Mixed Feelings About Jesus
Today’s morning light is muffled by the overcast sky and fresh blanket of spring snow. A good day for a new attempt at a morning ritual. Feeling a lack of pull toward scripture lately, I decide to try a short Lectio Divina podcast called The Slow Word Movement. Having someone read to me, s-l-o-w-l-y, is just perfect. Rather than starting my day with a to do list, I start in a posture of receiving, just being. With my meager offering of a little space and attention, the Holy Spirit is quick to remind me that God’s presence is always there and inspiration doesn’t require striving.
I let the 6 simple verses wash over me three times while relaxing into the invitation to let a word or phrase rise out from the text to greet me.
Luke 19:35-40 And they brought it to Jesus, and throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it. And as he rode along, they spread their cloaks on the road. As he was drawing near—already on the way down the Mount of Olives—the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.”
There is a subtle lifting of a phrase: “the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen.”
My mind bubbles with a few recent conversations in which friends have confessed confusion, uneasiness or even apathy about Jesus lately. I regretfully admit to myself that I am certainly not immune. This sacred season of Lent hasn’t felt very “Lenten.” I have been distracted and dropped most of my spiritual rhythms in the chaos of moving across the country (again). But I have learned a few hard-earned lessons in the last while and this time, I stop the self-shaming at the door. You see, there isn’t room in my heart space for it. The way Jesus has held me these past years has taught me too much self-compassion and made too tangible His love. I don’t have to strive or struggle or earn my way back to the Lord, I just turn and let it be.
Uneasiness or confusion about Jesus-- you can definitely find that in the Gospels. But apathy, not really. People had starkly different reactions to Jesus but it was difficult to have no reaction. Why? Because they were all eyewitnesses, because of “all the mighty works that they had seen.”
Something strikes me anew about this “triumphal entry”, about how compelled this ancient Jewish crowd felt to whoop and holler, to praise and worship Jesus. When was the last time someone’s story stirred an emotional response in you-- a response you didn’t seek out-- yet it couldn’t be helped? When was the last time you were a part of a crowd with an energy that couldn’t be contained?
Imagine your response as a member of the crowd at the triumphal entry. Would you feel drawn in by the energy of Jesus and the crowd? What would it be about Him that tugs on your heart, that balloons inside of you with a life of its own, perhaps even despite yourself? What meaning does that hold for you today?
Here’s what spoke to me today:
It felt good to sit with a reading that matches my current season. I am feeling drawn back towards the seasonal liturgies of Advent, Lent, Eastertide and the familiar embrace and grounding that their repetitive rhythm brings year after year.
I don’t want to confess to follow Jesus yet hold Him at arm’s length. I want to let myself be caught up in the heart response of the crowd. It is natural to be moved by His story, because it is such a riveting and redemptive one. Yet somehow it is also natural and surprisingly easy to let the power of His story fade like a headline, to let it become commonplace. I allow this paradox to gently rest in my awareness, able to hold it peacefully without trying to fix it, because Christ is holding me.
An invitation to be an “eyewitness” today...how is Jesus still very present in my daily life if I have eyes to see?