Tag Archives: Bible

My Jacob

Empathy here, at the genesis, a garment
worn to wrestle. The hip bone
wrenched at dawn. A new name
for one at the end of himself. Stones
ground under heels overnight. He won’t go,

that heel-grabber, he wants a full-face
blessing. Under his torn garment,
throbbing with honest pain, his hip bone
is ID’d by my thumbprint. My name:
he knows it. He left it with the stones,

that time he gave my house my name,
rested his head and dream-laddered to me on pillow-stones.
So I won’t go,
and he’ll see the lines of kindness that write my face.
And I’ll feel the pain shouldered under his garment,

thumb-pressed into memories of when he had to go,
flee a father who could not see his face,
the hairs barely plucked free of his garment.
He knows the throbbing truth, has picked it from the bone:
his brother was right when he spat the heel-grabber name.

And yet. He grabs the other truth while we grind stones:
I want to make room for him, to let him go
with a memory of my face.
He will get a chance to replace this garment,
the one holy-torn to our contention’s bone.

Fast backward and forward to other bruised bone:
His own father with sticks carried on boy-shoulders, carried in the name
of a ram-surprised sacrifice. Then, those stones
that cried at the sight of battered shoulders, cross-ready to go.
You will cry, too, at my thorn-pressed, pain-readable face.

At the dawn there I am, and you have a new name.
When your pillows are stones, your dreams wrestle with bruised bone,
remember your holy-torn garment, read my love-legible face.

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Onesimus

Onesimus is a first century runaway slave, who returns to his master Philemon with a cover note from the apostle Paul. Paul wants Philemon to take him back “no longer as a slave but more than a slave, as a beloved brother” (Philemon 1:16).

Onesimus
                   On the road to Phrygia

Oh!      Neh!    Sih!      Muss!
Keep on:
Want to see more walking
Quality walking
We all need more of that.

Oooooooooh!  Nesimus
Check your pocket:
Still got that letter from Paul?
Good.  Have a rest, a short rest
It’s a short letter that requires a lifetime’s reading.

Onesimus….nesimus…mussssss
You’re nearly there:
Some last words of encouragement:
You are useful.  More than you know
Yes, I know that your name means useful
It’s what slaves are.

Onesimus
Gone now.
I wish you could know:
Many will rush to greet you,
even if Philemon doesn’t.
Someone will take you inside, another will pull out your chair;
and yes, that casserole on the table-
it’s made from fatted calf.
There will be many angry big brothers,
huffing on the doorstep.
Why are they so angry?
It’s because of all of us,
all of us couldabeen shoudabeen wouldabeen slaves.
We’re no longer slaves,
we’re no longer useful to them.

Onesimus, Onesimus
Who knows?
Maybe Philemon will fall upon your neck with
hairy welcome
And, just there, right there, Jacob will clap the loudest.
Onesimus, Onesimus.  More than Onesimus.
Keep walking
Quality walking
We all need more of that.

Danielle Terceiro 2015

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More words

Light
A sweep of molecules
Across my sheet of paper.
Every molecule is
Snippy, meticulous
Ready to cut with a million practised movements
To cut out words from the page
And leave them floating
On the safe harbour of my book.

The light has snipped through to the end of the story.
Yes, that is their teacher on the beach
Cooking breakfast
But the men in the boat, they don’t recognise him
Not yet
They will, soon.

The light of the morning
Will do some more snipping
There’ll be words, and more words.
More words than fish
More words than a fisherman
Can catch before light.

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Saved, assuredly so

On the fourth night of every week, Pete’s dad gave an important talk in front of a bonfire in the amphitheater, and afterward lots of campers always accepted Christ… Kids were filled with the Spirit, which made them stare and quiver and confront their friends with divine messages… The first time he saw a fourth-night bonfire, he wondered whether he was really saved, because no such thing had ever happened to him, and later he asked Jesus into his heart again just to make sure. After a while he decided that things were different for him because of his dad.  Maybe his revelation was spread out over his whole life, a little at a time, so that it never seemed like a big deal.

                Mary Kenagy, Loud Lake.
In Bret Lott (editor), The Best Christian Short Stories.

 

 

Stop asking Jesus Into Your Heart. The title will either intrigue you… or put you off.  If you are feeling put off, perhaps the  book’s subtitle will draw you in: How to Know For Sure You Are Saved.  If the subtitle doesn’t appeal, perhaps the fact that you can tell your friend who knows a lot about theology that you are reading a nice little book on the doctrine of assurance might do the trick.

J.D. Greear of this book reckons that, by the time he was eighteen years old, he had probably “asked Jesus into his heart” five thousand times, and prayed the sinner’s prayer at least once in every denomination.  And each time he “gained a little assurance”, he would feel compelled to get re-baptised. But no matter what he did, he could not shake the fear that he was going to hell. Did I really feel sorry enough for my sin? Did my life change enough after I asked Him into my heart? Did I understand enough about Jesus, or my sin, or grace, when I prayed? Were there other areas of rebellion I was unaware of?

Greear came to realise that he was scared because he held the wrong picture of God and Jesus.  He had imagined Jesus standing before God begging for mercy, or leniency, on his behalf.  Please God, just give this guy one more chance.  However, the truth is that Jesus does not need to appeal to God for mercy on anyone’s behalf:  Jesus has already satisfied all the claims against us by dying on the cross.

Salvation comes not because someone has prayed a prayer correctly, but because they lean the hopes of their soul on the finished work of Christ.  Jesus has paid for all our sins: not an ounce of judgment remains. We do not have to beg for mercy or prove that we deserve a second chance. Jesus in my place. The essential, amazing message of the gospel. Woohoo!!

So…you can rest totally in Christ.  And there is no concern if you haven’t had a dramatic conversion experience, or don’t remember the first time you believed (e.g. if you grew up in a Christian home).  There is no need to analyse the authenticity of a past prayer, experience or ceremony.  The important thing is that you continue in your current posture of repentance and belief.

The section I found helpful (albeit very short) was Leading My Kids to Jesus. Little children, of course, are capable of real faith. But there may be situations in which a child “prays the prayer” more to make their parents happy, than as an expression of their actual faith in Christ.  How can parents be passionate demonstrators of faith to their children, and at the same time avoid manipulating their children into saying or doing things that they may not (yet) understand?  Greear emphasises that it’s never to young to begin trusting in and surrendering to Jesus. So- teach your children, all along the way, to be surrendered towards Jesus and believing in what He said He accomplished.  Present Jesus as Lord.  Even if a child does not yet grasp all that salvation entails, a parent can encourage them in the appropriate posture towards Christ from the beginning: repentant and believing.  And how wonderful if that child grows up without an exciting testimony- if they grow up in the light, always aware of the Lordship of Jesus, believing that He did what He said He did.

The section I didn’t like so much was Appendix 1, where Greear outlines situations in which (he thinks) a believer ought to consider re-baptism (e.g. pressure by parents at the time of the first baptism).  This checklist seems to convey the idea of baptism as a performance before God, something that is necessary to “get right” or do again.  But this is a minor quibble vis-a-vis the helpfulness of the main book (and it’s an appendix- you may not even get to it).

This small, intimate book is very encouraging.  Ultimately, God does not want believers to have any doubt that they are saved.  The Bible tells us so:

These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life. (1 John 5:13)

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Ruth

Naomi, your family came to Moab
You were hungry-
But were you also excited, exhilarated?
You had snuck out from under God’s blanket during
Israel’s night- so many judges, so few law keepers.

The hunger went away with your first Moabite harvest
But what had you really reaped?
Not excitement or exhilaration-
Gone, pitched away into the air,
Far from the graves of father and sons.

And me, I am not sure who I am
I was once a daughter, a wife
What am I now? A daughter- in- law?
I am foreign to myself, perhaps to others.
I am not sure where I should be
But I can’t rest here
I’ll take your slipstream, Naomi, to Bethlehem
And I’ll wonder all the way-
Am I going home, or into exile?

Naomi, you and I were a tiny knot,
Pulled tight, tighter
At the point where loss and bitterness meet.
Now we are beautifully undone,
Hope stretches out
And is rolled back into a ball of
Family, close family.
Thank you Boaz.

Boaz, you know the letter of the law,
And you’ve filed it away, carefully.
You know all the regulations
You’re the CEO of a kind harvest
A harvest certifiably kind to widows and their mothers.

I know it was more than Naomi’s slipstream
That drew me here.
Sometimes I dream that I am still making my way
Somewhere on the way to Bethlehem
Wondering whether I should start searching for memories-
Of my parents, of Orpah, of the husband of my youth.
There are no signposts here, in my dream
And each time I think- next time I’m here
I’ll plant a signpost, because I know
Others will make this trip too.

There is always the donkey at my side,
Nudging me home
And then there is always the cry of a baby
My baby, waking me
Ready to be fed.

Image

Painting is “Ruth Gleaning” (James Tissot, 1896)

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