30 Days in Gennesaret: Day 30 Prevailing Winds

Prevailing Winds

Did the rocks cry out in wonder

their message echo long,  e’en as the boat

slipped off from shore, further and farther from view?

Did the village stare, astonished

at what had gone before, in them

all the frameworks shifted

of marketplace routine

in the wake of broad reach—individual and corporate

toward one man?

We will never be the same.

 

According to Easton’s

( Illustrated Bible Dictionary)

of Gennesaret

there is no longer a trace.

Yet we will be… never the same.

What remains?

This prevailing wind

shifts us in new direction

toward an everlasting shore.

Amen

jfig     5/2020

 

Set as we are midst the felt impacts of Covid 19, there are attributes of the Christ-following church that show up on radar—prevailing winds in the midst of global anxiety. To name a few:

refuge(s) of help, hope

generosity

deepening of connection through the navigation of challenging conversations

worship

creativity

 

Dear Reading Friend,

During the course of this journey, there were times when, caught up in the fine details, I needed to ‘zoom out’ to revisit the big picture of Jesus healing the sick. The best tool for that reverse zoom was not a camera, but worship. Three songs became an integral part of my Gennesaret journey. There were others as well, but these stood the test of time, and informed my close-up of Jesus.  Jesus the Healer, The God Who Blesses, and Jesus the One Worthy.  Although I do not think mine is the only perspective—as if I have figured out the ages-old questions of healing—I hope these songs bless your understanding of Him as well. You may, and likely will, see something different. I have picked up my flag and am following midst a great sea of followers, to see where Jesus takes us next.

 

“As It is (In Heaven)” by Hillsong Worship

The UK Churches version of “The Blessing” written by Kari Jobe and Cody Carnes. You can find it on Youtube.

“Is He Worthy?” by Andrew Peterson

 

 

This spring, I was the length of the pruning shears away from hacking this plant down. I thought it was dead! One of the gripping aspects of the Gennesaret story is that it describes the townspeople, leaders and villagers alike, recognizing Jesus and bringing all their sick to Him. This includes those one might think beyond repair. And Jesus? He is able to look beyond our brokenness and scars to find the created core – God’s image – still there, waiting for his resurrecting touch. It is in this seeing reach, us toward him, and He toward us, that life prevails—Hallelujah!

May this total engagement with what Jesus is about to do, grip us, the church of today.

Jesus, we come, fresh from worship, our faces shining and turned up, like these blossoms. Jesus, we come, not knowing the outcomes of our stories. We are reliant upon you: your merciful goodness, the triune power of resurrection, your healing touch—to heal us so that we might appear, like the citizens of Gennesaret, in the pages of eternity. Catch us up, we pray, into your fierce and determined embrace. You, who have not let go of the creation story, and are still restoring the garden. May we hold on tight, to you, Our Lord. Forever and ever. Amen

Thank you again. j

 

30 Days in Gennesaret: Day 29 Ship’s Log II/Stranded

“After they had crossed the lake, they landed at Gennesaret. They brought the boat to shore and climbed out. The people recognized Jesus at once, and they ran throughout the whole area, carrying sick people on mats to wherever they heard he was. Wherever he went—in villages, cities, or the countryside—they brought the sick out to the marketplaces. They begged him to let the sick touch at least the fringe of his robe, and all who touched him were healed.” Mark 6:53-56 NLT *

Ship’s Log II

Left Gennesaret at dawn.

Too many stories to tell.

We just drifted past a lad

walking on water.

Was that the six-year-old?

I am sure it was he.

 

Stranded

Shattered

got here too late—

accustomed to my sanctuary of pain.

Jesus and his disciples have left

the shore – boat outline

receding in the distance

 

“He gives power to the faint,

and to him who has no might

he increases strength.”

 

There is a question

dropped like a pebble on the sand,

“Who do you say that I am?”

jfig     4/2020

 

**Isaiah 40:29

***Matthew 16:15

Recently, a young man asked me, “You have been a believer in Jesus for a long time. What ‘advice’ would you give to a younger follower like me?”

In your lifetime, Jesus will many times ask you this question, “Who do you say that I am?” This is an invitation…

Be honest with yourself, and with Jesus, when you answer. Life-changing conversation will follow.   jfig

Mark 6:53-56 Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
** ***Scripture quotations are from the Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001, 2007, 2011, 2016 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

You can access scripture passages here: https://www.blueletterbible.org/ This is a terrific site from which to access multiple translations, commentaries and concordance info.

Dear Reading Friends: Thank you. It has been so meaningful to have your company on this 30 day journey. One more day… Thank you for reading, for commenting, for pondering and following along. Over the next 30 days, I plan to stop in and see what you are up to. In all things heavenward, Godspeed. jfig

 

30 Days in Gennesaret: Day 25 Bandwidth

My friend Nancy talks about bandwidth – how much physical and mental energy one has to apply toward what enterprise.  How strong one is to carry emotional weights.  How able to discern relevance. She also talks about missional theology, and news that tells the truth, about the Psalms, and how they allow us to spill our fearful guts. When I think about women in my life from whom I learn how one might make a difference, these attributes come to mind: informed, determined, passionate, ingenious, focused. They are people who ask questions of situations and the status quo. They are my children and my parents; they are their friends and my friends. They are mentors who process through research, through reading, through listening to stories. And from these stories, these women gather nuggets of compassion whenever and wherever they find them.

When Jesus arrived in Gennesaret, the people immediately recognized him, setting off a community reaction – of running to bring the sick. (This astounds me, given our love for committees and task forces, lengthy assessments and decision-making trees). I am wondering, what stories they had heard…what nuggets they had gathered, by which they entrusted their sick to this almost stranger.

Bandwidth

Disembark, hem still damp

wind-scuttled.

IMMEDIATELY…

only yesterday

 

Jesus and co. navigated to remote space

refuge and rest

bandwidth narrow

 

Disembark rest

to teach

sheep devoid a shepherd

close up photo of a herd of sheep
Photo by Ekrulila on Pexels.com

Disembark the late hour

to serve full banquet – fish and bread

to just 5000 (plus women and children).

 

Disembark the crowds

to pray.

Alone

 

Disembark striding the waves

to calm fear

suspend chaos…shepherd with sheep

 

Disembark the boat

close, but confused company

to heal the masses

 

relevance – we are sick; not he, she, they

these are our sick

can they come out to play?

 

we have heard…

this name

of Jesus.

 

jfig     4/2020

photo of people on street
Photo by Oscar Chan on Pexels.com

30 Days in Gennesaret: Was Anyone Six Day 15

Was Anyone Six  

for anyone who has ever loved and hoped for a sick child

 

Was anyone six

who lay on a bed

bruised and broken

afore he had…

lived?

 

First trip to market—

or do child and corner already belong

claimed by a cup

where alms trickle across his palm

(instead of caterpillars)

 

Did someone tell a story?

Who first

Jesus or lad,

imagination’s energy quite different

from one small.sickly.frame

 

Is mother at home?

heart shackled to his side

hope her companion

she – begging

for life

 

Did Jesus speak?

some have heard these words

“I know what she needs…”

“She is merely asleep.”

“Rise up and walk.”

“No one sinned.”

“I might be glorified” through

one small.child’s.dance

 

What did the child hear?

“Shhh…it’s our secret…”

pound right here

 

Did he remind Jesus of seven

hide-n-seek in the crowd

the game of a thousand temple questions?

hammer and nails…

hammer and nails…

 

There are bumps and bruises to be had

I must be about my Father’s business

hammer and nails…

 

Was anyone six?

did Jesus hold back a grin

for another tale to be told?

what hearts did he heal

as child clambered up…

 

Finish the market piggyback—

Does this not offend?

Child swagger

grounded

in hanging on to a bigger hem.

jfig     4/2020

 

IMG_5182

 

Dear Reading Friend,

This poem took me on a lot of tangents. In following them, I stumbled onto ideas I’d never considered before, so it was worth the journey. Thank you for joining me.

Questions to ponder: 

?   In what way is Jesus inviting you to ‘hang on, childlike, to the hem of his garment?

?   We are often reminded to ‘have childlike faith.’  In what ways do children uniquely image their creator?

The poem references these passages:  Mark 5:35-43; John 9:3; Matthew 18:3; Ephesians 5:1. You can access scriptures at https://www.blueletterbible.org/

Also, I lost a day somewhere…I’m not going to worry too much about that.  If you are still on day 15, we are not lost from each other, nor hopefully from the one who is leading the way. jfig

30 Days in Gennesaret: Day 13, My Friend Alex

And wherever he went—into villages, towns or countryside—they placed the sick in the marketplaces. They begged him to let them touch even the edge of his cloak, and all who touched it were healed.

“Mark 6:56 (NIV) – And wherever he went into villages.” Blue Letter Bible. Web. 14 Apr, 2020. <https://www.blueletterbible.org/niv/mar/6/56/p1/s_963056&gt;.

 

My Friend Alex

My friend Alex

strolls the marketplace

perusing.

She has a keen eye for color.

Vivid humanity

invites her back the next day.

 

My friend Alex

surveys the market

appraising.

Shades in justice catch her eye.

She leaves

paint swatches in hand.

 

My friend Alex

hurries to the market – determined.

“Examine these hues

marked disparity…”

Home…market

Something is amiss.

 

My friend Alex

storms the market:

“Why?”   “How long, O Lord?”

“Where is equitable?”

Day after day

she carries questions on the palette of her heart.

 

My friend Alex

‘moves’ to the market.

Study the fabric:

this Jesus garment.

It takes hours,

often days.

 

Teacher, What does it cost

to allow one’s heart to be broken?”

 

jfig   2/2020

 

What questions is Jesus writing on the palette of your heart? Is there something to which he is calling your attention? 

 

30 Days in Gennesaret: Day 9 My Sister is Sick

Yet I am confident I will see the Lord’s goodness while I am here in the land of the living. Psalm 27:13 NLT

I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me. John 10:14 NLT

Today’s poem captures snippets of conversations I have had with a friend who has suffered much.  It alludes to the question that perhaps we all raise in one way or another, “Why does a good God allow suffering?” To really grapple with the question takes a certain amount of bravery, let alone live the stories that prompt it. Following the poem, is a scaffolding of scripture references from which to explore further if you are interested.

My Sister is Suffering

My sister is suffering,

years now into it

breathing loss in pinched increments

as if it were air.

My heart rends a little each day

waiting.

 

Translucent

her beauty,

shines through

as if the holes

filled in

with flowers.

 

“Jesus is here!

In Gennesaret.”

We conversed

on our hurried way.

I asked

“How will we know…?”

 

She said simply

I wait each day

his sustaining glance

his whispers round suffering

his assurance of keeping

I wait each day.”

 

“His voice I know

His whispered caress

‘Easy, my child

you’ve nothing to fear.

I am with you in pain

My strength will suffice.’

 

So filled up with Jesus,

this sister of mine

“Oh, Brother, I’ll know Him

It will take but a touch.

I’ll know him, dear brother—

let’s hurry, let’s fly.”

jfig     3/2020

 

Psalm 27:  John 17:3;  Romans 5:1-5;  Romans 8:16; I Corinthians 1:23,24;  John 10:14

Psalm 27:13 Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Photo was taken by Cathy Barger Hoesterey near Phnom Penh, Cambodia. I chose this photo for the fierceness with which this young girl cares for her siblings.

 

30 Days in Gennesaret: Day 7 Hope is Lean

waiting…we are not very practiced at it nowadays. Jesus healing in Gennesaret does not (I think,) preclude any waiting that may have occurred that day, or even for long seasons before. This poem is a perspective on waiting midst suffering, for healing to come.

Hope is Lean

Hope is lean

Her oiled sinews stretch

Straining toward belief.

Precipice after precipice

She clings.

 

Hope is lean

Conditioned.

As hardship disciplines

She perseveres

While God sculpts charity.

 

Hope is lean

Earth’s fleshy questions litter about;

she scavenges for precept

some days haggard, hungry.

Bold precept remains,

Midst empty wrappers

Of fear and uncertainty.

 

Questions remain.

They, too, grow lean with examination.

Deceptions strip away

Expose this truth:

It is God who clings.

 

Still, desperation beckons

Tests one’s strength.

Gutsy—hope resists;

The recklessness of despair

is a deep crevasse.

 

Hope is lean

Suffering’s muscled core.

It is Almighty God who clings.

jfig   11/19

close up photo of plastic bottle
Photo by Catherine Sheila on Pexels.com

 

1.Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us.  NLT

3-5. We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. NLT

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

30 Days in Gennesaret: Formation Day 4

Formation

I have lain in the dust

I have borne a pallet

Undone by mercy – my heart has been changed by each

 

Encounter—who is this Jesus

whose vestments vibrate

sage power to heal

 

Heal quickly , my soul

Heal quickly

This Jesus, I must follow

 

I have lain in the dust

I have borne a pallet

…might I wash his feet?

This Jesus, I must follow

jfig     3/2020

 

Dear Reader, we encounter Jesus from so many different postures as we go through life. I hate to think of some of the stances I have taken as He has approached. In using reflection as a tool, I find it helpful to ponder those different roles and attitudes. Where are you today, with regard to Covid-19? Are you fearful, resigned, waiting to see what happens? How does where you have been in the past, inform what you need today? Jesus is nearby; with what will you encounter Him?  Thanks for reading… jfig

PS. I chose this image for its attitude of enthusiasm.

burning coals…

 

rw pic grace 2

A few years ago, there was a TV series called “Burn Notice,” in which a spy is disclaimed by the US government. Burn Notice: “We have no further use for you… what did you say your name was?”

I have felt this way, related to my sin and failures: a deep burned-out despair in my gut that it is all over. A fear that I have failed to such an extent that there is no going back (or forward for that matter). I’m disappointed in myself, and certain of others’ utter disappointment in me, So I wallow in the ashes of burnt hopes and dreams….

But God doesn’t see it that way. He has a different version of burning coals.  God offers Isaiah a dream job; to be his messenger. It is conveyed in the imperative, but still… The only drawback is that the circumstances seem no-win: provide public service to people who don’t want to be served. Instead, they want to be fed the apple. The same one that Eve wanted, and that I want and maybe you want on any given day: to be our own little gods, doing what we want, when we want, how we want; yet still miraculously fed and protected by God against all odds.

But instead of leaping at the opportunity, however poorly stacked, to advance his status; Isaiah looked at God, looked back down at himself, and asked, “How could someone as unholy as me, ever speak for someone as holy as you?” And God took – in the hands of a seraphim –  a burning coal, touched Isaiah’s lips, and said, “I took care of that.” Really? Someone as holy as you, wants someone as unholy as me… to speak for you…on the world stage…because Jesus atoned, and that’s enough?  (See Isaiah 6.)

So Isaiah,  instead of wallowing in the burnt out ashes of his past and possible future failure, said, “I’ll do it.” Somehow, all he could see was God with the big G, and not the worrisome details about god with the little ‘g’. Burning coals were enough for him, and the claim that God could, and in fact wanted, to use him.

Then there’s Peter, rash and boastful. I cannot imagine what it felt like after…to betray the friend with whom he had walked and talked and witnessed do miracle after miracle. Peter is drawn in, by another disciple, to the courtyard of the high priest.

Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple. Since that disciple was known to the high priest, he entered with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest, but Peter stood outside at the door. So the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out and spoke to the servant girl who kept watch at the door, and brought Peter in. The servant girl at the door said to Peter, “You also are not one of this man’s disciples, are you?” He said, “I am not.” Now the servants and officers had made a charcoal fire, because it was cold, and they were standing and warming themselves. Peter also was with them, standing and warming himself.”

The high priest then questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching. Jesus answered him, “I have spoken openly to the world. I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all Jews come together. I have said nothing in secret. Why do you ask me? Ask those who have heard me what I said to them: they know what I said.” When he had said these things, one of the officers standing by struck Jesus with his hand, saying, “Is that how you answer the high priest?” Jesus answered him, “If what I said is wrong, bear witness about the wrong; but if what I said is right, why do you strike me?” Annas then sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.

Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. So they said to him, “You also are not one of his disciples, are you?” He denied it and said, “I am not.” One of the servants of the high priest, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, asked, “Did I not see you in the garden with him?” Peter again denied it, and at once a rooster crowed.

“John 18:15 (ESV) – Simon Peter followed Jesus and.” Blue Letter Bible. Web. 17 Jan, 2019. <https://www.blueletterbible.org/esv/jhn/18/15/s_1015015&gt;.

What must it have felt like…to deny the friend with whom he had walked and talked and puzzled mind-bending questions; to have witnessed life and death miracle moments, and now be drawn in to another; only to conclude with a mutter, “No, I am not one who ever followed Jesus…anywhere…at all.

I can only imagine what Peter might have felt, from the despair I feel to fail the ones with whom I live and breathe every day; the ones who know how I have failed in the past, and that I likely will again. The ones who are still here anyway, thirty years later… I can imagine staring into the fire and wondering, with Peter, if one will ever feel warm on the inside, ever again.

But the burning coals of invitation, find Peter again:

That disciple whom Jesus loved therefore said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment for he was stripped for work, and threw himself into the sea. The other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, but about a hundred yards off.

When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire in place, with fish laid out on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, 153 of them. And although there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.”

“John 21:7 (ESV) – That disciple whom Jesus loved.” Blue Letter Bible. Web. 21 Jan, 2019. <https://www.blueletterbible.org/esv/jhn/21/7/s_1018007&gt;

And this time, Peter leaps. Instead of wallowing in self-pity and despair, Peter counts the invitation real: to bring himself (and all his baggage), his need to perform (anything), and the real offering to contribute. He comes to a breakfast of grace and hope and continuing purpose. An invitation to follow. See John 21:1-19.

Long into my own journey of following Jesus, following in close company with others; I can imagine staring into the fire with Peter. While I sometimes feel a twinge of desolation while I wait for the coals to really take hold; if I am willing to take the leap into the grace of Christ my Savior, there is hope.

One thought further… the burning coals of Jesus invite me  into purpose, into fellowship, into overflowing grace. The thing that holds me disconsolate, is the thought that I must somehow be perfect, or perhaps even deeper, that it is my right to be perfect, and to be seen as such.  That somehow, along with Eve, I should be granted permission to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, and therefore, be like God in this knowing. How I struggle to be in the right. Perhaps you do as well. The God of Isaiah, Jesus the friend of sinners, and the Spirit of the living God, invite us instead to be graced.  These feel like ‘big girl’ thoughts. I invite your comments. And I close with a prayer for us all.

Jesus, we journey in places that test us; tripping headlong like Peter, often at the slightest provocation. Our fears pull us down fast. Help us to be willing to follow; to see in you,  the burning coals of grace. Help us to move closer, to accept the searing definition of your purpose, and to watch, reassured, as moment by moment by moment you walk in the footprints of your Father’s will. Amen