A Parent’s Revelation

I’ve heard a lot about this person Jesus.
Peter’s bringing him home tonight, – he’s talked about no one else ever since he met him a few weeks ago.
I’ll never understand Peter. He’s so impetuous!
Apparently Jesus said “Follow me” – or something to that effect, – and Peter did exactly that!
Never told his wife and family – anyway he’s a fisherman and they’re used to his being away.
Nothing Peter does surprises me….but he’s got a heart of gold and I love him.

I’m seeing both Peter and Jesus tonight.
I wonder what he’s like, this Jesus.
Peter thinks he’s really special, – but he only comes from Nazareth.
He’s a carpenter by trade, – so what can he teach a fisherman??
There have been crowds following his new friend, –
He’s been healing people of all kinds of diseases, – Peter can scarcely believe what he’s seen.
Keeps talking about him, about praying to “Our Father!”, “Doing unto others what you’d have them do to you”
I hope he’s not being tricked by all this talk and seeming miracles. I’m not going to be.

My daughter has planned a special meal for Peter and his friends, – we won’t let Peter down.
She’ll need my help. But I don’t feel well…….need to lie down…
Can hardly move…
Must get to bed….
Don’t want to be a nuisance…

“Hello Peter….I’m so sorry
…… to be like this….
Hello Jesus…”

I look at his friend. He looks at me.
In one brief instant I forget myself, my doubts, my concerns for Peter.
How can I describe the Love that radiates from this man?
His complete knowledge of infinite power,
Total tenderness,
Expressed in his very being,
The effortless outreach of his hand to mine,
Lifting me up. Nothing to heal!

Why then was I down?
No memory of what was ever wrong, no more self-pity, but full focused on gratitude and love for God, for everyone. In full joy I go to help and serve. Everyone so happy! Why did I ever doubt? Love is everywhere.

***
That evening many other people from the city came to our door, and all in need were healed, instantaneously. Next day Jesus, Peter and the other disciples went off over the Sea of Galilee. When I next saw Peter, he told me about the miraculous calming of the storm, the healing of the madman, other miracles Jesus had worked. But I now know they are not miracles, – they are the power of God, the Almighty power of God, made manifest.
Infinite Love doesn’t need time to prove itself, it is present and active now!

I’m with Jesus again, he is teaching to the crowds, to each one of us, how to pray: …
“Our Father which art in heaven,
Hallowed be Thy name…” **
I feel the ever-present warmth and vibrancy of God’s love.
I behold for the first time my true family.

And suddenly realise that I love my son more than I ever did before……
I see him as Jesus sees him, I see myself as Jesus saw me and sees me even now.
I now know what “Father” means….

(see *Mark 1:30-34; 3:31-35, and **Matthew 6:9)

The Gaderene

The Gadarene

Let me tell you my story.

I was a proud young man , – intent to show my worth to family and village. I received good training, was married and had children. The synagogue was my second home, and my prayers deep and devout. But somehow, I never met my high ambition. Never achieved what I expected or what was expected of me.

I’ll tell you: some habits are no good and self-pity is one of the worst. I found myself caught in a deep rut, deeper than you could ever imagine, banging against the sides, unable to turn around, unable to escape the sporadic tumbling forward, with the utter helplessness of seeming to be controlled by something else, being led I knew not where, unable to change direction, hating myself for not caring what I might do. Self-pity consumed me, like an army of hungry ants gnawing away at the inner core of a once proud tree, leaving it hollow.

Frustration and anger and emptiness made me lose my mind. I became dangerous to all around me and was cast out to protect those I loved and those I didn’t even know.
I lived in the wilderness, and my world was mountains and tombs, tombs and mountains. The chains they bound me with could not withstand my rage. My strength frightened me. In bitterness and guilt, I would smash the rocks and tombstones and no man could or even dared to stop me. Over time, the clothes ragged off my body, blown thin by the mountain wind. For up in the clear air it was glorious, – I felt a freedom away from everything, – I would run and jump, skip and laugh out loud with the scant grass and burnt-out bushes as companions, feeling at one with nature, the pure happiness of life as it can be. But it never lasted. I would descend once more down, down the slopes. Bitter contrast. Even the unclean swine were my friends, secretly being fattened on the hidden hillsides for the black-market traders. I knew: I felt I knew everything. I did not care. Here was I, free, but trapped more thoroughly than any prison or chain could bind. Often, I would slump against a tombstone, worn out yet exhilarated, lonely and looking for danger to end my life, cutting myself with stones out of spite against myself and God, daring Him to kill me, but all the time knowing that God was there for me.
Then came the day that changed everything. I remember the ferocious storm that came from nowhere. The wind and rain blowing, lashing, pushing me along the shore. The rain stung on my naked flesh, and through the squall I could just make out boats on the sea, being tossed like corks. I made the effort to stand still, hand up to my eyes, willing them to sink while yet praying for their safety, dancing with delight at the futility of everything and nothing.

The boat in the front was in the greatest difficulty. I could see fisherman hanging on for their lives, – a few of them were making their way to the prow. One bent down, and I could see someone getting up. Though the winds were fierce, I swear that boat stopped rocking! I rubbed my eyes through the rain. The waves didn’t crash into it, but somehow seemed to move round as though it wasn’t there! A man stood up, stretched out his arms, and the storm ceased completely. Every boat was calm.

How I wish you could have been there with me, seen too what I saw. I tell you it was no coincidence. One followed the other. Immediately. Suddenly. Heavy clouds that had covered the sky just rolled back and disappeared. The wild waves that moments before had crashed ‘gainst the shoreline gone, just lapping quietly, tinged white against the khaki-sand and now clear-blue sky. Had I imagined it? My wet skin and dripping hair gave proof of the storm that was no dream! My eyes and the warm sun spoke of a new horizon. Mountains and tombs, tombs and mountains. Storm or peace. Peace, no storm. What was real? My thoughts were all over the place. The boats were landing.
The man that stilled the storm got out with the fisherman all round him. I was sufficiently close to see his features. In a flash of insight, I suddenly knew who he was. Recognition overtook my consciousness. I knew that he would read me! Would lay bare my demon thoughts. I feared the truth, whatever that might be. I ran down towards him, barely a hundred yards, shouting and yelling, the mad man from the tombs in full cry! He might control the storm, but he won’t control me! I didn’t want to be healed, yet I yearned to be free. I wanted to get rid of him, yet I knew he was my master. Even as I ran towards him, I knew that the power he expressed was invincible, but that didn’t stop me.

He showed no fear.

He called out, addressing the error and not me, calling for the evil spirits to leave me. The power of his command, his total lack of fear, stopped me in my tracks just yards from him and his disciples. I knelt to the ground. And I felt as though a voice not mine answered back to him:
“What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God most high? I beseech thee, torment me not.”

Even as I spoke those words and looked in his eyes, I felt a glorious battle taking place in my thoughts, – all the demons of my past ranged against the simple standard of his unity with God. He asked me my name and again I heard my answer “Legion”, a final throw at him of all the spirits and goblins in my mind, a final attempt to outnumber and challenge his authority. My legion would outnumber him. Yet he stayed so calm, – what was I compared to the mighty storm! Once more he raised his arm, this time to the storm in my head and not the sky. He extended his hand towards my head, and then towards the herd of swine on the hillside in a throw-away gesture. It was if he was saying “Look and behold! God’s power and goodness are infinite! His is the only power, and the only true power we have is by reflection. His goodness is supreme. Share my understanding and be whole!” And the storm inside me ceased. Was gone.
The pigs leapt and danced, ran in to each other, squealing, scrabbling madly. The swineherds could not control them. They gathered pace down the slope, sliding, falling, crashing down into the sea. Not one was left.

Not one was left, my friend. All the fears, torments, the self-pity and latent violence, all gone. Not just removed from me to live again, but destroyed. It was as though the whole area around us had not just witnessed the stilling of the tempest but also the absolute destruction of all that was wrong or not under the control of the infinite God. Infinite and exception don’t exist.

Jesus was smiling at me. That’s the real point of what I am saying. Where the storm was, he saw peace and calm. Where I was, he saw not a mad man, intent on murder and self-mutilation, but God’s child. Which was true? He smiled because he loved and knew what he saw, and I felt in that smile and in his eyes such power that, like the demons were not me, that power was not him, but came straight from God, was God, and he was God’s mouthpiece. He saw the truth so clearly it was manifested to all around him, and all around him partook of the same sense of power and might, – he gave us our true sense of dominion as God’s children, – we were all his brothers and sisters, yes, that’s it, my friend, for God is the Father of every one of us, yes, you and me, everyone. I too now loved what he saw, what he was seeing. I had seen the Truth of my being, and in truly loving myself, I was immune from dark thoughts, – they were no more, not removed, but gone.

I remember so clearly with both awe and understanding what happened next. I stood up, looked at my naked body, – all signs of mutilation had gone. One of his disciples brought me a robe from their boat. For the first time in I don’t know how long I was dressed and felt complete. I was at peace. I was at one with the universe, with God, no longer tortured by my false sense of consciousness, but now knowing that divine consciousness is true being. Legion had no place in the infinity of God’s ever presence. I remembered a Bible verse from my youth “The Lord, he is God, and there is none else beside Him”. It’s that simple!

Jesus talked with all of us, sharing the gospel, sharing his love of God. He had proved everything of which he spoke. And we just sat listening, drinking in the spiritual truths which he was proving all the time. The utter restlessness of mountains-tombs a distant memory, no longer how I saw myself. All those wrong and restless thoughts, the legion of them claiming to be me, that false identity that had bound me, simply gone! I had a new-found purpose, – to have and recognise that same mind that was in Jesus, to be at one with his clear sense of Father, to see myself as worthy of his love.

Eventually Jesus and his disciples got back in their boat and went back whence they came. I watched the sail disappear over the horizon of the peaceful sea, knowing that although they had gone, His God was still here and everywhere. The power that had calmed the storms and tempests was universal and supreme, was not confined to one person or place. I could feel God’s presence remaining with me. I was a new man, God’s man, and it was God that had trod down my enemies.

Before Jesus left, he had taken me by the hands, looked at me with that deep love of his, and said to spread the good news. When he had gone, Love remained. And here I am now, back with my beloved family. My fellow villagers had not wanted Jesus to stay. They were, and many remain, too frightened of what he did. They look at me, and pass by on the other side. But here I stand as God’s witness, untouched by the nothing of their negative thoughts: they are nothing while my God is everything to me. God’s infinite Love is always with me.

God has restored those years the locust devoured. All storms have gone, as though they never were. I am at peace and free! And I have freedom because I have the mind and love of Christ, yes, we all have the mind and love of Christ! It’s that which spreads the good news, brings healing, protects us. Dear friend, Love is the understanding of Truth, what Truth does, what Truth is.

Love has set me free.

Only God can make us strong. Only God can defeat our enemies!
Psalms 60:12 (ERV – Easy to Read Version)

And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten,
And ye shall eat in plenty, and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord your God, that hath dealt wondrously with you: and my people shall never be ashamed.
Joel 2:25, (to first ,) 26

And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
John 8:32

Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you.
II Cor 13:11 Be

The Leper Cleansed

The Leper Cleansed

I’d say I had been good all my life.
Attended the synagogue as regularly as anyone,
Loved my neighbour,
Done more than my fair share of kindly deeds.
And been blessed with a happy marriage and sons.

All changed in a day.
One of those days you remember everything distinctly, as it happened, to the second.
I’d just finished washing, was drying myself off, when I noticed the signs.
The immediate reaction of disbelief, then mesmeric stare:
And then the creeping fear that began to overwhelm me even before acceptance rooted itself in my thought.
I had got leprosy and there was no known cure.

*

I’ve been in the leper village for nearly a year.
Allowed to venture out, but rarely wanted to.
There were others far worse off than me, some recently joined.
I felt for them. Nothing to look forward to but worsening health and an early grave.
Release from pain.

Why has God condemned me so?
What sin did I commit that I now have to shout “Unclean”?
Each time I utter those words it’s like a stake driven into my heart.
Each time I ring my wretched bell, it only serves to mock me more:
“This man is a leper, untouchable, stay away. He’s no good.
Unclean….unclean…”
How does one live if all hope is gone?

We hear the rumours about a new prophet who has been healing people of all kinds of diseases.
Jesus of Nazareth.
Some are calling him the Messiah that was promised.
Someone has come to the camp, saying he’s passing by not a few miles away.
My heart leaps. I think of my wife, my sons, my lost life and life to be.
I clutch my bell, wrap round my wounds, and seek where to go.

I’m the only one that asks, and pray to God to guide me.

Some two hours later, hot and uncomfortable, I see a gathering of people coming towards me.
“Unclean… Unclean…”
My bell rings out and seems to cut through the noise of the day.
The crowd in front of me holds back.
I am offending custom by drawing near to them.
One man keeps walking towards me.
I break the laws of leprosy as I head towards him, my words a plea for healing.
Unclean….unclean….
Dear God, he walks towards me still!

There is love in his eyes, no fear, no alarm, just quietness and assurance that gives me a hope I thought I’d never have.
“Jesus, Jesus,” (for it can only be him!) “I beg you, have mercy!”
I kneel down at his feet.
My diseased face looks up at him, imploring, knowing:
“If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.”

He reaches out with his hand! and I feel his gentle touch. No one had dared touch me for more months than I could remember. But what touches me more is the compassion that flows out from his very being: like a stream of living water, unstoppable, pure, bathing me in purity and love. It is as though time has stopped still as the recognition of the Christ power now present eradicates all that was past, and forms me anew. I suddenly see that he has no fear because there is nothing in his experience to cause fear. He is at one with his Father and his tender touch is an open invitation to share that sense of unity with him and with God. His God and my God! I too realise there is nothing to fear. Everything to love.

His words mirror his actions and what I now feel.

“I will. Be thou clean.”

The leprosy is no more! Full fair flesh where ugliness had been. Transformed in the instant of that touch, transformed indeed for me to touch in turn that life eternal, a life at one with God, at one with Spirit, in which evil does not exist or hold sway. I had sought healing, and have been given dominion. No longer full of fear, but full of Love.

*

I had glimpsed the ever-presence of the Christ-consciousness. My cleanliness absolute, all sensation of materiality washed away with the purity and balm of true Spirit and what I now see and know as infinite Love.

All changed in a day.
One of those days you remember everything distinctly, as it happened, to the second. Immediately!

“I will. Be thou clean.”

Let this be your day! Your moment!

 

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?
Romans 8:35(to?)

If the Scientist reaches his patient through divine Love, the healing work will be accomplished at one visit, and the disease will vanish into its native nothingness like dew before the morning sun‐shine.
S&H 365:15-19

Not Born Blind, But Born Again. I see!

Not born blind, but born again.

Life had not seemed fair.
Born blind. Stayed blind.
Led wherever I had or wanted to go.
No freedom, no light,
A life full of imaginings,
Empty of hope.

The nagging questions “Why? …Who to blame?
Who can be sinless? Why should we suffer for the sins of our parents?”
Endlessly debated and always those unanswerable accusations. What had they done?
What had I done wrong while in my mother’s womb?
What chance had I for repentance before thought or conscience sparked my will?
The fact is I was born blind.
And in those repeated low moments of jaundiced bitterness and self-pity I again condemned the sin of the world and those who laid blame upon my heritage and knew everything and nothing.

That’s how it was. And one day, one special glorious day, it all changed.

Sitting by the wayside, stick in hand, quietly listening to the sounds of passing feet and distant birds, I heard as if talking directly to me, the sound of a stranger’s voice, talking about me as if I was an old acquaintance. I focused hard on the conversation taking place. I felt like reaching out and asking who was there, but heard yet once more voices querying that deep question that had so occupied my thoughts all my life:

“Master, who did sin, this man or his parents that he was born blind?”

They were clearly talking about me, but who was this “Master” they addressed? It must have been him I first heard. My whole being focused on a picture I could not see but felt, and how felt! A sense of warmth and love brushed across me, as though my past had been erased and a new painting drawn. I yearned for his answer.

“Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.”

A lifetime of belief denied in one simple statement of what to this man was Truth. The love that radiated round me was more tangible than the stick in my hand. I stood up. The stick dropped from my hand, as I began, with hands outstretched, sensing, feeling, the security of Love, to move towards the direction of that voice as it spoke on.

“I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.”

I didn’t understand, – my thoughts were still repeating and repeating I had not sinned, I had not sinned. His love was still drawing me closer; I could nearly reach and touch from where he spoke. My heart was hammering. I felt he was talking directly to me.

“As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

Despite my blindness, for the first time I could sense true light, – much like I could feel the sun’s rays with their warmth, and knew it was there, but could not see it, so this new light was shining. It was the light of prophecy, for I somehow knew that this man, this Master, was indeed a prophet, and my life had already changed.
As he was speaking I heard those with him move to one side as I continued to move slowly and steadily forward. I stopped. My lips moved in silent acquiescence, expectant of more but not knowing what more was or could be. Every sense was alive, yet somehow at a different, higher level of being.
I heard him spit! Heard the spittle land on the ground, stretched every sense to imagine what he was doing. There was a deep silence. I didn’t know what was happening, but I had no fear. I felt a trust borne on his love. A hand touched the side of my face with great tenderness, and then a warm sensation as he anointed my left eye with clay, and then again over my right. He spoke once more with love.

“Go, wash in the pool of Siloam”

I knew I could get there, and knew that this man knew too. It wasn’t far, but I had dropped my stick. Yet been given this instruction. I had to obey, not quite knowing how. He had told me what to do, and it must be possible. Turning round, a hand touched my arm, a voice said “Come, I’ll take you”, and I was led. What had I to learn as I followed his command? For I was following his command! I hadn’t questioned it. The pool was sufficiently far for plenty of doubts, stopping, thinking, asking why, was the whole thing real? The clay stuck to my eyes but I had to work at my balance and obedience, – why couldn’t I just reach up with my hands and pull the clay away there and then? Much easier! But no, – the pool must be and was significant. Knowing I was being obedient gave me strength and courage. Didn’t Siloam signify the seat of David, the House of God? He was making me go back to my true heritage, each step requiring confirmation of that way I had to go, the way I had to be. Another negative thought sprang up at me. It was the Sabbath, – that would get me into trouble with the Pharisees, – but this prophet had spoken, given me an overriding authority because he spoke with true authority. Am I dreaming? The clay sat heavy on my eyes. Why dust and spittle? I am to wash it off. Neither hath this man sinned nor his parents. The Adam story of the dust of the ground! He had spat at that! I have to wash off the false belief of mortal heritage! I am the child of God! And it shall be made manifest! I felt born again.

My dear guide told me we were near, then by, the pool, ushered me to its edge. I pressed his hands in thanks, knelt, felt for the edge, the water, cupped my hands and washed off what was the dirt of ages. I watched disbelieving as the drips dropped back in to the water, looked trembling at the next handful of water as it came up to wash my face again. Turned around and saw my guide, saw the walls of Jerusalem, sky, colours, people, birds, looked back down at my reflection! I could see!

I grabbed my guide’s hand in joy, looked if not stared at his kindly face, touched his smile with my hand, revelling in the wonderful link of sense and sight. “I’ve got to find the prophet!” We went back to find him, but I didn’t know where to go! We looked, and I could run for the first time in my searching!

I was looking at everything around me, new associations replacing previous imaginings. My new friend took me back to the wayside where he first saw me. We met with some people that looked aghast and I recognised the voice of some of my neighbours. They could not believe what they saw! To them it was impossible, like a dream. I explained what had happened. It must have sounded mad, – but I was there and could now see them!

As it was the Sabbath, they took me to the Pharisees. They wanted to prove me an imposter. They eventually argued I had been healed by what must be a sinner! He had not come from the God that spake with Moses. Argument after argument. Why could they not accept the simple truth? I could see! And this man had healed me because he was of God. Had that ever been done before? They could not share my joy.

They cast me out of their synagogue for daring to argue with them. Despite their treatment of me, I felt a love for them, for they could not accept what had happened, and I knew how much my life had changed.

A white-robed man came up to me and spoke in a familiar voice, kindness once more radiating, but now visible as well as felt. I knew immediately it was the Master. He offered out both his hands in love and friendship:

“Dost thou believe on the Son of God”

Why this question? I believe in God, but who can His Son be? I asked this man who it might be, that I could believe on him, understand more what had happened.

Jesus answered: “Thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee.”

His answer brought me to my knees in gratitude. He had restored not just my sight but given me the recognition of my true being and my sinless sonship.

“For judgement I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and they which see might be made blind.”

I had been blind and now I see. Oh, may all so blinded by dust and clay that we see not, be washed clean, that all may see the true light that is now come to the world!

Not born blind, but born again, that the works of God are manifest in me, in us, so that we all can see and understand! My life has changed, from blind pessimism to light, the glorious knowing and feeling God’s ever-present and unconditional Love. This man Christ Jesus told me how to pray to God, as “ABBA, Father”, to see God as my only heritage. And as I now pray to my Father, and to our Father, I feel so at one with Jesus, his disciples, indeed with all men, with everything!

God is the Father of all, and all is at one with the Father.

I see!

I Am A Witness

I am a Witness

Mark 3:1-5; Luke 6: 6-10; 10:1, 2, 9

I was there, witnessed a miracle.
Even now I can scarce believe what my eyes saw,
What I now know.
But it was my best friend who was healed of what was incurable.
And it has changed both our lives for ever.
Please do listen, and share with me our joy..
We’ve been best friends since childhood.
He’d never fussed about his disability, –
His right hand, (why did it have to be his right hand?), severely withered,
Utterly useless.
But it didn’t stop us playing games, running ragged and breathless up and down the hills, laughing and forgetful of
any limitations.
Yet there were other times his natural compensation could not cope,
And I’d be there, or his parents, to help.
I loved him for his joy, his lack of self-pity.
I sometimes felt he was more of a man than me.

I’d often wondered why he had been so afflicted.
His life had been blameless, – indeed so much better than mine.
His parents as far as I’d known them had always been good.
Perhaps a distant ancestor had done wrong.
It seemed a harsh thing for him to suffer, – especially as there was no possible release.
There was no way out, no healing, no hope.
What sin must have caused that?
It seemed so unfair.
Why did so many people have to suffer with illness or misfortune?
Living lives of acceptance and managing.
Yet the paradoxical question:
How is it that the sick and disabled often seem so much better than we?

That Sabbath we’d met and entered the synagogue together as usual.
There was a lot more interest and buzz about the place that day.
Jesus of Nazareth had been invited to address us.
We’d both heard about him, – some talk or remark about him being the Messiah or Christ, – but so unlikely, –
Nazareth was only a village and that not many miles away, and by what little we’d heard he was no more than a
carpenter’s son. Still, there must be something about him to have created this interest.
The Pharisees and Scribes knew that we would be there, and that day when we arrived there were nudges and
knowing looks.
One of them asked us to sit at the front.
We chatted for a bit. A fly tried to settle on my friend’s face. He brushed at it with his withered hand.
I felt compassion for him, – his handsome looks marred by this senseless deformity.

The service began and went through its normal routines.
The time came for anyone to stand and speak.
From the back a man stepped forward.
He had an air of authority that commanded attention,
His seamless white robe somehow a symbol of his natural stature.
This had to be Jesus.
I suddenly realised it didn’t matter what village he came from.
He came from God.
As he took his place his love seemed to shine and when he spoke that same love
permeated everything he said. The scriptures became alive, meaningful.
I’d always thought that the kingdom of God was something to come,
Some far off event, powerful, as a result of mighty battles, with a great commander to
the fore.
But this kingdom was altogether different, stronger, immediate, grounded in love.
I glanced at my friend.
He too was watching enthralled, – his eyes shining, accepting every word spoken.
They were fine words indeed, – but was that it?
Comforting, but without proof, fine words were all they were.
I suddenly thought what if he did prove them true? How would he? What evidence
would I want? How would anyone prove the kingdom of God here and now?

“Rise up and stand forth in the midst.”

In the sudden bewilderment of being brought back into the present I thought for a moment Jesus was talking to me.
But no.
My friend levered himself up, and stood alone in front of Jesus.
There was a stillness, an expectancy borne of his undoubted authority.
Jesus turned to the Scribes and Pharisees.
I could see them shifting uncomfortably. It was as though he had read their thoughts and they knew that he knew
what they were thinking, and in some way those thoughts would be exposed.
He spoke to them directly:

“I will ask of you one thing”

He paused a second, but that pause seemed to contain a lifetime of moment.

“Is it lawful on the sabbath days to do good, or to do evil? to save life, or to destroy it?”

He looked round each of them in turn, the silence and expectancy deafening.
We all knew what was going to happen.
I looked again at my friend.

“Stretch forth thine hand.”

I said I was a witness.
But how can you own up to seeing the impossible.
Not “Stretch forth thine withered hand”, but “Stretch for thine hand” – as God gave thee.
He obeyed Jesus’ command.
His arm extended, fingers uncurling, filling out fully formed.
Everyone was looking at one another, knowing it was happening yet still
disbelieving.
My friend’s face shone as his hand was restored whole as the other.
He stood erect before Jesus, giving thanks amidst his awe and wonder, looking
from one hand to the other, back again to Jesus. The love was palpable.
He glanced round, saw me, shouted my name!
Leapt forward, his hand outstretched to take mine,
Right hand to right hand.
What mixed emotions I had! Joy for my friend, but ashamedly in that millisecond of doubt half frightened to grasp what may have been only my illusion.
His handshake was firm, firmer than mine.
And then I responded truly.
Grip to grip, laughing and praising and dancing with him in the midst of the synagogue.

No dream but reality, but dear God how? I’d asked for proof, and here it was! The only proof possible! No wonder the scribes were scowling! Here was true authority! No longer mere words, but the consciousness of God’s kingdom revealed as here, seen in health and completeness, just as Jesus had been preaching. Faced with the presence and power of health, sickness became impossible! Health the reality and sickness the now dispellable illusion. Dear friend, – this happened, I am a witness. The withered hand is no more. As if it had never been!
Everyone there watched and saw! It scared the Pharisees! It confirmed their worst fears, they could not understand, nor did they want to! Jesus was challenging their way of life. He is challenging my way of life! But look, Jesus had proved his words! And I am a witness!

There have been so many healings since, – blind, deaf, others that were maimed, and yes, all have been healed! Oh let me hold you by your hand in that same love that Jesus is living and sharing right now! Our lives have changed so much! This was not a one-off miracle, a magician’s trick. It was and is the eternal presence of the Christ. The
recognition of Love, God’s love for you and me. The true “Our Father” of which Jesus is speaking and commanding us all to pray, lifting our thoughts above human heredity to our true and guiltless origin. We are all even now the sons of the one God, – that’s what he is saying, that is what he is proving, what we are now proving.

Dear friend, our true Father is Love, and God made us all to witness His Love, to witness what we truly are. Whatever challenge we may be holding on to, we can let go, for we are witnesses right now that the kingdom of God is come nigh unto us all.

I know it to be true.

Peter’s Repentance

Luke 5: 1-11; John 21 1-22

I’ve been here before.
Slogging away for no return.
I’d gone back to my fishing,
What I grew up doing, and knew well.
I sniffed the breeze, judged the wind and the currents,
Dropped down the net.
And hauled up with aching arms and hands.
Nothing.
I looked at Nathanael and Thomas. Caught John looking at me.
We could read each others thoughts.
What were we doing here?
How had it come to this?
We had seen Jesus twice since his resurrection
Not just seen but touched, – Thomas even more so.
Yet we felt flat, as empty as our nets.
The selfish retreat of fishing for fish that weren’t even there a meaningless routine,
A hollow comfort of escape to the past, fear of the future.
As I hauled on the wet rope another weary time I felt a disbelief and frustration born of guilt. I had denied him three times in public, was now denying him with my life returned to normal.

I thought back three years back in this very boat.
It seemed like an instant replay of when it all started.
I was there again, hauling up the unfilled empty weight. All night, nothing caught.
This man Jesus had asked to step on board, preached the gospel to crowds on the shore.
And when he had left speaking told us to go out again, to launch into the deep, let down the nets. I remembered and felt the pointlessness of the time, the weariness and memory sending a shudder down my spine.
I’d answered for all of us. What’s the point, – the fish just aren’t biting.
Yet we obeyed because he had asked.
When I hauled up, I had nearly fallen in with the jolt. The net had broken with the weight of fishes.
We’d had to call James and John, – and here we were again. Time was all confused. We had struggled to bring the catch to shore, -it had filled our two boats, and we only just made it.
The fish had been there all the time.
We had been dumfounded, and when he said to follow him, we followed. Left all.
Three years of miracles, lepers cleansed, limbs restored, multitudes fed, storms stilled by his word, – he had even got me to walk on the water, until I looked down and began to sink! I knew he was the Christ, – I’d told him! He shewed us what could be done.
He overcame death. I’d seen him twice! And here I am fishing.
And I have caught nothing.
The rocking of the boat seemed to mock us all.

I stretched up long and hard, the early morning light glinting on my sweat drained nakedness. Turned to James and John.
“I’ve just been thinking back three years ago. It’s just like it was yesterday. We caught nothing then either. Yet one more time, at Jesus’ command, and we couldn’t bring them in! Don’t you remember? It’s like a bad dream!”
Had I achieved nothing in all this time? The daft panic question…Was Jesus just a dream?
I hauled again at the reality of another empty net.

A stranger on the shore called out.
“Children, have ye any meat?”
He can’t see the barren wooden floor, awash with froth and weed.
I shout back the understatement of the year. “No!”
He calls out yet again:
“Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find.”
We felt impelled to obey.
The net went over the other side, and it was barely drawn across the water when it resisted, almost fought against us; it was heaving with fish!
John said, “It is the Lord.”
Tears filled my eyes with re-ignited memory..
I now knew! Grabbed my coat, tied it quick and tight, dived in!
Jesus! Jesus!

Powerful strokes gave the lie to previous weariness.
I reached the shore, stumbled through the dragging water,
Dripping joyously as I ran to him.
He was sat calmly by a fire of coals, with fish and bread.
“Bring of the fish which ye have now caught.”
We all heaved the net full up the beach
Renewed strength, newly awakened.
Another flash back those three years hence, – those nets had broken, but this now not spoiled. We stopped to count the abundance. One hundred and fifty three!! And they were big fish too!
Was I living in the present or the past? I heard again Jesus words from the past besides those broken nets: “Fear not, from henceforth thou shalt catch men.”
And I had selfishly gone back to my fishing….

The present jolted back at me:
“Come and dine.”
We ate of our fish, the work of our hands. The bread and the fish were the best I’d ever tasted, but that was not why I remembered that meal. It was Jesus, my Lord. The Christ. Sought me out yet once more. Me not deserving. I had disowned him three times, but here he was, not disowning me, any of us. We had even denied him by going back to our fishing, despite having seen him alive since his awful crucifixion. Why did he even bother to look for us? How did he find us? I felt his love.
The rising warm light of a beautiful cloudless day was matching and lifting heart and soul.
We had finished, all comfortable round the fire. Wondering. Trembling with anticipation.

“Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these?”

What a question is this! Why pick on me? Why Simon and not Peter? Had my reversion to fishing, my denials, robbed me of the rock he expected me to be? Not “Have you truly repented” but “Lovest thou me.” That’s the real proof. Who or what is more important? What do I really value most? What I think of myself, or how much I really love him? I give my answer.
“Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee.”

“Feed my lambs.”

Be a fisher of men… do as I first asked of you! Change again. Genuine repentance, not skin deep, convenient….

“Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me?”

He’s reading my thoughts. Supporting the true repentance taking place. No comparison “more than these”, just the direct need to love him. That is all that is needed. I reply exactly the same:
“Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee.”

“Feed my sheep.”

Look after my flock, feed them with the gospel of Love, the manna from heaven; I leave them in your charge. Lord am I worthy?

“Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me?”

You ask me the third time whether I love thee. How deeply I love thee. Are my affirmations not stronger than my denials? Guilt makes me aggrieved. I am being tested.
I feel his love, it revitalizes my very being. I am caught in the memory of fish too many to haul, that first command to be a fisher of men, to reach out to the world and bring them the gospel, not just to feed but to nourish. They are waiting for me. They need my obedience. I answer with the assurance of his blessing:
“Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee.”

“Feed my sheep.”

His final command confirms his forgiveness and re-establishes the purpose and rock of my being, the selfless demand to love God and not self, before which we all must bow.
And in that true repentance of thought, changed wholeheartedly from self to God, I know I can never again go back. A new and deep awareness fills my being. Words are easy. I must now reach out, and prove my love for Jesus by my love for others. No more denial, but stronger, much stronger, the affirmation of God-based action!

My life-purpose changed: Not about me, about others.

FEED MY SHEEP!

And I just knew in another blinding flash of understanding, that as I had been given this command, so God would give me all I needed to fulfill it.

 

****

Matt 4:17 Jesus
Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
Luke 9:23
And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.

Not born blind, but born again

John 9

Life had not seemed fair.
Born blind. Stayed blind.
Led wherever I had or wanted to go.
No freedom, no light,
A life full of imaginings,
Empty of hope.

The nagging questions “Why? …Who to blame?
Who can be sinless? Why should we suffer for the sins of our parents?”
Endlessly debated and always those unanswerable accusations.
What had they done?
What had I done wrong while in my mother’s womb?
What chance had I for repentance before thought or conscience sparked my will?
The fact is I was born blind.
And in those repeated low moments of jaundiced bitterness and self-pity I again condemned the sin of the world and those who laid blame upon my heritage and knew everything and nothing.

That’s how it was. And one day, one special glorious day, it all changed.

Sitting by the wayside, stick in hand, quietly listening to the sounds of passing feet and distant birds, I heard as if talking directly to me, the sound of a stranger’s voice, talking about me as if I was an old acquaintance. I focused hard on the conversation taking place. I felt like reaching out and asking who was there, but heard yet once more voices querying that deep question that had so occupied my thoughts all my life:

“Master, who did sin, this man or his parents that he was born blind?”

They were clearly talking about me, but who was this “Master” they addressed? It must have been him I first heard. My whole being focused on a picture I could not see but felt, and how felt! A sense of warmth and love brushed across me, as though my past had been erased and a new painting drawn. I yearned for his answer.

“Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.”

A lifetime of belief denied in one simple statement of what to this man was truth. The love that radiated round me was more tangible than the stick in my hand. I stood up. The stick dropped from my hand, as I began, with hands outstretched, sensing, feeling, the security of Love, to move towards the direction of that voice as it spoke on.

“I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.”

I didn’t understand, – my thoughts were still repeating and repeating I had not sinned, I had not sinned. His love was still drawing me closer; I could nearly reach and touch from where he spoke. My heart was hammering. I felt he was talking directly to me.

“As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

Despite my blindness, for the first time I could sense true light, – much like I could feel the sun’s rays with their warmth, and knew it was there, but could not see it, so this new light was shining. It was the light of prophecy, for I somehow knew that this man, this Master, was indeed a prophet, and my life had already changed.
As he was speaking I heard those with him move to one side as I continued to move slowly and steadily forward. I stopped. My lips moved in silent acquiescence, expectant of more but not knowing what more was or could be. Every sense was alive, yet somehow at a different, higher level of being.
I heard him spit! Heard the spittle land on the ground, stretched every sense to imagine what he was doing. There was a deep silence. I didn’t know what was happening, but I had no fear. I felt a trust borne on his love. A hand touched the side of my face with great tenderness, and then a warm sensation as he anointed my left eye with clay, and then again over my right. He spoke once more with love.

“Go, wash in the pool of Siloam”

I knew I could get there, and knew that this man knew too. It wasn’t far, but I had dropped my stick. Yet been given this instruction. I had to obey, not quite knowing how. He had told me what to do, and it must be possible. Turning round, a hand touched my arm, a voice said “Come, I’ll take you”, and I was led. What had I to learn as I followed his command? For I was following his command! I hadn’t questioned it. The pool was sufficiently far for plenty of doubts, stopping, thinking, asking why, was the whole thing real? The clay stuck to my eyes but I had to work at my balance and obedience, – why couldn’t I just reach up with my hands and pull the clay away there and then? Much easier! But no, – the pool must be and was significant. Knowing I was being obedient gave me strength and courage. Didn’t Siloam signify the seat of David, the House of God? He was making me go back to my true heritage, each step requiring confirmation of that way I had to go, the way I had to be. Another negative thought sprang up at me. It was the Sabbath, – that would get me into trouble with the Pharisees, – but this prophet had spoken, given me an overriding authority because he spoke with true authority. Am I dreaming? The clay sat heavy on my eyes. Why dust and spittle? I am to wash it off. Neither hath this man sinned nor his parents. The Adam story of the dust of the ground! He had spat at that! I have to wash off the false belief of mortal heritage! I am the child of God! And it shall be made manifest! I felt born again.

My dear guide told me we were near, then by, the pool, ushered me to its edge. I pressed his hands in thanks, knelt, felt for the edge, the water, cupped my hands and washed off what was the dirt of ages. I watched disbelieving as the drips dropped back in to the water, looked trembling at the next handful of water as it came up to wash my face again. Turned round and saw my guide, saw the walls of Jerusalem, sky, colours, people, birds, looked back down at my reflection! I could see!

I grabbed my guide’s hand in joy, looked if not stared at his kindly face, touched his smile with my hand, revelling in the wonderful link of sense and sight. “I’ve got to find the prophet!” We went running off to find him. I didn’t know where to go! We looked and ran and looked but could not find him.

I kept stumbling, looking at everything around me, new associations replacing old imaginations. We met with some people that looked aghast and I recognised the voice of neighbours. They did not believe it was me. To them my sight was impossible. I explained what had happened. How blind can they be! How can I not be me! Their fear of believing was greater than any joy they could have felt for me!

They grabbed at me and took me to the Pharisees. They all needed to prove me an imposter. I didn’t fit in with their expectations, their superior knowledge; I had been healed by a sinner! He did not come from the God that spake with Moses. Argument after argument. Why could they not accept the simple truth? I could see! And this man had healed me because he was of God. Had that ever been done before? They could not share my joy and so tried to kill it.

They cast me out to wallow in the sins in which I had been born. A doubt crossed into my thinking, – is this just a fantastic dream after all? Will I wake up and be once more a blind sinner? Was this healing somehow a lie? But then so clearly came the thought that there could be no reversion to what that man had uttered with such surety and conviction. He had spoken of a deep Truth, and I was now the standing, moving, living proof of what he said!

A white-robed man came up to me and spoke in a familiar voice, kindness once more radiating, but now visible as well as felt. I knew immediately it was the Master. He offered out both his hands in love and friendship:

“Dost thou believe in the Son of God”

I had glimpsed myself in a new light, and knew that God must be the underlying reality that sourced my healing. But who can His Son be? I asked who it might be, that I could believe on him, understand more what had happened.

Jesus answered: “Thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee.”

The full realisation of who he was and who I was brought me to my knees in reverent acknowledgement and praise. He had restored not my sight but me to my true being and sinless son-ship.

“I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and they which see might be made blind.”

My eyes had been blind and now I see. Oh may all our eyes so blinded by dust and clay that we see not, be washed clean that all may see the true light that is now come to the world!

Not born blind, but born again, that the works of God are manifest in me, in us, so that we all can see! My life has fundamentally changed, from blind pessimism to light, to the glorious feeling and knowing God’s ever-present Love. Jesus told me how to pray, to call God “ABBA, Father”, to see God as my only true and sinless heritage.
Love is our Father, and I truly understand: we are all His sons. And in His Love, I see!

Simon The Pharisee

Luke 7:37-48

Life is all about credibility.
And this Jesus of Nazareth is certainly building his!
He is becoming the rising star of the region.
Teaching in the synagogues, preaching about the kingdom of heaven being here!
How would he know? I’ve been around longer than he has, and I’ve never seen it!
What’s worse, he’s healing people, not just of their diseases, but claiming also their sins!
How does a carpenter get to do that!
By all accounts he’s a dangerous man,
Upsetting the order of things,
Challenging what we do, what we’ve always done.
I suppose I’ll have to invite him to my home,
Check him out.
I feel a mixture of arrogance and intrigue.
He’s on my patch, I need to know what he’s up to,
But I’m also interested…
What’s he got that’s making people follow him rather than us?
Is he just some new fad, or is there something more real.
The healings seem genuine.
What if they are?

I complete my ritual of afternoon prayer, making sure I am seen of others.
I have a responsibility to maintain appearances.
It’s a comfortable routine, and I feel the better for it.
There’s time now to go out into the street and see this man for myself.
I watch from a distance, catching the odd word.
He’s in preaching mode.
I begin to make my way towards him through the crowd.
How they are listening!
I need to gently push my way through,
Minor irritation gives way to acquiescence when they see who I am.
Slowly and surely I reach to the front.

He is younger than I expected, and obviously less experienced than me.
Yet he has an authority about him that is somehow ageless,
A meekness and knowledge that speak of a higher power,
An effortlessness in every word and movement as he unveils the scriptures.
I can see why he is attracting crowds…
My earlier thought returns. Is it just novelty, the age-old hope of the new Messiah attaching to any thing original and different? I feel within myself it is something far deeper and suddenly resent his preaching and teaching and healing. That’s our job, our duty. Even though we can’t heal. We’ve all rather left that to the older prophets, – that was their special role. So what’s this Jesus doing? I will find out for myself, invite him to my home, be seen with him.
It makes me feel uncomfortable, but I shan’t show or admit it!
Jesus has seen me approaching. I feel in that one glance he has dissected my very thoughts, yet he continues untroubled and confident.
No wonder my fellow Pharisees hate him! He’s more dangerous than I imagined!
He finishes his parable, leaving the crowd thoughtful, and turns to me, expecting and granting my request.

And he went into the Pharisee’s house, and sat down to meat. And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster box of ointment, And stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment.

This wasn’t the plan! How did she get in! All the kudos of his presence ruined by this harlot! He must know what manner of woman it is who is touching him! He read my thoughts readily enough!

“Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee.”

He’s reading my thoughts again! His meekness against pharisaical pride! Love against my surprising hatred of his superiority. Everyone is listening. I must be careful. I bid him continue.

“There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most?”

The question is too easy, but I phrase the answer with due caution. “I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most.” Where’s he going with all this. I am nervous… He looks at me and responds with calm assurance.

“Thou hast rightly judged”

He looks at the harlot, – how does he get away with that! And I feel a sinking premonition of his wisdom putting me to shame…
.
“Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head. Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet. My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment. Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little”.

His rebuke is harsh and uncompromising. I cannot fault him. My disdain in sharp contrast to the genuine repentance of the harlot woman. Yet who is the real prostitute? Aren’t I selling my pharisaical robes for my own purpose, getting money for worn out creeds and empty blessings?
Aren’t I putting myself before God!!! All the time!! Jesus doesn’t care what I think about him. He knows what God knows, and that’s all that matters to him. What does God know about me? He turns again to the woman:

“Thy sins are forgiven.”

She looks at peace while I am in turmoil. I have heard of Jesus’ demand that we should repent. Dare I change the habits of a lifetime? I ask myself the desperate question, do I really want to! I am too comfortable, too well set. I am a Pharisee! Yet she is forgiven, she has repented, she has loved much.. Who do I love more, – myself or God? The first commandment rings through my consciousness, – how many times have I said it out loud in the synagogue and in the streets? If Jesus hadn’t come, I wouldn’t be having this battle. Do I hate him or love him?

Jesus looks at me again. Despite his damning words there is love in his eyes, the promise of redemption. His love is constant.

Am I prepared to put God first? Before me?
The choice is mine.

 

The Magdalene’s Ressurection

John 20:1-18

“And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent” John 17:3

Jeering crowds were baying in unison,
Caught up in the hatred of the Council towards Jesus.
I was near enough to hear the hammer blows
Four horrific sequences of heart-shuddering thuds,
This was no place for fearful disciples,
They had fled in fear and shame and disbelief.
Only the beloved and ever-faithful John remained.
Our loyalty made us a lonely sight,
Womanly devotion deep-rooted and self-less,
Hands held in wincing agony and tightened grip as the cross was embedded.
No cry of pain from my Lord and Saviour,
He who had delivered me from seven devils now himself undelivered,
Now lifted up on the deadly cross,
Exposed to ridicule and organised malice.
To die a helpless death.
We moved nearer, fighting back tears, being brave for Jesus.
Showing him we cared, but just not understanding anything anymore.

In the midst of all this brutality, his love still shone through.
He looked up and saw his mother. Her face cried out in maternal yearning
Seeing also John he called out from his cross:
“Woman, behold thy son!
Behold thy mother”
His words were with no care for himself, no hint of physical pain,
But that outpouring of affection that first drew me to him,
A selflessness so pure, so re-assuring.
My eyes filled with tears, and when I blinked them away his head had bowed.
I looked, yearned, for any signs of life, willing some movement, anything.
He had raised Lazarus from death, but then he, Jesus, was alive to bring him back.
Who was now here to restore him?
His lifeless body hung limp.
I fought the evidence.
Looked again for any telltale movement of continued being.
He’s said in the optimism of life, he would raise himself after three days.
But how can what is dead do anything?
A soldier thrust his spear into the corpse.
Mary cried out. We hugged and held tight, knowing the final truth.
Her son, the man to whom I owed my life, so innocent, so maligned.
Dead.

When faced with reality, how can reason give hope?
When or how does faith take over and become somehow more real?
Just a week ago, the four-day dead Lazarus emerged whole from his tombed grave.
Jesus had commanded him to come forth, and he did.
So why wasn’t he at the cross?
Did he feel guilty he couldn’t do anything?
What more could I have done? Where is my faith? I felt guilty and helpless.
I felt sudden remorse, and momentary anger at his disciples.
Did Jesus have to die? Where was his God? Why has this happened? How can he raise himself?
An angel thought tried to creep in: it all meant nothing unless he does come back from death. He’s been right in everything else he has said and done. Why not this? That is what he promised. But that’s the point. I watched as Joseph took the body down; the noble Nicodemus helped him A second witness confirming the inevitable. You don’t lay the living in a sepulchre and roll a stone across ….

*****

I arrived early to the sepulchre, while it was still dark.
The stone had been rolled away!
The body had been taken!
I ran as fast as I could to tell Peter and John.
Breathless tell them. Urge them to do something. At least check what I say.
I felt empty. Without the body I could not grieve. There was no finality.
I told them again! The body’s missing! We did not know how or when or who had taken it.
They too ran; John arrived first, but it was Peter who went in, confirmed without doubt the grave was empty. Then John also looked in, saw the same.
They left, seeming to believe something, but lost in their wondering thoughts.

Where else could I go? What to do?
Who-ever took the body might come back. I had no other option but to wait and weep.
The last few days had been as much as I could bear.
I went back towards the tomb. I hadn’t yet looked inside, to see for myself.
I peered inside. The body was not there.
Angel thoughts again reached out to me.
“Why weepest thou?”
Once more I replied with the expected and obvious concern. They have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have taken him. Self pity made me withdraw, and tears streamed down my weary face.

“Why weepest thou?”

The insistent question, this time asked by some person standing near, I supposed the gardener, and again I reply Sir, if thou hast taken him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him and I will take him away.

“Mary”

I turned round.
Saw Jesus!.
Saw my risen saviour!
Rabboni! Master!

His words came as if in a dream, but this was the reality!
I wanted to hug him! To hold him dear! The shock realisation! Of course he was not in the tomb! Why weepest thou? Why indeed! I had been looking for the wrong thing!
Searching for death when there was only life! And what life! Glorious! Eternal! He had won! Love had won!

“Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.”

And I understood the dominion over the seven devils that had bound me, the raising of Lazarus, the love of Jesus Christ, that the God of Life was his Father and my Father, the only God and my God..
Oh what resurrection! What joy!

Go to my brethren? I ran!!

The Mother of Eutychus

Acts 20:7-12

We’d all heard of Paul.
We had first known and feared him by his former name and reputation.
A violent tool of the Sadducees and High Priests,
A zealot that had robbed families of their kinsfolk,
Sorely challenging their first early steps of Christianity and faith in God.
But since then what a conversion had taken place!
He’d travelled more than anyone I know,
Spreading the true Gospel,
Preaching and healing, proving his words.
And now he was in our home village, – Troas.
One of his disciples had a relative here.
And what a blessing that gave us, what an opportunity to see him first hand.

It was the first day of the week.
A group of his disciples had gathered together, with many from the village, to break bread.
We’d got to know them well, and it was a happy occasion.
Our whole family was present, huddled somewhat in the upper chamber, although our eldest son had typically sat way up in the third loft. I don’t think he really wanted to come.
Paul stood up and began to speak.
I say speak rather than preach. It was as though he was chatting to each of us individually, a normal conversation recounting his adventures, for such they truly were, but inter-twined with each an explanation and assessment of Scripture that was so pertinent and made so relevant to our daily lives.
He talked at length about his conversion. For him, the change had been so radical it came as a blinding light. Sudden and intense guilt at his mocking presence at Stephen’s stoning to death, the countless Christians roughly and aggressively led to Jerusalem and put to their death, – his mission in life so mis-placed that he marvelled at how wrong one could be. And thus his blindness! – the once so-mighty Saul being led by the hand, humbled by the truth, humbled by the words of Jesus that shook him to the core. Three long days of thinking, fasting, learning to trust.
He painted a picture so vivid we could feel the hot dry dust dislodged and scattered by his shuffling feet, as he was led on the road to Damascus. But far more importantly we could also feel with him the hand-hold of the Christ, – both in his re-living and sharing of his experience and right then as he talked amongst us.
And he asked us, as he asked himself so many times on his journey, how would Ananias respond? What a lesson he gave in how to listen and be obedient to God when every thought challenges what told to do! Paul was healed of his blindness, and now how many miles had he travelled, how many people had he seen, how many healed? And here he now stood, God’s vessel of proclamation! A killer now himself the hunted, but sharing with us his love of the gospel, he now protected by the Lord.

The oil in the lamps was replenished, fresh candles were lit, as Paul talked on. His face was shining, glowing against the lamplight, but with its own inner radiance. I looked round at the gathering. They were spell bound, – not caught up in some hypnotic worship but living with Paul his sense of Life and sharing his knowledge of Love. There wasn’t a cough or a shuffle, – the unfolding of Scripture was just so natural, matter of fact. The healings described not so much miracles but the relating of what God’s love and Jesus’ demonstrations meant in practice.
We’d learned from other disciples the key message that God’s kingdom was here and now, experienced the instantaneous healings that proved we didn’t need to wait to find heaven, but could experience it at this instant. But with Paul I’d learnt something new. How to forget the past. It was only relevant if you held on to it! True forgiveness was won at the moment of repentance, – when thinking so changed that earlier positions were no longer tenable or allowed into consciousness. Paul’s recounting of his conversion was not phrased in terms of regret of his past, – but an acceptance of its history being history, no longer part of him. His present actions were what mattered – his closeness to Jesus, his love for mankind, his desire to share what he knew with open arms and heart.

Midnight was drawing near and Paul continued in full flow. I looked at my family with such a feeling of love, impelled to hold them in God’s care. I glanced up to see Eutychus, but he was hidden from sight. I felt my love for him as more than just a mother, aspiring to that selfsame Christliness that so emanated from Paul.

Someone cried out “NO!!”

In those few few seconds before we heard that awful thump outside I knew my son needed me. How can such a short time contain a million thoughts? A mother’s instinct and anguish forcibly brought back to everything Paul was talking about, – God being Life, Love, holding all His children in his arms. Did I really believe what he had been saying! I grasped my husband’s hands, seeking, seeking his assurance and support. God is Life! Believe it! Know it! Feel the active presence of the Christ! Hold fast to the Truth!

Gaius reached him first. Touched the tangled body. Looked up at Paul, looked up at all of us.

“I’m so sorry. The young man is dead.”

It was as though Paul had not heard him. He didn’t rush. He walked calmly to where my son lay. I hugged my husband and two girls, praying oh so praying. I felt the support of everyone turning to God and trying so hard to trust.

Paul wrapped the boy in a warm embrace, breathing evenly, peacefully. He too was praying, knowing. Living in the present. We all watched from where we were.

He turned his face and somehow knew to look at us.

“Trouble not yourselves: for his life is in him.”

My son stirred. Opened his eyes, staring at Paul, seeming to drink in and draw strength from his knowledge of life everlasting. He turned and saw me. Got up as though nothing had happened and ran to my arms. No words were necessary. We were blessed by the pure presence of Love, the touch of Christ even more tangible than before.

We stopped to break bread. We took ours directly from Paul. I didn’t know what to say to him; his outstretched hand touched my cheek with tenderness. Our thoughts met and rejoiced. I kept looking at Eutychus. Unmarked and unblemished. So wide awake now and serene. He looked back at me, his broad smile a visual acknowledgement of new life. And how that simple ceremony has transformed itself in our hearts. It ever reminds us to live in the present, to be alive. To always rejoice.

Paul preached on til break of day. I remember him saying: “Behold, now is the accepted time, behold, now is the day of salvation”. Every word spoken with the authority of a man of God and a man with God, every word ringing true with experience. We spoke once more at sunrise, bringing Eutychus with us. He held his hands and blessed us all. As he left, everyone waved. We had all grown in grace and love. The comfort and healing that had taken place beyond measure.

As I watched him walk away, these thoughts reverberated in my consciousness:
God is Life, here and now. Everywhere and ever present.

And Eutychus smiled at me again in simple agreement.