When Jesus Came

Luke came around today asking about my memories of Jesus. He’s putting together the whole story so he can write it out for those that weren’t there or even alive when Jesus was with us. I put aside my work and sat down with him to remember.


There was this one time Jesus came to visit and I was so excited to host him, this man that healed so many. I mean, everyone was talking about him and how he was challenging to the Pharisees with their high and mighty ways. I was so ready for someone to confront them.

He had an entourage too, 12 guys, so when I heard they were accepting our invitation, I knew I’d need to provide a meal and wash feet and it was going to be a long, long day. I had staff and Mary but they all needed direction and that’s what I’m good at.

I wanted to do it right, you know, to show him how much we appreciated what he’d done for our community. I knew so many people who’d been healed, it just seemed like the right thing to do, to go all out.

I’d gotten a lot done by the time they all arrived. More showed up with him too! I should’ve known with the following he had at the time but it threw me for a loop. I was going crazy in the kitchen directing the servants and then I saw Mary, my sister, just in there with Jesus sitting in the main room!

She wasn’t helping at all! I started thinking that wasn’t right for her to leave me to do it all. She’d told me not to go overboard earlier that day. I knew how much she wanted to hear Jesus teach. We didn’t get that many opportunities to be taught as women. What we do get usually gets to us by way of other men like our brother Lazarus. He was great about passing things along to us.

But Jesus was always different. I’d noticed that in mixed groups he didn’t just engage the men but spoke personally to women too. One time I heard he actually talked to a woman about her cycle while on the way to heal a child of a priest. What man wants to hear about that?

He was different with women. He got us when no one else seemed to pay attention. It meant so much to me and now he was in my house. I just wanted to show him how much we loved him. But I got into my usual way and went overboard on prep and got “bossy” like Mary says.

In my mind, it just didn’t seem right that Mary wasn’t helping. I started sighing and making a little more noise than needed. It was our job to get the meal on the table and that’s all I could think about.

This is the funny party, I was sure Jesus would get it–how hard I was working for him and his guys.

I didn’t think he noticed, though, so I caught him in a calmer moment and asked him, ok told him, to tell Mary to come help me. I said more than that because I was pretty steamed at that point. If he really was caring toward women, he wouldn’t want me to be all alone in my chores, right?

I forgot how he kind of threw everything about our world and culture upside down.

I’ll never forget what he said. It really changed my life. With so much love in his eyes I can’t even describe it, he said my name…twice. Martha, Martha, he said. At this point I’d convinced myself he didn’t even know I was around. I was so resentful.

In that Jesus way, he showed me that I was so worried and easily frustrated by all my plans that didn’t even need doing! We could’ve gone without food that day. If I had realized that, I would’ve gotten to hear Jesus teach too.

I regret that. I didn’t sit there like Mary because I was making bread. Making bread, Luke! Of all things! Bread!

Of course I’d heard the stories but they didn’t sink in yet. Jesus fed crowds and crowds of people by miraculously providing bread. And there I was, making bread for the man who could provide it in an instant.

Crazy, right? I’ve always struggled with that, being so responsible and so good at keeping things running around our home. I put so much pressure on myself.

But then Jesus came and I could have rested but I wanted to show him my appreciation, worship I guess you could call it, when all he wanted was to give me rest…true rest. He didn’t want me making bread! He was showing me that I didn’t need to scramble to provide.

I didn’t need to make things so elaborate. I just needed to do what Mary did and be with him. The meal would work itself out. So what if we just ate bread bought from the bakery. Or what if we missed a miracle!

I missed out in some ways that day but I began to learn my lesson, the lesson. Jesus is the One, the Messiah and in Him all our needs are met. To sit at his feet that day, every day, is the best worship I could ever offer him. It’s all he really wants.

So when Lazarus died that time and Jesus showed up a few days late, I just knew I needed to put away all the chores and run to him. I still have that common sense, bossy side. I mean, I did tell Jesus the practicalities of opening that tomb. How laughable when I think back on it. Jesus, he’s gonna stink! I said, like he didn’t know!

You know the rest though. Lazarus is still with us and that miracle chipped away another huge chunk of my hard heart. Not only can he provide bread, he raises the dead.

And that was what I was before I trusted Jesus. Dead. But now, I’m alive and will be forever with Jesus thanks to his final gift of himself… his Spirit in me. Then one day, even more, a reunion.

I could go on and on Luke. How much time do you have?

The Stir of Hope

Last year, Dad gave us a Christmas tree. Pre-lit, he assured us. We accepted and they hauled it to Florida where we were living just last year.

After Thanksgiving, we opened the box and encountered a hairball of Christmas lights. My husband and I looked at each other. Dad harrumphed and commented, “post lit, I guess.” We laughed and began the task of unsnarling a few layers of Christmas lights that didn’t all light. After figuring out which lights plugged in where, we still noticed a quadrant of the tree was dark. Our oldest touched a strand and, voila! Lights! A Christmas miracle.

I remember Christmas past and I startle at how much can change in just a year. It takes the breath away and leaves me a bit brokenhearted. This Christmas is not what I expected last Christmas.

So much is new. So much is not with me. I don’t know always know where to hang the old memories. They surround me in the form of ornaments from family and friends, nativities from far off places. All symbols of real events and real people that stir up nostalgia for times past.

Hope is the advent focus this week. It’s stirred around in my soul for a few days now. Hope seemed such an ethereal word in the past.

Hope.

Like a wish upon a star. It just went out into oblivion, or so I understood it.

This year, I think about hope and I see hope begin in the past with the promise of One who would come and crush the head of the snake. It continued with One who fulfilled the promise by substituting His death for mine. And, hope stretches strong into the future attached to the One who entered behind the Veil that separated men from God. Jesus.

DSC_0051One day He will come back and put to rights all that is wrong, and there is so much still wrong.

Hope is surer and stronger than I ever knew.

Hope means I can hold joy and sorrow together, because I know there will be a day when the tears will end. It is not today, but I know there is a day. That is enough.

Hope means the future is bright because God promises to never leave or betray His children. I am not alone.

Hope says there is a purpose in and there will be an end to suffering. God does not waste the hard things in my life.

Hope straightens my spiritual spine and lifts my head. Hope says life will not always be like this. Hope extends the offer of joy in the midst of deep sorrow.

Hope is a strong word. It’s a bold, uplifted smile through tears.

That Man, Joseph

In the midst of the Christmas season, I find it hard to rest and engage with the Story of Christmas. Maybe it’s all the presents to buy and send, the goodies to bake, the events to attend. Last year I encountered the same problem! Today I want to take the time to look at another person in the story.

When I found some time last week to take a longer look, I noticed Joseph, a man caught up in an event that centered around others.  Mary, the unwed mother who needed protection.  Jesus, the baby who needed protection.  The Roman government that offered no protection and Herod, the ruler, who pursued Joseph’s charge in order to murder him.

In all of this Joseph thought of himself only once according to the account in Matthew.  Before being let in on what was going on, he thought about his honor in marrying a woman pregnant by who knows who.  But even in that, he meant to keep it quiet and protect Mary from the society they lived in that stoned women in situations such as hers.  He still protected even in that moment…even in that moment when all appearances said he was the wronged one.

Then, an angel came to him and spoke to his heart.  I love this.  The angel first spoke to his fear.  Do not be afraid.  The angel went on and gave Joseph his role in this monumental event.  Take Mary as your wife because she is carrying the One who will take away the sin of the world.  And…he did it at great personal cost to his reputation.  A cost that stayed with the family all their days.  DSC_0093

The story takes some wild turns too.  Learned astrologers and scientists come from distant lands with loads of gifts far greater than what a carpenter ever saw in his life, I assume.  Then, another visit from an angel to the one, Joseph, charged with the protection of the One destined to save the world.  This time, marching orders.  Flee and flee now and then wait.

Joseph’s life again centered around protecting this Child and His mother and this time the cost was leaving their homeland under the dark of night without any explanation to loved ones.  They became sojourners in a distant land.  Jesus became a Third Culture Kid spending the young years of his life in Egypt.  Joseph made a way for them as a refugee. His profession as a carpenter served them all well.

I wonder if they heard reports of the massacre that took place after they left?  How did they feel when they returned and all those other families saw their son, Jesus, and remembered their own sons murdered?  I imagine the benefits of their departure caused friction in relationships. How could others restrain their feelings of jealousy in the grief of a lost son?  I bet Joseph endured a lot.

Joseph disappears from the story by Jesus’ adulthood and most suggest he passed away.  I don’t like that the story goes this way…that Joseph misses the chance to see the fulfillment of the promise the angel told him.  But the legacy this man leaves is truly tremendous.  He protected the Savior of the world at great personal cost but he also raised James and Jude, Jesus’ brothers who became pillars of the early church.

Whatever feuding existed during Jesus’ ministry gave way to broken hearts in His younger brothers’ chests.  I imagine that is Joseph’s legacy as well.  Raising humble men willing to sacrifice their lives for others because of the One who takes away the sin of the world.

That’s the mark of a man, humility.  Mary gets plenty of press, but I still think Joseph deserves more than he usually receives .

That Man, Joseph

I slacked off my writing last week.  My parents dodged snow storms and smog storms to arrive for a Christmas visit a week and a half ago.  Snow storms delayed their departure and smog here changed our travel plans.  When freeways close because of smog I give thanks for trains!  In the midst of the Christmas season, I find it hard to rest and engage with the Story of Christmas.

When I found some time last week to take a longer look, I noticed Joseph, a man caught up in an event that centered around others.  Mary, the unwed mother who needed protection.  Jesus, the baby who needed protection.  The Roman government that offered no protection and Herod, the ruler, who pursued Joseph’s charge in order to murder him.

In all of this Joseph thought of himself only once according to the account in Matthew.  Before being let in on what was going on, he thought about his honor in marrying a woman pregnant by who knows who.  But even in that, he meant to keep it quiet and protect Mary from the society they lived in that stoned women in situations such as hers.  He still protected even in that moment…even in that moment when all appearances said he was the wronged one.

Then, an angel came to him and spoke to his heart.  I love this.  The angel first spoke to his fear.  Do not be afraid.  The angel went on and gave Joseph his role in this monumental event.  Take Mary as your wife because she is carrying the One who will take away the sin of the world.  And…he did it at great personal cost to his reputation.  A cost that stayed with the family all their days.  DSC_0093

The story takes some wild turns too.  Learned astrologers and scientists come from distant lands with loads of gifts far greater than what a carpenter ever saw in his life, I assume.  Then, another visit from an angel to the one, Joseph, charged with the protection of the One destined to save the world.  This time, marching orders.  Flee and flee now and then wait.

Joseph’s life again centered around protecting this Child and His mother and this time the cost was leaving their homeland under the dark of night without any explanation to loved ones.  They became sojourners in a distant land.  Jesus became a Third Culture Kid spending the young years of his life in Egypt.  Joseph made a way for them as a refugee.

I wonder if they heard reports of the massacre that took place after they left?  How did they feel when they returned and all those other families saw their son, Jesus, and remembered their own sons murdered?  I imagine the benefits of their departure caused friction in relationships.  How could others restrain their feelings of jealousy in the grief of a lost son?  I bet Joseph endured a lot.

Joseph disappears from the story by Jesus’ adulthood and most suggest he passed away.  I don’t like that the story goes this way…that Joseph misses the chance to see the fulfillment of the promise the angel told him.  But the legacy this man leaves is truly tremendous.  He protected the Savior of the world at great personal cost but he also raised James and Jude, Jesus’ brothers who became pillars of the early church.

Whatever feuding existed during Jesus’ ministry gave way to broken hearts in His younger brothers’ chests.  I imagine that is Joseph’s legacy as well.  Raising humble men willing to sacrifice their lives others because of the One who takes away the sin of the world.

That’s the mark of a man.  Mary gets plenty of press…and Joseph does too…but I still think he deserves more.