They went each to his own house,but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” 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 7:53-8:11
As we get closer to Christmas, it is easy for us to become frustrated and look for someone to blame. Whether we ourselves are not able to make Christmas happen like we imagine, whether the family cannot or will not gather, whether we have put big expectations on the holiday - however it happens we can get to a point where we need someone to blame, someone to punish for our pain. It is often at this time, less than two weeks before Christmas, when people begin to snap at each other. The losses of the past seem to haunt us and we ache to make up for it somehow.
Jesus is confronted by religious leadership who have a woman in tow. She has been caught in adultery and they want her punished, and wanted to trip up Jesus. They were aching to hurt someone for their own pain. They wanted to blame both Jesus and the woman for the anxiety and confusion they faced. Jesus responds by quietly writing on the ground and then suggesting that the sinless get to throw stones. Eventually everyone walks away and he is left with the woman only. He sets her free and sends her on her way. We are all aching at this time of year because of the losses and changes in our lives. Humans tend to strike out at others in times like these. May we see the signs around us and within us, and know it as a call to prayer and quiet. May we know our own ache and climb into the arms of God.
Today I ask God to help me be an agent of forgiveness and release. May I live for others, knowing how great the suffering is around me. And may we all admit our own needs and failings, letting go of anger and judgment so we can receive God's tender love and forgiveness. And may we all seek the kindness of God in family and strangers alike, forgoing judgment and releasing on compassion and kindness today.