Cyrene

Cyrene: (n) an ancient Greek city and colony in N Africa

He was desperately trying to remain invisible.

If not invisible, at least unnoticed.

Although he had arrived in Jerusalem to be part of the Passover celebration, driven there by his deep, abiding faith, he was a black man.

Some people believed he was the offspring of Cain, the punished murderer of his brother, Abel.

Others seemed blind to his dark complexion.

It was confusing to know what to do.

Should he be apologetic for his skin color?

Bold, assuming equality? Or defiant, to scare away the bigoted and cynical?

It was constantly on his mind. Would there be more scrutiny from the religious Jews or the self-important Roman soldiers?

Beyond his will, interrupting his progress, he was swept away by a crowd moving swiftly along the Via Dolorosa, forcing him to change his direction and move with the will of the throng.

It was a procession—a death march to the crucifixion of condemned men, heading up the long hill to die. One was struggling. He was carrying his crossbeam on his back yet finding it impossible to stand under its weight.

He fell and they beat him. He stood and they beat him.

The black man had a spontaneous urge to step forward and do something. He regretted it immediately, because one of the nearby soldiers grabbed him by the arm, asking him who he was and what the hell he thought he was doing.

“I am Simon, the Cyrene, and I was just being foolish.”

The soldier pushed him toward the beaten stranger lying in the street. “Since you give a damn, why don’t you carry his fuckin’ cross?” spat the legionnaire.

At that moment, the man, who had been lying flat down in the street, rose on his haunches and turned to look at Simon. His face was grotesque, bruised and bloody, but his eyes maintained a focus. A warmth, a purpose.

Not wanting to be crucified himself, Simon chose to heed the command. He picked up the broad beam and put it on his back as the soldier helped the weakened victim to his feet.

Trying to regain his balance, the beaten-up stranger hooked his arm with Simon’s. They were linked.

Together they made the journey the rest of the way, to the “Place of The Skull.” It seemed right to all those standing around, staring at the scene, that this black man, condemned by his color, should perform such a duty for the wicked traveler on his way to death.

Simon was stilled in his confusion. He had been black all his life. He rarely left his home in Cyrene because he never knew what level of bigotry awaited him in the outside world.

He covered the distance to the top of the hill, breaking a sweat but still able to support the battered frame of the convict. Before he knew it, they lifted the beam off of him and busied themselves nailing the man to the cross.

Simon had an instinct to stand and watch, but his better sense told him that he could easily be mistaken for one of the criminals and end up slain.

He quietly left.

As he was coming down the hill, a young man, no more than twenty years of age, approached him. “Thank you for carrying the Master’s cross,” he said.

Simon nodded. The young man continued. “His name is Jesus and we believe him to be the Son of God.”

Simon smiled. He felt pity. Or was it respect to a childish dream? He didn’t know.

Matter of fact, for almost five years, he never thought about it again. He never heard the name—until one day, back in his home of Cyrene, a young preacher—an itinerant man bronzed by the heat of the sun—said the name again.

“Jesus.”

He told a story. He filled in details that Simon could not possibly have known. He burst into tears.

“What is wrong?” the messenger asked him.

Simon shook his head. “I know that man. I carried his cross. I just didn’t know that it was the cross he was carrying for me.”

 

funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

Broken-hearted

j-r-practix-with-border-2

Broken-hearted: (adj) overwhelmed by grief or disappointment.

Research.

It is something every writer should learn how to do, and if pursuing the profession, it might need to become a favorite side-bar.Dictionary B

I wrote a book on the life of Jesus. I think indirectly every author writes his or her “Christ” book–a volume where the novelist pens thoughts about the sacrificial nature of love.

I entitled mine “I’M…the legend of the son of man.”

I did some research on the crucifixion–the execution, as it were, of Jesus of Nazareth.

Even though the Gospel writers knew nothing about the circulation of blood, which was hundreds of years from being discovered by a guy named Harvey, they described the fluids which drained out of the deceased, hanging corpse of Christ, as the sword pierced his side, confirming his death.

“Water and blood.”

That was their report.

The writers had no idea what that meant. Only in modern-day medicine do we understand that this particular gathering of fluids is a sign of a major heart attack.

As I sat back and read the information on the physical condition of the human heart of Jesus, I concluded that after all the strain, the pain, the disappointment, the betrayal and the denial he suffered–that the Prince of Peace, the lover of humanity and the Son of Man … literally died of a broken heart.

 

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Best

Best: (adj) of the most excellent, effective, or desirable type or quality.

Dictionary B

The most miserable, unfulfilling, angry, jealous and confusing moments in my life were when I believed I was pursuing the “best.”

I suppose that’s because I feel they’re always moving my keys.

Do you know what I mean?

You come home, you lay your keys on the counter (and you’re damn sure you did) and you come back and they’re gone. Your first instinct is to believe that someone has come and taken your keys and placed them somewhere that they thought would be best.

Truth is, most of humanity does not pursue their own best, but only feels they have insight on what I should pursue to get my best.

So politicians, preachers, pundits and personalities of all shapes and forms preach to me their permutation of what is really perfect.

I’m tired of perfect.

I hate perfect.

Matter of fact, if I believed Jesus was perfect, I would completely comprehend the crucifixion. He would have been too annoying to keep around.

Candidly, I have spent so much time worrying about the best that I’ve often missed the chance … to just get better.

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Anti-Semitism

dictionary with letter AAnti-Semitism (n): a hostility toward or prejudice against Jews.

It is the duty of those who have suffered to make sure that they are not the perpetrators of suffering on the lives of others.

This is why the United States still struggles with the issue of race–because of our horrible history of slavery. It is our responsibility to make sure that we never allow such idiocy to reign supreme in our populace again.

And it is why the people of Germany have made it illegal to propagate any form of Nazi doctrine within its borders–because of the atrocities they committed against the Jews.

There are undoubtedly groups of people, even among Christians in our world, who have a hatred for the Jewish nation. There certainly is a conflict among the Arabs and Jews concerning rights to Mesopotamia.

Balancing this situation out in our society creates hypocrisy rather than understanding. Some people are so strongly against the Jews that they have no perspective on Hebrew rights and feelings. Others are so pro-Israel that they place no responsibility on the children of Abraham to show mercy on the other children of Abraham.

What is anti-Semitic, and what is merely challenging a group of people to be fair-minded?

It’s learning how to delineate between truth and opinion.

Here’s the truth:

The Jewish Council were the ones who brought Jesus to Pontius Pilate for crucifixion.

Here is also a truth:

The Jewish community, over the years, has been instrumental in discoveries, intelligent progress and humane endeavors.

Here’s a truth:

The Jews were granted the land of Israel after WWII by the English so they could have a homeland.

Here’s another truth:

The Palestinians are human beings and need to be given consideration for their rights and purposes.

It is not anti-Semitic to ask our Jewish brothers and sisters to accept an equality which welcomes peace on Earth. But it certainly is anti-Semitic to blame the Jews for things that have nothing to do with their journey or actions.

It is a political nightmare, a spiritual quagmire and the makings of a social faux pas.

But I love my Jewish friends enough to believe that they have the intellect to live up to the quality of humanity which has marked their fairness, their pursuits and their heritage.

 

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Advent

Words from Dic(tionary)

dictionary with letter A

Advent: (n) the first season of the church year, leading up to Christmas and including the four prior Sundays.

Even with the introduction of an Easter bunny bringing candy, we are not able to market the crucifixion and resurrection nearly as easily as the birth of the Prince of Peace.

I suppose that makes some people fussy. They would be the same people who insist that “Christmas is too commercial” or that manger scenes should be mandatory everywhere in spite of civil liberties.

Actually, I take this little piece of information as a harkening. Isn’t that a great word? “Harkening.” A harkening is a quiet shout, informing us of something truly important.

Much as we may need salvation, we are still doing our time on earth before we’re paroled to heaven. Like some people in prison, we can use that sentence to become worse criminals, mean and even turn into killers–OR we can go to the library, study and get more education, find new life and emerge from the experience overjoyed because we have redeemed the time.

I think that’s what happens at Advent.

For about thirty-two days, we allow ourselves to wonder if it might be possible that a baby changed the world–and more importantly, caused us to loosen our purse strings, buy a present for someone else and think about abstract ideas like “peace on earth” and “goodwill toward men.”

If heaven is better than earth, then earth is a place where we’re supposed to learn how to become heavenly, don’t you think?

So merely saving people from their sin does not cause them to learn to win.

  • That takes the Advent.
  • This demands Christmas.

It is a season when we actually believe that a child born of peasants can stir the heavens, beckoning both shepherds and kings.