In this week’s Old Testament text, (2 Samuel 7:1-14) things couldn’t be better. King David, at the peak of his rule, enjoys peace in the realm. He comes up with the idea to build a house for God. He reasons to the prophet Nathan, “See now I am living in a house of cedar but the Ark of God stays in a tent.” From the feel of the text, Nathan gives him a fist bump and says something like, “Go for it. You are the man. God is with you.”
Quick question: Why didn’t David reason that since the Ark of God was in a tent that he, too, should live in a tent?
This morning as I read through the texts of the week, I saw something in the Gospel reading I’ve not seen before. Here’s the part of the reading I speak of:
When they had crossed over, they landed at Gennesaret and anchored there. As soon as they got out of the boat, people recognized Jesus.They ran throughout that whole region and carried the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was. 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 him were healed.
The group I work with meets in our office common space every Monday morning at 8:30 promptly for prayer. It’s a faithful, simple, consistent and powerful practice. There is an invitation for intercessory concerns and immediately, the people in that circle begin to “run,” through the community and onward across the continents picking up people in need and carrying them on the mats of their prayers into the little circle enveloped by the presence of Jesus.
It makes me want to be a prayer runner. And something tells me that if I ran after people in my prayers, I might find myself running for them after my prayers. As the founder of another seminary, Adoniram Judson Gordon, once said, “You can do more than pray after you prayed, but you cannot do more than pray until you have prayed.”
In a recent conversation with a friend who is leaving one job and going to another, a stinging insight hit me. He expressed shock at the number of emails, Facebook friend requests, Linked In connects and Twitter followers had come his way from the new company he would soon be joining. I asked him what kind of response he got from the job he was leaving. He replied, “Five emails.”
In the example cited, a leader in each organization likely sent out a press release styled memo announcing the departure of my friend from the old company, and announcing his hiring in the new one. From that point the culture of the respective organizations took over. Why did the employees of the one company flood the incoming employee with words of welcome? Why didn’t the employees of the old company flood the employee with words of gratitude and blessing? I suspect the people in both organizations were basically the same. And it would be unfair to pin the blame on the employee himself and whether he deserved gratitude and blessing or not.
So why the difference? Read More here . . . .
No place like an airport stays “on message” these days. From the minute you enter the terminal messages about your luggage and strangers and homeland security pervade the space. They are visual, audible and even tactile. Signs and symbols abound. This constancy of consistent messaging creates something of a culture of security through words of caution, vigilance and warning. Though we may try and tune it out, still the messages keep coming and they will not be ignored. We hear them even when we aren’t listening and see them despite not looking. By now most of us could likely repeat the flight attendant’s pre-flight charge verbatim without notes. No matter how annoying, they permeate our awareness and shape our traveling habits. Words have a way of hitting their targets. Our words create our worlds.
Words and symbols, written and spoken shape our reality through forming our culture. It’s what the biblical writer implies when he instructs us . . . . . READ MORE.
Theologians say that the Ascension of Jesus is perhaps one of the most significant events in his epic life. If that’s the case, why do so few seem to understand, recognize, remember or celebrate it? Maybe we need a helpful analogy. I’m thinking about the event like it were an inauguration or coronation of a leader. There is great excitement and celebration around the election of a new leader or an announcement of such news. The excitement goes up a notch, however, when it comes time to enact the news; to formally install the person into office. On this occasion we bring out all the big guns, fire up the pomp and circumstance, dress up in regalia, hold parades and processions and mark the moment with ritual and ceremony. The election win was awesome and momentus, but the inauguration is where it all begins to happen.
The Ascension of Jesus is his official inauguration, when he takes his office and throne at the right hand of God as the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords; as the one to whom all authority has been given.
Wouldn’t this seem to merit an annual “blow-out” kind of festival? Sounds like a good opportunity to party for the people of God doesn’t it?
Ten days later, the fun really starts with his first major policy initiative. Be ready.
There’s a difference between invisible and unseen. Consider the presence of God. According to the Bible, God the Father is invisible, but Jesus Christ sits enthroned in the heavens as a human person with a glorified yet physical human body. Just as the President of the United States presides in a physical place of power in a real place, Jesus sits in a physical place of power in a real place. From where i sit right now, I can see neither of those places. They are “unseen,” but not “invisible.” Just because something is unseen does not make it invisible. The unseen is every bit as concrete as the seen. To say someone is invisible is to make a categorical claim about the other. To say something is unseen, rather, makes a claim about our own perspective.
The Farmer’s Speech
He ran the cosmos
of a thousand acres
from a pick up truck,
mucking through mire
thicker than hell,
subduing snakes with our shovels.
smell of Kool menthol smoke
lacing the slow drenching rain of sweat
and that farm truck,
now a million miles away,
only oasis in sight
with its freon mirage
and overheating motor
come sit in my cab.
Drink the water
of my false refuge.
That’s when the speech would come,
as though from the mouth of Adam himself,
that very first farmer to know the toil of dust
“Son, you can’t pick your jobs.
This has to be done.”
Speaking sternly into the cacophony of my complaints,
“John David, I don’t mind hard work.
I never have.” and those words
wore me like a cross
“Dammit! My soul would say.
Like a curse that is the cure
running like chemo in my veins.
That speech heals me
And The balmy fellowship
Of the farmer’s suffering
What I wouldn’t give to hear it again.
John David Walt
Ash Wednesday 2012
MORE OF MY POEMS HERE.