The Cast of the Holy Dance:
Jesus ………………….. Lead Dancer/Star/King/Messiah/Son of David/Christ
Disciples …….…….…….. Learners/Instructors
Crowd ………………..…… Participants
Audience …………………. Spectators
Religious Authority…… Chief Priests/Teachers of the Law/Pharisees/Sadducees
The Curtain is Torn (GOOD FRIDAY)
My apologies f this came through later than expected for any of you and messed with your schedule. I trust you & God can work that out.
It appears, no it is Truth, that upon waking this morning (Friday), God was not finished using my hands. (God’s timing, not mine, yours, ours.)
Nor was He finished speaking into my heart. There were a few loose puzzles pieces in what was written before I went to rest last night.
Have the most blessed and holy Good Friday.
Many of you may see this, notice the length and think, “Whoa, that’s too long. I don’t have time for this.” Trust me, I get it. I expect today to be a long day. It certainly was for Jesus. (That comment is not meant to push you/us in any particular direction. I leave that to the dance you/we are dancing with God. That comment is just a fact.)
Find a heading that speaks to you and linger there. You may not need to hear all of this today but there may be one person who does. Take what hits, and leave the rest. (Again, no pun intended.) Rest is essential when that is what we are called to.
The curtain opens.
The dancers don’t know it yet, and neither does the audience, but this is going to be the longest Act in the dance. All will likely be exhausted by the time the lights go dark and the curtains close.
The first scene has only one dancer: Judas Iscariot.
It is early morning, the day after he betrayed Jesus, and he feels terrible. Guilt, shame, a deep knowing that he has done something wrong. He can’t hold it. He can’t be with it. He can’t accept it.
He slowly walks across the stage (there is no joy remaining within him to give him the energy to dance). His head is down. He is carrying a rope.
He approaches a tree, ties one end of the rope to it, and then makes a loop with the other end. He sides the loop around his neck and hangs himself.
The lights go down.
It is obvious, even in the dark that there is much movement on the stage as all of the dancers get into position before the lights come back up.
When the lights come up, it looks like chaos.
One dancer and then the next takes a turn on center stage. Keeping up with their steps and what they mean is challenging for the crowd and for the audience:
- “Are you the king of the Jews?”
- “This is a government issue.”
- “This is a religious issue.”
- You decide.”
- “No, you decide.”
Jesus remains quiet and still. He knows He doesn’t really have an audience.
Those asking the questions aren’t interested in the Truth.
What good would it do for Him to speak or move. He stands, firmly grounded in Truth.
- It takes two to fight. It takes two to debate. Jesus has already taught every step that needs to be learned. He can’t do the work for them.
- He isn’t going to fight with someone that isn’t fighting for Truth.
- No one seems to know what they want.
- No one seem to want to make the call.
- No one seems to be able to make a decision.
- No one seems to want the risks that come with taking ownership.
The chaos continues for so long as the crowd moves back and forth following wherever Jesus is taken that finally the crowd takes over:
- “If the government and the religious authorities won’t make the call;
- If the government and the religious authorities don’t want to put their necks on the line;
- We’ll do it!”
At first, it’s one voice, with a grand leap, “Crucify Him!”
Then another, “Crucify Him!”
And finally, the crowd is overtaken with conviction that Jesus has been playing them along the entire time. He can’t be the Messiah. “Crucify Him!” This is not what victory looks like.
Every once in a while, a disciple can be seen among the crowd. Not joining in the dance, but watching.
One by one, they can’t take it anymore.
One by one, they turn and leave.
Until all are gone.
The disciples are nowhere to be found. One by one, they have all left Him out to dry, to fin for Himself, to save Himself, if He even can.
One by one, they ALL betray Him.
The government and the religious authorities succumb to the voices and pressures from the crowd. Their leaps are just too large, too grand. They want to please the crowd, and they want to maintain status and control.
Whatever the crowd cheers for them to do, they do.
This goes on for quite a while.
- Jesus is beaten.
- Jesus is whipped
- Jesus is flogged
Momentum is building.
What will happen next?
He is directed to pick up His cross and He does.
- Stations of the cross (see below, after the Reflection section).
- “If you’re who You say You are, get Yourself down”
He could but He won’t.
Everything He has taught up to this point would be for naught and have no meaning if He were to succumb to that temptation. Shoot, that temptation has been tried on Him before when He was in the wilderness for 40 days.
The mocking sign above His head, “King of the Jews”.
Yes, that’s who He is but it means so much more than those who put it there think it means.
Lookie there, another temptation that Satan thought He could make Jesus stumble with in the 40-day wilderness experience.
Jesus begins a beautifully moving and sorrowful dance of suffering, that obviously comes from the depths of His heart, the depths of Love like never seen before, and never to be danced again:
- “Nope, not gonna happen, Satan.”
- “I AM King, but you have no clue as to what that really means. The kingdoms you are offering me, though many and large, are empty. My Kingdom is FULL.”
- “Full of love, full of care, full of compassion, tenderness, and trust. My Kingdom is FULL of Mercy and Grace.”
- “My Kingdom cheers people on. It doesn’t cut them down. It looks at the heart where seeds of greatness have been planted, watered, tended, cared for, and given room to grow until finally, fruit.”
- “Beautiful fruit. Passionate fruit. Fruit that is good for the Body. Fruit that oozes with flavor and sweetness.”
- “Fruit that becomes a craving because of the freedom of expression inherent in each piece and the perfect form (even if not without blemish or fault) that has emerged through the process of the growth on the vine. The vine which is attached to the source.”
- “Take myself down for anything less than that, ‘No thank you’, says Jesus. ‘No thank you!’”
No matter how many times He fell as He made His way across the stage to the cross, and no matter how many temptations and tears He encountered, Jesus was on a mission.
It is a mission that began with Creation, got tainted by sin, and led to death (spiritual and physical).
He is on a mission to make it right. He is on a mission to make it lovely.
He is making the sacrifice, without counting any costs, or condemning anyone who tries to get in His Way.
Nailed to the cross now, He lifts His head in pray to the Father, for His friends, “Forgive them, Father, for they do not know what they do.”
His side is pierced. Water flows out.
One of the criminals on a cross beside Him asks for forgiveness. It is granted.
Jesus feels totally alone. He looks to heaven and cries, “Why have You forsaken Me?”
He breathes deeply, and says, “It is finished!”
And then breathes His last breath.
At that very moment, the stage darkens, the Earth shakes, and the Curtain Tears right down the center. The curtain that served to protect people (all people) from getting too close to God’s presence tears in half!
Everyone, (well, almost everyone) is stunned. This is the BIGGEST SURPRISE they have witnessed so far.
Many turn and walk away in shame and regret.
Some stay and continue to watch as the soldiers take Him down from the cross and place Him in His mother’s arms.
A fight ensues over who will get to keep His garments.
He is wrapped and then carried to His tomb.
There is no curtain to close. Everyone leaves the stage.
(Please read Matthew 27:1-61. There is much I have left out and getting the full picture matters. Every step that Jesus took matters.)
Forgiveness and Love! Patient Endurance!
That’s what the heart of Christ looks like.
When I awoke this morning, the first thought that went through my mind was, “Early in the morning, Judas.” That is how Good Friday began. I had not yet opened my eyes, and they filled with tears.
I have walked closely with God throughout this Lenten Season. Closer, and with more commitment and perseverance than I ever have before. I have laughed with Him, I have battled Him, I have danced with Him and for Him. I have prayed, walked, sung, and found myself face down on the ground at the foot of the Altar.
These are the first tears I have cried. Through these tears, I believe I got a glimpse of the heart of Christ.
Forgiving, Loving, Patient.
The next thing that happened, still with my eyes closed (something different from anything I have ever experienced before), I literally felt a pain in my rib cage. It was followed by a physical sensation of warmth that slowly spread across my side.
I froze. The spear, and the blood.
I opened my eyes, got out of bed, and began moving.
My first stop was the bathroom. As I turned the light on, the following lyrics began playing through my mind:
Dead man walking
Slave to sin
I want to know about being born again
I need You
And then, as though Jesus was speaking to me, I heard (not audibly, but in my spirit), “Every detail, Jenn, is about My Love and for your freedom.” Whew!
“I’m not ready.”
“I haven’t sent yesterday’s devotional out yet.”
“Do we really need to get going this fast? Can’t we ease into the day first? I want a cup of coffee.”
I was battling Him. I have been putting off going to the cross for a long time.
“Will I (we) make it there today? I’m (We’re?) not ready.”
Jesus is patient. Jesus is loving. The cross is the cross of forgiveness, redemption, restoration, and hope.
Will I, you … we be headed to the cross today? He is there, arms wide open. His eyes are filled with tenderness, love, care, and compassion.
[A final thought (or series of thoughts) I want to share in this reflection is something I discovered last week.]
This may look/feel a little more like a teaching but since I saw it, it has stopped me in my tracks a few times and I think it fits well today.
Let’s call it the Cornerstone of Faith (I don’t think I made that title up. Certainly, I have heard it before because it is so True. It’s just what it is. I just don’t remember where “Cornerstone of Faith” was encountered in my journey. I digress …)
Over the course of a number days last week, there were a few puzzle pieces brought to my attention:
- The cornerstone of the Temple in Jerusalem was a very large stone … (I think I remember reading that it was about 500 tons in weight. Don’t quote me on that.)
- It was rejected because of how big it was.
- It became the cornerstone because it could not (easily, maybe) be moved.
- It was located on the West side of the Temple. (I have not been able to find out exactly where on the West side.)
All of these puzzle pieces were interesting to me but then more pieces came that brought these alive:
- I have walked around the porch of our church countless times over the past 10+ years.
- Also, countless times, I have read what is carved out in the concrete at the corner of the church closest to our baptismal (Hmm … interesting).
- Fear of the Lord = Holy Awe That Leads to Obedience.
- There is a red heart painted on and around the word “awe”.
- I see this as meaning that awe = the deepest expression of love that there is.
- I have pondered this statement numerous times on my walks over the years but never really connected to it. (Let say it has been a seed in my soul and the living water needed for it to begin to grow has been trickling on it for a while but with all of this, it’s present has sprung forth and can be seen as new growth.)
With all of these puzzle pieces, I began investigating:
- Which side of our church is the western side?
- I pulled up google maps, switched to the ariel view, and lo and behold, our church is situated in somewhat of a diagonal direction with the western-most point being right in that corner!
- I asked the person who actually carved out the words in the concrete if she had done that with these things in mind. She didn’t think so!
- The cornerstone that was rejected when the Temple was being built and the western-most corner of our little church are one and the same.
- The Chief Cornerstone, who is Christ, was also rejected.
- Fear of the Lord (which Jesus had in spades) = Holy Awe That Leads To Obedience (which Jesus lived without blemish or flaw!)
(I think I could have also given this section of the reflection the title, “Puzzle Pieces”. Puzzle Pieces is a phrase I have found myself using frequently, when reflecting on my own and when sharing my experience of the is Lenten season with others. In regard to Puzzle Pieces I have said, “It is like there have been many things I have known and learned intellectually over the past 15 or so years and God has been using this time to put all of the pieces together into the most beautiful mosaic of color. It is vibrant and HUGE. It is awe inspiring and humbling. I think it is producing Fear of the Lord in my heart.)
And now, in real time, let’s see if I, you, we, get another surprise puzzle piece …
- A Scripture reference is right above the carving in the concrete.
- I asked the person who did the carving which verse it was last Saturday when I was at home and some of the pieces were coming together. Her response (I sure hope she doesn’t mind me sharing as I didn’t ask for permission. I trust she doesn’t and I trust that we will be able to clean up any mess caused by it if she does … she’s one of the friends), “Fear of the Lord is related to original Hebrew. It is mentioned often in Psalms.” She wasn’t certain as to which one was carved into the concrete.
- I just walked over to the church and looked. It’s Psalm 33:8.
- Let’s look it up together. I am turning the pages of my Bible …
- Psalm 33:8: “Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the people of the world revere Him.”
Whew! Let’s sit with that for a bit! Fear of the Lord = Holy Awe That Leads To Obedience.
Is this the Chief Cornerstone of our faith?
Is this not who and what Jesus was all about?
God is SOOO ENORMOUSLY HUGE!
Stations of the Cross:
A little later this morning I hope to be sending out a copy of the Stations of the Cross Prayer Booklet that we have on the front left corner of the porch at our church (Luke 10:27, A community of Faith). If you are local (Denham Springs, LA) or nearby and would like to come pray the stations, all are welcome.
Our stations are located on columns that wrap around the porch. The presence of someone unfamiliar praying the stations will not cause alarm for anyone who may be around. You may, however, be greeted.
There are also Stations in many other churches. I am fairly certain that they can be found in all Catholic churches. And, with today’s technology, they can, of course, be found online.
Here’s a link to one I glanced at and liked after reading briefly: Walking the Stations of the Cross
There are many more out there.
If you can make the time, I highly recommend praying through the Stations, in some format, at some point, during your day.
Good Friday Service:
We will be having a Good Friday Service at our church tonight at 6:00pm.
All are welcome to join us as we discover the heart of Yeshua, together.
Luke 23:42-43: “And He said unto Jesus, ‘Lord, remember me when You come into Your Kingdom.’ And Jesus said, ‘Truly I tell you, today you will be with Me in paradise.'”
Holy Lord God, Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God, we adore You! We are humbled by Your Love. We are in awe of Your Way. Lead us today. Guide us today. Touch us today. Free us today. We embrace, Fear of the Lord. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.
Extra: Early Morning Ramble:
Important Note to set the context:
The following was written on scraps of paper and various places at the very beginning of my day. Shortly after they began to slow down and because I needed to put the finishing touches on the Maundy Thursday devotional, I typed them up in a list format in the closest order I could recall have received them in. I am adding it as an extra. It is a ramble that picks up immediately following want I have already shared.
My point in sharing it is to testify to how close Jesus actually is to us. A large majority of the thoughts/experiences that poured through my mind when I first awoke are things that I do not recall having thought/experienced before. I have been 100% in this Journey to Glory in a way that is new for me. I have anticipated that today would be a big day on the journey (I mean, it’s Good Friday).
- Please skip this section if you start reading and feel lost. It really is a ramble … a series of thoughts/experiences that passed through my awareness beginning when I woke up, but before I opened my eyes.
- Don’t get stuck in this section. I something catches you and stirs you, sit with it.
- If you read through it and nothing made sense, that is perfectly okay. Let God pull out anything that He wants you to hear. The thought may return to you later in the day, next week, next year, or even many years from now as you will see in my last round of thoughts.
- Any directives are not meant for you, in particular. They are definitely meant for me. They may be for us.
The following thoughts just poured through my spirit (I made up the titles and divisions looking back):
- The Loss (2:14am)
- Of all that is lost through surrender, none are nearly as important as what is gained.
- Notice the loss
- Let go
- Thank God
- Move on
- Live in what has been gained.
- Don’t look back!
- Don’t Rush (2:47am)
Knowing where He is headed, I found myself wondering if there were moments when He just wanted to get it done.
Bypass the trial. Get the flogging done quickly, not so much because of the suffering endured but rather because, how many blows are really necessary to make the point!?
I think the exact number of blows taken is the exact number of blows needed to make the point.
God doesn’t seem to exaggerate or babble. His Way is perfect.
Each blow, each step to the cross, each glance, each person He made eye contact with, each person who turned away. Every single detail has purpose and meaning. A purpose and meaning that we will be working out for the rest of our lives.
- Don’t skip any of the steps on the path that He directs
- Take your time
- Savor each line
- Go back if you need to
- We are not in a hurry
- Each step today is as important as is where we are headed
- Take it slowly
I went back into the bedroom to change into warmer clothes. I reached into my suitcase and pulled out a t-shirt to wear without much thought.
I held it up to pull it over my head and noticed what it said:
“For This Purpose You Were Created.”
The words were printed in a circle making their way around a picture of “the Bread and the Cup.”
Who is the “you” in that statement? Jesus? Me? You? Us?
I think, “YES.”
- Coffee Cup/Peace:
I went to the kitchen and reached into the cabinet to grab a coffee cup. I have not been very tidy this week and there was only one cup left. Likely the last one I would choose being that I had already chosen the others before it as the week has progressed.
The word on the cup: “Peace”
I don’t know why I haven’t chosen peace this week? And, maybe I do.
Here are the thoughts that followed about peace:
- Comes through the cracks
- Comes through the chips in the armor that we designed in an effort to be perfect, in control. (A while later, maybe on my 3rd cup, a chip in the handle rubbed my finger and caught my attention.)
- Embrace the wounds
- They bring humility
- They open the door to hunger for healing
- They seek freedom
- They seek peace that is made possible when justice and mercy collide.
- It’s 2:54am
- Faith (2:57am)
(These may not be theologically correct They may be more about trust. But, I’m giving you what passed through as it passed through.)
- Trust in the process
- Trust in the unseen and slow healing
- Trust in the truth
- Faith opens our hands, loosens our grip, so that we can accept or even reach out for help along the way
- Hope (2:58am)
- Trust the direction
- Trust the promise(s), no matter how many we are currently aware of
- Trust the Word
- Trust Jesus
- Love (3:01am)
- The medicine that conquers all
- The balm that carries us when our legs give out
- The reason for it all
- The purpose to which we are called
- The catalyst for creation, our creation and all of creation
- The dance of joy
- Joy (3:02am)
- Mother Theresa Quote: (3:06am)
“At the heart of silence is prayer. At the heart of prayer is faith. At the heart of faith is life. At the heart of life is service.”
(I have not thought about this quote in many years. I taped it on the cover of my very first journal in my walk with Christ. “Why now? How cool!”)
- Directives and Invitations
- I have not yet been awake for an hour. I have not yet picked up His Holy Word.
- Am I moving too fast?
- What lies ahead?
- There’s a lot here. Savor each step. Savor what speaks to your spirit. That is where He is speaking to us this day.
- Stay the course
- Deep dive into the Holy Awe of the day
- One event at a time
- Don’t rush to the cross and miss what comes before
- Next Thought:
I think this one will show up later today or maybe tomorrow. We need to work our way into it. I need to work my way into it.
I will stop sharing the thoughts for now.
For now, I will begin dancing with the Word.
I trust any other thoughts I had that are meant to be shared will resurface.
Honestly, I am ready for a nap but it is 6:00am and this is the time I head to the sanctuary each morning. I need Holy Ground. We need Holy Ground.Already, I need His strength. How about you?
I think today, it is best for each of us to discover our writing prompt in prayer with our Savior.
As you sign off and get in bed tonight, maybe you will find comfort in the thought of Jesus saying, “BRB”. (I saw that on FaceBook today and loved it.)
- Comments on these devotionals are open and I would love to interact with you if you have something you would like to share.