Good morning all!
Jesus went across to Mount Olives, but he was soon back in the Temple again. Swarms of people came to him. He sat down and taught them. The religion scholars and Pharisees led in a woman who had been caught in an act of adultery. They stood her in plain sight of everyone and said, “Teacher, this woman was caught red-handed in the act of adultery. Moses, in the Law, gives orders to stone such persons. What do you say?” They were trying to trap him into saying something incriminating so they could bring charges against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger in the dirt. They kept at him, badgering him. He straightened up and said, “The sinless one among you, go first: Throw the stone.” Bending down again, he wrote some more in the dirt. Hearing that, they walked away, one after another, beginning with the oldest. The woman was left alone. Jesus stood up and spoke to her. “Woman, where are they? Does no one condemn you?” “No one, Master.” “Neither do I,” said Jesus. “Go on your way. From now on, don’t sin.”
I am the eldest child in my family (probably not a surprise to anyone). I have three younger brothers. I had to learn early on the value of not telling on them all the time….don’ t get me wrong, I definitely had my share of telling them what to do, how to do it, and then telling on them when I didn’t think that it was the way it should go. But I learned early on that it didn’t work to treat friends or even my family this way. To throw people under the bus usually highlights my own stuff as well. This person did this so I am also highlighting my insecurities and my need to put someone else down. I am not dealing with the one time I did that or that I don’t want you to know about… And I am talking about judging before knowing the whole story…not talking about calling out injustice. I just realized at an early age, you don’t really create community by constantly highlighting others faults. We all have to deal with our faults and treat each other with grace anyway to build community.
I have always wondered if Jesus was hashing that out in the sand. What was he writing that day? Was he using distraction technique as this woman is thrown under the bus so to speak? Was he mapping out his own faults? Was he writing a plan? Was he highlighting other’s shortcomings? What was he writing? Was he writing about me or about you?
When he comes out of that writing, he tells us that if we are willing to put our stuff out there, we could highlight the woman’s stuff, and they all disappear. They disappear because they all bring their own stuff, their own shortcomings. We all have this to wrestle with.
I find this conversation especially pertinent as the world struggle with how to respond to a character such as Fred Phelps as he passes from this life. Have you heard about this? Fred Phelps, former leader of Westboro Baptist, an organization that protests against good people and hates with a public voice, is dying. The conversation is then about what do we do with Phelps? Do we protest him as he passes? Do the same thing he did to so many? Do we yell at him and hate much like he has yelled and hated in the name of God?
A friend of mine is the blogger at Hacking Christianity and he blogged about just this. He did it with eloquence and grace. (http://hackingchristianity.net/2014/03/a-prayer-for-the-worlds-greatest-sodomite) He blogged about wanting to do just that…protest this man…but at the same time that highlights our sins. We then become the oppressor and the inhospitable one. We become the one that makes us sad. Instead, perhaps we could choose a more grace filled way. Perhaps we could back off with our stones, look at what Jesus is writing in the sand, and choose a better path. Perhaps we could stop telling on the next one and realize that we bring our own…stuff…to the conversation. We are not without shortcomings. Perhaps we need to deal with what we bring first before the yelling begins.
Have you been caught with a stone in your hand? Lent is about having just these conversations. Lent is realizing that we all have things to wrestle with and then realizing Grace is there already, for everyone.
Peace as you wrestle today,