The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery; and making her stand before all of them,
they said to him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. Now in the law Moses commanded us
to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They said this to test him, so that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them,
“Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once again he bent down and wrote on the ground. When they heard it, they went away, one by one, beginning with the elders; and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus straightened up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, sir.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again.” (John 8: 3-11)
Claude Temple was my grandma Bobbee's older brother. He was a district superintendent in the Methodist Church in Central Illinois. He was kind and smart. He was faithful and thoughtful. He loved to read and loved to talk with people, all ages, most all topics. He loved a good story and a good laugh. And oh, that man could pray. He used to say this phrase withholding judgment, pending investigation all the time. I am going to be mindful of this phrase as I make my way through this day and this coming week.
Yesterday was the first day that I realized that my patience may be wearing thin. Two encounters happened back-to-back as I began my day. First, there was a woman who was just flat-out rude. After a couple attempts at bridge-building, I realized I was talking in ways that were not very helpful. Even in the midst of our talking, I was aware of how quickly our conversation went downhill. A switch was flipped. I apologized to her and said I couldn’t talk anymore and walked away from her. Soon after this, while waiting at a red light the guy in the car ahead of me threw his Chick-Fil-A cup out of his window. I blew long on my horn and he showed me one of his fingers. And there we were. Two people in a pandemic, waiting on a red light.
One of my dear professors at Candler, Richard Bondi had Leonard Cohen’s famous quote on his door the whole time I was in seminary: Ring the bells that still can ring, forget your perfect offering. There’s a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in. There’s a crack in everything. In everything. In everyone. Those who are afraid and those who are in deep denial. Those who are trying to keep working and those who may have just lost their job. Those who go home to families and those who go home alone. Everyone.
Maybe this message fits for Jesus’ challenge, “whoever is without sin cast the first stone.” It’s in everyone of us. This crack that shows itself in small or great ways. Testing days come. Challenging days come. If I find myself stumbling and bumbling through them and encounter some situation that stomps on my last nerve, I hope that I can take a breath. I hope that in the time that it takes to catch that breath, I can remember. We all bring our foibles. We all bring our broken, cracked places. These days are bringing stressors new each morning. And morning by morning we are also given mercies. These stressors are in no way all of who we are and what we are made of. Is it possible in that instant that it takes to draw that one breath, is it possible to look for a light, some light that is shining? Can it be possible to withhold judgment just long enough to let the light in me shine as well?