Today is August 1, 2017. It is the first day of the month of my birth and my birthday is nine days away. [HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Delesslyn!] Though I know that we traditionally celebrate LENT in preparation of Resurrection Sunday, I believe that we can fast and pray any time of the year. Actually, anytime is a good time to sacrifice unto the Lord, reflect upon His goodness, and to seek God's will for your life. I am doing a guided reflection using the book, 40 Days of Decrease by Alicia Britt Chole. I am excited to have begun this journey and while there is a small space to share my reflections in the book, I decided to share them here. (#LentinAugust)
Additionally, you should also know that I am in a year long period of transition. This is the final year of another decade and honestly, I am feeling some kind of way. I am very excited and feel as if I am growing even more confident and courageous with every moment. You should know that because I wanted to tell you and because I am excited about how this next year will unfold as I fully participate and engage every shift that is coming my way... Here we go...
Now, I was raised in the "Holiness" church. Yes, that means I did not wear pants growing up, red nail polish and lipstick was a "No No," and I have never attended a school dance. While i have worked through many of my own theological issues with the emphasis on looks/works and not heart, I am deeply indebted to the church of my baptism for the solid foundation of scriptural reflection, the value of Christian tradition, and the desire for my life to be conformed to the image of God's Son.
Furthermore, you probably already know that cussing was quite obviously not part of the Holiness Code of Conduct. I can honestly say that i have never given anyone a good cussing out (not that it has not crossed my mind which is kinda doing it anyway in the sense of biblical literal interpretation). However, I have seen movies and watched television shows and even heard some good Christians use a few words or two in casual and heated conversations and the words just seem to fit and flow and are often very entertaining in their usage.
Before you get scared, I am not about to get vulgar or go off the deep end here but I am about to use a word that also means donkey because I think it just works better. So, I guess I am not "cussing," I am simply using a synonym and some of you need to be forewarned. I will even use the King James Version so you can read the scripture for yourself...
On the next day much people that were come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem,
13 Took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord.
14 And Jesus, when he had found a young ass, sat thereon; as it is written,
15 Fear not, daughter of Sion: behold, thy King cometh, sitting on an ass's colt.
16 These things understood not his disciples at the first: but when Jesus was glorified, then remembered they that these things were written of him, and that they had done these things unto him. (John 12:12-16)
Friends, I hope you are not in too much shock. I am clear that for some of you, it was not a big deal. For others of you, you skip the word ass every time you see it in the Bible because it just does something to you. Well, today, I want to say that King James got it right because I do not think my reflection could have worked with any other translation.
Friends, the formal definition of an "ass" is a hoofed mammal of the horse family with a braying call, typically smaller than a horse but with longer ears. The informal definition of an "ass" is a foolish or stupid person. We have all seen formal and informal asses in our lifetime. And so had Jesus. The King of Kings was making his triumphant entry, another step closer to the cross where our salvation would be solidified, on the back of an ass. That's what the bible says.
I do not know why Jesus did not have a mode of transportation that was worthy of the Glory he embodied. I do not know why Jesus could not have arrived in a chariot or riding a show horse like a Clydesdale or any other kind of horse that demanded respect and reflected power and strength. I do not know why Jesus chose to make His entrance on an ass, a stubborn animal with big ears that is mostly viewed with contempt and seen as insulting in today's times.
But maybe that was the point. Maybe it was the brilliance of our Lord to teach us a few things by coming to town on an ass.
LESSON ONE - Jesus will not leave your ass (your foolishness and stupidity) behind. Jesus was on His way to die for all of the stupid and foolish things we have done. Jesus was not willing for any to perish and riding into town on an ass reminds us that He really does love everybody and desires to be in relationship with even the most stupid and foolish among us, and in spite of the most stupid and foolish things we have ever done in our lifetime. Jesus loves our asses!
And LESSON TWO - The ass is not the point. Forget the ass! Forget the hoofed mammal of the horse family with a braying call, typically smaller than a horse but with longer ears! The ass, as an animal, does not matter because Jesus had such a higher purpose that He knew that He had come to fulfill. The ass was a means to an end that got Jesus to exactly where He needed to be in preparation for His death on the cross. Perhaps, we need to forget some asses in our own lives so that we can truly focus on what God is calling for us to be and to do in this world.
Friends, Don't be an ass! Be an asset to the Kingdom! AND Forget the asses in your life that distract you from your larger purpose! Jesus did...
GOD LOVES YOU and I DO TOO!
Blessings, Glory, and Sunshine!