Monday, April 25, 2016

Obedience to the Voice

The word stress was originally used to refer to the amount of weight that a beam or physical support could bear without breaking.  It was a term used in the field of construction. How much weight can a material bear?

Today we use the term stress to refer to mental and emotional pressure that comes when there is too much put upon us, too many activities, too much uncertainly, too many demands. 

A chair is built to be sat upon. It is designed to bear a certain amount of weight.  If it is used properly, it will last forever, but if it is overloaded, it can crack or even break. In the same way, we human beings were designed to face adversity, to bear a certain amount of challenge in this world. The problem comes when we face more weight than we can carry.

The word stress was not used in Jesus’ time.  Nevertheless, in the teachings of Jesus, there is a clear message about stress.  Jesus teaches his followers to behave in a way that completely reverses the messages of this world and results in the ability to rise above stress. Jesus intended for his followers not to operate in the same way as the people of this world. If we could only understand what he was telling us, we would no longer suffer from stress.  We would know peace.  Jesus taught us how to rise above all stress.

In the Book of Acts, Peter is called to the bedside of a woman who has died.  Her name was Tabitha but people called her Dorcas and she was something else.  Wealthy and powerful, she was well-respected in the early church and had been instrumental in helping the poor.  At her deathbed were widows who were dressed in clothes that Dorcas had made for them.  She was a generous, devout woman who believed in Jesus.

Peter is called to her bedside and Dorcas is already dead.  Peter speaks to her body and says the same words that Jesus used when he raised the daughter of Jairus from the dead. He says her name, “Tabitha, get up.” Or literally, “Tabitha, arise.”  And she opens her eyes and gets up.

It was Peter’s voice speaking in the same way that Jesus did.  Tabitha just obeys his voice and her obedience carries her from death to life.  If obedience to the voice of the Good Shepherd can carry her over the threshold of death, surely it can help us with stress?

In Peter’s words, Tabitha heard the voice of Jesus. Jesus says that he is the Good Shepherd.  His sheep hear his voice and he knows them and they follow him. 

The Good Shepherd gives us the key to release us from all stress.  Obedience.  Listen and Follow.  That is all.  It is so simple.  Listen to the voice of the Good Shepherd and you will overcome everything.  You will not suffer under stress, you will rise above it.  Sure, the world will continue to be chaotic and full of challenge and injustice, but you will be able to arise above the fray and follow Christ with peace in your heart.

So how do we do this?  How can we listen and follow the voice of the Good Shepherd?  Most of us think that this means some major alteration of our lives immediately and this thought scares us and makes us hide from God.  But I have found that most often the Good Shepherd speaks gently and in the very moment.  The Good Shepherd prompts.  The Good Shepherd nudges.  The voice of the Good Shepherd operates in each moment, simply reminding us of what is right and true and good.

Think with me about how a shepherd operates.  I know that most of you have never actually seen a shepherd but they are all over the Sea of Galilee today just as they were in Jesus’ time.  They mostly nudge in the moment. No, don’t head that direction, they poke with their staff, they redirect.  And the whole point is to keep the sheep safe, right?  God does not want you to walk off a cliff.  God wants to take care of you and lead you to the fullness of who you are.  The Shepherd does not ask the sheep to run a marathon or cook a five course meal.  The Shepherd wants the sheep to be themselves and to be safe.

In order to combat stress, begin to invite God into the everyday aspects of your life, into the small stuff, into each and every decision that you make.  Ask God, “Should I go to the grocery store?  Should I rest?  Should I write that letter now?” I know it feels petty, but obedience begins with the moment to moment, with the small stuff.  And you may not always be clear on the way that God would want you to go, but the very fact that you asked will lift you above your stress.  You do not need to begin by asking monumental questions about the direction of your life.  Instead simply begin with the moment to moment decisions that need to be made.

God nudges and prompts.  God operates in the fruits of the Spirit that Paul so beautifully articulated: in patience, kindness, joy, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.  If you are operating in these ways, you are walking with the Good Shepherd. If you find yourself short-tempered and frustrated, you have gotten lost.  When you are able to yell at a loved one or do something stupid, often there is that small nudge, that inner voice that tell you to slow down, to stop talking, to pause.  Just do what it says.  Follow the Good Shepherd one step at a time, one moment at a time.

My sheep hear my voice, Jesus says. Let every decision that you make be made with God and for God.  Ask God every time you can, consult God, speak to God. God will lead you in the small stuff that can one day amount to the big stuff.  After all, sheep don’t operate with long-range plans.  They need to be nudged every moment.

Ignatius of Loyola was born in 1491. He was a ladies man and a great soldier but in battle he was wounded in the leg.  He had to lie in bed at his brothers house for months and the only books that his brother had were religious books.  He felt a nudge to read the religious books.  And he was captivated.  Ignatius began to imagine himself saving people in battle or winning the heart of a beautiful woman. But soon he felt the nudge to imagine serving God and when he imagined this, he felt this peace.  So he would pick up another book and another. The peace came with each small decision that he allowed God to make for him and with him.  Eventually, he would found the order of the Jesuits.  All from following the nudge to pick up a book.

What is stress? It is fear disguised.  It is the feeling that you don’t deserve what you have to do or that you are overburdened.  But all that you have to do is give it all over to God. It is God who made you. Your life belongs to God.  Get up, says the Good Shepherd. I will live in you and you need not be afraid. I will lead you through every little moment of every day if you would only follow me.  Let it be my life living in you and you will in turn find peace.

Who would have known that the antidote to stress is obedience?  Who knew?

Living Spirit, Living Word

Last Sunday, one of our parishioner asked me a question that stumped me. It happens a lot that I can’t answer your questions.  You guys are smart.  At the end of Basic A, our class for new members or refreshers, I often let the class ask whatever they want.  I end up saying I don’t know a lot…
So the question was this: why does Passover fall so far away from Easter this year?  And I couldn’t answer.  Usually, the two are very close together, in fact, the Last Supper is a Passover meal in John’s gospel.  Easter is a lunar date, the Sunday following the full moon after the spring equinox. If you are me and you are not so good at calculating equinox dates there is chart of Easter dates in the back of the Prayer Book lasting until 2030 or so.
So, I went to the Internet.  Turns out that the Jewish lunar calendar inserts a whole extra month every two or three years to get itself back in sync with the solar calendar and the seasons of the year.  And since Easter fell early this year, the two ended up very far apart.  Who knew?
I have wondered for years about Peter’s wife.  She would have been a good Jewish wife.  We know that Peter had a wife because Jesus heals his mother-in-law of a fever.  Does Peter’s wife die?  If not, Peter is a rather bad husband.  He takes off on a walking tour with Jesus for about three years leaving his wife to fend for herself and then he travels more after the resurrection.  Peter goes from being a simple Jewish fisherman to being a bishop in the church.  Talk about an adjustment.  Where was his poor wife in all this? Was she OK with the changes?
Peter was a devout Jew.  He followed all the kosher laws and dietary restrictions.  His wife would have cooked in such a way as to never mix meat and dairy.  They would have only eaten the meat of animals with cloven hoofs who chewed their cuds, like cows and sheep and lamb.  Pig were off limits for sure.  And not birds of prey, only chicken and turkey and ducks and geese.  All the animals would have to be slaughtered in just the right way so as not to cause the animal any pain.  It all made good sense and Peter would have known no other way to eat.  It was more than a diet, it was a way of life, a way of being obedient to God.
But once Jesus rose from the dead, things began to really change.  Jesus sent down this presence of God called the Holy Spirit, a presence that not only lived in and among the disciples, inspiring and motivating them, but a presence that communicated to them, leading them and guiding them.  With the Holy Spirit, all bets were off.  Things changed fast and furiously.  Everything changed.  And everything is still changing today.
Peter was busy telling the Jews about Jesus when the Holy Spirit gave him a vision. All this food that he had never been allowed to eat, it all came down from the sky in a big sheet and God told him that he could eat it.  All the dietary laws that his wife and he had spent so many years following, all went out the window with that vision.  It must have seemed crazy. But, as Peter later explained to those who asked him, “Who am I to hinder God?”
The coming of the Holy Spirit made the followers of Jesus into a new kind of religion.  No longer were they Jews who followed Jesus, they became a new kind of disciple.  The rules all changed.  The relationship with God began to trump the rules. They went from strict obedience to law to a living, breathing relationship with God.  No wonder Jesus breathed on them when he gave them the Holy Spirit.  They became living members of a living relationship. 
I drive through Dunkin Donuts on the way to church early on Sunday mornings.  A number of months ago, I felt a nudge from God to ask the sleepy young woman at the drive through window if she needed me to pray.  She did.  Ever since then, I have offered prays to whoever is working that window.  I have prayed for everything from weight-loss to healing a sick child to making more money.  And every single Sunday, I feel awkward.  I am an Episcopalian!  Who am I to offer spontaneous prayer? Why did God ask me to do this?
That’s the really scary part of what happened to Peter.  God was basically saying, I can change the rules.  Heck, I made the rules!  Just listen to me and I will take you step by step, day by day.  But you can’t just assume you know what I am asking of you.  You must be in a living relationship with me. And I may surprise you by what I ask.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t like surprises. If God asked me to leave my family and follow Christ, I’d probably rent a UHaul and bring them along.  If God asked me to eat different food, well, that would not be such a stretch. But if God asked me to heal someone, well, I might pretend that I didn’t hear.
I think sometimes that we are limited not by the power that God gives us but by the fear we have of moving beyond our limitations.  We say to God, No, I can’t do that.  No I can’t do that.  But it is God who gives us the ability.  It is God who makes the rules and who breathes into us the breath of life.  Don’t you think that God knows what you are capable of?  The only reason we lead small lives is because we are limiting our own potential.  But, as Peter said, who are we to hinder God?
In the beautiful movie, Mr. Magoriams Magical Emporium, Mr. Magorium runs a magical toy store. It is time for him to die and give his store to a young woman named Molly Mahone.  But there is only one problem, Molly does not believe in herself.  So Mr. Magorium, on the night before he dies, says something profound to Molly.  He says…Your life is an occasion, rise to it.
Your life is an occasion. Rise to it.
Listen to the living God.  If you are worried about what God may ask of you, there is really only one guiding factor.  Love.  Whatever God asks of you, it will be love.  You will be asked to love.

Now, go forth and listen for that living spirit.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

God Calls Bums

He was killing people in the name of God. He stood by and watched as a man was hit over and over again with rocks.  He smiled as the air left the man’s body, bruises becoming bloodied.  He looked on and he smiled.  He really believed that it was right to kill for God.  He just stood by and watched as a man died.
Saul wasn’t just wrong, he was cruel.  He was arrogant. He felt no compassion.  He was a bad guy before God turned him around.  I don’t think that he was the kind of guy you or I would have liked.  He was like a hitman for Judaism.  Kill the people who believe in Jesus, that was his conviction.  He believed that he should murder people because they didn’t believe the right way.
Saul was so arrogant that the first thing Jesus does is blind him with light.  Blind him.  Let him go about completely unable to see.  Make his dependent, humble, lost.  When he realizes that he can see nothing without God, then restores his sight, but only after he listens and does exactly what God tells him to do.  God knocks him off his horse, blinds him, gets him to listen, obey and finally heals him again.  God takes an arrogant, self-assured jerk and makes him into a humble servant.
Most of us think we can’t do much for God.  Heck, we can hardly get our own lives together.  It’s hard enough to raise our kids or pay our mortgage or stay married.  How can we do anything for God?  God will have to wait until we can get our lives together.  After all, who are we to try to help other people when our own lives are such a mess, right?
But God doesn’t wait for you to get your act together.  God doesn’t wait for you to become wise or smart or peaceful or less confused. God wants you to serve now, before you figure it all out.  God just wants you to listen and do what you are asked to do.
If you wait until your life is all put together well before serving God, you will never serve God.  No, God calls people whose lives are a mess to serve other people whose lives are a mess.  God does not wait for you to be all fine before you must follow Christ.
In fact, before Saul begins to serve Christ, he is blinded.  He realizes that he can’t see clearly, can’t see anything at all.  Certainty is taken away from him completely.  The first criteria for Saul to become Paul is for Saul to get totally lost in the darkness.
You might ask yourself, how can I serve God when I have doubts?  Or how can I help other people when my life is not very well put together?  How can I help the poor when I barely have enough money myself?  How can I counsel people when I can’t stop fighting? How can I help others find God when sometimes I don’t know how to talk to God myself?
I remember this beautiful scene in the movie Beaches.  Bette Midler plays this middle-aged singer/actress named CiCi whose best friend has died.  Her best friend left a six year old daughter and asked that CiCi adopt her little girl.  After reading the will, CiCi comes to the bedroom of the little girl to tell her that she is going to become the girls new mom.
“Your mother said that she would like for you to come and live with me,” she says to the little girl. “And honestly, I don’t know what she was thinking. I can be incredibly selfish, I am a slob. Sometimes I have mean thoughts…honestly, I don’t know what she was thinking?”
The little girl looks up at Cici, shocked by her honesty, and says, “But do you want me?”
“Of course I want you!” CiCi says.  “More than anything!  But I just can’t imagine what your mother was thinking…I am not a good enough person to be your new mom.”
The little girl moves over to the middle-aged woman and begins to snuggle with her, comforted by the woman’s agonizing honesty.  And the little girl asks, “Can I bring my cat?”
“You can bring any old thing you want…” 
Jesus is going to ask you to serve the world for him.  My people are hurting, he will say to you.  And you, no doubt, will say, “But God, you can’t possibly want to use me? I am such a wreck. Don’t you want to find someone better?  Someone who can balance their checkbook?  Someone who has more patience? Someone who can do it better?”
And Christ will say, “No.  I chose you.  I chose you will all your foibles and faults. In fact, I may even use your foilbles and faults if you are humble enough to be honest about them.  I will use your mistakes, your arrogance, even your failure.  That is the stuff I work with.
I will ask you to follow me as I asked Paul, as I asked Peter, as I asked Abraham and Jacob and Esther.  I won’t wait for you to be brave or to get your act together.  I don’t have time for that.  My world is broken.  I need you to follow me now.
There is only one question that I will ask of you.  It is the very same question that I asked of Peter. It is this…
Do you love me?
If you do, then do not think of yourself.  Do not think of your gifts and abilities, the things you have done wrong.  Stop looking at yourself and look to me, says the Risen Christ.  Look to me.
Do you love me?  IF you do, then your way forward is clear.  Feed my lambs.

If you love me, then take care of my little ones. All who come to you for help and assistance, serve them, love them, help them.  And in the midst of your service, I will transform your life and fill you with joy. You will become my disciple, like Peter, like Paul. You will become great.  Because of me.

Sunday, April 03, 2016

The Simple Message of Resurrection

When I was a little girl, as far back as I can remember, I was scared to sleep away from my parents.  Maybe it was because my dad was suffering from severe clinical depression and sometimes could not get out of bed in the morning.  Maybe it was because I felt that my mother needed my help.  There could be all kinds of psychological explanations but I did not know why and I did not really care.  All I knew was that when I went to bed at a friend’s house, I felt so afraid.
My friend Heidi lived just down a country drive from the place where we would stay in the summer.  She wanted so desperately for me to sleep over.  After days of her pleading and coaxing, I was convinced I could do it this time.  After all, I practically lived at her house anyway! I was about six-years-old.  We lay down to sleep in Heidi’s bedroom and Heidi fell asleep quickly.
Then I thought about it…there I was, in a dark room, alone.  And with that thought came the feeling…this feeling of total emptiness, of a darkness beyond my comprehension, a darkness that might swallow me.  I felt that I was the only person awake in the whole universe.  I was being cut off from the entire world.  I was totally and inconceivably alone.  It was a kind of primal terror that I can’t even put into words to this day.
Heidi’s bedroom was on the first floor. So I pried open the window and climbed out of Heidi’s small house.  I walked home in my bare feet and my nightgown.  I remember looking at my feet as I tiptoed in the dark that night. I was a failure.  I was afraid of being alone.

Mary was born in the town of Magdala, a prosperous town on the shore of the Sea of Galilee.  She too was a little girl who had to learn to be alone sometimes but something happened to Mary.  Something really hard.  We don’t know what it was.  Maybe a relative of hers started hurting her in secret.  Maybe she just started fainting and writhing on the ground for no reason at all.  Maybe she saw something horrible that scared her and made her talk to herself.  But as Mary grew into a woman, she became different, very different.
Luke the writer of the gospel says that Mary had seven demons.  Mary did seven strange and unexplainable things, things that she could not help doing.  These demons could have been diseases like turrets, epilepsy or Parkinson’s.  Maybe it was schizophrenia or maybe she cut herself.  We don’t know what Mary was doing specifically but there were seven different things.  Seven ways in which she did not act like a normal person.  Mary had seven strange behaviors. And for these seven reasons, Mary would have found herself alone, totally and completely alone.
No one thought it was your fault if you had a demon.  It was the demon that was bad, not the person it possessed.  But nevertheless, in Jesus’ time, people were scared of those who acted differently.  People were scared of those who had demons.  And so they were often left alone, totally alone.
This is really still true today.  We see it here on the streets of downtown Jacksonville. Candy, who sometimes yells and talks to her hand, Denise, whose legs are so swollen but does not want to come inside and writes long Bible studies for me that make no sense.  We still have people who act strangely today, people who scare us and who we leave alone because we don’t know what to do with them.  But Jesus wasn’t afraid and Jesus did not leave them alone.  And he still doesn’t, even today.  If you want to catch a glimpse of Christ, to feel closer to God, come downtown to be with the homeless. I believe you can see Christ best among the poor.
Mary Magdalene was a possessed woman and she was cut off. Her family would have had nothing to do with her.  Demoniacs were often homeless or forced to wander around in graveyards or on the outskirts of villages. Did Mary get scared at night too? When she was sleeping outside alone?  Did she feel lonely too?
When Jesus came, Mary was healed.  He simply made it better in a way that only God can do.  Her demons were gone. I cannot imagine her joy when she realized that all her illnesses, all her tormentors, all the strange and scary things that ruled over her body and mind were gone.  She was so glad that she followed Jesus everywhere.  Mary Magdalene did not let Jesus out of her sight. With him, she was not alone.  With him, she found a home.
And then the nightmare came back.  For reasons that she could not understand, the Roman authorities arrested Jesus, beat him and killed him.  Mary, refusing to leave his side, stood at the foot of the cross and watched as the life drained out of his body.  Jesus left her there, standing on top of that horrible hill.  She was cut off again. She was alone. The darkness and the fear must have come back then in full force.  Once more, she was alone.  I can just hear the voices in her head saying, “See! It did not last!  You do not deserve love! In the end, you will always be alone!”
In her desperation, Mary followed his body as they laid it in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea.  She watched as they rolled the giant stone in front of the tomb.  And then she waited.
In the morning of the first day of the week, Mary walked to the tomb while it was still dark because she couldn’t stand being alone. She couldn’t stand being cut off. At least she could be near his dead body.  At least she could be near his body.  She walked in the darkness to find the only home she had ever had.  Even if all that remained of Jesus was his body, it was all she had.
When she saw that the stone was rolled away, she was again afraid.  Aren’t we always afraid when things turn out differently than we thought?  Mary was crying by the tomb when Jesus appeared to her and she felt so lonely, so cut off that she didn’t even recognize him until he said her name. 


For years, I studied the resurrection. It is about eternal life, I thought.  It is about life after death.  It is about things beyond our comprehension, about heaven and yes, it is about all these things but there is something more, something much simpler that God was trying to tell us when Jesus came back to us.  God was telling us something so simple that I almost didn’t see it until now. For years, I just overlooked the most simple and profound message of all.
More than anything else, we human beings are afraid of being left alone.  We are afraid of being cut off, being alone in the universe, being the only one left in the darkness.  That is the essence and heart of our fear.  We are afraid of dying yes, but really what we are afraid of is being left alone in the darkness.  We are afraid of nothingness. All of us will climb out windows and walk through darkness just to find a way back home so that we are not alone.
When Jesus returned, he was telling us something profound about the nature of God.  And it is this.

God does not leave.  It is not part of God’s nature.  God will not leave us, no matter what we do.
Even if we kill God, God will not leave.  God will return.  God will rise.

God will allow us to leave Him, yes, it is true that we can turn our backs on God.  But God’s nature is never to leave us.  Never.  God will always return and God will always come back.

There is nothing to be afraid of now, little children, Jesus says to us. You cannot get rid of me.  You cannot kill me or destroy me.  Nothing you can do will make me leave you.  Nothing can separate you from the love of Christ.  Nothing.

I will always return. I will always rise.

The Pilate Moment

So I was driving home from Orlando last Saturday night after dropping my son Luke off at a baseball preseason training camp. The sun was setting and I wanted to get home and get some sleep.  We were going to lose an hour springing forward and I had to officiate at the early service on Sunday morning.  I wanted to be safe, yes, but I also wanted to get home and crawl in bed. I was in one of my worst frames of mind, all I wanted was to be home in bed.

I drove the speed limit and was doing fine until I hit some construction.  Three lanes were to become two and then one.  A woman in a Toyota was next to me and we both wanted to get ahead of the other in that single lane.  Usually I like letting people in front of me, but that night, I just wanted to get home and everyone and everything was annoying me, so I floored it.  And so did she.  Well, she won the race to the top spot and I had to slam on my breaks.  As she launched her Toyota in front of me, she gave me this cute little wave with her bright red fingernails.  And I started to growl.  So I figured I would let some light into the situation.  I turned on my brights. 

This caused the pleasant woman to slow to about 15 mph.  No emergency, no amount of honking or pressure could entice this woman to speed up.  Her mind was made up.  Finally, after an agonizing 15 minutes or so, the lanes opened back up and I was able to pass her.  Well, this time, she lifted her hand, but she didn’t wave.  I think you know the hand gesture she displayed to me and, well, it wasn’t a wave.

So I am on my way now, driving home and wondering what happened to me.  I know better than that.  I just put my life in jeapordy to save a few minutes!  I got so mad that I stopped thinking clearly. I lost my reason.  And I was ashamed.  I needed to stop, pause for a moment, and think about what was right.

I want to talk to you about that moment.  That moment when you know you are about to do something that is not right.  That moment when you really should stop and say no, put on the brakes, think clearly.  Stand up and speak out on what is right, but you don’t.  You give in to your emotions.  You do the easier thing.  And it is wrong.

Pontius Pilate was a brutal man.  He was an ambitious man. He had been known to slaughter Jews or Gentiles if enraged.  He was in a tug of war with the Jews of Jerusalem.  When he moved to Jerusalem, he brought with him flags and items of Roman rule.  The Jews revolted at his banners and his decorations and the Jewish authorities wrote to Caesar, who asked Pilate to take them down. 

Pilate hated the Jews and the Samaritans. He killed Samaritans and poured blood over the altars in the temple in a fit of rage.  But Pilate also knew that he had to play his cards right.  Pilate was a politician.
On the day that Jesus came into Jerusalem on a donkey, Pilate would have known about it. A simple peasant being hailed as the Messiah, he would have watched to see if this movement ended in some kind of revolt or violence.  When Jesus ended up on his doorstep, bloodied and beaten, Pilate was relieved and sent him to Herod as a gesture of companionship.  Pilate and Herod who had been enemies became friends after he passed Jesus on as a token of good will.
But Herod returned Jesus to Pilate and the crowd was getting impatient. Pilate knew that the crowd had lost its reason.  He knew that rage had taken over reason.  He knew that the crowd was becoming a mob and he also knew that what was going on was wrong. He knew that Jesus of Nazareth was innocent. He said it clearly.  And that was when the moment occurred. The moment when a decision was made.

Pilate was standing there, at this pivotal moment. He could stand up for what was right and protect an innocent man or he could give in to the crowds.  Instead of doing what was right, he chose to do what was easy.

That, my friends, is the greatest temptation for all of us who are trying to do God’s will.  You who try to follow Christ, you will not murder or steal or deliberately hurt another.  But you will be tempted to do nothing.  Just to give in.  There will be moments in your lives when a voice inside your head will say “It is really not my problem.”

Driving, at our jobs, in our families, these moments of decision happen all the time.  Do we take the easy way out? When there is injustice in the world, do we wash our hands and say that it is not our problem?  Do we say that it is just too much to deal with it all?

When I was a priest in South Carolina, there was a young woman who came to me who was suffering.  She was cutting herself and in great pain. I got her into therapy but she also wanted to talk to me, so I listened.  She told me about how she was raped by her uncle for years until her mother finally found out.  In therapy and by being part of the church, she began to get better.  When I moved away, I wanted to stay in touch with her, but I knew she had a therapist.  I thought she would be OK. I thought of calling, writing, many times.  I had moments, but each time, I did what was easy.  I let the moment pass.  I had all kinds of reasons that I used to justify myself. But I kept my distance. I never reached out to her.
Six months, she killed herself.  Alone in an apartment, she hung herself. And now that she is dead, I look back on all those moments when I could have reached out to her, but I didn’t, because it was too hard, too much.  It was easier just to wash my hands of it.
In all of our lives, there are these pivotal moments, when we have a choice.  We can be like Pontius Pilate or we can be like Christ.  Whenever we go to sleep and hand over our God-given responsibility to do what is right rather than what is easy, we let Christ be crucified.

The decision to kill Jesus was made so quickly.  The power rested in one man, one man.  And he gave the Son of God up to a mob.  Why?  Because he did not want to be troubled. He did not want to be troubled.

He did not want to be troubled.  Do you?