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Just Hangin

Chapter 16

Good Monday Morning to this week 16 of 2022

This Easter I am a bit behind with the days and the events. Somehow
I’m still wrestling with Good Friday. I then stumbled over this article
written a year ago in the midst of the pandemic, but relevant to today
as well as we wake to other new and harsh realities.

Written by David Ruis

Strangely, I’ve been reflecting of late on what must’ve been going through the mind of the convicted felon who hung beside Jesus during the Crucifixion and would later be called the Penitent Thief, known as Saint Dismas.

I then stumbled onto a poem about this man written by spoken word artist, Michael Mark, called “Just Hangin’. It begins like this:

I tell you the truth

I’m scared

Full of fear

The end is near

I’m just hanging here

I couldn’t shake this image. “Just hanging here.” Stuck. Unable to move.

Of course, this poor bloke’s lot was of his own making, although we do not know his back story at all. Given his rebuke of another criminal who was deriding the crucified Jesus, and his uncanny ability to recognize Jesus’ kingship even though Christ was hanging there too, there must’ve been more than meets the eye going on. He discerns the disdain for Jesus as something to be reprimanded and he also sees Jesus for who he truly was. Though Christ was marred, beaten – and as foreseen in the stunning, upside down Messianic prophecy of Isaiah 53 – battered beyond human recognition, this future Saint, recognizes a king. The King.

This perception of Jesus seemed to stir something deep within him and he cries out. Unable to do anything about his condition, and most certainly afraid of deaths threshold imminently before him, it seems that now he has hope. One translation captures it this way, “Jesus, … remember me when you finally become king.” Although Dismas has had an epiphany of Christ, he has only gotten it partly right. And, it sounds like a lot of our prayers when we are stuck, whether of our own making or because of things beyond our control. When we’re just hanging there.

“One day, Jesus – when you finally get this all sorted out – don’t forget about me. Would you send back some help? Please don’t forget!”

Yet as NT Wright notes, Jesus’ answer is quite startling. “… Jesus surprises us, as he surprised the brigand, by his response. He is becoming king, here and now. No more waiting.

His presence – His face – His position – may not be what we expected or imagined a King to look, or be, like. Hanging on a cross? Scandalous at best – moronic at worst. We may be tempted to think, like the ‘other brigand’, that Jesus is just as stuck as we are. He won’t rescue us. He can’t even rescue himself. Yet if we can see with eyes of faith, we’ll see not only his kingdom coming, but his kingdom come. Today. Though we may be stuck, yes, on a cross even, for we all have one to bear, we may taste paradise in even this dangling moment for he is with us. The kingdom is within our reach. Though we may be locked down by a relentless virus that has upended so much of our lives in such rapid fashion, Jesus is King. Jesus is present. So, this basileia, the present rule of the reign of Christ, is upon us. Now. Repent. Look again. He has not left us. He has not forsaken us.

As we are currently pinned down by forces beyond our control, imposed upon us and we feel like we are “just hanging”, ignore the taunting voices and look to Jesus. See Him hanging on the cross and the love revealed there. It is a sweet balm in even the most hellish of circumstances – when we are hanging too. We will see paradise. We can taste it now. “Taste and see that He is good.” Today. Let the kingdom come.

Wishing you a good start to this new week!
Philemon

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Ponder a few quotes

Chapter 15

Good Monday Morning to this week 15 of 2022

In 2016 I started writing this blog – I started the first few weeks
with a few quotes and a few notes, thought I’d do that once again.

Sticking to the current events and crises I will stay in the region of the conflicts.
Here a few Eastern Orthodox quotes to think about.

Ponder the fact that God has made you a gardener, to root out vice
and to plant virtue. St. Catherine of Siena

The most beautiful act of faith is the one made in darkness,
in sacrifice, and with extreme effort. St. Padre Pio

You don’t become holy by fighting evil. Let evil be. Look towards
Christ and that will save you. What makes a person saintly is love.
St. Porphyrios

If God is love, he who has love has God within himself.
St. Maximus

To God, love is not an emotion but a self-offering.
Matta El Meskeen

Acquire a peaceful spirit and thousands around you will
be saved. St Seraphim of Sarov

To be a good servant of God means having patience with yourself in
your daily failings and peacefully tolerating your neighbor with all his
or her imperfections. St. Francis de Sales

If the intention is unclean the deed that follows from it will also
be evil, even if it seems it is good. St. Gregory the Great

The deeds you do may be the only sermon some person will hear today.
St Francis

Conquer men by your gentle kindness, and make zealous
men wonder at your goodness. Put the lover of justice to shame with your
compassion. With the afflicted be afflicted in mind. Love all men,
but keep distant from all men. St Isaac the Syrian

I saw the snares that the enemy spreads in the world and I said
groaning. What can I get through such snares?
Then I heard a voice saying to me, Humility! St. Anthony the Great

And I saw the river over which every soul must pass to reach the
Kingdom of heaven and the name of that river was suffering. And I
saw a boat which carries souls across the river and the name of
that boat was love. St John of the Cross.

Wishing you a good start to this new week.

Philemon

Breath peace

Chapter 14

Good Monday Morning to this 14th week of 2022

A prayer

O God,

The news of again another war I haunts us.

The stories are passed on daily even hourly

and the suffering and sorrow and senseless horror

fills the pit of our stomach and paralyses.

The earth cries out for blood spilt

of one brother, one mother, one sister and one child.

How cries the earth over thousands!

O God,

Today, we bow our heads and weep

For what is lost

And unlearned lessons

And humanity’s continued loss.

Breathe peace into the horror chamber of the heart

Breathe peace into perverse minds

Breathe peace into hands which violate.

Teach us to respect and celebrate life

And life wrought through a wooden cross

Whereon shame is named

And Love’s Power released.

Peace to nations.

Peace to man, woman and child.

Peace to all, O God!

For your Love’s sake. Amen.

Lord, have mercy.

Lord, have mercy.

 Christ, have mercy.

Christ, have mercy.

 Lord, have mercy.

Lord, have mercy.

May the God of all healing and forgiveness
draw us to himself and cleanse us from our transgression,
that we may behold the glory of his Son,
the Word made flesh, Jesus Christ our Lord

Amen