Scoot If we are all going to fit at table we will have to scoot down...in...over. Everyone will be talking at once Holy bedlam is not just the grandchildren. We are going to have to sit—forward/back nestled in to fit the (ahem) extra-wide flanks of our attitudes. We will need to squirm but stay long enough to smell the perfume of our differences. We might pause say 'grace' lest we forget. Look for a moment neither at ourselves, nor one another but outward beyond our voracious want ; then dig deeply into each his own gratitude. Gratitude grace, please pass the... Extend one's hand. Pause our recitation—where another should find his and dig deeply into each his own. How can I know where another should find the grace of gratitude without first hearing his story? This 'Grace' could take a long time dribbling passed hand to hand messy. If something must spill, Lord, let it be grace. Something must spill... We are going to have to scoot down...in...over if everyone is going to fit at table. jfig 1/2021
Permit me, Lord Permit me to love you, Lord in spite of weary, bedraggled form—my own. Permit me to love you, Lord in ways that stretch the narrow, fearful hardenings in my heart. Stenosis of dismay temporarily halts my pursuit of holiness. Help me to run—swift pursuit; your open arms stretched wide between twin pillars of Christ's Kingdom, righteousness and justice never failing. May incense arise, my known 'poor spirit,' bent now to pour oil and light the flame. Reverence and need entwine, curl heavenward their soot a cure for my unknowing. I exalt your holy name, my Lord and my Redeemer. Amen and amen.
“Blessed are the poor in Spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:3
“Matthew 5 (ESV) – Blessed are the poor in.” Blue Letter Bible. Web. 9 Jan, 2021. https://www.blueletterbible.org/esv/mat/5/3/s_934003.
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)
there is no longer a trace.
Yet we will be… never the same.
This prevailing wind
shifts us in new direction
toward an everlasting shore.
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
deepening of connection through the navigation of challenging conversations
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
I am here, Jesus
tripped, in the weeds,
caught on a pricker
starting to bleed.
My friends were helping
pointing the way
but when I fell
they all ran away
I suppose you know
Just how that feels
Restore me, Sweet Jesus
Find me today.
Dear Friend, So many times in the journey of faith, I have gotten lost. For a moment – or for days. Precious moments go by, as I try to pick myself up, dust myself off, fix my appearance, so that no one will know I am hurting. But Jesus does not seem to care about appearances. What he seems to welcome is the offering of honesty. When I entrust Jesus with the painful truth, it is then that he changes me. And his artistry is always better than mine.
Jesus, I’m grateful that you are powerful to heal and humble to invite, the likes of me into community with you. Amen
The seraphim cover their eyes.
I wonder – do they peek
between their bony fingers
stripped lean for flight?
And Moses the cleft conceals
yet you can see, his feet,
as breathless, he waits
while You walk by.
My heart sighs
neither, then, should I
surely – neither should I.
But oh, the longing is there
Oh, God, I would love
to ‘see’ your face..
even a trace, fingered blind.
photo 1/24/2019 Whatcom County, WA
original art: Elizabeth Figgie: http://www.elizabethfiggie.com
Our lungs have, on average, 274-790 million pulmonary alveoli (in zeroes, that’s 790,000,000) through which our lungs and bloodstream exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide. The alveoli seem vulnerable in that their surface is a single-cell thick, but that vulnerability allows them to readily make this exchange with blood capillaries (their endothelial layer also one cell thick). That vulnerability initiates the distribution of oxygen to the cells of our body which utilize the oxygen for energy production. Each cell. Can you imagine us trading any other life-sustaining substance with so little security? It is no wonder that life feels fragile at times; vulnerable, weak, depleted.
In contrast to the vulnerability, the capacity of 790 million hot air balloons, and the lift that might fuel, feels a bit astounding. Even more astounding, is the thought of whose air I might breathe. What kind of potential for living resides in the cavity of my created chest, if I were to breathe, knowing it was the breath of God filling my lungs, my alveoli inflated by the Spirit of the living God?
Isaiah 42:5 reads:
“This is what God the LORD says— the Creator of the heavens, who stretches them out, who spreads out the earth with all that springs from it, who gives breath to its people, and life to those who walk on it:”
This word breath is described by the Hebrew-Chaldean Lexicon as the Spirit of God imparting life and wisdom. Really? Pure, holy air – available to ordinary mask-wearers? The air we breathe, and the respiratory process, is not some atmospheric curiosity. It is an intricately designed miracle, both fragile and protected, by the one who created it. Our alveoli have repair cells, and surfactant secreting cells to protect the balloons from collapse. Not only did God create the process, but he also protects its function. WHY? Because He wants to give us life, not defined in single measure, but filled to the millions.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10 NIV
At times, God has spoken as a numbers guy – counting the hairs on our heads, the sands on the seashore. I’ve no doubt he knows EXACTLY how many alveoli reside in my chest, and that there is some significance to 790, 000,000. Okay, maybe I only have 538,000,000, but what if I were breathing deeply enough of the breath of God, to fill each one of those? I also imagine he has his own definition of full…
What if, when Jesus spoke the following words, he were speaking to me, or to you…
“Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you. And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”
How far and deep could the breathe of Jesus go, if he were breathing life in me, deep into the weighted places in my chest? I’ve seen this, seen friends breathe Jesus air into the vulnerable places of their lives, and exhale offerings of rare beauty to those around them. And what is the significance that as he breathes, Jesus speaks about dispensing forgiveness? If you don’t have a Jesus breather in your life, maybe you need one. Or maybe you would like to become one?
Spirit of God, breathe on me, breathe in me. Fill my lungs with the oxygen of your making, the fuel of your intent. May all that feels vulnerable in me, be filled with your breath, that I may be truly alive. When I exhale, may it be something of your creating. Amen
I got some of my science info from https://www.kenhub.com.
Frequently, I use https://blueletterbible.org for cross-referencing and study, and so that further scripture reference is readily available to you:
“Isaiah 42:5 (NIV) – This is what God the.” Blue Letter Bible. Web. 26 Nov, 2018. <https://www.blueletterbible.org/niv/isa/42/5/s_721005>.
“H5397 – nĕshamah – Strong’s Hebrew Lexicon (NIV).” Blue Letter Bible. Web. 26 Nov, 2018. <https://www.blueletterbible.org//lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=H5397&t=NIV>.
“John 10:10 (NIV) – The thief comes only to.” Blue Letter Bible. Web. 3 Dec, 2018. <https://www.blueletterbible.org/niv/jhn/10/10/s_1007010>.
“John 20:21 (ESV) – Jesus said to them again.” Blue Letter Bible. Web. 3 Dec, 2018. <https://www.blueletterbible.org/esv/jhn/20/21/s_1017021>.
I thought it would rain this morning… but at bus time, the clouds folded in, holding their breath, for one duck. One duck, center stage, danced across the canvas of the morning, the clouds holding their applause, while he plowed a wake.
We – woman, man, child- so want to make a difference; our clumsy attempts often piling up like refuse; sometimes leaving scars and scrapping our vows to ‘do no harm.’
The lake is near 400 ft deep in places, places right out there under the duck. It should take a dam; so it seems startling that one duck could plow such a wake, turning it at will. Apparently there is power in webbed feet and winged prayers.
Spirit of God, hold up my winged prayers. Lift them to the heavens and stretch their weight along the trajectory of your leaning. Only for you, do the clouds hold their breath. Only for you. Amen
photographer’s note: I left the power lines…one duck.
are bent in prayer…
is this then
how one springs to life?
Several years ago, Amanda Hostettler led a worship seminar for our homeschool co-op, challenging us to ‘get on our faces,’ foreheads to the ground. The physical action was intended to open a doorway – our hearts and minds to follow – in worship. Obstacle one occurred in that Little Miss Sweetness was being squirrelly that morning, so I didn’t manage ‘facedown’ at the time. I later snuck away to the backstage closet to try again. Obstacle two: my left knee was swollen from a mild running injury so I could not fully bend it to kneel. To get my forehead to the floor, I either had to stretch out prone, or resort to…heigh, ho, hoist the derriere, way up in the air.
I was hoping no one would wander in to witness my duck impersonation, but I also was struck by the vulnerability of my position. Certainly I felt vulnerable before man, both comically, and perhaps tragically, depending on whose story I carried at the moment. But I also was struck by my lack of vulnerability before God. I realized I had been withholding my deeper fears and concerns from God, trying to fix them on my own before darkening his footstool. I was bringing him only the half-finished ‘middle stuff’, a modest representation of the things I felt I could let go of a little, and still have some sense of control; or offering the trivial stuff – treating him like a figurehead instead of a real God, one who is fearsome in power.
So in that quiet closet sanctuary, tail to the sky I began to release to God all the tight-fisted fears and worries I had been holding: fears for my children, personal stuff, and marriage stuff and really scary stuff that I had no idea how to navigate. As I did so, I was filled with a peace I hadn’t experienced in a long time. Worship flowed out of a thankfulness that God was present, not pissed, at my inability to fix my life. He certainly wasn’t surprised by anything I told him…and he didn’t seem to think I was incapable, or unengaged, or incomplete. It appears he had been waiting all along, patiently, to carry my burdens in his sufficiently more capable hands.
Lots of roles that we fill in life are fearsome: parenting, partnering with friends, spouse, loved ones as we all navigate the unexpected or the mundane; anything new …decision-making with consequences. How often I fail, or find myself assailed by a sense of failure, at not knowing enough, or not being able to do enough to fix a loved one’s illness, or a child’s learning struggle. Sometimes, not being enough to fill what is asked of one is fearsome, even if the request is unspoken.
How novel, in that closet moment, to consider that we are not supposed to be enough. We are supposed to live as if there were a direct line flowing from God’s strength into our veins, the very same power that raised Jesus from the dead. We are meant to live, wild with confidence, not in our capability, but in his; not in our outcomes, but in his steadfast determination. Certainly, we are invited to use whatever tools God’s Spirit gives us, but when the burden becomes too big and wide for our size-S hands, when our knowing is not enough, we are supposed to move the mountain by handing it to him in bucket-loads of prayer. We are meant to stay engaged by simply preparing the way for Jesus to visit. See Luke 10: 1, 19,20; Mark 9:14-29.
After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go.
19. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. 20 However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
“Luke 10:1 (NIV) – After this the Lord appointed.” Blue Letter Bible. Web. 21 May, 2018. <https://www.blueletterbible.org/niv/luk/10/1/p1/s_983001>.
Mark 9:14-29. And when they came to the disciples, they saw a great crowd around them, and scribes arguing with them. 15 And immediately all the crowd, when they saw him, were greatly amazed and ran up to him and greeted him. 16 And he asked them, “What are you arguing about with them?” 17 And someone from the crowd answered him, “Teacher, I brought my son to you, for he has a spirit that makes him mute. 18 And whenever it seizes him, it throws him down, and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid. So I asked your disciples to cast it out, and they were not able.” 19 And he answered them, “O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him to me.” 20 And they brought the boy to him. And when the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. 21 And Jesus asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. 22 And it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” 23 And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.” 24 Immediately the father of the child cried out[fn] and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” 25 And when Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You mute and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.” 26 And after crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse, so that most of them said, “He is dead.” 27 But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose. 28 And when he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?”29 And he said to them, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.”[fn]
“Mark 9:28 (ESV) – And when he had entered.” Blue Letter Bible. Web. 21 May, 2018. <https://www.blueletterbible.org/esv/mar/9/28/p1/s_966028>.
When our third daughter transitioned from home to public school, she spent an hour each evening releasing her worries, observations, ‘what-do–I-do now’ questions to God. She told me, “Mom, I don’t really pray, I just tell God everything, like he was my friend.” She stated it with question marks, as if asking if that were legitimate. Gee whiz – do you think I might have caught on then???
A couple ideas continue to surface from that day: God invites our vulnerability; he welcomes the intimacy. “I believe, Help my unbelief!”
And in bringing such an ‘offering’, I find myself springing to life, to worship, in the least likely places.