Saturday, March 21, 2009

Picking Up Stones

"Then they picked up stones to throw at him. Jesus hid himself and left the house of God." John 8:59

I was up early this morning despite my best efforts to sleep in my internal clock was still ticking to Eastern time. After getting my bearings I decided to take a stroll down by the beach. It was quite windy and I walked to the sound of crashing waves, bird song and little else. I walked and picked up rocks, a myriad of colors, shapes and heft, weighting down the small bag I brought along as I marveled at God's creation. I was too sleepy and the waves too insistent for me to try to skip stones in the surf. The light shimmered, in its early morning softness and I reveled silently in abundant beauty found here in Turtle Bay. It was a privilege to walk out this morning, bending to pick up stones.

Jesus had to hide himself and leave the temple for people were frightened and upset with his teaching. They did what we humans too often do, they got violent when they were afraid and undone. Pushed to their theological limit, they reached down to pick up stones to end his life. I am reminded how quickly a simple act of curiosity and adoration can become a thing of violence. Jealousy and rage can rise up in the midst of staggering beauty and truth. I reached down to pick up stone and gave thanks. They reached down and picked up stones to throw. It could have easily been me along with the frightened religious leaders of that day.

Today, I want to live so that Jesus does not have to hide himself and leave the church. I want to take in the love, beauty and the hard challenges that are part of following Jesus. I want to live by picking up stones to know more of God's beauty and never for violence. I ask Jesus to stay, with all the complexity that brings, so that I might learn to follow better and love more deeply. May we all live this day, with the wonder of God's love. May we find it in the face of another today. May we use our hands in welcome, our voices in song, and the stones we gather to lay in the roasting pit for a feast.

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