Friday, February 21, 2014

Jonah Days

The black bell tolls the death knell
It rings in formless tones the fatal word
Of power and fear and helpless drowning
It gives me its ominous name "Overwhelmed".

The white page is vast with empty hope
Uncertainty of life and dreams that press pale
Like a giant whale about to swallow me whole
Though I am not yet running... to or fro.

But I want to run. To hide myself away alone, my fear
Of alone, to block out both the black and white
Not to risk the taming and giving of the wild things
Not to risk the tears and grief and failure.

They will come. They always do. I  know
I bleed red when cut by life's sharp shards
My legs buckle against my will and I fall
And on the way down I wait for the pain.

But then, there I am carpet-faced and crying,
and from there I can see, and seeing, I have hope.
The gong is not for me, the page is not a void.
I can see the palace, and I am not alone.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014


1 Peter 3:13-22
     Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God's will, than for doing evil.     For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison, because they formerly did not obey, when God's patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water. Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him.
This passage I have always found confusing. Having read the stories of the martyrs and even the suffering that Paul experienced, how could her write this question: now who is there to harm you? There are plenty to do harm. It does remind me of the passage  that talks about not fearing those who can hurt the body only. 

The next phrases I really like. We are to always be prepared to give the reason for the hope that is in us. We don't need all the answers to every question. We aren't required to be prepared for every weird detail that may be thrown at us. But if we are believers we must have hope and we had better know why we have that hope. And we had better be able to give the reason for that hope without getting all testy about it. 

Our model for this, as usual, is Christ. HE SUFFERED for doing good, and even his suffering was turned into something good. This brings me back to the first question. Who is there to harm you? Well, Jesus did good and he was harmed. I'm still thinking I must be missing something. 

Noah was saved, baptism... saves? If it is an appeal to God. How does this fit with the Presbyterian view of baptizing children? Can babies make an appeal to God? Or are their parents making an appeal to God? Does someone else's appeal "work"? Isn't it God's work? I have more questions of this part than answers, it seems. 

I wonder if this is why people ask questions at baptisms. They show that they are prepared to give an answer for their hope. 

But we do resolve with the resurrection of Jesus Christ who is our advocate at the right hand of God in heaven. He's in charge. So those questions can sit for now. I have the only answer I need.