Wednesday, December 10, 2008
"Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?" She said, "No one, sir." And Jesus said, "neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again." John 8:10-11
She had gotten caught and they were trying to kill her - a killing that was legal and sanctioned. From this story comes the incredible image of Jesus bending down. Jesus bending down and writing with his finger in the dirt. Bending down and touching the earth for a convicted adulteress. The images from this story have always been rich and powerful, and mysterious. Added to the mystery today is why this passage from John is here during Advent amidst the Gospel of Luke. Today seems to be the day for us to come to grips with our own judgments -of others and ourselves. The day to face the fact that we are not called to be the judge, rather God is, and the Son of God is about the business of setting sinners free.
When my sister Betsy and I were young, (the last two of five children) my mother had corrected her for some small behavior. I don't remember the correction as being severe, but Betsy was very upset. She was probably three at the oldest. Our mothers mother was living with us at the time. My sister marched right up to our "Nanny" and demanded that she give her daughter a good spanking. She told our Grandmother that her daughter had been very naughty and very unkind and that she should be punished. As I remember it, both my mother and grandmother got into the act of pantomiming the required punishment - my mother letting out gales of painful cries. My sister seemed satisfied that justice had been served. We all want others to be punished for how they have hurt us, or how they have broken the law. We want others to suffer for what they have done. And yet we plea, on our knees, for forgiveness and understanding when we have ourselves been selfish and wrong. Into the midst of this Jesus bends down. He suggests to all of us, "neither do I condemn you, go your way and sin no more." He invites us to not tally others sins but rejoice in the abundant and boundless forgiveness we have received.
Today as a spiritual discipline, I want to be aware of when I am judging others, and be reminded that Jesus is not. Jesus has been given the authority to judge, and I have not. So, as I go through the day, I want to see others as forgiven and beloved rather than as the condemned. Easier said then done. The gift, here in the midst of Advent of letting go of judgment, is the opening up of my heart to forgiveness. Jesus' forgiveness of me, and my letting go and forgiving of others. This is truly an Advent spiritual discipline, so that our hearts might be prepared for the coming of Christ. The Christ that is bringing equity and justice to the world. The Christ who brings the power of love through the vulnerability of the manger.