Thursday, September 1, 2016

When the doves were saved by the Lamb

I wonder about the doves.

When the curtain tore in two, were the doves released at the same time?  Did their cages simultaneously bust open and those waiting a certain death as a sacrifice for the poor soul's sin...did they hesitate?  Did the doves hesitate, did some stay behind?  Were there any who felt the ground shake and their cage burst open and just saw the opportunity and fled?  Did they leave behind their hole, carved in the stone, the place they had lived waiting for their fate?

I wonder about the lambs and rams and the goats, all of them tagged to be the offered as an offering at the temple.  Did they know they were free?  Did they know their purpose on earth was no longer to be an offering, layed out on an altar to be sacrificed for a soul's misdeed?

I wonder about the priests.  When the temple curtain tore in two and the ground shook and the holy ones, long dead, rose from the dead and walked among the city, did they lay down their turbans and the ephod with the precious stones and the robes with the beautiful colors?

When the temple curtain was torn in two, the frayed edges swinging and trying to meet in the middle, did anyone try and sew it back together?

What about the bronze laver and the lamp stand and the ark?

How long did it take for the sacrifices to stop?

As those who believed hid and waited for whatever was going to happen next to happen, did they feel the burden already lifting of what it meant for them that the Lamb had made the final sacrifice?  What were those first days and weeks like when the believers tried to put together the pieces of the words they had heard Jesus say?

When they walked by the market where the doves were sold, the cages empty, the proprietor reading a scroll as his customers walked by, did they chuckle to themselves as the reality started to pour into their religious soaked mind:

I don't have to do this anymore.

I don't have to do this anymore.

I don't have to do this anymore.

What did you think when your prison door opened?  When you got "it?"  When you understood what the death of the Lamb really meant for you?  Did you look for the rules to follow, to still feel a sense of order and structure, or did you run free, with the burdens of yesterday's hopelessness trying to catch up to you?

What was it like for you when your heart heard the story your ears had been hearing for years?

Did religion chase after you like it did those first few years after Jesus went back to heaven?  As you tried to live in freedom, did the Pharisees try and tell you that yes, we agree, no sacrifices will probably be necessary, but you can't expect to have at least some sense of order.  You didn't really think you were totally free did you?

Not here on earth anyway.

When those first sins were committed, the ones that would have sent a pre crucifixion first century soul to the priest with a dove or two in hand, what did they think as they started their walk to the altar?  How far did they get, a small coin in their pocket, before they remembered?

I don't have to do this anymore.

I don't have to do this anymore.

I don't have to do this anymore.


I'm free.

What was it like?

What were those first century Sunday's like until religion snuck its way in again?  Until those who had experienced the first freedom, who had tasted it and heard it and smelled it, died.  How long did it take for that first generation to be gone before the roots of religion began to regenerate and invade the hearts that had only heard about the dead people walking around, stones split in two, day turned to night?

How long?

How long did it take for you to go from tasting freedom, pure freedom, before being convinced that religion was the only way to manage the new relationship you were starting with a Savior you didn't know real well?

Did you exchange your worldly sins for religious sins?  The ones dressed and disguised as good works but really only a way to keep you trapped like the alcohol did or the anger or the depression?

I'm guessing, without knowing because I wasn't there and because the history books weren't written yet, that those first century believers -

those who saw and heard and felt and smelled and tasted the reality of a carpenter dying on a cross, rising from a stone sealed tomb, walking among his people before going back to where he came from 

- were in a constant pull between freedom and bondage.

Just like we are.

We get it, but the pull is strong to go back to what we once were.  The disguise is well made, the costume and masks are good covers.  We know we know that we know we tasted freedom.  But it gets vinegar and other bitter spices thrown in and what once tasted good now leaves a nasty after taste.

We know we're free, but it doesn't take much for our masks to come back on and we're wearing a costume that hides our heart.  We look like we're free and we say all the right words and sing the right songs and pray the right prayers.....

but when we look around, we see doves back in their cages, we hear the bleating of lambs and rams and flocks of sheep

we feel the burden of wondering if we're doing it right

if we're in the right church

if we're in the right bible study

if we're doing the right things

if we're giving enough

if we're sharing enough

if we're loving enough.

And soon, we find ourselves walking to the altar, our coin in our pocket, the proprietor of doves eager to sell a fine selection of "not quite perfect, but you really have to look to see its flaws."

So we pull out our coin, take the dove from the cage and walk slowly, head down, shame keeping it from lifting too high, guilt choking our praises...

we walk toward the altar that was destroyed once for all.  You know it was, but you've forgotten what freedom felt like since yours got choked out so long ago by well meaning religion.

The dove's descendants are gone, no stories to be shared as to what it's ancestors did for a soul's sin.
The innocent dove feels the priest's hands holding it firmly, feels the knife touch its throat, the blood draining out.

Will this time be enough?



Matthew 27; Mark 15; Luke 23; John 19; Hebrews 9-10

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