What are you holding onto now, that keeps you from receiving from God?
What are you holding with all your strength, preventing your clutching body from receiving the strength from God?
On "Palm Sunday" when everyone lay their cloaks on the ground for the approaching Jesus, this was not just a cultural demonstration of honor, it is a physical prayer of receiving.
We follow this tradition of "giving up something BIG for something GOOD,"
We follow the physical prayer of releasing anxiety, value assessments, and fear into God's presence so that we might be transformed into participants in miracle.
We surrender so that we might receive victory.
Teach your body the vocabulary of prayer through the ancient practice of repeating sacred phrases with the rhythm of your breathing and actions.
This is modeled over and over throughout the Psalms (the Prayerbook of the Bible).
"Hear the Story"
read with some commentary and a little explanation.
Why did Jesus ride a colt?
Why curse a poor fig tree?
Why this talk about moving mountains?
Hear Jesus teach us the "posture" of Prayer...
the mystery of "Messiah"
the posture of "Receiving"
All of our Sacred Scriptures were wrought out of times of horrific communal trauma and powerlessness: Most of the Hebrew Scriptures ("Old Testament") were remembered, recited, organized, and crafted into scrolls after the kingdom was sacked, burned and the people force-marched to slavery in Babylon.
The rest of the Hebrew Scriptures come from the devastating realization that liberation from Babylon just meant more suffering, failure, and occupation.
Yet throughout all of these scriptures is the cryptic promise of a "Messiah," an anointed savior (in Greek "Christ"), who would come to the people.
The Christian Scriptures ("New Testament") boldly proclaim from prison cells, persecuted house churches, and smuggled letters that indeed the Messiah has come, and it was not like anything expected.
The Messiah comes to the people not with an escape plan or a strategy for political power.
The Messiah comes with healing that releases the hold our suffering has on us,
with authority that transforms shame into an opportunity to be family with God,
and with resurrection power that upends fear.
And our response? Jesus teaches us a posture of "Receiving." We receive forgiveness of everything that blocks us from the presence of God, and we receive the presence of God. Then, having received God, we become participants in God's ongoing miracles. Jesus calls this the "Kingdom of God"--an alternate reality of creation that is already among us but invisible to those addicted to rejection.
Why do we reject when we could receive?
Many ancient prayers and stories show the conundrum of not being able to receive God because we are clutching too tightly to something else.
Spend some time this week talking with friends and loved ones about these things that we clutch so tightly:
POSSESSIONS: what things of "value" consume your energy, time, and focus. Where does their value come from?
ANXIETIES: what are the fears and strong negative emotions that dominate your day? Where did they originate and where are they driving you?
EXPECTATIONS: what is your vision for life and self? What are the "ideals" that you are pursuing? Where did these images come from?
ADDICTIONS: what are those things that are regularly firing off pleasure into your brain but are numbing you to the experience of love and life around you? [addictions require confession and accompaniment for healing--talk to the pastors about different strategies]
TRAUMAS: what are the experiences of horror or neglect in your life that have trapped your emotional and spiritual growth? [this requires intensive accompaniment for release and healing--talk to the pastors about different approaches]
First we name these things that we are clutching (or that are clutching us).
Just in naming them, their power is cut in half.
Then we ask for forgiveness. This may seem strange when perhaps we don't feel guilty, but the act of "seeking forgiveness" is actually a posture-altering act.
The term used in scripture is "repentance" which can be interpreted as "turning your heart." Adjust your posture. When we repent, or ask for forgiveness, we are not assigning or accepting blame. When we ask for forgiveness we are turning our lives and hearts toward the power of God. God washes over us as we release those clutched burdens.
Finally, we walk in a posture of receiving.
We receive words,
We receive the experience of being home.
The Messiah is God coming to us.
We don't "go to God," or "achieve" holiness, or "earn" any love.
We just turn toward God who comes to us.
The posture of the Christian is this posture of constantly receiving God.