E-Letter 163

Posted by on Apr 10, 2014 in Devotions | 0 comments

A waterfall of pale purple wisteria cascades from the line of tall, hardwood trees marking the boundary between fields. I catch my breath at the sight of this delicate, flowering Lenten offering flung capriciously and with abandon across a barren landscape by the twirling Creator God who delights in surprising us with unanticipated gifts of beauty. Curious about this draping flower, I discovered that the largest plant, growing since 1894, may be found in Sierra Madre, California, where it covers more than an acre of land and weighs more than 250 tons! Imagine my disappointment to discover that for some, wisteria is considered an invasive plant because it overtakes and chokes the life out of native species. Perhaps, as they say, beauty truly IS in the eye of the beholder.  The poet, E.E.Cummings, marvels at the many different ways the truth about something may be seen and understood:

Spring is like a perhaps hand

Spring is like a perhaps hand

(which comes carefully

out of Nowhere)arranging

a window, into which people look(while

people stare

arranging and changing placing

carefully there a strange

thing and a known thing here)and

changing everything carefully

 This morning I read the excruciating words of the grieving, confused, boil-covered Job in his reply to his so-called friend’s accusation that Job’s suffering is a result of his transgressions. “Though I am innocent, my own mouth would condemn me; though I am blameless, he (God) would prove me perverse.  I am blameless!” (Job 9:20-21a)  After a lifetime of scrupulous attention to maintaining a righteous stance before God, Job stubbornly disputes suggestions that he has done something wrong deserving of such divine punishment. However, in a curious turnabout for someone convinced of his status before God, Job rethinks his position and begs to be put on trial WITH God so that he may face his divine accuser without fear and speak the truth, “I know I am not what I am thought to be.” (Job 9:35b)

      In reflecting on the story of Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem in Matthew’s gospel (Mt. 21:1-11), I am struck by how many ways Jesus is understood:  Jesus, Lord, king, Son of David, one who comes in the name of the Lord, and prophet from Nazareth in Galilee. Perhaps the crowds, filling the sky with their hosannas, are sure of Jesus’ identity as he crosses the threshold of the city gates. But clearly, their confidence wanes as they begin to question one another, “Who is this?” (Mt. 21:10).  I imagine Jesus hears their murmurings and catches himself sharing their wonder as clarity about impending events and his destiny grows with every step of the donkey he straddles. Does he, I wonder, recall with grieved irony, Job’s words, “I know I am not what I am thought to be.”