I had thoughts of beginning this reflection at six o’clock this morning. I knew that my work day was going to be very busy and that we would be going to some friends’ house to meet with a group from my church, and that this would account for much of my time for this day. Additionally, I have to have the rear end of my pick up truck photographed and estimated for the cost of repairs. I was rear-ended a couple of weeks ago and want to get my truck, which I inherited from my father, back into shape. I am in fact waiting in the lobby of the auto body shop right now while I am writing this.
And then there is the reading and organization which I must do to prepare to help lead a book study five days from now. I really do hate putting such things off until the last minute; if I am not prepared you can always tell that I’m winging it! My next four days are wide open, but I get more and more nervous the longer I put off starting to prepare. And besides, Saturday and Sunday are supposed to be sunny again and I am getting anxious to plant kale and chard and broccoli and onions. And then there’s dinner Sunday night with my daughter’s family—.
Time is getting away from me, and I have even given up Facebook as a Lenten fast. Imagine how crunched for time I would be if I spent as much time as I usually do staring at my glowing rectangle, solving world problems with political friends and keeping up relationships with friends across town and also across the globe. I’m beginning to believe that I have a time issue.
I love to be busy, but this may be a little bit too much. My friends may have to get by without me tonight. They really are friends and not connections on Facebook, so they would forgive me my absence. And maybe the kale and other veggies could wait for another week to get busy growing in my garden in the back yard. An evening at home, taking a nap and reading a book about God and thinking deeply about what the author is saying about God could possibly be a better way to spend my time this evening.
Well, best laid plans of mice and men. I got home this afternoon and took a good nap, and then off we went to our home community meeting. We put together an Italian meal that was delicious and had some of the best together time that we’ve had since, well, last week. We dug into the strange triangle that was Jesus, Pontius Pilate, and the Jewish authorities. There’s a lot of meat on those bones and we chewed on them with gusto. My biggest take away from the episode concerns the ‘robber’ named Barabbas. Pilate does not want to kill Jesus but he doesn’t want a riot on his hands either, so he decides to try to cut a deal. “OK, you want to kill somebody so bad, you can either kill Barabbas or Jesus.”
Pilate was talking to the same crowd that has been howling for Jesus’ head since sunup, so this Barabbas must have been a very bad dude for Pilate to think for a moment that the Jews were going to go for this stunt. They begin to cry “Give us Barabbas”, and I think that a modern analogy would be to cry out “Give us Manson”, or “Give us Ariel Castro”, or “Give us al-Baghdadi (the murderous nutbag who currently runs the ISIS bunch)”. It literally seems to me to have been a choice between God and the devil, and the crowd chose the devil.
I’m not going to be too hard on the Jews however. Wouldn’t I have done the same thing? Wouldn’t you? When our cultural foundations are being threatened don’t we push back? I certainly do. I’ll assume the robe of self-righteousness on the day that I can go 24 hours together without crucifying Jesus with some sin in thought or deed.
So my Lent reflection is to slow down, do what really is important and not be a slave to what only appears to be urgent, and be watchful so that the next time I get to choose between God and Manson or Pol Pot or Mr. Boko Haram or the devil himself, I will be prepared to shout out “Give me Jesus”.