Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Don't throw stones

Opening Prayer

Here I am Lord,
Speak to me
within my heart and soul.
I am listening.


Jesus straightened up and asked her, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’


There was no other outcome. The evidence was unquestionable;
the condemnation inevitable; judgement carved from the very rock the crowd held ready.

I had all my excuses, I had been taken advantage of; my love was misdirected, I acted out of fear, naivety, foolishness.

But it didn’t matter - no-one asked; no-one would have listened; in any case caught in the crowd’s savage gaze the words were stuck to the roof of my mouth. The truth hurt but was undeniable. I was guilty. And, strangely, there was release in that acceptance; surrender to the will of the people that held me standing there before them.

It must have seemed a strange sight; a Greek tragedy frozen in tableau. Though what tale would have a Rabbi kneeling at the feet of a naked woman? Yet there he was -waiting for the people to consider; to measure their own guilt against mine; for their own conscience to be weighed against the stone in their hand.

I felt Time pause, brooding, as their minds turned; I felt their inner struggles; so simple to see the faults in me; so easy to gawk with righteous indignation and claim desire for justice, and to deal out that justice under the blind eyes of the Law.

The Rabbi gave them no answer; didn’t even look up from his scribbles in the earth. Then Time began to move on - their focus had switched. I could see it - first in the older ones, those who had tried to live with the Law all their lives; who had failed more than once. Looking within they found the reflection of my guilt in their own.

The Rabbi’s hand passed over the letters in the sand turning them back
to dust. Likewise this band of humanity overturned the power of the Law. As sleepwalkers roused to find themselves in a strange place, the people began to move away dazed and in silence, whilst the stones dropped forgetfully from their hands.

I am guilty but not condemned, not by anyone on this earth, not even by God himself. He who wrote the Law yet chooses to brush it aside; who may, yet does not, condemn; who loves those who stand naked and helpless before him, trusting in his Love. And so, I know, I am forgiven.

Those who throw stones

It is simply too easy and too human to find fault; to point the finger; to demand justice; to see the guilty punished. As long as the guilt belongs to others. For how often do we every turn the finger of blame back on ourselves? Is it easier to admit our faults or to find excuses for them?

We give the final judgement to God, and often find fault even with Him. Why do the good suffer? Why do bad things happen?
Why do bad people get away with it? Something should be done.

It is one of the first reasons why people claim that God does not listen, or even does not exist – because, if He did, He would agree with me! Every time we judge another person – we play god, we put ourselves in the place of the One who made us, the only one who can judge and yet chooses not to; who always offers the second chance, and the third, and the…… And, if He can do it, then why can’t we, at least, try?

It is a beautiful thought to contemplate our God of Forgiveness. When we look inside ourselves and see all the faults, all the mistakes, all the brokenness – we can only thank God for His love, His mercy and His grace.

But then we have to continue that grace - to look at others, their faults, their mistakes, their brokenness - and still to treat them with love and forgiveness too.

Closing Prayer
May the blessing of the Sacred Three
The Father who gave us the Word
The Son who is the Word
The Spirit who opens the Word within us
Be with us today and evermore.Amen


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