Maundy Thursday

Maundy Thursday (the Thursday before Easter). Maundy comes from a Latin word for “command”. It refers to Jesus’ commandment to the disciples to “Love one another as I have loved you” (John 13:34). Maundy Thursday also commemorates Jesus’ washing the disciples’ feet and the last supper He had with them.


Imagine with me, Jesus’ 12 disciples had walked on dusty roads most of the day gathering what they would need to celebrate one of the most important feasts of the Jewish calendar, The Feast of the Passover. The air was dry and the rays of the sun warm. They likely had high expectations for this trip into Jerusalem. The day before, crowds had greeted Jesus like a King waving palm branches and shouting, “‘Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord’” (John 12:13).

The disciples expected a Messiah who would deliver them from the cruel Roman oppression they suffered under. They anticipated that as the crowds gathered to celebrate how God delivered Israel from slavery in Egypt, Jesus would reveal Himself as one powerful enough to overthrow Rome.

What happened as they gathered for the Feast could not have ever crossed their minds. Jesus knew his departure time was coming close. Before he faced his mock trial, beating and crucifixion, He wanted His closest friends to experience His sacrificial love. His words and actions around the table showed that “he loved them to the end”.

John records, “Jesus laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him” (13:4-5). In Jewish culture, washing feet was one of the most demeaning tasks of the day. Only the lowest of the social classes (usually Gentile servants) washed feet.

It astonished the disciples to have a Jew, whom they considered their revered teacher, wash their feet. One author refers to the disciples being “shamefaced” as Jesus “reverses normal roles. His act of humility was stunning” to those present. To ensure His message was crystal clear, Jesus wrapped a towel around himself. This was the typical dress of a menial slave, a dress that was looked down upon in both Jewish and Gentile circles.

Doubtless when Jesus washed the disciple’s feet, he included the feet of Judas Iscariot; His ultimate betrayer. Jesus’ love knew no bounds. His love was lavish, intentional, intimate. Judas received the same treatment as the others because no one at the table “deserved” to be loved like Jesus loves.

If you were at the table, how would you have responded to Jesus’ display of affection? Would His profound act of unconventional kindness have left you introspective? feeling inadequate to repay such a gift? Or would you have hoped that the “dirty” parts of your soul are still within His reach? The Jesus Storybook Bible describes the love that Jesus gives as the “Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love of God.” 

It was only after Jesus had showed the most selfless love the disciples had known up to that point that He commanded them to love one another. When we soak in the reality of the self-denying love of Jesus, it changes us. He gave us the command to love one another, knowing that He was also sending His Spirit to give us the power to do so.

Truly showing love to someone whom we deem undeserving takes humility. It means that we set our image aside and choose to love extravagantly with no expectations. Yet when we love like Jesus loves, it changes the recipient.

Anna was in the foster care system. Although her placement as a teenager was with a kind woman, she repeatedly pushed against her boundaries by disregarding curfew. Anna knew her foster mom waited up for her. But her heart was hard toward the woman. Honestly, it was hard toward everyone! But one memorable night, her hard heart softened. Like other nights, Anna’s foster mom waited up for her. Anna braced herself for a major confrontation. She had her justification for being late planned in her mind, although it was a lie. But that night, instead of scolding, the foster mom took Anna’s shoes off and washed her feet. They exchanged no harsh words. It was just a humble act of love. And Anna shared at her foster Mom’s funeral that she never came back to that house late again.  

To love one another in our culture that promotes cancelling any voice we disagree with is to live differently. As we walk with Jesus commemorating His death and resurrection, He commands us to love one another. He left us His Spirit to empower us to love with His humility and grace.

What is Jesus’ invitation to you as you read of His foot washing love? Is it time to sit at the table and imagine His loving hands touching what other’s can’t see in your life? Do you sense a need for His “Never Giving Up Love” to flow through you to someone else? As we receive His never-ending love anew this season, may we be intentional to share His love with our world and in our communities.

By Laurie Besonen, Executive Director, Village Schools of the Bible

Maundy Thursday

Psalm 42

Hello, my friend.    Romans chapter 5 is one of those great treasures of Scripture.  It teaches us that, being justified through faith we have these six blessings: peace, access to the Throne, grace, joy, hope and glory.  And I am always impressed how peace often comes early in any listing of God’s blessings, as in Galatians 5:11, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy and peace…” or in Romans 14:17, “The kingdom of God is ‘righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”  Who can ever adequately measure the blessing of God’s peace to His children in the most severe circumstances?   

Today we look at Psalm 42, a Psalm which in a remarkable way reflects God’s peace to the Psalmist in great distress.    I will always remember this Psalm in a special way.  Many years ago, as Principal of the Rosebank Bible College, I had the privilege of now-and-then inviting guest teachers.  One young man, Leigh Robinson, had lived in Durban, South Africa, before he went to Prairie Bible Institute, where he later became Dean of Students.  He married a lovely Canadian girl, Esther, and they had a son Jonathan.  They were visiting South Africa, and I invited Leigh to give us a week of special studies in Christian Education.  His wife, his sister and her fiancé, brought him to Johannesburg.  On their return to Durban, they were hit by a careless driver and Esther and Leigh’s sister’s fiancée were both killed.

We were notified of this on the Monday morning, at the morning break and it was my responsibility to go to his room to inform him.  As I entered, he said, “Hi, Monty, what a great time I had with your wonderful student body.   I’m so thankful that you invited me to come up here for this sharing.  It’s been a great beginning of a memorable week.”   I could only stand there, horrified by the news.  He said, “Is everything okay?  You look strange.”  And I could only put my hands on his shoulders and says, “Leigh, Esther is in heaven.  She was killed an hour ago in an automobile accident.  I’m so sorry!”    Of course, he was shocked by the news, but then did a remarkable thing.  He knelt by his bed, and began quoting, verse by verse, the 42nd Psalm.  You may want to reread this Psalm, with this story in the background.  “My souls pants for you, O God.    When can I go and meet with God? My tears have been my food day and night, while men say to me all day long, ‘Where is your God?’”

I could hardly bear listening.  It was as if two lovers were in an intimate conversation.  He continued on with quoting this remarkable Psalm. Vs.5, “Why are you downcast, O my soul?  Why so perturbed within me?  Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.”    I slipped out of the room, feeling it best to leave dear Leigh alone with the One whom he loved most of all.  After a while he also came out, face awash with tears, but with a shining radiance.   It was a moment to remember.  A while later, I asked him how he could have known such a psalm for such an appropriate moment.  He said simply, quoting Psalm 119:11, “I have hidden His word in my heart that I might not sin against Him. He is enough!”

“Thank you, Lord, for the wonder of your Word, the privilege of studying, pondering, memorizing and sharing it.  Thank you for Leigh and the lessons you’ve taught us through him.  Bless my friend alongside and all whom we love.” 

Thank you, partner.  Cheerio.

These meditations on the Psalms were written by Village Schools of the Bible Founder, Monty Sholund and first published in book form as Monty’s Musings on the Psalms in 2000.

Psalm 42

Psalm 41

Hello, my friend.   Thank you for your coming alongside. I’ve been encouraged and blessed by the fact that our PSALM 41 for today again seems to be appropriate at any time in our lives. It is always useful for all of us, when we consider, as we did in Psalm 39, how fleeting life is.  We read here in vs.1, “Blessed is he who has regard for the weak; the Lord delivers him in times of trouble.”  And vs. 3, “The Lord will sustain him on his sickbed, and restore him from his bed of illness.”   Truly, this is our resource, our strength, our peace of mind. It is the Lord who sustains us day and day and when a sickbed is unexpectedly before us, this verse assures us that God’s provision is always there. 

This must have been written when David was ill, because we read as David writes, “All my enemies whisper together against me; they imagine the worst for me, saying, ‘A vile disease has beset him; he will never get up from the place where he lies.’”   It’s hard for us to think of these great men of the Bible ever having to get into a sickbed, ever feeling discouraged and depressed because of physical illness.  And I think how closely linked are physical problems with our mental and spiritual outlook.    All parts of our lives are interlinked, and I find great blessing when I know that my body is the Temple of the Holy Spirit, the dwelling place of the Lord, and that invites me to trust Him for every part of my life. And when one is faced with physical distress, we can also be thankful for doctors and nurses who lovingly, thoughtfully care, and for the family of God, which is present in prayer and love and encouragement.

As you may know, the Psalms were originally five books, some of them quite different from the others.  With Psalm 41, we come to the end of Book 1.  And all these five books end with a good benediction.  I love how David ends this one in vs.12,13, and I use it in my closing prayer,  “In our integrity you uphold us and set us in your presence forever.  Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting.  We are thrilled, Lord, to be able to join the Psalmist in this word of praise and thankfulness.  Bless all in special need, in sickbeds, at home, in hospitals, or just around the house.  Thank you Lord.” 

And thank you, partner, for being alongside.  I thank God for you.  Cheerio!

These meditations on the Psalms were written by Village Schools of the Bible Founder, Monty Sholund and first published in book form as Monty’s Musings on the Psalms in 2000.

Psalm 41

10 Things God does with our Sin

At Church on Sunday, the praise chorus proclamation “He has done great things” prompted our family to reflect. What are some “great things” that God has done? We listed His protection, love, forgiveness and His giving us His Holy Spirit among others. What we didn’t list was God forgetting. Can the Lord God, who created heaven and earth and knows all, forget? While this may sound like a riddle, it isn’t. It is a joyous truth that scripture repeats! We have a relationship with a Holy God who chooses to forgive our sin yet remembers our tears (Psalm 56:8).

These weeks leading up to our remembrance of the last week of Christ’s earthly ministry, we want to share with you this meaningful blog that pulls together 10 things that God does with our sin. We hope it stirs your heart and penetrates your mind as it has ours.

“10 THINGS GOD DOES WITH OUR SIN (SESSION 11 – PSALM 32:1-11)”  by Mike Livingstone. Posted August 7, 2017 at Explore the Bible/Lifeway. Used with permission.

10 Things God does with our Sin

Psalm 40

Hello, my friend.  

In contrast to our last study, Psalm 40 is quite a different expression of David’s heart.  It is truly the song of a soul set free.  And he gives the key to getting things from God in the first phrase, “wait patiently.”  In fact, I think waiting patiently is one of the strong evidences of real faith.  We all want quick fixes, but when we are trusting in God, we leave the timing in His hands.  And vs.2 is one of those dramatic, classic statements in Scripture, “He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.  He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.  Many will see and fear and trust in the Lord.”  Isn’t that great?  How it echoes that powerful verse in 2 Cor.5:17, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation;  the old has gone, the new has come!  All this is from God who reconciled us to himself through Christ…” And what characterizes this newness?  Paul describes this in vs16, “From now on we regard no one from a worldly or secular point of view.”   Our perspectives are new, our impressions are new, our values are new. 

And David can’t say enough about this, in this wonderful Psalm 40.  He reviews the wonders of what God had done.  He says that the things God planned for us no one can recount; were we to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to declare. It’s good to review God’s faithfulness to us personally over the years and celebrate what He has done in our lives.

David uses a fascinating analogy in vs. 6, “my ears you have pierced”, referring I think to Exodus 21:6, where according to Levitical law a contracted servant was free on the seventh year. But if out of love for his owner he chose to stay in the household forever, the master nailed an awl through the servant’s ear, on to the doorpost of the house, and they were bonded forever.  So it is with our love for Christ, a commitment of love forever.    And David cries, in vs. 16, “May all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who love your salvation always say, ‘The Lord be exalted!’ 

“That, O Lord, is our cry today, that in this new day you would be exalted.  Thank you for your presence in times of need, and for all who stand alongside.  We love you, Lord.” 

And I thank God for you, my friend, for your loving encouragement and prayers.   Great times ahead.    Cheerio!

Psalm 40

Psalm 39

Hello, my friend.   Thank you for your fellowship.  I am encouraged from time to time to hear from some for whom this intentional look at the Psalms is a new experience.  I am grateful for your encouragement and for giving me this opportunity of looking deeply into the heart and life of this great King David.  It is quite an experience to do this together.

In our PSALM 39 for today, we see David continuing in much the same direction as he was in Psalm 38, but here he is wisely discerning the benefits that can come from moments of darkness and difficulty.  The primary benefit, as we see in vs. 4 and 5, is to recognize how fragile life is.  He says, “Show me, O Lord, my life’s end and the number of my days;  let me know how fleeting is my life.  You have made my days a mere handbreadth;  the span of my years is as nothing before you.  Each man’s life is but a breath.”  Psalm 90 is a prayer of Moses, remarkably preserved so many centuries later in this book, and vs.12 reminds us, “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”  In other words, he prays that God will help him remember that he has only so many days to live and that one should live each one as a special gift of God, to be invested with correct intentions.  You can see how David, here in Psalm 39, allows this healthy perspective to affect his life.  In vs. 1, he said, “I will watch my ways and keep my tongue from sin.” 

And David, toward the end of this Psalm, says, “I dwell with you as an alien, a stranger, as all my fathers were.”  No greater benefit can come from being aware of the fragile quality of life than to be reminded that we are strangers and pilgrims on the earth.  Hebrews 11 speaks of believers in the Old Testament who had never received the fullness of the promises the Prophets had declared, but “having seen them and welcomed them from a distance, they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on the earth.” (vs.13).  Vs.16 of Hebrews 11 is a great verse, “Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.”

So you can see that Psalm 39 is indeed a valuable reminder of this fact.  You and I are indeed but pilgrims and strangers on the earth, people who travel light, whose presence here is temporary.  In fact, 2 Cor.5:20 says we are Christ’s ambassadors.  And ambassadors live briefly in a foreign land, being there to tell others what the King is like and how to love and worship Him.  We have no other reason for being on a journey here which is but a breath of time.  May we live in such a way that when we come to journey’s end, there will be joy in the presence of the Lord.

Thank you, Lord, for the hope that is an anchor to the soul, knowing that when this brief journey is over, this brief breath of time, we will be forever with you and those who’ve gone before.  Give us the wisdom to focus our lives, and our time on eternal values.  Bless my friend, who is along.  We are thankful that we can trust our loved ones into your care in moments of special need.

Thank you, my friend, for your fellowship and prayers.  Cheerio!

Psalm 39

Intercede for Others

Photo by Jametlene Reskp on Unsplash

John 17:15 “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world, but that you protect them from the evil one.”

One of the best gifts, apart from the Holy Spirit, that Jesus left for us, is prayer. Jesus prayed for us to be who He wants us to be before we even accepted Him as our Savior. Jesus knew that as His followers we were going to face trials and tribulations and it would take intercessory prayer for us to stand. In the book of John, Jesus prayed for us to be “kept from the evil one” (17:15). This is a clear sign that the evil one will come for us. His intercessory prayer however assures us He will protect us from the evil one and his schemes. Even while Jesus was facing crucifixion, He interceded for His followers. 

Jesus interceded not only with prayer while facing the cross. He also healed and showed compassion for others. For example, in the Garden of Gethsemane, when Peter cut off a soldier’s (Malgas’s) ear, Jesus “touched the man’s ear and healed him” (Luke 22:51). On the road to Golgotha, while many people were following Him, Jesus, beaten and bruised, forgot about His pain, and turned back to the wailing women. He tenderly, yet with a heavy heart for them, addresses them “daughters of Jerusalem to not weep for me but for yourselves and your children” (Luke 23:28). 

At the cross hanging between two thieves, Jesus reached out to the repentant thief and invited him into His kingdom (Luke 23:4243). Also, He lovingly found a refuge for His mother, whose “very soul was being pierced by the sword” (Luke 2:35). “When Jesus saw his mother standing there beside the disciple He loved, He said to her, “Dear woman, here is your son.” And He said to this disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from then on this disciple took her into his home” (John 19:26 NLT). 

Just before He gave up His spirit, Jesus, the Son of God, prayed for those that were mocking and hurling insults at Him. He prayed for those who were crucifying Him for the crime they committed. He said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34 NLT). 

As we remember and reflect on the journey that Christ took to Calvary, let us do as Jesus did. Let us not just focus on the cross but look around for those that need help. Persecution is a promise for us followers of Christ. However, one secret to overcome it is to turn our attention to the needs of others and intercede for them, just like Jesus did. When we give to others, the Lord releases His grace and mercy into our situations. In the life of Christ, we see that because He did not wallow in self- pity when facing the cross, the Lord sent Him Simon of Cyrene to help Him carry the cross to Calvary. Yes, He was still to be the One that was crucified on it, but His selflessness prompted God to send Him help. 

During this pandemic, when our relatives are taken from us, let us not focus only on our pain but also on our neighbors with needs. Our calling is to intercede for others in prayer for comfort and healing. In this season where companies are closing doors and millions are left unemployed, let us cook a meal for our neighbor. In this season where people are giving up on life “let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith” (Galatians 6:9 NLT).

by Mathabo Masilela, VSB Teacher, South Africa

Intercede for Others

Psalm 38

Hello, my friend.  Welcome to this little chat together, about God’s Word.  In the midst of daily pressures and various bewildering situations that crowd in on one, it’s important to have even a little time together this way.  Thank you for coming along and for your encouragement and comments.

Today’s PSALM 38 is another of those Psalms where David is really in anguish.  As I have studied this Psalm I think this is his most desperate.  It is almost unbelievable as he speaks of his physical condition, “my wounds fester, loathsome, because of my sinful folly.  I am bowed down…all day long I go about mourning.  My back is filled with searing pain, there’s no health in my body. I am feeble, utterly crushed; I groan in anguish of heart.”

I wonder if you or anyone you know has ever known such depths of despair.  It is quite startling to read this from the same hand that wrote Psalm 23 and even the great Psalm 37 we looked at yesterday.  Even as our unknown author, referred to yesterday, says, “It is the experiences of life which lie beyond our conventional copings which make us eloquent and passionate and which drive us to speak to the Holy One.  It is experiences beyond conventional orientations which come to vivid expression in the Psalms.   And in the Psalms we find the voice that dares to speak when life has gone beyond our frail efforts to control.  The Psalms know that life is often dislocated.  There need be no cover-up.”

Although David here refers so vividly to his physical ailments, I am sure at times there are mental griefs which are perhaps as great as some physical pain.  David cries in the last verse, “O Lord, do not forsake me; be not far from me, O my God.  Come quickly to help me, O Lord my Savior.”  Surely this is what Peter means when he says, in his first letter chapter 5:6, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”  Or as The Message puts the next paragraph in I Peter 5:8-11, “Keep a cool head.  Stay alert. The Devil is poised to pounce and would like nothing better than to catch you napping.  Keep your guard up. You’re not the only one plunged into hard times.  It’s the same with Christians all over the world.  So keep a firm grip on the faith.  The suffering won’t last forever.  It won’t be long before this generous God who has great plans for us in Christ–eternal and glorious plans they are! –will have you put together and on your feet for good.  He gets the last word; yes, he does.”  We openly confess our need to the Lord; and we confidently know that He is at hand, to work, to bless and use us for His glory.

Thank you, Lord, for opening our hearts to be absolutely honest and open with you, in expressing our needs, and thank you for the promise of your loving care. Bless my friend, Lord, who has joined in.  I’m thankful for each one.


Psalm 38

Psalm 37

Hello, my friend.  From time to time a friend sends me something heard or read, which is often a great challenge and blessing.  This chapter from a book called “Praying the Psalms” was enriching.   I don’t know the author of this book, but he seems to know the author of the Psalms well.  And he writes, “Most of the Psalms can only be appropriately prayed by people who are living at the edge of their lives, sensitive to the raw hurts, the primitive passions and the naïve elations that are at the bottom of our life.  The Psalms mostly do not emerge out of situations of equilibrium.  Rather, people are driven to such poignant prayer and song as are found in the Psalms precisely by experiences of being overwhelmed, nearly destroyed and surprisingly given life which empower us to pray and sing.”

We have seen this in recent weeks, as we have read some of David’s groans of despair and his cries for help.  Too often, I think, we wrap our lives in a cocoon of conventional Christian expression and behavior, suitable for Sundays and pious acceptability, when in fact, much of our lives may be lived in great tensions, anxieties, uncertainties and fear.  So these Psalms, if read candidly and honestly, touch us in ways that nothing else in Scripture can do.

Our PSALM 37 for today is not one of despair but a kind of orderly hymn of praise to God, with thoughts of joy and peace.  We read it with thankfulness, because too often we do “fret because of evil men or are envious of those who do wrong.”  We need to, as Proverbs 3:5,6 reminds us:  “Trust in the Lord and do good” or as The Message version puts vss.5-7, “Open up before God, keep nothing back; He’ll do whatever needs to be done:  He’ll validate your life in the clear light of day and stamp you with approval at high noon.  Quiet down before God, be prayerful before Him. Don’t bother with those who climb the ladder, who elbow their way to the top.”  And you may have noticed how, through this Psalm, David reminds us, in vss.6, 16, 17, 21, 25, 30, 32 and 39 that we are called righteous, sharers in God’s life and His nature, and that ‘the salvation of the righteous comes from the Lord, their stronghold in time of trouble.’

I love The Message translation of vs. 16, “Less is more and more is less.  One righteous will outclass fifty wicked.  For the wicked are moral weaklings but the righteous are God-strong.  God keeps track of decent folk; what they do won’t soon be forgotten.  In hard times, they’ll hold their heads high; when the shelves are bare, they’ll be full.”   So however you are today, in whatever circumstance, may you know that God cares about you, you are His personal concern.

Thank you, Lord, for these stimulating, refreshing thoughts, in times of high-wind or gentle breeze, you are with us, enabling, blessing, using.  Bless my friend who is alongside, and those, Lord, in very special need.  We love and pray for them and their families.  Thank you, Lord.

And thank you, partner, for your love and prayers.  I thank God for you.  Cheerio!

Psalm 37

a participatory tale of unbinding

Guest post by Linda Swanson, Member Care Provider and Spiritual Director at Paraclete Mission Group. To see more posts by Linda check out her blog site: Journey in Process

One of the ways I sit with scripture is to ask a question you may also ask, “Where do I see myself in this passage?” Recently, I was surprised to see myself in each  character’s life.

The story
In John 11, we read the tragic and miraculous story about Lazarus’ illness, death and resurrection. There is so much in this short chapter that I’ve not been able to move past it in my reading of John since mid-December. It keeps drawing me back to ask more questions. Asking where I saw myself was the question that needed the most time to ponder.

Lazarus, known to be deeply loved by Jesus was sick so his sisters wrote to Jesus with confidence that He would come. He didn’t. Instead, Jesus delayed his trip to be with them until Lazarus had died.

In John 11:14-15 Jesus said, “Lazarus died, and I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, so that you may believe; but let’s go to him.” This is so important to notice. Jesus didn’t do what the sisters asked Him to do so that His followers might believe. There was a purpose in the “wait,” “not yet,” “no.” There is purpose when He asks us to wait, when He tells us, “not yet,” or, “no.” 

Martha heard that Jesus had arrived and went out to meet Him. Mary came later after her sister urged her to go to Jesus. With both women, Jesus was present to them, attentive as He listened, empathetic as He wept. He didn’t rush their grief or explain it away. While He gently speaks words of encouragement and challenge to them, Jesus didn’t say, “Just wait, the best is yet to come.” He let them grieve and was present as a participant in their grief. As we’ve grieved since our Kelly’s death on 12/31, this has been so comforting to me.

Next, Jesus prayed out loud, so everyone could hear Him and know He was praying to His Father and that His Father heard His prayers. Then, He called Lazarus out of the tomb. And, miraculously, Lazarus came out of the tomb!

It was amazing. Yet, he was still in the grave cloths. Martha had been worried there would be a death stench and we don’t know if there was or not. We don’t know what those grave cloths were like. Had they matted together from a mixture of perfumes, spices and oils as well as death’s body fluids? Had they become crusty like a cast?

Jesus didn’t free Lazarus from the grave cloths. He freed him from death but not the trappings of death. Instead, He told Mary and Martha, and possibly others, to, “unbind him, let him go.” Lazarus could not bring himself from death to life- nor could he free himself from death’s clothes. He needed His sisters’ help.

The characters
Lazarus, the beloved, the sick one who died and then was brought to life. Everything happened to him.

Martha, the one we know is a good home manager, a capable woman, who seemed to move past her grief to do what needed to be done.

Mary, the one whose huge heart of love often caused her to be still, extravagant. I wonder if she loved Jesus so much and felt so loved by Him that when He came she didn’t go to Him because she didn’t want to look into His compassionate eyes for fear she would fall into a million zillion pieces if she saw His sorrow.

The task
Unbind Him

Lazarus was helpless to unbind himself though he was alive.

Martha and Mary were tasked to get close to what looked like death, maybe smelled and felt like death. It might have been a very messy job even as it was hope and joy filled.

My reflections

I can see myself as Martha, the one who steels herself to rise to the occasion and do what needs to be done. I can see myself as Mary who knows if she looks into Jesus’ compassionate eyes of love she may fall apart. I see parts of myself that are the messy signs of death in me; the lies I believe, the habits that bind me, the perspectives that entrap me, the wounds that haunt me, feelings of anxiety. There is much for me to be freed from.

I hear Jesus say to the Martha and Mary in me, “You live! You are alive! Now, unbind the death clothes, let yourself go free. You have been given life!”

During these last 2-3 weeks, I’ve been looking for the Mary and Martha in me and identifying the death cloths and asking Jesus to help me unbind myself and go free from what has bound me in the past. I’ve been wondering what my role is in unbinding myself from death. What work is required? What prayers am I invited to pray?  It’s been a wonderful gift of process and reflection at the beginning of this new year, during a time of grief for our family and for our country.

Your reflections
I invite you to join me in reading this story over and over again, slowly, prayerfully. Let it sink into your imagination and soul. What do you see, hear, feel? What invitations do you notice? Who are you in this story? Where do you see yourself? What invitations of unbinding do you discover?

a participatory tale of unbinding