Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Writing on the Ground

This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”John 8:6-11

When I was a child, I like to draw and write in the sand, knowing my words would wash away and no one would see them. The wet sand below the high tide line is great for writing as it holds the words well, hard packed and clear, while disappearing quickly with the next big waves. You can release a lot of anger and hurt that way. And you can write out loud your feelings for someone and not look like a fool. Face Book really needs a sand format where people who need to write and say things which should never be seen, can write and have their words obliterated by the incoming tide.

Jesus finds a woman on the verge of being stoned, who by custom and law should have been stoned for her behavior. Women were stoned for the crime of adultery but men were not, it seems. It is likely that some one in the crowd had been her partner at one time, and played a role in the stoning to look innocent. How often we are ready to condemn others for the very things we have done in secret? How like humans to raise a fist or a stone to hide our own guilt and fear. Jesus wrote in the dirt, a medium that would not last but only long enough for the crowd to know he had their number. We are none of us innocent.

Today, I want to try to put judgment aside, knowing that I know very little about other people's motivations and their behaviors. I ask God to help me put down all stones, all harsh words, and undo my fists so that I might open my arms and heart in love. In this season of charity and love, may we all put down our weapons and move to compassion and forgiveness for the sake of him who died for all.

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