I heard the loud, dull, continuous sound before I felt it.
It scared me a little at first.
Before I could connect the sound to the source, the twitter of a tremble nipped at the edges of my awareness.
Sitting in my blue recliner, the audible rumble morphed into a vibration that began to oscillate underneath me.
I had experienced many of those in California but the emotional aura created by the rhythmic rippling remained eerily unfamiliar.
Fear began to cage me in as the ground began to quiver and shake with growing throbs of kinetic intensity.
As my heart fluttered from fright, my eyes spotted the cause of the convulsion.
Through a window, I saw a yellow bull-dozer romping to and fro at a nearby construction site.
The earth shook as it scooped up and then plopped heavy rocks back to the earth with a drumbeat of thumps.
This new knowledge halted my heart from shaking even though the ground underneath me continued to move.
My experience reminds me of a story.
Do you remember the story of Jesus meeting the woman with the shaking heart?
You know. The sinful woman caught half-naked and wholly exposed in the very act of adultery.
Jesus’ best friend John describes the details in the eighth chapter of his biography.
Two earthshaking observations about this dear woman have the power to still our shaking souls.
· First, Christ alone holds the key to the cage of our shame.
John tells us that it was early in the morning when she was caught and brought to Jesus.
He was sitting at the temple and teaching a big crowd as the sun began to brighten the world.
The self-righteous “teachers” shoved her into the very middle of the crowd to teach her a lesson.
Can you see her? Look into the mirror to find her.
We are all surrounded by a leering crowd of shameful sins. Like rattling skeletons in the corner closets of our heart their shaming eyes stare into us.
The lidless eyes unblinkingly search us as shame shakes our hearts.
Knowing that Jesus holds the key to condemnation, the stone holders scream to him so all could hear-- “She was caught and the law commands us to stone her. What do you say?!!”
As they grip the heavy stones in their dirty hands Jesus keys the cage of her shame by looking away from her.
His pure, brown eyes look down to the ground and he fingers the earth instead of pointing out her sin.
She is free from the only gaze that has the lasting power to punish her guilt.
· Second, Jesus asks the only question that stills a shaking heart.
John tells us that Jesus stood up to the men as they clutched their stones with a death-grip.
He leaned in, looked them all in the eye and said:
“Throw your stone of shame only if you have a heart that is not quaking from the shame of your own sin. Throw it!”
He gracefully averts his eyes from them, bends down, and points his finger of shame to the earth.
And the trembling begins.
One by one each shameful sinner surrounding this dear woman drops his heavy stone.
I can hear the thuds and feel the tremors under the soles of my feet.
Jesus and the woman with the shaking heart stand alone and we hear them say these words:
"Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?" She answers, "No one, Lord."
Jesus tenderly adds, "Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more."
Like a mother rocking a restless baby, his graceful words rocked her shaking heart.
All became still.
Metro North Church