One Last Perpetual Chance

With God and with Jesus, it is never too late.
Never too late for love to triumph over hate.
Never too late for light to rise above darkness.
Never too late for that which is torn to be mended.
Never too late for goodness to make evil cry “Uncle!”
Never too late to find passage through the narrow gate that leads to the wide, open, green pasture that our Good Shepherd has waiting for us.
That is one of several messages in Luke’s recounting of Jesus has appointing seventy of his followers to travel ahead, in pairs, to every town where he intends to go.
And his instructions to those emissaries are quite specific. Carry no purse, he tells them, carry no bag, no sandals.
Furthermore, whenever you enter a town and the townspeople welcome you, Jesus instructs them, cure the sick who are there and say to them, “The kingdom of God has come near you.”
But, Jesus adds—after letting them know he is sending them out like lambs into the midst of wolves—whenever you enter a town and its people do not welcome you, go out into the streets and say, “Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off in protest against you.”
Wow, pretty dramatic stuff right there. Wiping even the dust of such a town off their feet sends quite a messages to the townspeople. But a message to his disciples, too, who suffered what would have been an aggressive lack of hospitality.
“Don’t let it get you down, don’t let that experience burden you,” Jesus is telling them without saying it. “Wipe it off your feet.” He knows the physical act of wiping the dust from their feet will make its point in a powerful way to any disciples who find themselves leaving indifference, or outright hostility, behind.
But even such towns and the people who live in them are left with one last perpetual chance. Not simply one last chance. One last perpetual chance. Because that is what God and Jesus offer us—one last perpetual chance, a last chance that is going nowhere. A last chance that will follow us around, perhaps even tapping us on the shoulder from time to time, as if to say, “Hey, remember me? I’m still here.”
Even after all of that dust-wiping, Jesus informs the seventy disciples, there is one last thing they must do before they leave such towns and their people behind. Words they plant. Words that might still one day grow.
“Yet know this: the kingdom of God has come near.”
Those are the last words and while they might seem to be part of a final rebuke they can equally, and perhaps even certainly, be regarded as a marker Jesus has his disciples lay down. Because, going back to the beginning of Luke’s lesson, sharing the news that the kingdom of God has come near you is the precise message Jesus told them to share with townspeople in towns that welcomed them.
So the blessing is the same, no matter what.
A perpetual signpost.
The open hand of Jesus left behind, offering the kingdom of God to any who wish to receive it.
A mustard seed that one day might sprout in the hearts and souls of at least some of those townspeople who think, and re-think, about what Jesus’ disciples had meant when they had told them “the Kingdom of God has come near to you.”
That is the message Jesus sent the seventy off to deliver and he has them share it even in the towns that are callously indifferent to them.
Not a final threat, not a final curse, not a final “this is what you missed.”
Instead, it is a final offer of God’s love. Or, “this is what you can still have.”
A final offer that will live forever somewhere in the memory of those who heard it, no matter how the town welcomed, or did not welcome, the disciples.
There each day, there every day, simply waiting for acceptance.
Because, with God and with Jesus, it is never too late.

A Different View Of The Widow’s Mite

“A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which are worth a penny. Then he called his disciples and said to them, ‘Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of those who are contributing to the treasury. For all of them have contributed from their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.’”

—The Gospel of Mark

These are not the words that I was planning to write. I was going to write about the Widow’s Mite, noting her total generosity of spirit. I was going to call this meditation “The Widow’s Might,” noting that any act of generosity comes first from the mind and from the heart, and how mighty must have been her spirit of generosity to give every bit of money she had.
And then I did some research on the mite, itself, wanting to learn a little more about this coin of such small monetary value. It was while researching that on line that I stumbled on a commentary that pointed me in a completely different direction. I will never think of this heretofore beloved parable the same way, ever again.
What I found on line was the observation that Jesus never holds the widow up as an example to be followed. He never says that she did the right thing. He simply states the fact that the rich people made a big show over their generosity and gave some of their abundant wealth away, while the poor widow gave everything she had to live on.
That got me thinking about what else Jesus does and, just as crucially, what Jesus doesn’t do in this story. First, Jesus is intentionally sitting in the temple opposite the treasury, specifically watching all of the people make their financial contributions. That’s all he’s doing. An odd thing to do, it seemed to me.
What he doesn’t do is this: He never makes a financial contribution, himself. He sits there watching, and gives nothing, even after seeing the poor widow give everything she has. Nor does Jesus urge his disciples to make a contribution to the temple’s treasury.
Furthermore, even though he knows the poor widow has given everything she has to live on, Jesus does not give her anything at all, nor does he suggest that one of the disciples give her a coin or two so that she has something to live on.
He just sits there watching.
And I think he keeps getting madder and madder. I believe it fuels his desire to cleanse the temple of such oppressive money-making, profit-centric, get-rich scheming by the temple authorities.
In the passage from Mark, not quoted above, Jesus has already warned his listeners to beware of the scribes. “They devour widows’ houses and for the sake of appearances say long prayers,” he tells them.
So, perhaps the widow isn’t giving from a spirit of generosity at all, but from a sense of guilt that is weighed down upon her by such religious authorities as the scribes. Perhaps after giving the temple treasury her last mite she will lose her house to them and they can sell it for a profit. The poor widow would probably pass any kindly donation to herself straight on the temple treasury. Perhaps that’s why neither Jesus nor his disciples give her anything.
I think it’s important what Jesus does next. I believe that it gives us an insight into his thinking as he watches the financial transactions in the temple. As he is leaving, without making a contribution, someone marvels over the magnificence of the temple. “What massive stones,” they say.
Jesus is not impressed. None of them will be left standing, he flatly replies.
Systems of domination and oppression will not last forever. They have nothing to do with the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of Heaven may be near, but it is far away from the temple treasury.
Distant, still, from those who walk and rule the earth today with a temple treasury in their heart.

Saint All Of Us

(Note: I am sharing this meditation with my home church this week, but it applies to everyone)

Great. Wonderful. Just right. But look around you and see for yourselves.
We’ve all got our costumes on. We’re wearing our All Saints Day Sunday outfits. Yes, you and you and you. And even me. All of us sitting in these pews or, for those who are reading this digitally, wherever you are sitting or standing.
And the really strange thing is that they’re not really costumes at all. We’re wearing the stuff we wear every Sunday or every day of the week.
That’s the point. As hard as it is to believe.
Me? A saint?
Not hardly. Couldn’t be. I know myself too well to stake any claim to sainthood. But the rest of you? Absolutely.
I know. Each of you is shaking your head, as well. You have the same doubts as me. You don’t believe for a moment that you’re a saint. You know yourself too well to stake any claim to sainthood.
But, that’s really the point. Saints aren’t perfect. The actual canonized, hall-of-fame, stained-glass-window saints weren’t perfect at all.
Look at Saint Peter and Saint Paul, for crying out loud. They were as flawed as anybody. You and I can’t walk on water. But neither could Peter, even with Jesus there reaching out to him.
And, gosh, how about Paul?
During the time he went around calling himself Saul, he was an accomplice to many acts of violence, and at least one death—he was there holding the cloaks of those who stoned Saint Stephen.
None of us has done anything like that. Still, we doubt our saintliness. So, consider this:
Jesus has called each one of us the light of the world.
To me, being thought of by Jesus as the light of the world is more amazing than being a saint. But it’s true. Jesus said so. We’ve all been lit up by Jesus in our lives. We’ve all been kindled by God to shine evidence of heavenly love and grace in the world.
If we’re good enough for Jesus, and good enough for God, that should be good enough for anyone. Good enough, even, for ourselves to realize how loved by God and Christ we really are.
Loved as individuals and collectively as a church family.
And how brightly that love shines through us out into the world, filling corners of darkness with light. Because that’s what saints do and, trust me, none of the saints ever thought of themselves as saints. Only we think of them that way. But saints, in spite of their human foibles, give people a glimpse of God’s presence in the world.
Or maybe, just perhaps, it’s actually through their—through our—fractured places that God is most able to shine into us, and out through us into the world.
A second way to look at All Saints Day is to consider how all of us together are very much an obvious saint in this world. All of us together have been canonized, in a sense, because we are—you and me—St. Anne’s.
Each one of us is a part of everything St. Anne’s is doing in this world.
And that means that each of us is a part of so much, from the food pantry to the clothing exchange, from the grocery bags full of Thanksgiving feasting to the Angel Tree, and from the space in Rose Hall that we share with others to that small, freshly-painted wooden box of non-perishable foodstuffs set on a pole next door for anyone in need at any hour of any day. And that is only part of it.
There is so much that we do collectively and individually, small moments of compassion that change a minute in someone’s day. But that changes an hour in their day, and so alters their day. That, in turn, changes their week and so redirects their month. Which changes their year and so transforms their life and, very truly, changes the world for them.
And so, too, changes the world for us.
All saints together.
Giving, and receiving, God’s love and grace through each other.

A Deeper Vision

“Jesus and his disciples came to Jericho. As he and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout and say, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’ Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me!’ Jesus stood still and said, ‘Call him here.’ And they called the blind man, saying to him, ‘Take heart; get up, he is calling you.’ So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus.”

—The Gospel of Mark

One can read a piece of scripture many times and feel complete familiarity with the words and their message. Then read it one more time and find a new kernel of revelatory truth. That happened to me with this passage from Mark.
What hit me right between the eyes—this time—was that, rather than go to the blind man, Jesus instructed that the beggar Bartimaeus be told to come to him, instead.
I thought that was just a bit insensitive. It would have been much easier for Jesus to go to the blind man. But Bartimaeus had no difficulty at all. “So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus,” the Gospel of Mark tells us. No problem. And that is a crucial point.
Despite the potentially confusing presence of the disciples and the “large crowd” leaving Jericho, a man who cannot see was able find and stand face to face with Jesus, not having to hunt and search by trial and error, person to person. Surrounded by the darkness of being blind, the man was able to zero in on the light of Christ.
It was as if he had a homing signal. As if his soul had radar and sonar capabilities that led him unerringly to Jesus.
Jesus, of course, heals the man, telling him that his faith has made him well. But the events leading up to that healing are relevant to everyone. As is the healing, itself.
We all suffer from some form of at least momentary “blindness.” There are events and circumstances (both past and present), fears and anxieties, any and all of life’s challenges that can make us feel that we are surrounded by darkness, suddenly blind to the light of Christ and his message of God’s love and grace.
When that happens—and at some point in our lives it happens to us all, at least once—it is best to follow the example of Bartimaeus and shout with our soul for Jesus to come and heal our blindness.
And continue shouting with stubborn persistence, no matter how much the darkness that has blinded us tries to keep us silent, as those around Bartimaeus had attempted to silence him. Because: when our yearning soul persists in crying out for Jesus, we will be found by Christ.
Our eyes will be opened to his light.
And in that light we will understand that Jesus never went anywhere. He never left us behind, outside the walls of our own Jerichos. In our blindness, we couldn’t see that he was right there beside us all the time.
In our moments of blindness, it is our faith that truly is a homing signal for our soul, radar and sonar that will unerringly lead us to the truth of the ceaseless presence of Holy love in our lives.
But there is something else we need to remember:
We mustn’t forget to throw off our cloaks, just as Bartimaeus did. That cloak had become a cocoon of imprisonment. That cloak was the “skin” of Bartimaeus’ former, blind existence.
Throwing it off, as he sprang up and came to Jesus, he became like a butterfly pulling free of its chrysalis.
Spreading the wings of his new life of sight.
So, too, can we realize that vision.
Because the deepest “sight” we possess has nothing at all to do with our eyes.

Giving Jesus A Home

This is how much Jesus loves us:
Foxes have their dens to call home.
But Jesus has none.
Birds of the air have nests to which they can fly.
But Jesus has nothing.
In his own words from the Gospel of Luke, Jesus tells us, “the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”
But he could have. Anytime he wanted to, Jesus could have settled into his den, made himself comfortable in a nest, laid his head down in his own bed. Wrapped himself up in his own blankets.
He chose not to, however.
And that is how much Jesus loves us.
He left everything he could have had behind to tell us about the love of God.
That’s how much he loves us.
Jesus could have married. Could have had children. Could have lived a normal life. He could have contented himself with a devout and holy life for himself, going to synagogue like everyone else.
Instead, as Luke tells us, he set his face toward Jerusalem.
He set his face toward the Garden of Gethsemane instead of his own garden behind his own carpenter’s shop.
He set his face toward Pilate rather than pilot his own fishing boat on the Sea of Galilee.
Jesus set his face toward Golgotha.
He could have gone off in any other direction.
Jesus set his face toward the hammer and the nails.
He could have gone anywhere else.
Jesus set his face toward crucifixion.
Every other point of the compass offered him escape, but his face was set.
Why?
Because he set his face toward the only place he could find us.
That is the only place he could find you and me.
That is the only place he could find St. Anne’s.
And that is the only way we’d ever find him.
Up until the very end, Jesus could have run off, walked off, pleaded off and saved his life.
Jesus could have gone off anywhere and begun a new life, a safe life, a devout life, a life with a wife and with children and a stable career, a life where he could wrap himself up in his own warm blankets.
Even Pilate gave him a chance to do so.
Had he done so, however, his mission, his ministry, the message and the meaning of his life would have been gone from the face of the Earth forever.
Instead, he set his face toward Jerusalem.
He set his face toward us.
He set his face toward you and me.
Jesus gave up what even the foxes and the birds take for granted, gave up every creature comfort, for you and me.
And so there is one thing we can do in return.
We can set our face toward him.
We can invite Jesus into our own lives.
Into our own homes.
And not just the living room or front hallway.
Invite him into every room in the house.
Attics and basements, too.
And by that I mean every aspect of our lives, all that we are, warts and all.
Jesus knows us, warts and all, and loves us, warts and all.
So, yes, come live with us, Jesus.
Here is a comfortable bed, Lord.
Here are warm blankets for the Son of Man.
Wrap yourself up in them.
Sweet dreams, my Lord, and may all of them come true.
Because all of his dreams are set toward me and you.

Believing In Santa Claus

“‘Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.’”

—The Gospel of Mark

When I was a child, I believed in Santa Claus.
I believed in God.
And I believed in Jesus.
I was told by adults that all three of them are real, and I unequivocally believed what I was told.
There was no doubt in my mind, or in my heart, of their existence.
When I was a child, all three of them were as real as real can be.
For years, I believed that all three of them genuinely existed. I clung to that faith long after many of my friends had peeled away the veneer and discovered the fiction behind it all.
Eventually, I grew up, and also accepted the truth that I’d been trying to avoid.
I learned that Santa Claus lives in our hearts.
But that is all. That is the only place where Santa Claus resides. The North Pole is a frozen wasteland. None of the animals there have red noses. Only the wind-chilled scientists and explorers have red noses, and none of them guide Santa’s sleigh.
As an adult, I have also grown to understand that God, too, lives within our hearts. Or can reside there.
As does Jesus. If we let him.
But—and this is a gloriously hallelujah ‘but’—that is not all.
That is not the only place.
God is real.
Jesus is real.
Both of them genuinely exist whether I let them live in my heart or not.
I simply know that to be true.
I believe it to be true.
Nor do I feel compelled to prove it to anyone in order to reinforce my own faith. But there is still plenty of evidence.
The existence of God and the risen Jesus are demonstrably proved by the post-crucifixion turnaround in the disciples, from cowering cowards to bold preachers who feared nothing for their physical safety.
Only a genuine encounter with the resurrected Jesus can account for that. And Jesus can only exist as our resurrected savior if God exists. Therefore, the fact of Christ confirms the fact of God, and a loving God, at that.
Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus, transforming him from a murderer of Christians—an accessory before, during and after the fact—to an obsessed disciple of Christ, is another stunning piece of forensic evidence.
Nor are those two examples the only New Testament “exhibits” one could place before any jury that doubts the existence of God and Christ.
But I have also had enough “thin moments” and “close encounters” with the Holy Spirit, and with Jesus (therefore with God, as well) to personally cement my faith.
And I accept those “thin moments” as genuine encounters, as a child would accept Santa Claus, sitting on his lap at the mall. I do not look cynically for any other “explanation” that might seem more rational to an adult mind.
I can pull on the beard of Christ all I want, but it isn’t coming off. He’s no seasonal, moonlighting phony. The kingdom of Heaven is real.

Praying Our Way Out Of The Avalanche

“Are any among you suffering? They should pray … The prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise them up … The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective…”

—The Epistle of James

Life can sometimes make us feel as if we’ve suddenly been caught in an avalanche or a collapsed mineshaft.
We’re buried miles away from our former happiness.
Nearly suffocating in the darkness.
Unable to reach the light of day.
But we are not helpless.
Nor are we abandoned and alone.
Prayer is the tool we can use to dig our way out.
Every prayer.
Each day.
All of our spoken and silent words of prayer can tunnel through the layers of darkness that cover us just as if we’d literally been trapped in an avalanche or a mineshaft that had given way.
“The Lord is my shepherd…”
And we penetrate a little further toward the light.
“Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…”
And we dig ourselves a bit closer to the fresh air that we were breathing only yesterday.
“I will fear no evil…”
And now the Holy Spirit can feel us praying.
“Because you are with me…”
God knows where we are and what has happened, and why would we ever think that God doesn’t pray? And Jesus too.
Digging down toward our words of faith.
So we must keep praying so they can reach us.
Praying and believing that they will.
It is too easy for some people to dismiss prayer as merely a ritual. True prayer can be far more than that.
The words in the Epistle are powerful reminders of the true power of real prayer—the prayer, as James tells us, “of faith.”
James is speaking to us as a compelling firsthand witness of what the early church experienced through faith-filled prayer after the death and resurrection of Jesus.
There is no avalanche too heavy.
James knew this.
And no mineshaft too deep.
Do we understand everything about prayer and how it works? No, not at all. We never shall.
But that is what makes the prayer of faith so powerful. It is all about the faith. Faith that taps into the deepest recesses of our soul and connects us to the power of God’s love and grace.
When that happens, God is surely digging with us, too.
God has joined us in the tunneling.
And the heart of Christ is beating for us all.

Preventing Hurricanes

“Those conflicts and disputes among you, where do they come from? Do they not come from your cravings that are at war within you? You want something and do not have it; so you commit murder. And you covet something and cannot obtain it; so you engage in disputes and conflicts.”

—The Epistle of James

If only we could control the weather.
Were we able to do so, Hurricane Florence never would have reached the East Coast. We would have squelched it into a gentle breeze in the mid-Atlantic.
If we could control the weather, no hurricane by any name would ever blow, nor any tornado twist.
There would be no floods.
There would be no droughts.
And not a blizzard in sight.
The weather would be perfect. The temperature ideal.
We would save so many lives and free everyone from all weather-related anxiety. No home would be destroyed. No property damaged.
We’d allow just the right amount of rain to fall, and at just the right time for crops and wells. A few picturesque snowflakes might be nice on Christmas Eve, but not enough to spoil anyone’s plans.
But, the world’s weather is far beyond our control and we watched the huge swirling mass of Florence drawing closer and closer, a monstrous nightmare we could do nothing about.
The feeling of helplessness was overwhelming.
But not all of the world’s weather is beyond our ability to shape and change.
Other storms are very much within our power to prevent or control:
The hurricanes inside us.
The tornadoes we twist into the lives of others.
The floods of anger.
And droughts of love.
Our emotions can truly wound or certainly heal.
We are instruments of small, personal wars or catalysts of family and community peace.
Our words can be swords or plowshares.
And that choice is always ours. We, alone, decide.
By recognizing the gathering clouds of our own “bad weather,” we can discern that, Hey, I might respond angrily here, or selfishly; I might throw down a lightning bolt if I’m not careful.
Yes, we can stop our own storms before they thunder.
And we can make certain there is never a Hurricane Me by opening our souls to the love of God and letting the Lord’s “weather” fill our hearts before we speak or act.
As the apostle James goes on to say in his epistle, following his warning about the source of human conflicts and disputes:

“…The wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace for those who make peace.”

There are no mandatory evacuation notices when we forecast God’s love.
And no states of emergency.

“Ephphatha”

“They brought to him a deaf man who had an impediment in his speech; and they begged him to lay his hand on him. He took him aside in private, away from the crowd, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spat and touched his tongue. Then he looked up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, ‘Ephphatha,’ that is, ‘Be opened.’ And immediately his ears were opened, and his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly.”

—The Gospel of Mark

There are times—too many, I’m afraid—when I am just like the deaf man in this story. I cannot hear the voice of God telling me that I am loved.
Honestly, I think many, if not all of us, experience this deafness from time to time in our lives.
The world has deafened us to the small, quiet voice within us. We can no longer hear it. Our head and heart and our soul are filled with the world’s shouting about anything and everything but God’s love. And we don’t even know it.
We believe that we are still listening to God’s voice of love. We haven’t stopped praying. We haven’t stopped reading scripture. We haven’t stopped our meditation and contemplation. We’re still going to church. We believe we’re just as tuned in to God’s frequency as ever.
But we are not.
The world has become too loud. Sometimes, I think, I mistake something that the world is saying as being the words of God.
But God doesn’t talk to me like that. God never says those sorts of things about me. Words that may make me feel good about myself but don’t bring me peace. Words that might feed my ego and my need for affirmation but are the equivalent of drinking Diet Love or Love-Lite.
I should know better.
There is a distinct difference between the way God assures me that I am beloved and the way the world says, ‘I love you’ one minute then withholds affection in the very next heartbeat, telling me that I am not good enough.
When I am deafened to God’s voice of love, something else happens, too. Just like the deaf man in the Gospel of Mark, I develop an impediment in my speech.
My voice begins to sound more like it has been taught to speak by the world. I am too prone to mimic the world, rather than articulate the true speech of love that God tries so desperately to teach us by assuring us we are loved. That all of us are.
Truly loved by true love. A love that never demeans or seeks to diminish or lure down false pathways. That never says, ‘I love you’ one minute and then throws you into the recycling bin.
When I recognize the sound of the world speaking in my own voice, I understand that it has happened again—I have become deaf to God’s voice of love. I have closed myself off to that voice of love and begun listening only to the world, and without even realizing it.
And so I cry out to that love and for that love as the world seems to gather its breath so that it can blow all of that love away. Even the tree limbs begin to sway in the gathering breeze.
It is then that I can suddenly discern that I am no longer hearing the wind in the leaves but, instead, the sound of Jesus sighing beside me. And then he leads me away from the gathering storm.
“Be opened,” he tells me, when we are alone. “Be opened and receive God’s love. Be opened and speak plainly of God’s love. Do not let the world close you up and away from me.”
And so I am here. With you. Speaking of love as plainly as I can. And listening. Listening with all of my heart.

Where Else Can We Possibly Go?

“…So Jesus asked the twelve, ‘Do you also wish to go away?’ Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom can we go?’”

—The sixth chapter of the Gospel of John

Jesus had just blown their minds.
“Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them,” he had told them. “Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live forever.”
Nobody in the synagogue in Capernaum had ever heard anything like that before. Say what? Go ahead, pull the other one.
But Jesus wasn’t pulling anyone’s leg. Everyone who heard him could tell that he was deadly serious. That’s why they left. Because Jesus believed in what he was telling them.
“This teaching is difficult,” many of them responded. “Who can accept it?”
Many still find it hard to swallow today. They shouldn’t. Swallowing an idea and being utterly transformed by it has been occurring throughout human history, sometimes with wondrous results, at other times starting wars.
We are surrounded by people who’ve swallowed an idea. Look in the mirror, there’s one now. Most people have swallowed dozens of ideas and sometimes found their lives revolutionized.
People swallow an idea about a particular diet and their bodies are visibly transformed. Others swallow yoga or meditation and find inner peace. Some swallow the idea that running or walking every day is the right step toward health and achieve fantastic results.
Look at the advertisements that surround us online, on televisions and radios, in newspapers, magazines and on billboards. They are solely designed to get us to swallow an idea.
Consider all of the people who swallow the idea that they should became a fan of this or that sports team. They start painting their faces in team colors, dressing up in the team’s jersey and watch every game. They plan their lives around the team’s schedule.
So, this idea-swallowing ability of human beings is an every-day thing.
“The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life,” Jesus tried to explain, but some just didn’t understand. Most of them undoubtedly got stuck on the image of literally eating Jesus’ flesh and drinking his blood, rather than swallowing the idea that there is a spark of divine love inside them. A spark that is like a seed, waiting to be sown and cultivated, and, then, fully harvested to become the bread of heaven.
A Christ-ness inside them, if they’d only swallow.
But some, like Simon Peter, absolutely got it. No, he didn’t yet understand completely. That wouldn’t happen until after the resurrection. But Simon Peter knew he’d found something unlike anything else on earth. He is bewildered, mesmerized but intent on following the train of thought.
When everyone else looked at him, Simon Peter knew, they saw only a simple fisherman. But, when Jesus looked at him, he somehow saw the light of the world.
And that blew Simon Peter’s mind.
But he wasn’t about to walk away. There was no other place he could possibly go. No one else who would ever look at him that way.
The way Jesus looks at us, seeing the light of the world.
If we’d only swallow.
And shine into the darkness.