Steve Macchia Blog

Cloak or Branch?

The Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem (Matthew 21: 1-11) is a dramatic commencement into Holy Week.

Here Jesus is living out a prophetic fulfillment on the back of a donkey, “See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” The disciples did exactly as Jesus had instructed them, found, untied, and prepared the donkey. Sitting on the donkey Jesus was ushered through the large crowds into the city.

I find it interesting that we’re told the disciples’ cloaks were placed on the donkey where Jesus sat for the ride. We’re also told that a very large crowd placed their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. All done in preparation for the entry into Jerusalem with shouts of “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!”

If you were there, would you have taken off your cloak and thrown it on the ground so the donkey could step on it as Jesus rode into the city? Or, would you have chosen instead to cut off a branch from the tree? Which do you imagine was more symbolic of the heart of the one making the offering? I never really noticed this detail until today when at church some were waving their palm branches with enthusiasm and others were simply holding them stiff as a board.

“Who is this?” the city folk asked…”Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth” they replied. But within a matter of a few short days they would cry even louder “Crucify him! Crucify him!”

I wonder…would it have mattered then what you put on the ground for the donkey to trample a few days before? Would you care if you left branches on the side of the road, or would you look carefully at your cloak with hoof prints on it as a reminder of that infamous day? Cloaks last; branches don’t. Cloaks re-worn days later bring back the memorable sights, sounds, and smells. Forgotten branches crushed afoot die off like hardened hearts.

The journey into Holy Week is relived once more. Take off your cloak, let it be trampled on, and then be sure to re-wear it with joy.

“The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes.”

A Tribute to Sage

This month concludes a marvelous 7 ½ year working relationship with my dear friend and trusted colleague, Mrs. Sage Paik. For the bulk of LTi’s formative years, she’s been faithfully by my side as Executive Assistant and Graphic Designer, as well as Program Coordinator for the Pierce Center at Gordon-Conwell (location of the LTi main office). She’s worn every hat we’ve tossed her way, and she’s completed every responsibility with effervescent Christian graces and a uniquely classy style. Sage is one of a kind and she’ll be sorely missed by all of us, especially yours truly.

I initially met Sage when she was the first of 8 candidates I interviewed in one day for the position she has held ever since. I knew there was something special about this woman of God the moment I met her. She set the bar high and none of the other candidates that day came close to her combination of skills, heart and attitude. She has brought nothing but pure joy to our office ever since. Her love for God and his people, her commitment to the Word and prayer, her tender sensitivities, godly integrity, and fabulous sense of humor set her above the norm and she’s always a leader among her peers.

She waited patiently for her prince charming to arrive and two years ago became the wife of Young Paik, her knight in shining armor. I had the distinct honor of preparing them for marriage and presiding over their wedding ceremony. It’s been a joy for Ruth and I to get to know them as couples, delighting in the love they share for one another. Theirs is a marriage worth emulating, their home a welcome place to weary travelers and servants of Christ, their heart hospitality always a healing balm for the soul.

As we bless and send off Sage into this new season of life and service, we do so with profound gratitude for her loving and faithful encouragement. Her role in our lives and on our team has left an indellible impression, never to be erased or replaced by others…only to be supplemented and enhanced as we build on her legacy of grace.

We all love you, Sage, and will miss your bright smile and contagious presence in our lives. Let’s be sure to stay in touch and remain in close contact in the future. We wish you God’s abiding peace and joy as you move in to new places of love and service in Jesus’ name. We thank our God upon every remembrance of YOU!

Advocate for Silence

Who in your world is advocating for silence? Most in our culture do more to avoid, neglect or dismiss the need for silence today. They may not be so blatant about it with their words, but their actions speak loudly…no room to slow down, quiet down, or settle down. For “them” (“you” and “me” too?), an average day is filled to overflowing with relationships and responsibilities from sun up to sun down, all without a single silent pause along the way.
I used to think that silence was only necessary for introverts and/or monks. Now I have come to believe that without silence it’s nearly impossible to live an ever-deepening spiritual life, no matter the age, gender, temperament, or ethnicity.
The values of silence are enormous…learning how to slow down, listen deep, and ponder life in all its richness – the good, the bad, the hard, the easy, and everything in between. In silence we press the pause button long enough to truly listen for the still, small voice of God. In silence, the Word of God comes alive, ready to penetrate the deep fibers of the soul. In silence, we get in touch with our true selves longing to know the true God.
Today I spoke up for silence in our academic community. I gave voice to what the souls of our students are crying out for. It felt good to simply advocate for more spaces to privately meet with God in prayer, to settle into authentic fellowship with a spiritual friend, and heartily foster greater intimacy with Christ.
Spiritual leaders are called to care for the souls of others, out of the spaces, times and places where their own soul comes alive. Silence is a part of the prayer closet experience we all need, so that the soul is properly cared for. Is it time for you to advocate for more silence – for yourself and for those you serve?
Be still (in grace-filled silence) and know that he is God…