April 7, 2020 by Terry Mattson

Thoughts while on a donkey's ass

What was the tear gently rolling down his face, his end in sight, unless...
There was no unless, he knew—He knew,
not from those moments

when the Divine presses in;
a hint of memory from within the text, Dejavue.
Had he been in like place before?
The Words a memory of ancient
witnesses to his
Pappa’s Presence,
yet he could taste the Manna, 
the heat of the desert air,
feel the chaos swirling around
from the poets
Liturgy of Beginnings—
All seemed as though he was there, 
but how could that be?


If only—his eyes cast about upon the scene
before him. 
“Hosanna” they sang.
His sadness deepened.
It was not the Macabbean
reign he would usher in,
a fools errand
hidden from the masses it seemed.
His eyes glancing up, 
near the crest of the hill,
a lone Roman soldier sat atop his steed,
his uniform in full array,
...in honor to the day?
No! Jesus knew full well, 
their purpose in full view.
We may wave our palm branches
celebrating another day
when the rebellion ruled for a season,
but sword would not be tolerated, 
Rome’s might would come in
like a flood,
ushering in the day of sorrows for
women suckling their young—
so, he had urged them. 
“God’s Kingdom does not come
as men and their wives
might suppose,
My Pappa’s Kingdom is
nearer than your next breath.” 
But they had not heard.
Would Rome? 
A foul of a donkey chosen, 
his purpose to make clear.

Yet no one, not even his closest friends
understood what he knew.
From the prophets
own wisdom he knew.
From Isaiah!s vision of the Vineyard’s
bitter fruit, he knew.
The One who would come
would suffer the night,
the arrogant triumph
of the zealots plea,
someone would pay the price,
human excesses to meet;
the arrogant look,
the wages of workers  suppressed,
the poor and diseased having
no place to call home.
These were the sins which
caught his Fathers eye
and for which The Son
must suffer and die!

But why? His heart alone knew.
It was the cup of sins wrath, not God’s.
Somehow Jesus knew that his Papa
and The Spirit that shadowed
would be forever changed.
In the Son of man’s dying,
Papa and their Spirit would know
the lonely center of death’s darkness,
like the grapes of bitter fruit
planted, nurtured, 
producing in time only the bite,
void of sweetness; 
Celebrating The Kings Coming
in the sweet love of a groom

for his beloved, a party delayed.

All this Jesus knew from his observations
of the human condition,
his own and those he knew;
and from The Word of Moses
and the prophets given—
Isaiah’s vineyard,
his suffering One on whom the wounds
of humanity’s guilt and
compulsions have grown.

The scene even now unfolding
he had witnessed before,
Zechariah’s cup trembling, 
riding on a donkey, 
the sign of peace,
purchased it would seem
by looking upon the One
whose life all Jerusalem would mourn.

What Jesus could not have known?
...except by inferring from

within the veil of memories
breaking in on his
consciousness,
like a painting to life would
come—was that he,
more than Daniel’s Son of man, 
whose birth was known,
He, The Living Word of timeless past, 
Eternal Son of his Father,
the implications too vast. 
“O God,” on his lips were now formed,

The garden of Gethsemane now passing—
whose very name betrayed
the crushing of grapes
and into wine were made,
the crowd in frenzy now pushing
this peace-filled prophet
to fulfill their hopes and dreams,
not knowing, what the cup of God’s love

would bring.

Ezekiel’s promise was the prize,
the reason to endure,
for somehow, in this passion, 
Israel would be renewed,
for God Alone was acting to fill
the darkness of idolatry,
of unfaithful love proclaimed; 
to gather in from all time,
eternity past and future unfolding,
to restore all who in arrogance ruled—
the poor, their needs unmet.
Ezekiel’s promise that God
would come this way
and forgive the world as one,
no longer distanced by sin, 

sold as they were in slavery,
even Sodom and Samaria
would return.

The Kingdom of God is coming, 
is even now breaking in;
when God no longer distant
had tasted the death inside
all our sin.
“Leave them alone” was all This
Son of man had said.
The Sadducees and Roman cohorts

will stumble and one day fall;
“only God’s will remain, 
on earth as it is in heaven,
the rocks and hills proclaim. 
“So leave them to their frenzy”
for I know the political score.
“Do not fear your power be lost!”
Too late for that.

“Do you not see that
Sodom and Samaria
are welcome
As daughters of Israel renewed.
Their shame reduced to ashes
as Israel’s is, for;
I AM HAS COME TO SUFFER,”
as Isaiah's promised
day has come.
I lay down before your power
to surrender as only love can do:
when at last you
embrace this moment,
Shalom shall of chaos, be reborn!”

Thoughts from reflecting The Un-Triumphal Entry
Blessings!

March 29, 2020 by Laura Tjostolvson

Don't Let This Throw You

"Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in me."

John 14:1


The summer between my fifth and sixth grade years there was a scripture memory

contest for kids at the Church of the Nazarene in Randle, Washington. The prize for the

winner was a whole table full of games and candy. So, for the love of candy, I began a

very close relationship with my black leather King James Bible that my parents had

given me for Christmas when I was 7. I also had, close by, my paperback New

Testament, titled “Reach Out”, which was a 1970’s TLB paraphrase of the Bible that

helped me understand what in the world King James was actually talking about. I did

win the contest but the bigger win was that afterward, while eating all the Red Vines and Junior Mints, I also continued reading my Bible.



One of my favorite books that summer was the Gospel of John. It made sense to me. I

saw Jesus when I read John and reading made me want to know Jesus more. John still

helps me see the heart of God.


As I grew into young adult years though, I somehow slid into reading scripture mostly

with my head and less with my heart; more to know principles, like I was out to prove

something, fix something, or win a contest again, and less to know Jesus. Looking

today at this verse from John 14 I’m more convinced than ever that I had it right that

summer as a sixth grader. Know Jesus.


A couple of things seem clear to me in John 14:1. The first is that the very words “do

not let” point to a choice that is apparently ours to make. We can let our hearts be

troubled or not let our hearts be troubled.


I think the idea that we can simply “not let” trouble in is initially kind of hard to get one’s mind around. At least it is for me. Due to the noise and pace of life, or our own

sometimes unhealthy patterns of processing pain, or a thousand other reasons, the

thought that I can choose to not allow my heart to be troubled doesn’t naturally seem to factor into the equation. More often we seem to mindlessly feel at the whim of whatever troubled winds are blowing, believing stress is human and inevitable and there’s really no choice in the matter.


Maybe we just don’t think that God is that good.


Well, stress and trouble certainly are human, and inevitable. Yet, Jesus is clear:


"Do not let your hearts be troubled." 


The Message Bible phrases Jesus’ words this way:


“Don’t let this throw you.”


A second thing that drew me into this verse this week is the context in which John

places it. A quick walk through preceding chapters shows us that Jesus wasn’t in some

la-la sunny meadow fantasyland denying that there will ever be any really difficult

mountains for us all to climb. He was more like standing in a blizzard on the side of Mt.

Everest saying “This. Even this...don’t let it throw you. Trust God. Trust me.”


The “this” for Jesus was unimaginable pain and heartache. In chapters 12 and 13 of

John Jesus knows his message and his life will be ridiculed and rejected by his

community and that he will be sent to a horrific, violent death. His closest friends will not only betray him, but will disown him. Huge changes, heartbreak of the deepest kind, violent physical and spiritual pain….it was a tsunami of unthinkable heartache.


And in the midst of that, Jesus says, “don’t let your heart be troubled.” He’s already

living what it is he’s inviting us into.


Trouble weighed on Jesus’ heart just like it weighs on yours and mine. In John 13:21 he

was “troubled in spirit” as he told his disciples that one of them would betray him. How

could he not be? Clearly Jesus wasn’t suggesting in John 14:1 that we just don’t get

upset about things. Or that we ignore depression. Or that we shame ourselves when

we feel afraid.


So if Jesus knows that heartache is a given, and even to be embraced, what exactly is

he asking of us when he tells us to not let our hearts be troubled?


Maybe what Jesus knew, and was pointing Peter and the others to, what shaped him

and directed him, was simply this:


He knew he was loved by his Father.


And exactly because of his unity with the Father, Jesus could be in troubling times

without the troubling times being in him. He could be in the raging storm of uncertainty without the storm defining or directing him. And he wants the disciples to know that this is true for them, for us, as well.


I have told you these things so that in me you might have peace. In the world you shall have trouble. But be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world. ” 

John 16:33


For those of us that were blessed to be raised in a home with parents that took good

care of us, can you remember that sense of never worrying about much because there

was an inner knowledge that whatever it was, mom and/or dad would take care of it?

And you lived with a free heart. If that wasn’t you, what child have you known that this is true for?


Not that there was never a fear, but there was an internal assurance as a child that

dwarfed fear. All concerns were put in their place within the context of the relationship

we had with the ones taking care of us. As kids we rested, relatively worry free, exactly

because we had faith in our parents (grandparents, big brother’s, Uncle’s, Aunt’s) Love

for us.


It is “in me”, Jesus says, that we embrace the confidence and assurance that lets us

find our feet in troubled times. “Do not let your hearts be troubled” is not a mandate to

will away hardship, or engage in more positive thinking. It’s not a curriculum for a new

self-help plan. All of those things may have their place, but this is an invitation to

relationship, and a reminder that our protection and peace are…. In Him.


In another place, Jesus tells his disciples that they, we, need to rediscover faith like a

child and let it possess us in order to be in God’s Kingdom. He wasn’t talking about

how to get to heaven. He was talking about how to have heaven on earth: how to live,

with full presence and even joy, through rain and shine, here in this life. Faith like a child in the One Father who is caring for us casts out the fear that cripples our capacity to live, care and grow. Faith like a child casts out the fear that steals peace.


Especially during these days of Covid-19 when, for some, stresses we never would

have imagined threaten things held dear, the very good news is that it’s exactly into

troubled times that Jesus speaks John 14:1.


My sixth grade self, searching to know Jesus, set an example for me this week. I hope

she can encourage you too.


Pick up the Gospel of John. Hang out with Jesus and let him form you from the inside

out through the Father’s great unending Love for you. And if you’re one that is already

spending time there, help someone else!


Our relationship with Jesus, in Jesus, will not erase all traces of grief or fear, because

fear is not the enemy. Attempting to walk alone outside of the communion we were

made for, that is the enemy. We were made to be with each other, in him. And in him,

all of our fears bow to the power of this defining Love. Do not let your hearts be

troubled.


Talk to Jesus, listen to him, and reach out to His Body, your faith community. We really

really do need each other!


Here is what happened when my much loved son-in-law Ben, former atheist forever

changed by Jesus, was hanging out with Jesus last week. I asked him if I could share

this song with you. Maybe I can share the recording of it next time:


I Stand With You

I feel no anxiety, when I wait for you

I see no sign for me, but I look to you

I hear no company, still I pray to you

I know you stand for me, and I stand with you

I know you stand for me, and I stand with you

I know you stand for me, and I stand with you

- Benjamin Boice


Don’t let this throw you, loved one.


God is with you. He is your Peace.


I’m praying we all continue to find ourselves in him this week.


Much love to all,

Laura