to.  These writings also reveal that Peter was jealous of Mary and her relationship with Jesus and that he struggled to accept Mary’s words, often refusing outright to do so.

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Reading Between the Lines

Reading between the lines, what this conflict between Mary and Peter hints at is the origin of the split between the Mystical and Institutional church – Mary representing the mystical church and Peter the institutional.  The Mystical Church seeks to know God through direct and personal experience, most commonly through contemplative prayer and meditation practices and trusting these direct and personal experiences as authority.  We see glimpses of the Mystical Church within religious orders who have guarded and maintained the ancient traditions of contemplative prayer and in priests and lay people who have heard and adhered to the inner call to contemplation – regardless of their specific religious affiliation, or lack thereof.  In the simplest terms, the Institutional Church seeks to know God through tradition and dogma as handed down by the pope and his bishops.  Here, authority lies in the hands of single, (mostly) white, men.

History of the Mystical Church

There have been no direct histories written about the Mystical Church because the Institutional Church, for the most part, denies its existence.  In order to see the history of the Mystical Church, we have to read between the lines.  In spite of the attempts of popes and bishops to suppress the Mystical Church, it has always lived within the shadow of the Institution  – usually presenting itself strongly in times of grave peril within the Institutional Church when dramatic reform was needed.  The Mystical Church as been seen in the prayers of the Desert Mothers and Fathers, in the radical nature of the Franciscan call as pioneered by Sts. Francis and Clare, in the mystical visions of Hildegard of Bingen and promoted by her spiritual companion Brother Volmar, and through the ecstasies of St. Teresa of Avila and the writings of her spiritual brother, John of the Cross. (Interesting that the Mystical Church often presents itself in pairs!)

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The Mystical Church Awakens

We have arrived in a time in history when the Mystical Church is trying to rise again, this time, not in order to change the Church, but instead, so that it may change the world (PS Pope Francis might be part of the Mystical Church!)!  As the wise wizard stated above, it is time to awaken, to cast off our fear, to be calm and do the work of changing the world!  It is for this reason that the Magdalene has planted herself within the hearts and minds of so many men and women.  She is calling us to awaken, to do the work Jesus asked us to do, not because some institution told us to, but because we have heard the call directly from Christ (by whatever name you call the inner voice of compassion and love) and because we are choosing to obey the voice in our hearts and in our minds that commands us to:

Love one another.

Feed the hungry.

Clothe the naked.

Set captives free.

Heal the sick.

Give sight to the blind.

If you find yourself called to accomplish any of the above, if you consider this drive to love and serve as part of your innate nature, then, regardless of your religious affiliation (or lack thereof) you have received the call of the Magdalene.  You are already awakened, now cast off your fear, cultivate peace and start changing the world!  :)

Be the Magdalene

For the past week, there are three words that have been ringing in my ears and chasing around in my mind, trying to find their root somewhere in my being.  These three words have haunted me for many, many years, but have become even more present thanks to a spiritual journey in which I had the recent gift of participating.  The words spoken directly to me were:

Be the Magdalene!

I believe these words are for me, AND I believe they are for a great number of women and men who have been touched by the person of the Magdalene and perhaps by her very intimate presence.  If you are reading this blog and these words pull at your heartstrings or strike within you a chord of remembrance, you are indeed one of those people!

Lauri as Mary Magdalene by Catherine E. Case

Lauri as Mary Magdalene by Catherine E. Case

It has been my experience, that the men and women for whom these words are intended, bear some strikingly similar characteristics and interests:

  • You have a close, intimate, familiar relationship with Jesus, or you long to have this relationship.
  • You have had direct, personal experiences of Jesus through your meditation, imagination and prayer.
  • You have a feeling of having known Jesus in a very real, lived experience – like you walked with him as one of his disciples.
  • You yearn to know more of Jesus, specifically, you want to know the REAL Jesus, not the one cooked up in someone else’s doctrine.
  • You seem to have an intuitive sense about certain Church teachings as being wrong or inaccurate.
  • Your relationship with Jesus may border on romantic (and you find yourself drawn to images of “Hot Jesus”).
  • The Jesus you know is one of compassion and love, with a little bit of fiery passion.
  • The knowledge that you have of Jesus and his teachings came through your own direct experiences with Jesus, or on meditative reflection on scripture – again, not through someone else’s doctrine (though it may have started there).
  • You have had a strong sense that Mary Magdalene played a much bigger role in Jesus’ life and ministry than how it is portrayed in canonical scripture.
  • You intuitively feel/felt that Mary Magdalene was NOT the adulterous or sinful woman as some have interpreted her as being.
  • You may have found books on the Magdalene falling into your hands, or you pursued them yourself (recommended reading list below!).
  • You might believe that Mary Magdalene and Jesus had more than just a teacher/disciple relationship, that she may even have been Jesus’ wife and that she may have co-ministered beside him.
  • When you read DaVinci Code, your response was, “DUH!”  :)
  • In this life, you find yourself drawn toward mysticism, contemplative prayer, healing and service.
  • If you live in the Western world, the way you desire to live your life differs markedly from traditional Western values. Status, money, power, fame, wealth, the accumulation of things are not of interest to you.

If much of the above resonates with you, then congratulations, you have received the call of the Magdalene, and I share this with you today because it is time for the Magdalenes to wake up!  It is time for those who have been called by the Magdalene to BE THE MAGDALENE!  Now you may ask, what does that mean?  What does it mean to BE THE MAGDALENE?  Stay tuned for tomorrow’s blog to find out!  In the meantime, below is a recommended reading list to get you started!  :)

By Jean-Yves LeLoup:

The Gospel of Mary, The Gospel of Philip, The Gospel of Thomas, The Sacred Embrace

By Karen L. King:

The Gospel of Mary of Magdala

By Violet MacDermot:

The Fall of Sophia

By Susan Haskins:

Mary Magdalene – Myth and Metaphor

 

 

Christ is Risen – the resurrection through the eyes of Mary Magdalene

Happy Easter!  In celebration of this auspicious day, I gift you with an excerpt from my yet to be released novel, Song of the Beloved – Jesus through the eyes of Mary Magdalene.  Enjoy another perspective on Jesus’ resurrection from the woman who knew him the best.  And, don’t forget the virtual service, available HERE.  Happy Easter!

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In Mary’s words:

While Jesus had done his best to prepare me for what lay ahead, seeing his broken, beaten body hanging on the cross cleaved my heart in two. The man I loved beyond all else lay dead. He was gone. As the stone fell before the entrance to the tomb, a strange sense of finality filled my being. It is finished. Never again would I see my beloved. Never would I hear his strong, loving voice. Never again would I behold the curl of his hair, nor the twinkle in his chameleon eyes that seemed to carry within them the entire world. Never again would I feel the tremor of my heart when his skin brushed against mine or the peaceful calm of his serene presence as he sat beside me in prayer. The terror and inexplicable grief that had pierced my heart was replaced by a cold nothingness. I felt neither joy, nor sorrow, anger nor contentment. I felt nothing but the cold, stark barrenness of the tomb where my beloved’s dead body now lay.

After the final refrain of the Kaddish, we returned the two miles to Bethany, to the house of my brother Lazarus, in silence. Too aggrieved to partake of the Sabbath meal, we retreated to our separate quarters in silence.

On the morning after the Sabbath, I awoke before dawn in the same way that I had every day after Jesus healed me and raised me from the death in which I had existed. Upon waking, I expected to feel nothing but the numbness of the days past. I expected to desire nothing but to roll over and return to the world of sleep. Instead, I felt the urge to resume my ordinary routine of morning meditation in the garden. I arose and proceeded into the garden to the bench I had shared with Jesus every morning for the past three years. I approached the bench and lovingly ran my hand over its marble seat recalling what Jesus and I had shared in this sacred space. The grief of this loss suddenly overtook me and I collapsed on the ground as my tears splattered over our bench.

As I knelt beside the bench weeping with head in hands, I felt a faint shift in the air around me. I lifted my head slightly to see if perhaps Lazarus had come out to join me. As I looked up, my heart leaped into my throat and ceased beating. My beloved Jesus stood there before me. I rubbed my eyes to make sure it was not some trick of the rising sun, but there he was as real as he had been all those past times in prayer and even more so, he stood before me in flesh and blood.

I stood and reached out to embrace him, to feel his skin on my cheek, and he opened his arms to return my embrace. We had held each other for but a moment, when Jesus gently pulled away. He took my face in his hands, lightly kissed me on the lips and said, “Mary, I am with you always, even until the end of time and it is time for you to come into your own power, to embrace your own Christhood. In this, I must ascend. And, you must not cling to me so that you too may rise. You must go to my brothers in Jerusalem to let them know I have risen and you must explain to them its meaning.” With that he kissed me again on the mouth. “Mary, be empowered in the flame of the Shekinah, God’s Holy Spirit.” He departed from my sight as quickly and as silently as he had arrived.

I stood there in silent wonder. Even death had no power over my beloved. As sure as he had been here just one week ago, he stood before me again. I felt his touch, the brush of his lips on mine, the comfort of his embrace. Just as suddenly, he was gone. I inhaled deeply in the hopes of comprehending this experience and the cock crowed. I remembered Simon’s denial of Jesus and was provoked by Jesus’ words, “Go to my brothers in Jerusalem.” I ran into the house to be greeted by Martha, Salome and Lazarus’ sleepy faces. “I have seen the Lord. He is risen just as he said he would.” I ran to each of them in turn, took their hands in mine, and looked into their eyes, “It is true. He has conquered death. He came to me in the garden. He is risen!” As I relayed the message to their open minds and hearts, they were able to see the truth as I had witnessed it. As a group we embraced in celebration. “We must go to Jerusalem! Jesus instructed me to tell his brothers there that he has been raised from the dead.” We immediately departed for Jerusalem where we knew the Galilean disciples stayed in hiding.

Virtual Church – Easter Sunday Service is Live

Happy Easter (tomorrow!). This week’s Virtual Church service is LIVE and the theme is Resurrection!  The service is being offered in two parts.

1) Scripture and a brief reflection on the resurrection.

2) A guided journey with the intention of providing you with an opportunity to have your own direct experience of the resurrected Christ.  As I say in the reflection, it is one thing to read about the resurrection and take it on faith, it is another thing all together to have your own personal experience with the risen Christ.  I promise you, it will change your life! :)

Click HERE to access the Easter service.

And if you wish for some traditional music to help prepare you for the Easter celebration, click HERE for Exsultet, the traditional Easter Proclamation.

 

Alleluia Christ is Risen!

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Good Friday

On this day, we commemorate the trial and death by crucifixion of our beloved, Jesus.  On this day, we remember the price he paid for standing in his truth.  I invite you today to spend time with scripture by reading the gospel account of these events, and offer a visual meditation through clips from some of my favorite Jesus movies, along with an excerpt from my yet to be released novel, Song of the Beloved – Jesus through the eyes of Mary Magdalene. 

 

From Jesus Christ Superstarhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OJHCVR8vQCA

From Jesus of Nazareth: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0fAMDYlJgpU

dali13

 

Some music to accompany your readinghttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ePe0XyJwdJE

In the words of Mary Magdalene:

As Jesus released his final breath, my resolve gave way and the grief and horror that I had contained erupted into wailing and screaming. I tore at my hair and at my garments wanting to be freed of anything that might stand in the way of release.

It was finished. Jesus was dead. As we poured out our grief, some of the Roman soldiers who had been moved by Jesus’ love drew toward us, knelt on the ground and offered their own prayers.  I, in turn, was moved by their compassion and in awe over the ability of Jesus’ love to transcend even the perceived separations of culture, belief and rank. Lazarus, Martha, Judas, Nicodemus, Joanna and Mary’s brother Joseph who had joined them after the noon hour soon joined us at the top of the hill. After a time, the commanding officer came and said, “We must take him down from the cross so you have time to entomb him before the sun sets. We nodded in our assent.

We stood in silence as the soldiers worked together to remove Jesus from the instrument of his torture and death. They removed the spikes from his feet, and then lowered the crossbar as Joseph, Lazarus, Nicodemus, Judas and John bore the weight of his lifeless body. They laid him out on the ground as they removed the spikes from his wrists and the crown of thorns from his head. The men gathered about Jesus’ lifeless body as Mother Mary and I laid out the red cloak – the only thing we had in which to wrap his body. As they laid his body upon the cloak, I fell upon him, wrapping myself around his lifeless body. I held him to my heart as I cried and I rocked him as I would a child. My heart was broken, my soul torn in two. But as I held him to me, I was more and more certain that this body had been just a shell and that my beloved, no longer dwelled within it. And I heard my beloved’s voice as I had all those many times before, ‘Mary, do not be afraid. I am with you always, even to the end of time.” These words gave me the strength I needed to release his body. I stepped back and allowed the men to gather him up to be carried to the place of his entombment.

During the evening and into the morning, Joseph had accomplished the preparations for Jesus’ burial. First he returned to Bethany to retrieve the burial nard that had been set aside for Martha’s dowry, along with the burial cloths that were all housed in the wedding chest beneath her bed. He located a humble tomb near Jerusalem since their family tomb was several days’ journey to Capernaum. The tomb he had procured was in the potter’s field just outside the city walls in the hillside caves usually reserved for the poor. We took up Jesus’ beaten, broken and lifeless body and walked in procession the short distance to the potter’s field intoning the Kaddish, the Hebrew song of mourning. Three Roman soldiers followed us at a respectful distance, having been ordered to see that Jesus was properly buried and to stand guard at the tomb until three days had passed. The High Priests wanted to make sure that no one was able to fake a resurrection, thereby confirming Jesus’ prediction that he would be raised from the dead. We arrived at the tomb, a small cave hollowed out in the limestone. The space was large enough for us to enter and stand upright. The men lay Jesus upon the floor of the cave while Mother Mary and I prepared the burial cloths. The burial cloths were strips of linen which we first covered in the burial nard – a mixture of resin, oils and spices which were to mask the stench of death while deterring insects, vermin and other animals from feasting on our dead. We soaked each strip and carefully bound his body from foot to head. A separate cloth was used for the head which we first covered in nard, then draped over his face from neck to crown, then over the back of his head to his shoulders. This was wrapped in strips of linen as the rest of the body had been. After his body was anointed and bound, we said our final prayers, our individual goodbyes and departed the tomb.

I waited outside the tomb as John, Lazarus, Nicodemus, Joseph and Judas, along with three of the Roman soldiers rolled the stone in front of the tomb. Mary, Martha, Salome and I held each other as we waited. After the tomb was safely sealed, the men returned to us, John holding in his arms, Jesus’ scarlet cloak. He came toward me and gently laid it into my arms. I wept at his thoughtful generosity. We said our goodbyes as Mary, Judas, Joseph and John turned toward Jerusalem to deliver the news to the Galilean disciples waiting in the Upper Room. Lazarus, Salome, Martha and I turned toward the road to Bethany. As we turned toward home, I heard my beloved’s voice for what I was sure would be the final time, “Mary I am with you always, even unto the end of time.” This time, I found no comfort in these words, only the finality of death.

copyright Lauri Ann Lumby

 

Holy Thursday through the eyes of the Magdalene

On the Christian calendar, today is Holy Thursday, the day we commemorate the Last Supper that Jesus shared with his disciples, and the evening he spent in the Garden of Gethsemane, praying for the strength to remain strong in the truth God had revealed to him.  In honor of this holy day, I share with you an excerpt from my, as yet unreleased novel, Song of the Beloved – Jesus through the eyes of the Magdalene.  I hope you find this reflection meaningful and supportive of your own Holy Week observance.

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In Mary’s words:

On the evening of the third day of the week, Jesus shared the Passover meal with the Galilean men. We had already celebrated our final meal together and as Jesus had communicated to me in prayer, Jerusalem had become too dangerous for us to join them for the Passover observance. “Mary, I have called you Magdalene for a reason. As the great tower, you must remain as a beacon of truth for those who have eyes to see and hearts open to enjoying the fullness of God’s love, and a mirror for all who long for that which they cannot name. Should I perish, you will need to carry out my mission of love – one that they will never expect from a woman – and the House of Lazarus must be protected so that it may support you in this mission.” While I wanted nothing more than to be by his side, I remained in Bethany where Martha, Mother Mary, Salome, Lazarus and I gathered in prayer. Mary’s brother Joseph was expected to join us the following day. In Bethany we held prayerful vigil as the events in Jerusalem took form.

 

After finishing their Passover meal, Jesus sought time for his own prayer and preparation. Feeling imprisoned in the Upper Room, Jesus invited John and James to accompany him to the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus’ favorite site within the city walls. Simon stood up in protest, “John is but a boy and James will not be enough to keep you safe. Let me go along with you.” Jesus accepted his offer in hopes that Simon, too, could join him in prayer and that in these final moments he might find the softness of heart that had, at this point, eluded him. So under the cover of darkness, Jesus, John, James and Simon stole from the Upper Room and found their way to Gethsemane.

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For the first time, Jesus’ companions saw the vulnerability of the man they called Master – the kind of vulnerability that up to this time, Jesus had only shared with me. From my place of prayer, I felt within me the moment that my beloved Jesus fell to his knees in earnest supplication to God. As if sitting beside my beloved – or rather, within him, I felt his pain and saw his companions’ response. As Jesus’ heart tore open and he uttered his first plea to Abwoon, “Take this cup away from me.” Simon turned away. He could not bear the sight of his teacher in this desperate and weakened state. Confused by a mixture of revulsion and the tug of his own fears, Simon began to walk away. Just as he turned, Jesus called out to him, “Simon, you will deny me. I tell you, before the cock crows on the fifth day, three times you will deny me.” With this proclamation, my beloved looked deep into Simon’s eyes, deep into his soul and I felt Simon look away in shame as he realized the truth of Jesus’ words. Simon stumbled through the dusk and sank to his knees beneath an ancient olive tree, where he shed his own tears of grief and shame.

 

Jesus began to beg and plead with Our Lord, “Abwoon, I’ve done everything you’ve asked of me. This is a hard-hearted people and many refuse to see the light of truth. Must I be punished for the sake of a few? Am I a worthy sacrifice for their blindness? Are you so cruel – crueler to me than you were to Isaac? You spared Isaac, now prove your love and spare me!”

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James looked on as his younger brother groveled before our Lord. A proud and haughty man, filled with vanity over his own faith and adherence to Hebrew law, he could not tolerate his brother’s lack of faith. He strode over, slapped Jesus hard across the face, “Snap out of it brother. Show some dignity. If you are as special as mother always said you were, God will rescue you from the hands of your accusers.”

 

Jesus looked back with fire in his eyes – the kind of fire known only between siblings. “Oh you would love for me to die on the cross – to show the world that you have always been the favored one, and to take your role as leader, wouldn’t you? I’ll tell you what James, take the role as leader, I don’t want it. It is yours!” James turned his back on his brother and walked away in a huff.

 

All that remained was John – soft-spoken and gentle John, with the depth of kindness in his eyes. He gingerly approached his brother Jesus, knelt down beside him and placed his hand gently on his shoulder. “I am here brother. I will not leave you alone in this. Do not despair. God will somehow work the good in all this.” With tears streaming down his face, Jesus looked deeply into John’s eyes and saw in his light-filled irises, the depth of his compassion and love.

 

For what seemed like hours, Jesus poured out his fear, bargaining with God, pleading and begging, screaming and ranting with God for his cruelty. Finally, just before dawn when he had emptied himself of all that lay within him, he sighed and said, “Not my will but your own. Let it be done to me as you will.” A sense of peaceful surrender, if not resignation, took over his countenance.

 

At the moment of Jesus’ surrender, James began shouting from somewhere near the entrance to the garden, “Soldiers – Roman soldiers and temple guards – brother.” In haste Jesus and John rose to their feet as the sound of soldiers’ boots echoed across the garden. Simon was startled out of his sleep and drew his sword. He took his place of defense in front of Jesus and was ready to strike. “Simon, put down your sword,” Jesus pleaded, “or they will kill you too.”   I saw the soldiers enter the clearing dragging Judas by the nape of the neck. The soldiers held their grip on the struggling Judas, and he was no match for their weapons or their strength. The soldiers threw Judas at Jesus’ feet. “Show us the one they call King of the Jews,” they sneered.Judas slowly pulled himself up, shaking in fear and hanging his head in shame. The soldiers who had taken the bribe at the temple gates knew Judas to be one of Jesus’ followers and fingered him as one to follow if Jesus was to be found. He had been discovered at the market while procuring provisions for the disciples who remained hidden in the Upper Room. The soldiers captured him, and upon threat of death, forced him to lead them to Jesus.   Judas approached Jesus, kissed him on the cheek and with tear soaked eyes whispered, “Forgive me Lord. I had no choice.” Jesus embraced him, “Judas, there is nothing to forgive. All is as it should be. Remember that you are love.” Without ceremony, the soldiers wrenched Jesus from Judas’ embrace, quickly bound his hands behind him and marched him out of the garden to the streets of Jerusalem.

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