Comment by Ken: This Sunday was known as Passion Sunday, a Sunday to remember the crucifixion and last hours of our Lord. May all of us spend time in the next few weeks to renew our Christianity and our devotion to our Lord.
Scripture: Mark 14:44-46
44 Now His betrayer had given them a signal saying, “Whomever I kiss, He is the One; seize Him and lead Him away safely.”
45 As soon as he had come, immediately he went up to Him and said to Him, “Rabbi, Rabbi!” and kissed Him.
46 Then they laid their hands on Him and took Him.
It is Sunday afternoon, and it is very cold outside. The temperature has not risen above 26 or 27 degrees all day long. The sun is very warm; you can tell we are moving toward springtime even though the snow seems to tell a far different story. It sounds very lazy, but lets just visit with each other here in my study near the stove. How have you been; have you had a good week?
My week passed very quickly for we took Molly to two training sessions, and I attended my Wednesday night painting class. This was the first week that I felt satisfied with my painting. Years ago, I attended a wonderful oil painting class in Attleboro, Massachusetts. The teacher was Iva Race, and the class was held in the basement of her home. She made her wishes very known when she said to the class if we have a dispute over your painting project, we do it my way. That was fine with me for she was a patient, talented instructor.
My present class is very different for there you are encouraged to paint “Your Way.” Help is there if you wish it, but your ideas are the ideas that are acceptable. No, I will not tell you about the subject of my painting for not even Dale knows what I am putting on my canvas. I am working with acrylics, and they are very different from using oil paint. Maybe I will share it with you on one of our walks if I approve of the final result; otherwise, I will not make you suffer to have to praise it.
Molly is doing well in her classes. She is learning to sit, to come, to lie down, to walk beside you, and now in her Good Citizen Class, she is learning to greet people without jumping up or getting out of control. As a matter of fact, we took her to Lowes this afternoon with the express purpose of getting her to greet people calmly sitting and then accepting some patting and a treat. She is such a sweet and loveable dog; she is a joy to be around except when you first come to see her- that is what we are working on to correct.
Sometimes without expecting it, Molly will look up at you and kiss your hand or arm or the side of your face if you are bending over close to her. Her kiss is a symbol of her love for you just as a human’s kiss arises from love and endearment.
In my home growing up, my mother and father were insistent that you kiss them goodnight when you went to bed. As a very little child, one of our parents would come into our room to witness our kneeling beside our bed and saying of our prayers to God. It was a familiar prayer that ended with blessing our parents, siblings, and our friends and neighbors. Then one of them would tuck us in and kiss us goodnight. When we were old enough for the first grade, they might still witness our evening prayer and kiss us goodnight, but it became less seldom that they came to our room to say goodnight. BUT we still had to kiss them when we went to bed.
My mother was insistent that we give her a kiss that was not a peck on the cheek. She demanded a real kiss that said you loved and respected her. We kissed our dad goodnight as well. That was a practice that I maintained when I became an adult and served the church. After my mother passed away, my father would attend Second Church in Attleboro at times. As he left the service, I always gave him a kiss of respect and love. I remember one of my college friends telling me that he wished he could respectively kiss his father and that his father would kiss him back.
I guess the first time I kissed someone other than my father or mother was when I went on my first hayride in the sixth grade. Then came the teenage years when one dated, and there was trembling decision on whether or not to kiss the girl as you said goodnight. Back in those years, it was challenging to even try to hold hands with your date. Of course, you remember none of this!
As an adult, you learned that kissing could be an act of passion – an expression of your deepest love. The Song of Solomon in the Holy Bible mentions a kiss of deep passionate love. We need not go there. Kissing is a Biblical symbol and an expression of many kinds of love and or respect.
When dying, Isaac asks his sons to come to him for a kiss and a blessing. As he is blind and cannot see, he mistakes the deceiving Jacob for his most loved son Esau and gives Jacob the blessing that was to go to his brother.
When Elijah calls Elisha to follow him, Elisha requests that he be allowed to go home and to kiss his mother and father goodbye. Elijah respects Elisha for that request and sends him on his way.
David’s son Absalom so loved people and was a wonderful judge. Always pursuing justice, he would take the hand of one who was bowing to him and would give him a kiss. This won the hearts of the people of Israel. How they loved Absalom.
But as there are kisses of respect and love, there is also the kiss of hatred and betrayal. In the Old Testament, the soldier Joab then punished Amasa, who did not do David’s bidding quickly enough. Greeting Amasa, Joab asked him if he was in good health, and then grabbing him by the beard, he leaned over to kiss him. Amasa did not see the sword in Joab’s other hand, and Joab plunged his sword into Amasa’s stomach, and Amasa died.
As we see in the letters of the early apostles, a kiss was a symbol of love in the Christian Church.
This very Sunday – Passion Sunday- however, tells of a kiss of betrayal by Judas Iscariot. Raised as I was, a kiss was such a meaningful and sacred act that the kiss of Judas that betrays Jesus our Lord has always struck a dagger in my heart. How could someone kiss a person pretending to love and respect that person as an act of betrayal that would lead to death?
I can see Judas in the shadows. He lurks there with hatred in his heart. The Master is not going to establish a kingdom on this earth – he speaks of another world. Judas, the treasurer of the group, is not going to have the wealth of a king’s close servant. What a disappointment. In my belief, he was so disillusioned in his hope of wealth that he sells our Lord for thirty pieces of silver, the price of a slave. In the darkness of evil, they come for our Lord; roughly they take him from the garden of Gethsemane to stand trial for blasphemy. Ah Judas, do you watch as they beat him, scourge him, crucify him? Do you finally realize that your betrayal will take from us God’s Son? It is too much to contemplate that kiss of death and betrayal. But your evil, Judas, and all those who hate our Lord will be overcome by His resurrection on Easter Sunday. That alone causes me to be lifted above that awful kiss of betrayal, that most evil of acts, to the sunlight and brightness of our Risen Lord. Praise God for His power over life and death – it saves you and me and brings us to the misty rising of a new day.
Prayer: Oh good Lord, may our actions always show forth the love of our savior and of each other. May the kiss we give those around us be one of a powerful love and never be a kiss of disrespect and hatred. May the private loving kiss, the kiss of respect and honor, never lead to a cruel act of betrayal. Thank you for Your power that overcomes the darkness and leads to eternal life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.