Posts Tagged With: disciples

Talking, Listening, Following

This week my had has been full of sinus drainage, leaving little room for deep, blog-worthy thoughts. Plus, during those precious moments I have been able to escape the demands of work and family . . . I have been sleeping instead of writing.

But hey, there have been weeks–thankfully many of them–when I did not blow my body weight in snot out my nose. And during those weeks, I have written things that I think make some sense. So, considering my inability to be coherent this week, I link you to some previous writings.

Categories: Bible Study, Practices | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Sermon Snippet: Calling the Disciples

So here’s the part of yesterday’s sermon that is most compelling for me.  The texts are Matthew 4:18-22 and 9:9; you can read the whole thing here.

* * * * * * *

Peter and Andrew, James and John and Matthew don’t just leave behind stuff, they leave behind their most comfortable identities–the work and family relationships that give them value in the eyes of society and, probably, in their own eyes as well. They don’t just leave behind stuff, they leave behind their identities. They go from fisherman or tax collector to, “fisher of people,” follower of Jesus–whatever that is!

And there is something else that the new disciples must leave behind–there on the lake shore, there at the tax booth. It is something that is not obvious at first. Something I never thought of at all until I came across a fascinating article this week by K.C. Hanson titled, “The Galilean Fishing Economy and the Jesus Tradition.”

Here’s the pertinent information: “Fishermen received capitalization along with fishing rights, and were therefore indebted to local brokers responsible for the harbors and for fishing leases. The location of [Matthew's] toll office in Capernaum—an important fishing locale—probably identifies him as just such a contractor of royal fishing rights.”

This means that Matthew could have been the tax collector who took the exorbitant government fees from Peter, Andrew, James, and John. Matthew could have been the tax collector that overcharged them so he could have a nice paycheck for himself.

Regardless of whether Matthew was the tax collector, he definitely was a tax collector and therefore represented the most intimate form of Roman oppression that the fishermen experienced; he represented the system that kept them scrambling for a living while they were forced to help provide the means for others to live in luxury.

There is Matthew, at his tax booth. Imagine what Peter and the rest must have thought when they noticed that Jesus was approaching the booth. When they saw that Jesus was about to say something to the tax collector. They were probably pretty excited, mischievous gleams in their eyes.

“Ahhh, look,” they would say to each other, “Jesus is gonna let that tax collector have it! He’s gonna go tell him that Jews have no business sucking up to Rome, making money off of their own people, living in luxury while we practically starve. He’s gonna turn over that table and tell him where he can stick all those denarius. Jesus is gonna march right up to that tax collector and say–“

“Follow me.”

That is not what they expected Jesus to say.

And then that tax collector left his tax booth and joined them all as they followed Jesus down the streets of Capernum.

That is not what they expected the tax collector to do.

Yes, the fishermen leave behind their nets. Yes, Matthew leaves behind his booth. They also find they must leave behind their prejudices, their expectations about other people, and even their expectations about Jesus.

Categories: Bible Study | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Post-Easter Sestina

Reading the Bible and writing poetry in a quiet house.  Life is good today.

Thank you for your words for my sestina.  The poem I wrote is below.  If you’ve written one, I’d love to see it!  You can send it to me via the “Contact” page–and let me know if I am allowed to post it.

Of Fish and Fear and Resurrection: A Sestina

The tomb stands there, smelling of flesh,
but the entrance—or exit, I guess, since something obviously left–
is no longer blocked by the stone.
It is clear something fishy
is going on—especially when the glowing men appear
and insist: “Do not be afraid.”

Which is a sure sign that fear
is justified. Goosebumps prickle the women’s flesh,
sweat pours from their palms, and they try to appear
calm as they turn and leave
the graveyard to find the fishermen,
the tax collector, and the rest of the guys to tell them about the stone.

The one supposed to be sealing the tomb. That stone.
The guys are curious and confused and mostly afraid.
Peter and Andrew were really hoping they could get back to fishing
since it turned out Jesus was just flesh
and blood after all; since Jesus was dead now the authorities could leave
them all alone. But apparently

things were not back to normal yet—with the appearance
of these hysterical women and their story of the stone.
Why couldn’t people just leave
well enough alone? Now rumors swirl and the fear
returns. The disciples gather and flesh
out a plan—basically they will lock all the doors and eat their fish

in peace. It works for a few hours, everyone blithely chewing fish
and checking the locks. Then, despite their precautions, Jesus appears
and shows them where the nails ripped into the flesh
of his palms. Jesus is there. They are all stone
cold sober. A new kind of fear
settles in—a nagging sense that won’t leave

them alone. A realization that they must believe.
Only they don’t know what to believe. So they go out to fish.
That’s not going so well and they’re afraid
supper will be meager until a stranger appears
on the shore, just a stone’s
throw away. His friendly greeting makes their flesh

crawl. But they do what he says and fish suddenly appear,
leaving little doubt about who the stranger is as they haul in the net, heavier than the stone.
Jesus says, “Do not be afraid.” Yet there he stands—in the flesh.

Categories: Lent/Easter, Poetry | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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