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: Invitation and Offering

Dear Reader,

Mid-February, I was tucked away at the beach – reading, walking, writing – when the scene of Jesus healing the sick in the marketplaces of Gennesaret again caught my eye. As a caregiver, and as one who experiences brokenness, this scene intrigues me. Four brief verses of scripture, but so many perspectives. Upon the advice of my writing friends (a beautiful gathering of wise, faith-filled women), I have been practicing poetry. There at the sea, not unlike Galilee, an idea sprang to life. 30 poems for 30 days  –  I can do poetry month!

During those first hours of scribbled thoughts, I did not realize, at least consciously, how fraught with anxiety our sense of community and global health would immediately become. Nor do I want to ‘capitalize’ on the moment, rather be taught by it. So here, in words, we search, if not for a microbial cure, then space for our hearts and minds to breathe.

These poems are an invitation to reflect, to create, to ponder various perspectives, to pray. Reflection opens up teachable space, allowing us to sift through our anxieties and fears, our unanswered questions. I am convinced that we continually form and reform our beliefs about suffering, whether we register them as ‘theology’ or not. Throughout life, we pace the ground of hope and healing for individual lives, or that of community, It is our privilege to tread carefully toward nurture, or unaware, trample that which might sustain life. 30 days in Gennesaret is an invitation to be intentional in reflection. For this project, I have used as prompt the passages in the Bible from Mark 6:53-56 and Matthew 14:34-36.

When they had crossed over, they came to the land of Gennesaret and anchored there. And when they came out of the boat, immediately the people recognized Him, ran through that whole surrounding region, and began to carry about on beds those who were sick to wherever they heard He was. Wherever he entered, into villages, cities, or the country, they laid the sick in the marketplaces, and begged Him that that they might just touch the hem of His garment. And as many as touched Him were made well. 

“Mark 6:53 (NKJV) – When they had crossed over.” Blue Letter Bible. Web. 30 Mar, 2020. <https://www.blueletterbible.org/nkjv/mar/6/53/p1/s_963053&gt;.

If you would like to submit/share an original creative piece (poem, painting please, etc) to participate in this project, feel free to contact me directly. Thank you!   

…and Offering: almost ALL of us are caregivers in one form or another. I have been a mother, a physical therapist, a hospice worker, a good-intentioned but less-skilled listener, a neighbor, a special needs parent, a meal-maker, a daughter (my Mom does 3/4ths of the work), a wife, a friend. In what ways have you been a caregiver for the ‘sick’ in the territories of your life? When have you, yourself, been sick and reaching? All of these inform our observation, and our offerings of hope and perspective to one another. Not to mention what we offer back to God as belief.

As we approach Gennesaret, we are with the disciples, in a boat; it’s storming. We recently felt the death of John the baptist. Before climbing into the boat we observed the feeding of the 5000, that one small lunch… And frightening moments ago we pondered what it is to walk on water. The disciples’ conclusion as Jesus steps into the boat and the wind ceases, is to worship him, “Truly you are the Son of God.”  I’d like to complete this intro then, with a prayer, taken from my journal. It is what I hope my heart will remain, as we explore the marketplaces of Gennesaret together.

Sincerely,  jfig

 

A Follower’s Prayer

Father God, may my thoughts be so characterized by you:

that the psalm is on my lips in tandem with the questions

that the voice of fear is stilled to righteous caution

and the perverse seed of bitter entitlement is bled by informed compassion.

You, oh Lord, know my frame; its weakness and strength.

May that strength ever be, the wonder of who you are.   

 

 

 

“Matthew 14:22 (NIV) – Immediately Jesus made the disciples.” Blue Letter Bible. Web. 1 Apr, 2020. https://www.blueletterbible.org/niv/mat/14/22/p1/s_943022.

Remember

pic cross down 1

 

The Road

 

This Good Friday morning, I follow Jesus, surely at a cautious distance, as He walks. I wonder now, these long years into it, is there anything cautious about following Jesus at all? Jesus walks, stepping toward, walking into ridicule and scorn, sorrow beyond all measure. He does so, having long since the moments of creation, relinquished the idea of just fixing it all. He relinquishes again, the thought of just fixing the problem of sin, (and thereby annihilating our freedom to choose) and instead, invites us to become more : more than our sin, more than our weakness or  strength, more than our skill or lack thereof; the object of someone’s admiration or scorn. He invites us to become family; his family.

And so…long since choosing him myself, I follow. His stride is not faint. Though likely weak, his body’s vitality sapped by beating, his step remains confident. Mine, is anything but. Still, I am stunned that Jesus keeps inviting me(us) into the most sacred of His moments: into pain, into the grey space of question (Father…Father?). Into times and spaces usually reserved for one’s closest friends and family; opening the door to a communion of ‘knowing,’ rather than simply imagining. What kind of intimate invitation is this? What sacred sorrow might Jesus be inviting me to step into today, knowing fully that he has walked this path before?

I have never, ever, considered suffering an invitation before. Perhaps it functions as a constructive discipline, or necessary evil, but invitation? To feel the weakening heartbeat – then nothing – of laying it all down? Invitation – to breathe the last vapors of self-preservation and feel the faint stirring rise and fall, of other breath. His breath, for he is alive? Invitation – to be entrusted with the sacredness of dying to oneself, in order to give latitude to another’s air, a home to one who had no place to lay his head.

Surely, we did not deserve all this careful folding and unfolding of the veil. Indeed, it is torn in carefully measured threads. What startling resemblance to swaddling… to grave cloths. Remember.

jfig     4-5/18

 

 

 

 

 

Soil

What if…

(audacious thought)

all the toil of Genesis 3

is wrought

in the soil of grace

What if?

 

What if

all the thorns and thistles

briars and invasive species

cannot withstand

this organism

called grace?

 

What if…

outside the gates

of Eden

(and Jerusalem)

the hills are alive…

in the colors of grace?

 

What if, all the toil of Genesis 3, were wrought in the soil of grace?

 

jfig 5/18

RW soil pic

The question that stops me in my tracks this morning, suspending motion, is this: What if God knew all along, that as Adam and Eve, and you and I spaded our way through the clay that sucks at the soles of our muck boots; what if God knew we would keep turning over… grace? That as we scratched out a living, and healing and hope down in the harsh dirt of living, we would turn over… grace? Not in the garden – in the warmth of Eden’s sun- but in the hard, cracked soil of all the desolate places outside? What if at Golgotha, skulls decaying in the margins of error and shame, one man amended the fields forever with blood-red grace? What if he knew that as we turned over life, clumps clinging, weighting the treads of our toiling steps, that this dirt would be good, not just for vegetables, but for journeying souls. What if Jesus allowed himself to be led outside, because that is where we are?

What if the fields of grace are ALIVE, breathing with organisms, to decompose the stench and misconceptions and broken ideas of sin; lies about who God is; lies we’ve propagated? What if this toil down on our knees, troweling through the dirt, painstakingly weeding the small creepers, rooting out this…and that which holds back fruit; what if all that dirt under our fingernails, turned over rich one day, and scratched out painfully the next, what if ALL of it… is grace?

Scripture references:

Genesis 3:17-19   And to the man he said,

“Since you listened to your wife and ate from the tree
whose fruit I commanded you not to eat,
the ground is cursed because of you.
All your life you will struggle to scratch a living from it.
18 It will grow thorns and thistles for you,
though you will eat of its grains.
19 By the sweat of your brow
will you have food to eat
until you return to the ground
from which you were made.
For you were made from dust,
and to dust you will return.”
“Genesis 3:17 (NLT) – And to the man he.” Blue Letter Bible. Web. 28 May, 2018. <https://www.blueletterbible.org/nlt/gen/3/17/p1/s_3017&gt;.

Luke 23:26 And as they led him away, they seized one Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and laid on him the cross, to carry it behind Jesus.

Luke 23:32-34a Two others, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. 33 And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. 34 And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

“Luke 23:26 (ESV) – And as they led him.” Blue Letter Bible. Web. 28 May, 2018. <https://www.blueletterbible.org/esv/luk/23/26/p1/s_996026&gt;.