Why Leadings?

Not to lead, but to be led            -- by the Holy Spirit.

See Leader, Servant, or Slave? in the section below, "Walking the Walk".

Jack in Denali National Park, 2012.

God's Wrath

Why was Sodom destroyed? Ezekiel tells us in chapter 16, verse 49: "This was the sin of your sister, Sodom: Pride, full-ness of bread, and abundance of idleness. Neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy."

That's also why Jerusalem was destroyed.

And now, with greed as our national virtue, what hope is there for the United States of America? We are afflicted by imperialistic pride, obesity, and entertainment addiction, and we are all called to do our part to "strengthen the hand of the poor and needy".

"Strengthen the hand" is the King James wording. Modern translations say "help the poor and needy." And there's a world of difference between the two. Helping the poor = as little as throwing some cash in the Salvation Army bucket at Christmas time. That's charity. It's doing for, not doing with.

My Grandmother was right about charity. On a below-zero day, she went out on the back porch with a skillet to throw hot grease on the back-yard snow. She shivered as she re-entered the kitchen and said, "Wooooh, colder than charity."

Strengthening the hand is much different. We get personally involved with another person who needs help, and we work with her or him to get the needed help. That's risky. You're vulnerable. It takes prayer, time and patience. You need knowledge and wisdom from the LORD. There are great rewards, however. You get a brother or sister.

Strengthening the hand is great work for our churches -- which we ignore far more often than we perform. Why? Because we're afflicted with the Ameri-can curse of individualism. Christians are to be a tribe -- a tribe that takes care of each other. In Galatians 6:16, Paul calls us "the Israel of God" -- the new 13th tribe.

Jesus said, "The poor you shall always have with you." He didn't mean that as a curse -- the notion that the poor are an inevi-table nuisance and expense, to be hidden in the slums. Rather, He was saying, "You shall always be among the poor."

When you strengthen hands, you fulfill Deuteronomy 15:4-5: "However, there need be no poor people among you, for in the land the LORD your God is giving you to possess as your inheritance, he will richly bless you, if only you fully obey the LORD your God . . ." It's a glorious responsibility and promise.

And how do prosperous Americans fulfill that promise? Generally, by making sure they have no contact with people who are poor -- and we have been that way from our beginnings in the 17th century. Early villages in Massachusetts solved the problem by out-lawing poor people. Today, we deal with the same problem by confining the poor in urban reservations, our slums.

As the Supreme Court Bailiff says at the beginning of each session, "God save the United States of America..." 

Saturday
Mar282015

RIDING GOLIATH

(This first selection is not a play. It’s a dramatic monologue, suitable for reading aloud. Riding Goliath is about Izri and his donkey colt, Goliath. In this monologue, Jesus rides Goliath into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.)

I'm Iz'ri. I still remember what happened the day I met Jesus from Nazareth. The day began with my tears of rage. I was fourteen. Two hobos came to our house in Bathphage. (bāth-fä-gā') I was furious when I saw them untying my colt Goliath. They were stealing him in broad daylight. I grabbed my crutch and rushed at them, but dad got there first. They told dad that the master needed the colt. Dad encouraged them to take Goliath, and they did.

         Was dad crazy? Goliath was unbroken. Some bum would ride him, and Goliath would be ruined. I was angry. I pounded dad’s chest with my fists. He grabbed my wrists and said, “Son, it’s alright. Don’t worry. Last month I met the healer from Nazareth. I agreed that he could ride Goliath when he entered Jerusalem.”

         “Why didn’t you tell me?”

         “Sorry, I forgot.”

       Typical. Dad was a potter. He was busy all the time. Mom said he wasn’t absent-minded. He was just present-minded somewhere else. So, he forgot to tell me.

         But dad’s excuse didn’t suit me at all. I wanted Goliath back. So I ran after the two bums.

         I walk normally now, but I was crippled as a boy. My right leg was twisted, and I used a crutch. I used my right leg for walking, but not for running. For running, I took long strides with both my crutch and my left leg. I ran after the bums. It's nine stadia from Bethphage to Jerusalem. I was winded and had a bad side-ache when I got there. I saw a crowd, but not Goliath. Had they already gone into the City?

         Then I saw a bunch of men off to the side. They were putting a blanket on Goliath. No! Goliath was still unbroken. Some dumb bum riding my donkey now could ruin Goliath for life. I ran to them, yelling my protest. They laughed, and that made me even more angry. I began to beat on a big man with my fists, and he gently held my head. "Hey, li'l brother, easy, easy. Calm down. We're not going hurt your colt. See, he's fine."

         So I looked. One of the men was sitting on him. And it was strange. The bums around him laughed and grinned, but he looked sort of sad. And he said, "Come here, friend." So I went to him. "What's your name?" "Izri. What's yours?" "Jesus." I was shocked. "Jesus, the Nazarite?" I asked. "The Nazarine," the big man said.

         "The miracle man?" I enthused.

         "Yes," replied the big guy. "This is Jesus from Nazareth. You've heard about him?"

         "Sure. Dad told me about him. Well, mister, you use Goliath as long as you want."

         "Thanks, Izri," said Jesus. "Come with us."

         So, I did.

         We started from that palm grove outside the wall, but it wasn't much of a grove anymore. The trees were alive with boys ripping off the palms and passing them to the people. I knew some of them—Enos and Darkon and Shilsah—so I yelled to them, and they waved. People carried the palm fronds and filled the ramp to the Beautiful Gate.

         The crowd was noisy and excited. I was excited too. The crowd left a narrow passage for Jesus, who rode ahead. The hobos and I straggled behind. The crowd yelled "Yea God," and "Ho-san-NA." “Save us,” "Glory," and "King Jesus." Some chanted, “Blessings on him who comes in the name of the Lord.” Some threw their robes on the ground in front of Goliath. Others threw down the palms.

         Palm fronds and cloth are slippery footing, but I was proud of Goliath. He carefully placed each hoof. He never slipped. I slipped twice, but each time, the big man grabbed me and kept me from falling.

       With the crowd surging to the center of the ramp, we were pushed hard. Only one or two of us got through at a time. I was with the big guy, and he protected me. "What's your name?" I asked. "Pete." I wanted to ask more, but the crowd was too noisy. I didn't mind the crowd's shoving. I felt good that the gang took me in.

         Inside the gate, the crowd thinned. Jesus got off Goliath. He thanked me and handed me the reins. Some Pharisees talked with Jesus, but I couldn't hear all they said. I did hear Jesus talking about stones that yelled.

         Pete asked if I wanted to ride Goliath. I said, "Sure. But he may buck me off." Pete said, "I don't think so. Jesus gentled him." He picked me up, sat me on Goliath and handed me the reins. I pulled the reins to the left, gently prodded my colt with my heels, and said, "Let's go." Goliath started walking. I was thrilled. I was so proud.

         Jesus walked ahead, and we went right into the Gentile courtyard of the Temple, where they sell animals for sacrifice. I got to know some of the hobos by name—Johnnie, Judas, and Bartholomew. I asked Judas, "Why this big celebration?"

         He said, "I'm wondering about that too. Most people think Jesus will liberate us from Rome. That's why they're shouting."

         Judas was thoughtful. "There are twelve of us followers. We're with Jesus all the time. At least six still think he's here to take the crown from the Tetrarchs, Archelae'us and Herod Anti'pas—and from Pilate too. "But it's been clear to me right along that Jesus is here to liberate us from evil and our cravings. And not just us—Romans too—everybody."

         "Gentiles?"

         "Yes, the nations. But now I'm worried that the applause may swell his head. Maybe he's going for the crown after all. His riding Goliath into the city was really significant—

         "Why? Why did he need Goliath?"

       "To fulfill the prophecy. Zechariah says, "Don't be afraid, Daughter Zion. Look! Your king is coming, humble and sitting on a donkey's colt."

         "So He is going to be King!" I crowed.

         "No and yes. He will be king, but unlike any king we've ever known. And first, they'll kill Him."

         Well, that was too much for me. I didn't understand Judas, but right now that didn't matter. Jesus and all the hobos headed straight for the inner court. I couldn't take Goliath in there. I got off and held his reins.

         Next to me were two Pharisees. One ragged the other: "See! You haven't been able to do anything. Look! The whole world is following him!" The other said, "Saul, you exaggerate." And then they walked away.

       Soon, the hobos were back again. I rushed to join them. Dusk was coming, so we went back to Bethphage. I rode Goliath all the way. I felt really grown up. Jesus and His gang talked and joked with me. It was the first time adults treated me like one of them.

         As I left the group to go into our home, Pete said, "Let's hear it for Goliath and Izri." They all cheered. I was embarrassed, but Goliath cheered right back. Pete took hold of my shoulder. "You did well today, Izri. You trusted Jesus, and in return, he blessed you. That's how it works." They left. I don't know where they slept.

         After that, many things happened—the next day, Jesus, wrecked the Temple money exchange and freed the animals. Jesus healed many people—including me. For the first time I could walk and run like anyone else.

        That week, Jesus taught much, healed hundreds, and kicked out dozens of demons. The Temple priests couldn’t do that. The priests wanted to kill Jesus because Jesus was stealing the people’s hearts. But that’s another story. You can read about it in the scrolls written by my friends John and Matthew.

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To begin the cycle of the three Holy Week plays, you can begin with the Maundy Thursday play, Destiny Calls.

Click on this link:  http://leadings.squarespace.com/destiny-calls/

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Purpose of this blog is to compile books for my grandchildren to read in 25 years.

Copyright © 2015 by Jack Towe

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