The sun is shining through newly sprouted leaves and a bright green lizard is sharing the quiet morning on the porch with me. New life after an evening thunder storm replenishes my soul and body. For the past two weeks I have been a round-the-clock caregiver for a family member and been in awe of the wonder and blessing of family community and selflessness. During Holy Week we have read and fasted together and done the daily necessities. So, today’s Sunday post is an article I wrote for our church newsletter called “Why Jesus?” I pray you will have time and space to reflect on this question during the most Holy days of our faith. Easter Blessings!
“Recollection” is a meditation practice envisioned by St. Teresa of Avila, a Carmelite nun in the 1500’s. The idea is to “re-collect” memories, images, and experiences of the Divine Presence in your life. As I have been practicing recollection, amazing and grace-filled moments with Jesus have returned to my thoughts. These include the Spirit of Jesus inviting me many times to know him through people, words, and experiences, until as a 15-year-old I responded, “I love you, Jesus.” A year later, the “Jesus People,” a hippie tent folk from the 70s, baptized me and I experienced the mystery of Jesus’ presence in the sacrament. Through recollection I have re-imagined moments of being held, seen, and known by the Divine such as a sacred embrace in my lonely apartment in Hong Kong as a single minister. Among many miracles witnessed on mission, we walked alongside a clan of indigenous tribal people who believed and were dramatically transformed, after their leader had a spiritual encounter with Jesus.
Along with these very personal sacred encounters, I have experienced Jesus as the Word of God in the Scriptures. As a college senior, I prayed for life purpose, and Isaiah 43:4 became the voice of Jesus saying, “Because you are precious in my eyes and honored, and I love you, I will give peoples in exchange for your life.” Those words have opened my heart to his love not only for me, but for the peoples of the world he loves. God’s Word and a vision of Jesus exchanging his place at the throne to come live as a man among us, led me into living life among the nations. And it was the assurance of Isaiah 43:19 that called me into marriage: “Behold, I am doing a new thing!” And it was the beginning of a wonderful life of adventure with Pancho!
Lent has been a powerful season of looking with compassion into the eyes and face of Jesus on the cross and seeing his deep compassion for me. In reading the Gospel accounts as well as the historical and extra-biblical evidence of the details of the trials, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, I am convinced of his historicity as a man and his divinity as the Savior, Redeemer. A classic apologetic book called, “Who Moved the Stone?” by Frank Morison and The Shroud of Turin were pivotal studies in a long chain of evidence proving the validity of the biblical record.
“Why Jesus” is such a great question, but consider “Why Not Jesus?” As Divine Love and Compassion, Jesus is the human face of God showing us how to live: “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind and with all your strength. And You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” As one fully loved in living a life of adventurous obedience to Jesus, I am free to love my neighbor and myself. As the Risen Christ embraces you, put your hand on his wounds, and look with compassion into the eyes that are the Incarnate Compassionate One.
On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews,[ Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. John 20:19-22