FRIDAY THE 13th STORIES: FREE PLOTS

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As you probably know, Greenbean is not a superstitious person.  I trust in the Lord, and he is not whimsical.

However, I enjoy a good spooky story.  Not gory, but spooky.  One of my favorite things about pastoring was every year at children’s camp I would tell a spooky story (okay, age appropriate spooky for 4th graders) around the campfire.  My book has the word “Haunting” in the title and my new novel (hopefully published next year) has elements of spooky in it, so I really like a frightening tale.  I even have my own line of monster stories, Deep Cove and Deep Cove: The Party Crasher.

So, I give you a gift today on this Friday the 13th.  I give you five free plots for a story that I think would be frightening, or at least, freakish.  The first and the last are my favorites.

Plot One:  In the year 4023 religion has melded with pop culture so much that towns all across North America sacrifice bunnies on an altar of chocolate every Easter as atonement for sins.  A group of misfit students discover the truth in ancient writings they found buried on the “world wide net” and they decrypt it.  Eventually, they attempt to convince their traditionalist bunny slaughtering elders to change their ways and return to the true way of faith.

Plot Two:  Come to find out, cockroaches and mice are sentient and have formed an alliance against humanity and cats.

Plot Three:  During a freakish meteor storm, the magnetic poles of the earth change and everybody in North America begins speaking with an Australian accent and Australia begins to systematically invade countries in the Middle East.  Meanwhile, Russia begins growing coffee and Brazil becomes world’s largest exporter of rice.

Plot Four:  In the not too distant future time travel is invented but it is controlled by McDonald’s and the Wal-Mart.

Plot Five:  This is a mash-up.  Because the wizards in the wizardry world of Harry Potter keep causing so much trouble in the real world, MI6 sends James Bond to Hogwarts to solve the problem.  After seducing the much older Hermione, he teams up with the noble Ron to stop the ever growing power of the megalomaniac Harry Potter.  Turns out, a wand is much slower than a Walther PPK.

So there, some free plots to think about on this Friday the 13th.

ISAIAH 53 ON GOOD FRIDAY

This is a repost of last year’s Good Friday blog.   More Holy Week related blogs can be linked to at the end of this post.

ISAIAH 53, RSV, With Comment.

Who has believed what we have heard?

And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?

Very few have believed, but not the ones you might think.  It is the paradox of the worldwide Christian movement.

For he grew up before him like a young plant,
and like a root out of dryground;
he had no form or comeliness that we should look at him,
and no beauty that we should desire him.

He was not gorgeous, but he is beautiful!  His beauty, though, is not what draws us to him, not what makes us desire him.  It is his grace that pulls us in–the grace exhibited by leaving the lush expanse of heaven to be a dry, thirsty root in the desert of our wickedness.


He was despised and rejected by men;
a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

We did not esteem him, he esteemed us.  He esteemed us as worthy of redemption–what a man!  What a man of sorrows.  Surely if we follow his path and teaching, what awaits us is derision, rejection, and isolation from the values of a world gone crazy; a world drunk on blood and violence and diseased with lust and greed.


Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.

He bore our griefs?  Carried our sorrows?  Has he kept our tears in a jar and our laments on a flash drive?  Yes, and this even more feeds our arrogance to the point where we think something was wrong with him and with others; but never ourselves.


But he was wounded for our transgressions,
he was bruised for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that made us whole,
and with his stripes we are healed.

I am healed by his stripes.  I am healed in my spirit because I can connect with God; with the divine.  I am healed in my psyche because he affirms my worth and gives me purpose.  I am healed in my body because death has been cured and it no longer has the final word.


All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned every one to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

Why do stray paths always look so right at the time?  Why am I prone to wander away from the Shepherd so much?  Jesus–the ultimate scapegoat for me, the wayward sheep.


He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is dumb,
so he opened not his mouth.

If I am to truly model Christ’s humility and follow his lead of service, then at some point I am going to have to learn to shut my mouth and stop defending myself.  Explanations are not something the godly value.  Right actions speak for themselves, and then we let God do the talking.


By oppression and judgment he was taken away;
and as for his generation, who considered
that he was cut off out of the land of the living,
stricken for the transgression of my people?

Oppression is the tool of the powerful to subjugate the weak.  It is the axe the powerful privileged use to clear the path for ambition.  Jesus was oppressed by politicians, evil religious leaders, and ignorant crowds easily manipulated.  That is what his generation did to him.


And they made his grave with the wicked
and with a rich man in his death,
although he had done no violence,
and there was no deceit in his mouth.

How fitting that Christ my Lord was hung between two thieves; for that is what humans do best–steal!  It was what our parents did in the garden–steal from God.  Ever since we’ve longed for what was not ours to have.  Then they buried him in a rich man’s tomb.  Again, such poetics is rare in life.  He was the wealthiest ever–owner of the cosmos, but somehow even his grave was borrowed luxury.


Yet it was the will of the LORD to bruise him;
he has put him to grief;
when he makes himself an offering for sin,
he shall see his offspring, he shall prolong his days;
the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand;
he shall see the fruit of the travail of his soul and be satisfied;
by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
make many to be accounted righteous;
and he shall bear their iniquities.

Jesus offered himself on the altar of eternity and the reward was that he has gained for himself offspring–those of us who believe the report–those of us who love him.  Somehow, it is all about knowledge.  Whether it is the knowledge which Christ possesses or that people possess about Christ I do not know, but the key is knowledge.  Through knowledge the world gets better because through knowledge the iniquities are born.


Therefore I will divide him a portion with the great,
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong;
because he poured out his soul to death,
and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
and made intercession for the transgressors.

He was counted as one of us.  For me, that says it all, and that says enough.

 

More Holy Week Greenbean blogs:

Maundy Thursday Meditation

Easter Random Thoughts

Holy Week Reflection

Easter and Halloween

Sipping Coffee Thinking Hard

 

A MEDITATION FOR MAUNDY THURSDAY

Today is Holy Thursday–the day we think about Jesus eating the Lord’s Supper and washing the disciples’ feet.  I am thinking about John 13.   I have included the text of John 13:1-17 (ESV) below, with my thoughts today.

[Jesus Washes the Disciples’ Feet]
[13:1] Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.

Jesus loved them to the end.  The bitter end.  He did not love them just because they were people and God loves the whole world.  He loved them because they were his friends.  That is the kind of love I want with Jesus–I want to be his friend, and it is also the kind of love I want with other people who minister with me.

[2] During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him,

In the midst of great love, there is betrayal.  “Lord, never let me forget that there are traitors in our midst who do not have the same motives as your followers.”

[3] Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, [4] rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist.

I wonder if Jesus had ever done this before?  I can’t answer that question with any solid answer.  This is the only place it is found in Scripture, but my suspicion is that Jesus was always doing things like this–word pictures, actions, and activities where he tried to teach a greater truth.

[5] Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

Jesus literally baptized their feet.  The feet–the dirtiest, smelliest part of the body needed to be cleaned.  The part of the body that transported the sinful mind attached to it to various locations where sin would take place.  The feet, which trod upon the broken and the bruised, the neglected and the downcast.  The feet, which kick and churn in violence against spiritual truth.  Jesus baptized that part of the disciples.

[6] He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?”

That is a good question.  Simon was uncomfortable with this kind of love.  So am I.  I would rather do for others than have done for me. It is a particular kind of pride and arrogance I think I share with the surly fisherman.

[7] Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.”

Nice try, Jesus.  I don’t know if Peter, or I, have ever fully understood, but I want to.

[8] Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” [9] Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!”

If a little is good, then a lot is better.  Make me clean all over–because it is not just my feet that are sinful and and nasty and dirty.  It is all of me.  If you’re trying to teach a lesson with this basin of water, Lord, then teach me a greater lesson with an ocean of water.

[10] Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you.”

“The one who has bathed”–who is that?  That is me.  I have bathed–I am a baptized Christ follower and my sins have been forgiven.  Yet I have fresh sins everyday that collect, apparently, below my ankles.  This must symbolize the daily need for cleaning–the spiritual cleaning of confession, repentance, and forgiveness.  It is not the water.  It is the tears.

[11] For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “Not all of you are clean.”

I so wish Jesus had called out Judas right then.  I would have.  Then I would have told those Sons of Thunder to have taken him out back and beat him silly.  Jesus didn’t do that, though.  That is why he is the savior of the whole world and none of us are.  If I knew ahead of time the kind of things Jesus knew it would ruin me forever and disqualify me forever.  “Thank you Lord, for ignorance.”

[12] When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you?

No. I do not understand.  Please tell me.

[13] You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am.

I can accept you as teacher, Lord, savior, friend, redeemer ,deliverer, Messiah and so much more.  However, I am really struggling with accepting you as a foot washing servant.

[14] If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. [15] For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.

That is gross Jesus.  Have you seen some of the people around me?  Okay, I’ll wash some feet, but give me till this afternoon to prepare a list of people whose feet I cannot wash.  Why those people you ask?  Well, for one thing, the minute I bend down and stoop my head I am sure they will stab me in the back or break my neck, or worse yet, they might ridicule me to those who are around me when I am bent over.  The other key reason is I hate them.

[16] Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.

So what your saying is it doesn’t matter if I hate them?  What your saying is that my love for you, my master must be greater than my hate for them?

Let me just say for the record I prefer it much more when you criticize the Pharisees.  I don’t care too much for this meddling your doing with my life.

[17] If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.

You have a funny definition of blessed, Jesus.  I’m just saying, but okay.  Help me with this–help me serve other people unconditionally in ways that are meaning for them not because it feels good but because you want me to do it.

THE OTHER FINAL FOUR: THE BASKETBALL ONE, NOT THE HORSEMEN OF THE APOCALYPSE

Oh dear, it has been a while since I’ve posted.  I have to admit, as we come down the stretch toward Easter the amount of time I have to write for fun has shrunk significantly.  It doesn’t help at all that Easter is so early this year.  It seems to me we haven’t gotten all the Christmas ornaments put away just yet.

However, we trudge along.  Recently I wrote about one of our winter staff traditions regarding Ash Wednesday.  Another tradition that we have is the spring ritual of filling out our NCAA basketball brackets.  That’s right–its Tourney Time!

I have blogged in the past about some of my rationale for picks.  Sadly, neither my alma mater (Texas Longhorns) or the UW Huskies are in the tourney nor are powers I root against in the field (Kentucky, Texas A&M) so I’m at a loss in many ways for picking teams.  Never fear, I still made picks.  Here are my Final Four, and some of the thought that went into it.

  1. Gonzaga–Many UW fans hate Gonzaga, but I always want them to win because, let’s face it, Spokane is a dreadful place that must be awful to live in so they need some joy.  Gonzaga always has high hopes but then fizzle.  This year, though, things will be different.  Here is why.  Gonzaga is a Jesuit University.  This week we learned the new pope is a Jesuit.  This has got to be Gonzaga’s year.  If they don’t make a run in this Jesuit happy time, then they never will.
  2. Michigan State–What’s not to like about a team that is named the Spartans?  In terms of actual basketball, they have a tough draw to get to the Final Four–through Duke and probably through #1 seed Louisville.  I generally lean toward Duke because they have a great divinity school but this year I think they lose to MSU and then the awful evil Pitino and his Cardinals must lost.  They must.
  3. Kansas–This feels like a year Kansas could possibly win it all.  They have the easiest draw with no real competition in the South region. Plus, I have a good friend from Kansas so, there you go.
  4. Syracuse–For some reason I’ve just always liked Syracuse.  It might be the orange connection (their team is actually just called ‘The Orange’ now.  I guess that is better than being ‘The Pineapple” or something), but I don’t really know what it is.  Several years back Syracuse beat my Longhorns in the Final Four.  If we were gong to lose to anyone it was completely okay to lose to Syracuse.

As you can see, I am staying with traditional basketball powers.  MSU, Kansas, and Syracuse are the upper crust of collegiate basketball programs and then I am a homer with Gonzaga.  There is always a Cinderella who makes a deep run.  My best guess on that might be the #13 seed New Mexico State Aggies, inspite of their forsaken mascot name.  Now, all this being said keep in mind I have not watched more than maybe 15 minutes of college basketball all year long.