Pale light

I have already repented
And wished you back
Pale pink
I see my need after all

In the momentary pause of a dying light
Fighting to remain
A thin line
Across horizon

You fight back the darkness
And in doing so
Quiet fight begets the most extraordinary
Color of heaven
A blue alive
At the core of fire
Endless sky

In the Boat

Mark 4:1-9 (NIV)
Again Jesus began to teach by the lake. The crowd that gathered around him was so large that he got into a boat and sat in it out on the lake, while all the people were along the shore at the water’s edge. [2] He taught them many things by parables, and in his teaching said: [3] “Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed. [4] As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. [5] Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. [6] But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. [7] Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain. [8] Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, multiplying thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times.” [9] Then Jesus said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

I love the image of Jesus teaching from the boat. I assume that since he is God, his voice carried. I picture the crowd, myself in it, leaning toward him–eager to catch each word.

Inefficient farmer.

I rarely read the gospel without seeing something new. Today it is the slapdash profligacy of the farmer.

Seeds everywhere, dude…

But that is part of Jesus’ point. God is as prolific in his generosity as he is in his gift of freedom.

We wanna get all caught up in tangles or consumed by birds? He will let us.

But the deep soul, the deep soil, there is deep life there.

Grow deep.

Family Resemblance

Mark 3:31-35 (NIV)
Then Jesus’ mother and brothers arrived. Standing outside, they sent someone in to call him. [32] A crowd was sitting around him, and they told him, “Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you.” [33] “Who are my mother and my brothers?” he asked. [34] Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! [35] Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”

You might be surprised to learn that family is very important to me. I have fostered and adopted kids and have treated dozens of children as though they were my own. I miss them, most of them.

I am estranged from my mother and brother, my in-laws have written that they hate me. My adopted children harbor their own opinions…

So this story is very, very important to me. I may be the one causing all the trouble but I have done this–moved away from my genetic family because I was trying to heal my kids.

It is hard to survive abuse. There is little room left over to pander to squeamish and difficult family members.

We need a new family. We need to be a new family. We need the face of love. When Jesus seems to be rejecting his own family he is really not. He is simply saying–

the people in my family will love. Love like me.

Is he nuts?!?

Mark 3:20-26 (NIV)
Then Jesus entered a house, and again a crowd gathered, so that he and his disciples were not even able to eat. [21] When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.” [22] And the teachers of the law who came down from Jerusalem said, “He is possessed by Beelzebub ! By the prince of demons he is driving out demons.” [23] So Jesus called them and spoke to them in parables: “How can Satan drive out Satan? [24] If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. [25] If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. [26] And if Satan opposes himself and is divided, he cannot stand; his end has come.

I deliberately break this story up. The next few verses are very important to me…

But first this…

The last time Jesus was in a crowded house someone broke the roof. This time he is accused of being a madman or a demon.

Huh. Wonder what they would do with Justin Bieber.

Jesus is changing the landscape of human existence and the power people reject him as evil and his family wants him committed.

We don’t get it. Often we don’t get him. Because we can’t control him and because he does not fit.

He is too big for us.

But if we can get past God in the figure of an ordinary man…if we can push into that crowded house…

Love breaks free.

The Disciples

Mark 3:11-19,27 (NIV)
Whenever the evil spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, “You are the Son of God.” [12] But he gave them strict orders not to tell who he was. [13] Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to him those he wanted, and they came to him. [14] He appointed twelve—designating them apostles—that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach [15] and to have authority to drive out demons. [16] These are the twelve he appointed: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter); [17] James son of Zebedee and his brother John (to them he gave the name Boanerges, which means Sons of Thunder); [18] Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot [19] and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him. [27] In fact, no one can enter a strong man’s house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man. Then he can rob his house.

He has power over evil. He has complete power over evil. Good news

But how come he dies on the cross? But why does John get murdered? But? But? We can list all the evil in the world and question why?

The answer is painfully simple. Angels have corporeal presentations in the Bible. Past the Flood, evil spirits don’t.

Every act of evil unleashed on us/by us since Noah has been perpetrated by human decision.

We see this in our own failed hearts. We see this in Judas Iscariot.

When you betray the way of love you open the window, open the doors to the howling gates of hell.

Which, by the way, cannot stand against Jesus.

This is it!!!!

Mark 3:7-10 (NIV)
Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the lake, and a large crowd from Galilee followed. [8] When they heard all he was doing, many people came to him from Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea, and the regions across the Jordan and around Tyre and Sidon. [9] Because of the crowd he told his disciples to have a small boat ready for him, to keep the people from crowding him. [10] For he had healed many, so that those with diseases were pushing forward to touch him.

If you want the last point in Mark’s account of Jesus where glorious kingship seems like the easy call it is here–the crowds!! The healing!!! The international fame!

Must have been and felt amazing to his friends. He was unchanged. He knew the road ahead of him.

He knew the pain to come.

When life gets hard and feels dark and tragic, remember he went to hell for us.

He will prevail, even through the hardest of times.

Lord of the Sabbath

Mark 3:1-6 (NIV)
Another time he went into the synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. [2] Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath. [3] Jesus said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Stand up in front of everyone.” [4] Then Jesus asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they remained silent. [5] He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored. [6] Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus.


So the guy heals a disabled man at church and you are gonna….plot to kill him?!? With your enemies?!!

Seems pretty messed up, but then the older I get the more deadly and myopic we humans seem to me.

They hated him–his power and his freedom. The way he flaunted their man-made rules.

So they wanted to kill him. What echoes in this story is the vacuum that remains around a man whose life was restored to health. Setting another person, even one person, free is such a blessing. Sabbath was supposed to be a blessing day.

They lost sight of love, even when he was standing there before them.

The Ghost of Light

What struck the Reavers first was the perkiness of Miss Julia’s chest, the inhabitants of which seemed to resemble Stepford breasts more than real ones. But in their respective perkiness they were no match for their owner. Miss Julia was nothing if not perky.

The houses they were looking at were not. When a young social worker and science teacher aim to buy in a swish real estate market, they have only a limited number of choices–rent, buy a postage stamp condo, troll for foreclosures, or…

They had reached the dark underbelly of “or.” abandoned Quonset huts? A row house or two with boarded facades in downright creepy neighborhoods. And yet throughout the horrors and disappointments, Miss Julia remained cool and cheerful and a little detached. After all, she did not have to live there. If she felt any pity or surprise, she kept these emotions to herself.

The young couple began to get a little nervous. They knew they would need a place to live soon. Tom was starting his fall semester in a week and Resa needed to have a haven of some sort in the busy world of home studies, caseloads, and hearings.

Have we seen them all? Asked Resa with a hint of panic in her voice.

Julia rifled through her papers. Hm. There is one more. Her brow tried to crease into a worry line, but the miracle of neurotoxin injections kept her brown soft and invulnerable to signs of worry. She bit her bottom lip, flipped a page up, flipped a page down. She took a swig of Tab.

Um, yeah, I don’t know if we should even go into this one…

Why? Bad neighborhood? Too expensive? They searched her face for signs, clues.

Um, no. Great-ish neighborhood, here. Check it out.

They heard themselves ooh and ahh. It was amazing. Why was this house so cheap? Well, it would not hurt to see it, right?

Julia raised her flawless brow. O-kay. It is not occupied currently so we can go there now. Great! They chimed in unison.

They were charmed. The neighborhood was idyllic. Not flashy–just quaint older homes with immaculate lawns, small children on the lawns, older people rocking gently on the porches. Too nice. Too far outside their budget. They reined in the strong desire to hope.

Well, this is it, Miss Julia waved as she steered her champagne colored SUV to the curb in front of a gingerbread house. Not really, of course, but that is what Resa thought when she saw it. Cute. Pristine. Charming.. She had been reading too many zillow listings.

Tom thought, why in G-d’s name is this in our reach? A shiver of fear ran down his spine unbidden.

Grains of wheat

Mark 2:23-28 (NIV)
One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and as his disciples walked along, they began to pick some heads of grain. [24] The Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?” [25] He answered, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need? [26] In the days of Abiathar the high priest, he entered the house of God and ate the consecrated bread, which is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions.” [27] Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. [28] So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”

I have such a beautiful picture of Jesus and his disciples casually snapping grain into a snack as they pass through a field. It feels peaceful and calm until the crazy Greek chorus of Pharisees put in their 2 cents.

Then things get pedantic. Jesus, always quick on his feet, rebuts them, but the damage has been done.

Or has it?

The Son of Man is Lord of the sabbath. A promise of sovereignty worth the wait…