Monday, 11 March 2013
Hopefully the coming weeks and seasons will teach us many things about the labour of being married and its reward. Hopefully we will find time and space and words to share these things, so that any and all can be caught up in this happy thing we have found. This is a brief summary of some thoughts that have lead us to find it joyful to be Pawlett Jacksons.
1. Oneness. We are Pawlett Jackson so to stand for the way in which we intend our union to be distinct, joyful, intentional, emergent and collaborative. That we would be one in name was a priority.
2. Newness. For the joy of sharing in the newness of identity, and to accurately reflect the equal measure with which we both leave and cleave to a new thing.
3. Symmetry. To include both previous names means both histories and inheritances endure, even while both are beginning something distinct and synthesise in a way that reflects the process we ourselves feel ourselves going through.
4. Process. There is a challenge in under going the change itself, a process of bureaucracy essentially, but a symbolic exercise that is particular and distinct, as the cocoon is distinct from both caterpillar and butterfly, and we both would like to go through this process.
5. Patriarchy. There is an industrial norm that values work and therefore the surname is claimed by the male one who goes away from the home to the place of work. It is our hope that our home would be the primary place of our ministry and it is a long term hope that we would find authentic and profound ways to integrate variously valued aspects of both our lives, works, home. Mardi Keyes speak on this profoundly (if not specifically about surnames) in Gender and Vocation
6. vs Individualism. It could be claimed that in choosing to discontinue both our family names we have chosen to privilege the fleeting moment over a larger family story, in a way that will complicate things for our children's children's surnames. These things have not been taken on lightly, and it is our hope that the joy in this new thing will bring life and freedom, and that our love for those who have gone before does not need overemphasising. In solving future exponentially length names, we have already enjoyed to abrieve a PJ, but these things will bubble up as we go.
This seems a suitable place to say that we are now:
sarahpawlettjackson [at] gmail [dot] com
philpawlettjackson [at] gmail [dot] com
Mt11v1-2 Be taught like the disciples. Be teaching like Jesus. Be inquiring like John the Baptist. Love God with all your mind. And so go and tell. Have an answer for the hope. Delight to use words. Find words, good words, strong words. Be so known. Be heard about in the prisons. Be conspicuous. Be question-able. Be on mission. .. This verse transitions us from the Mission Discourse to a new chapter, just as we begin also a new season, now. And the shift is ec-static. Jesus' appeal is expansive. Being on mission is being on a ripple outwards: that gospel which Jesus teaches us in small groups (v1a), those methods we learn through one-off events, the joyful licence Jesus gives us to play the trumpet there: (v1b) '..go on from there to teach that to the cities..'
Mt11v3-4 Jesus the phenomenologist. What do you hear and see? Stretch out your senses, taste & see, hear & smell & feel. You saw once, John, you baptised him, you declared that he was the One. & then life is messy & confusing & it's hard to be sure. Even the wild close-by baptiser doubted. So, taste daily bread, memory alone cannot sustain. Put your hands to His scars, here & now. Hear & see, dialogue & witness. Seek truth in the poetry of your experience.
Mt11v5-6 Stative and dynamic, inchoative and progressive, continuous and non-finite. Our healing verbs are present tense participles because the Kingdom is a happening. It IS as I AM is. Love wins. Jesus walks. The deaf hear. The dead are raised. We are here. This is now. What do you see? There is a promise contained in this. We hope in the was-&-IS-&is-to-come-ness of Jesus' power to heal, the norm of the supernatural, the constancy of his faithfulness, the persistence of his Spirit. .. Is the v6 'offence' also contained in the verbs? Because they make ongoing, universal, non-finite claims but attach their redemption to so awkwardly specific and personal a source as this humble Galilean carpenter. Really? This is something of the offence of the personhood of a personal God. It claims the parallels of our axonometric masterplan converge in him. That our present tense continuous healing has its beginning and end in him.
Mt11v7-8 Jesus who calls us on our voyeurism? Bent grass & fancy clothes, train wrecks of addiction, divorce & that, air-brushed red carpet poise, these two streams fill the magazines, our compulsion to glory in other people's failure or to make their so-called success our idol, I see it in my own heart. Jesus goes on to tell us that our heart longs beyond these to the prophetic & the salvific, that is – a word that shatters these images: transcendence.
Mt11v9-10 I travel the world on the seven seas, everybody is looking for something. 'What then did you go out to see?' 'I tell you .. more-than a prophet'. Everyone is looking for more-than. Eternity, as set in the heart of man Ec3v11. Eternity is transcendence is more-than. God is more-than. And he desires your more-than. A quick glance at more-thans in the esv: 2Ki6v16 'Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more-than'; Ps40v5 'you have multiplied wondrous deeds, yet they are more-than'; Mt18v13 'truly he rejoices over [the lost sheep] more-than'; Lk12v23 'Life is more-than'; Lk12v23 'And the body is more-than'; Rm8v37 'No, in all these things we are more-than' .. these verses are more than mere comparative praise. God is more-than, he is overflow, he is superabundance, he is a fractal of constantly more-than. This is what John's disciples went into the wilderness to find. More-than. Ps130v6.
Mt11v11 Comparative praise? Or the hope that comes with knowing that the end is never reached with God, there's always more. As Jesus' declaration that we will do Jn14v12 greater works than Him, not utopian vision of progress but infinity's inexhaustibility. Our children may know wider horizons, more authentic humilities, deeper joys than we, & in this I rejoice.
Mt11v12 What does it mean to try to take the kingdom by force, with violence? Force is physical: mass x acceleration, even in analogy, it functions as such. It works at the level of objects not subjects. Yet it is at the heart of human subjectivity that the seed of divine transformation germinates & flourishes. Stop philosophising with a hammer, cup your hands for the mustard seed, and all that means today.
Mt11v13-14 (1) 'All' - All of scripture is God-breathed, the whole is affirmed by Jesus, everything converges, the OT is vital. Do I know it? Do I care? (2) 'prophesied' - Why? Why words, why anticipation, why wait, what profit the prophetic? God designed human history, and the saving of it, to suit human ways of knowing and being-saved: through time and narrative. We are saved historically. (3) 'until' - The end of history, the radically discontinuity, the planned obsolescence of Judaism, the tearing of all timelines dividing BC's we-used-to-wait, from AD's Anno of our Domini's favour. We are here and this is not and The Christ is come. He is with us indeed! Hallelujah! (4) 'willing' - Am I? Willing to accept the uncomfortably specific claim that all hopes, needs and expectations, all answers, justice, blessing, meaning have but one source? My heart is often unwilling, for this changes everything. Oh, fear not!
Mt11v15 I want to hear, tired of missing it. The frustration of not-knowing with not-hearing, when someone shouts something from another room, knowing something has been said, some information put out into the world, but not-knowing, & more than that, put out with the arrows of intentionality from the Thou to the I, & so what is lost in the not-knowing is more than information, but the the knowing-the-other in the communication they gift. Despair has no ears.
Mt11v16 Observing that these verses are subject to inverse interpretation towards noting the difference between childishness & childlikeness become empty quickly if not tied to my lived life. There is a pain in the ambiguity of interpretation, a dizzying uncertainty. Should I be dancing? Is this here now a worshipful celebration or a wilful escapism? Who calls who & how am I called & what am I called on? Without ears, oh lord, I am sick with questions.
Mt11v17-18 One of three verses on a theme that particularly stabs my conscience – Rv3v16 'Because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth' and Mt25v24-5 'Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, so I was afraid, and hid your talent in the ground...' If we project a harsh-taskmaster, red-in-tooth-and-claw, onto ultimate reality, we will live timidly, in lukewarm protectionism. If we arrive at a worldview beyond good and evil, we will create a market place without dancing or mourning, a Bothersome Man universe, with no alarms and no surprises. These are verses for overthinkers, such as I, those with a critical spirit, Jesus calls us to consider how kids play. Such are Christians: more excited and more appalled by the state of the world, so partying harder and grieving more authentically. For we have had our consciences resensitised by the wilderness.
Mt11v19 Wisdom is justified by her deeds? Which presumes a certain intuitionism about goodness & fruitfulness? Fruitfulness can't be just the absence of an absence. A little tangled, after reading Nietzsche's declaration of the same, but his content askew. I do see ways that people eat & drink & fast & say yes & say no that are attractive, & ways that are not. Is this sufficient justification? How does one engage a clash of intuitions? Maybe Jesus tells us here that we don't have to? That though a superficial analysis of ideas often leads to impasse, the lived life of goodness truth beauty cannot but shift hearts. Give me faith to believe, & energy rightly directed, that this demonstration might be first to myself. Give me ears to hear.
Mt11v20 Cities again. How can a city be denounced, if, as we note, the city is necessarily a mass, an abstract? Does Jesus draw attention to my relationship to the mass by denouncing the city to be of? How does the mass determine my singularity, for better or worse? What of London in me does Jesus condemn, what of the spirit of a place that resists miracles is mirrored in my own resistant heart, only able to be refined out of me in an I-Thou wrestle?
Mt11v21-22 Who is Jesus speaking to about Hell here? It is to his chosen ones, the chosen nation, the notionally Hell-exempt. His chosen ones, 'this generation' v16, it is to us kids in the marketplace if we neither dance for joy at our salvation, nor grieve for our own sin, it is to me, unrepentant of my lukewarmth. There are degrees of Hell, suggested in the comparative 'more', and mine is an acute one: to have known God and yet chosen religione, to have know grace and yet chosen law, to have heard the gospel and yet said nothing. A day of judgement will come, as they do from tie to time, and on that day my colleagues will say, as the shipmates to Jonah Jh1v10 ' You knew God?!'. Numb comfort is not victimless. Woe is me if I have settled for a very-near-imitation of God, woe to my moralistic therapeutic deism, woe to my less-than-fully-urgent mysticism, woe to my language of mere tolerance, woe to my theology of excuses, woe to my social gospel of people-pleasing.
Mt11v23-24 Sins of unrisk, sins of smallness. Oh audience, what do you want? It will be worse for you. Worse to hear & see & to do nothing, unaffected, these particular sins of omission are the most ugly & boring, worse for you than the colourful transgressions symptomatic of the restless heart...better restless than dead, for God is God is the God of the living. Worse for you to be asleep than wrestling in the dark. Wake up on sleeper, oh Sarah, oh heart.
Mt11v25-26 What is a child? My most powerful, most subtle, most destructive Temptation may be childishness, and the related bending of grace and blurring of such verses to conflate humble childlikeness with my own escapist desire to remain immature. Jesus will use the weak ones in the world to shock the overeducated, and Jesus does bid us come to him as weak ones, but they are cult-leaders and dictators who desire their followers be kept enfeebled. It is do subtle, the way the city nurtures extended adolescence, celebrating the innocence of passive pliable pawns useful to the devices of a market economy, broadcasting the affected helplessness of a plaintive falsetto, suckling an infantilised and irresponsible Phil on the milk of cheap oil from the teat of perpetual online distraction. Come as a child, retain that humility, but 1Pt2v2 'grow up', Rm16v25 'strengthened' to 1Co13v11 'put away childish things'.
Mt11v27 Does the 2nd person of the trinity actually relate to the 1st person of the trinity as a parent? Trying to avoid tangles of systematic theology in favour of a meditation on how this might change how I live & how I pray...this group psychology of the trinity – there's a parent-child relationship that I observe, which invites me in. I am the adopted child C relating to the A-B of Father-Son (or the D of the Father-Son-Spirit's A-B-C) I know A via B, that is, B is transformed by his relationship to A, such that he can extend to D, we are sucked into a relational vortex of increasing glory. How do I witness the A-B-C. This is my question again, somehow it is the question of the Christian life. What is the phenomenology of the trinity? The spirit interprets? Christ the revealer speaks out loud the Father's whisper & the Spirit interprets this into the language of my heart?
Mt11v28 You shouldn't have more than you can bear, with Jesus. I want to declare this over one we know. Please show that you are who you say you are to her. Ease her yolk, oh as Hosea 11, do not give her up, please give her what she needs for ease and light, in your precious name.
Mt11v29-30 Easy. Like EasyJet? The word seems picked from the disingenuous vocabulary of the marketeer. And it is a relative term: Easy for you to say! Commentators would point to the kindred Greek noun used in 2Co6v6, Tt3v4, Ga5v22, Ep2v7, Rm2v4, Lk5v39 and so render Christ's yoke 'wholesome, serviceable, kindly.' Yet Christ's yoke is easy thus: Christianity is the only creed in the whole world which is not impossible. Every other uneasy faith and ism commends the lifting of immovable objects up insurmountable hills with insignificant resources. See the futile environmentalism Wall-E labours under, picture the washing up pile from Sward in the Stone, consider Mendoza's burden hauled up hill in The Mission. But now. Because he paid the price we could not pay, everything is affordable. Not only that but profitable: 'Christ's yoke is like feathers to a bird; not loads, but helps to motion' (Jeremy Taylor)
Mt10v1-2 This one a fumbling and hidden asking, rather than a well-oiled meditation for the world. Jesus, you've given me authority to pray for healing of every kind of disease, even vicious and longstanding cancer, so I want to pray in your name for this particular miraculous healing. How do I pray it over them? How do I pray it with fear and trembling at a distance, in this weighty thing? How do I use your name with the right authority? Please God.
Mt10v3-4 There is a list like this with your name on it. Lk10v20 Is49v16 Ac29v1.
Mt10v5-6 of the many theorisings as to why Jesus sends the disciples first to the Jews before the Gentiles, I read it this morning to remind that there is no special value to 'overseas mission' above its being missional. If we live abroad I want to live abroad for the joy of newness & adventure, not a label to hide behind, not to pin ourselves to an organisation. & I want to be missional there with no different a heart to the mission I am on now. Oh, London, I am sorry I don't give you my best. I see the shapes this present moment's mission might take, & ask God to fit me to task. Dear sheep, there is a shepherd here & now. Mission is a heartsong, an overflow. There is no point going somewhere else to love on people until you've let God teach you how to do it here.
Mt10v7-8 As you go. On your way. As I was going to St Ives. Evangelism via. Betwixt, between and en route. Jesus commissions peripatetic drive-by multi-taskers, tasked with 'proclaim...saying': “use words because you have to” but in the same breath, “do these supernatural actions, because you have to.” I say you have to, but primarily you get to, it is compassion rather than duty which behoves us, it is the absurd generosity of our freely-recieved which obliges us, leads us further up and further in to the mystery of the doing-and-saying of freely-giving to others the keys of an at-hand kingdom, freely-distributing to others a swiss-army knife of healing-cleansing-exorcising...This exercise of sacred texting is never more hypocritical when it meets Jesus' words to praying healing like this. Help me God, help me textees, help me to help London find healing, on my way to work. Today if you hear...
Mt10v9-10 the truth revealed about the human heart. & the work of Jesus is always towards surrendering our substitutes. Money, sex & power continue to take hold of us where we do not take hold of God, we go to them for Is30v2 protection, security, coping, where we do not know the ultimate safety of Jesus. There is no contingency plan after Jesus. The conditions of generosity: To Him: all I am I give to you, all I have I share with you.
Mt10v11-12 Abide: requires a quality of permanence more than a quantity of time. Abba Anthony: 'In whatever place you live, do not easily leave it'. Despite the hypermobile hegemony we move in, we know the goodness of this 'staying', we know the wisdom of stability, we know the authenticity of required/enabled by such a long-term attitude, even at whatever actual time scale God permits us to stay. We know this from specific individuals in our lives, indeed, in all antipodean love, in every expat paused long enough to give and receive a quality of 'home'. See Jesus is calling his crew to be hypermobile, but, not to the exclusion of affirming the roots they borrow and nurturing the quality of a place...'Worthy', in the Hebrew, same word as 'to give alms'. Will the poor, the evangelist, the Christ (Mt25v40) find our homes worthy?...'Greet/peace.' Our currency is peace. Peace be with you. Wa-Alaikum-Salaam.
Mt10v13-14 shake the dust off & go elsewhere, dear heart, when rejection threatens to sit right in there and take up cap. The experience of certain words or behaviours, or lack of them, interpreted as rejection, reiterating old lies, taking up so much space...this is not what your hear is for. Your heart is for treasuring and pondering Lk2v19 holy mysteries, for meditating on Ph4v8 good, noble things. So shake off the dust of rejection dear heart.
Mt10v15-16 'More' and the danger of comparative praise. 'Bearable' and the euphemisation of horror. 'Will be' and the difficulty of supporting an hypothesis of non-hell on the tense of a verb in translation . These are less interesting than the coinciding of this reading with this evening's Am4v6-11 'yet you did not return to me...yet you did not return to me...yet you did not return to me' – all this talk of hell, of hell's pre-emption, are a calling us back to our first love, calling us back to a dustiness shaken off, calling us fresh to come-and-play, urging us to go-and-tell. And 'hell' (and hell) is the only sufficient signifier to conjure the infinite gap between life-with-God and life-without-God, which is our ecstatic force. Noting that it will be worse for those who do not offer hospitality (v13 'receive you'), and thinking about N, what is serpentine wisdom and dovely innocence in this?
Mt10v17-18 I am doing something wrong.
Mt10v19-20 Apt words from the Word made flesh. These verses are timely. Please pray for the questioning colleagues who doubt the capacity of words to carry substance. Words: be unanxious in your ad hoc, off-the-cuff, improv evangelism, because God wants fruit even more than you do, and he has a wealth of personally profound and provocatively prophetic words for individuals, eg. 'I am going to pray for your shoulder' .. 'It's been killing me for weeks' #boom. .. Words: be bold in your philosophy, T is one semiotically ensnared: 1 - all religion is but the multiplication of words, and 2 - God is unsignifiable. But God has broken into our wordplay, our guessing games, the loop of self-reference and self-reverence. The God who creates with a word, Gn1v3, does not leave it there, he is the author who enters his own story Jn1v14, a living Word begetting lifely words, testimony to testimony, faith to faith, begotten by words.
Mt10v21-22 So at some level we hate each other, naturally competitive, in our insecure fear of unbelovedness, rejoicing over others' failures. Jealous of their joy. So we are as Jesus finds us, and – unbelievably – goes about changing us. We are to endure, this is how we are saved. What does it mean to endure? Not to grit one's teeth and 'endure' the difficult other, not to turn away from the world to 'endure' because the heart is made of stone, but it means loving, because 1Cor13v7 love endures all things. Love endures, love endures. Mike Mason knows it, that love beats the ego at its own game, by resting on a belovedness that undoes insecurity's hatred. I am overwhelmed in discovering this anew. So Mt5v44 love your enemies – knowing, as here, that your 'enemies' are usually those closest to you. Love has a power hate doesn't know; So8v6-7 get swept up.
Mt10v23-24 'Oh my ears and whiskers, how late it's getting!' As we see how deep the rabbit hole goes with Jesus and his gospel-to-Go, there are these things to hold in tension, speed but not haste, risk but not undue recklessness. I think that, even in little decisions, I am looking for a hill to die on (rather than looking to a hill to live from) – a passive aggressive martyr complex, a workaholic Jesus-is-coming-look-busy mode of callous, and indeed fruitless, expedience. The gospel is a being towards death boldly, fearlessly, authentically, but not so eagerly that we forget that there is urgent work to be about here and now, pragmatically. Oh Phil, don't waste your life, in vain avoidable deaths, time is short, have the humility to save your to-live-is-Christ life. Picking one's battles wisely and keeping all wedding planning centred on good news, the good news, the urgent good news.
Mt10v25-26 'Revelation constitutes a veritable inversion of objectifying cognition' – Levinas. And Westphal's commentary alongside this that this is experience of dispossession rather than possession. Revelation, contrasted with disclosure, is necessarily personal, it is an Other person who reveals, revelation is definitionally authentic, and it bids the self come die. And it is glory. Jesus reveals a glimpse in Mt17 transfiguration, that will be the full face-to-face Rv22v4 of The Revelation. Christ Jesus is the Other who reveals in an ultimate way. Nothing will be left untouched. Height breadth depth, Jesus comes with truth, which revelation always bestows, and the truth is that He Himself is the Truth. A double inversion, a grace that implodes in on itself to an infinite point, leaving nothing untouched.
Mt10v27-28 There is a happy mischief-maker flyering corners of London with 'Jesus[heart]Wikileaks' complete with the v26 reference. Yes but. These verses are more than a wry decal. Jesus is sending me, we, you, and us, out to v7 preach the Kingdom, and v8 heal the sick. It is to this end, for this cause, that we are to be rebels, truthers, iconoclasts. And it is in the service of this cause that we will face known-unknowns, and unknown-unknowns, that might beg our fear, our paralysing prudence, our cautious deference. But not. Oh fear not Phil. We are casting ourselves onto such unknowns for the cause of such a gospel, by such a marriage as ours. Fear not. In this world, for every possible unknown, when it comes to light, there is a bigger Known, that we are blameless and beloved before the one who could would and should otherwise destroy sinner Phil, body and soul, in Hell. But not. Blameless and beloved.
Mt10v29-30 As we move from fear to love, we see dimensions of the same thing, through different bits of glass. It is our knowness. The primary divine epistemology is that we are 1Cor13v12 fully known, only then to know. Connected to the God who uncovers – as God's thou is revealed, I discover I am uncovered, unhidden, fully known all along. Here is the root of my value, which comes as a grace, a gift: known and loved, known and loved, known and loved.
Mt10v31-32 'Fear not!' Jesus repeats important things. 'Fear not!' Jesus repeats things we are liable to forget. 'Fear not!' Jesus gives us the how and why and wherefore of this fearlessness, and he builds an argument for fearlessness based on your 'value'. You. Are. Valuable. Have you grasped this? What is the worth of your person? What can you give in exchange for your soul? Have you pondered what currency your value lies in? Have you considered how to spend it or where to invest yourself? Oh, know you have value because you are valued. You are infinitely valuable because you are valued by an infinitely flawless value-giver. You are considered of worth, purpose, utility and delight towards a great and glorious end, and that end is the display of the glory of God. And he will secure it, he will secure you. .. v32 'acknowledge'. Footnote. Give yourself away. Let your guard down. Scary? Fear not Phil, fear not.
Mt10v33-34 v33 Forgive me, dear Christ, for disowning you today, unacknowledging the One I love, even after a warning. Forgive me. Own me. Know me. Here I am. v34 The Ph4v6-7 peace that passes understanding vs the peace the Jesus did not come to bring. So we infer that Jesus did not come to bring a peace that we could understand, not risk management or a quiet life, but weighty rest, like drops of gold, with a holy fight bursting out from it. The rest and the rupture, thank God.
Mt10v35-36 Leaving and cleaving is made uniquely possible by Christianity, because Christianity is a glorious heterodoxy – our's is not a tribal deity. Thus it is not merely permissible to err, nor fashionable to be different; it is Life to be heterogenous. Our security from sharks is not in the undifferentiated expanse of sameness across the skin of our tribe, as if we were James' Giant Peach. We are not safe and sufficient because or the size of our tribe or household, but rather, because we are persons conceived in the mind of Mounier's God, who has an infinite capacity for the indefinite multiplication of these separate acts of love. We are secure in God's superabundance, and in this security we can comport ourselves with a radical love towards fathers, mothers, mothers-in-law; a relationship of Gift alone. Grateful am I to have found myself so encouraged in this freedom by these relations.
Mt10v37-38 37 Of not making an idol of your husband. 38 Of needing your husband, to be the mirror to the self that must die. The gospel bids me come and die, this heart. We are at war, it is the fight I want.
Mt10v39-40 Jesus played with words, so play we. Reading v39 requires a concept of 'life' and 'Life' say the commentaries. So also we might adopt two 'finds'es: the 'Founded in 1986' self-made man will be unmade and dumbfounded. I play too far. The verb is important however. When you speak of your Life, what verb is primary for you? Did you build it, buy it, inherit it, earn it? Rather, and embarrassingly, did you find it? Mt13v44 like treasure in a field, like flowers in a skip – there is nothing to boast of in that verb 1Cor4v7 .. v40 receiving you, receiving Him. Though we are Other, we are One: to live is Christ, (to die is gain? (v39)). This strange union with God, is a profound mystery indeed Eph5v32. And we stumbled upon it! Oh to grace how great a debtor, daily.
Mt10v41-42 42 Not means-ends reasoning but getting swept up in a story bigger than my self, and so 41 if you bless the prophets you get caught up in their reward, that is, participation in someone else's story begets more blessing, unlike Mt6v5 asserting one's self for display for display, which limits reception, freezing itself. And we like to say such things but it is a difficult thing, to give yourself to another person's story, it is 39's death to self, a painful joy.
Mt9v1-2 v1 'His own city..' Was Jesus' own-ership that of a merely loyal inhabitant or of a registered citizen invested and allied? This was Capernaum, not Bethlehem of his birth, nor Nazareth of his childhood. Own where you are now at thus: name it, belong, participate, seek it's best. v2 Paralysis. All sin causes damage, all damage is sin-caused. Rarely however, is the victim solely directly culpable for their own brokenness, but, exceptionally, in this case it seems so. Which gives me to think on what paralysis in my life is self-inflicted by my own sin, what inaction and rigidity is manifest in my spiritual life on account of guilt and shame? v2 Forgiven. Take heart BP your spills are forgiven. And the scribes twittered to themselves #bpcares #convictedofmisselling.. Forgiveness like this is so offensive. Unless you can also bear the cost and heal the wound, unless you can absorb the cause and the consequences, unless you can demonstrate that you were here at the beginning and you're in it for the long haul. See Jesus forgives because he is making all things new, he is making all things new because he forgives.
Mt9v3-4 'Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your heart?' WHY, which could be like 'why do trees grow?' which is an important way of asking the question, these causal links to the past, to one's body chemistry, to abuse & models & habits & the environment, & you should ask this question, it matters to Jesus, he wants to redeem all these things, he does. But there is also the WHY that addresses as a person as a freedom, as a face-to-face, Why do you think such vile things? It remains a real questions. Why the fuck do I? What joy or meaning or completion do I think I'll find in any apartness-from-Jesus? EVIL for evil is all that puts itself above & apart from Jesus, as these in this passage, the smug satisfaction of self-deceivingly placing oneself above & apart from the other, even from God. Break me, Jesus don't let it be so. So these evil thoughts that come, but you choose whether you will ENTERTAIN them or not. Why would you entertain them? Why would you get to know them or make them think they're welcome? They are not welcome, do you hear? You. Are. Not. Welcome. In Jesus name. Not near my HEART. The heart, as it conspires with the mind, the seat of being, the place of identity, the wellspring of life. Beware, dear hearts, you are robbed & spoilt by evil thoughts. Don't be, for you are your beloved's, you are in Christ.
Mt9v5-6 Which is easier healing or forgiveness? The pharisees (in me) ponder Jesus rhetorical question literally. Which is easier for those angels balancing on the heads of pins juggling the rocks God made too heavy for him to lift? Jesus' question mocks my theorising, in the hope of doubly freeing me, both from my original sins and from my subsequent self-justifying. Which is easier, healing or forgiveness? Silly. Jesus has no difficulty marking my papers, I have sinned and Rm3v23 fallen short of the pass mark of 1, my failure is total and terminal, there are no shades of ease in the remedy. Yet. Offensively, Jesus does remedy it. Pissing on my accountancy. Jesus give us all the same blank cheque of grace to cover it all, regardless of how long I think I've worked Mt20v12 or how far they think I've fallen Lk15v30. Some people pay for thrills.. v6 Is a verse for moving house – it is the outward display of a work Christ is doing in us.
Mt9v7-8 of all the shades & shapes of awe the heart might feel at coming up close to a miracle, that which is picked out here as the reason for an overflow of worship and delight is the fact that in this God gives authority to human beings. Not a focus on the Lordship of Christ here, but more on the way that God has stooped to come close, the transcendent God who is the Is Right Beneath Your Own Foot. It is God's humility in gifting us authority that confounds & captivates these hearts & minds. So this authority is a holy thing, I ask that I am not so quick to forget it, that I treasure & exercise it, risking, as Jesus shows us. This will change my posture, I have seen it, this is Something Has Happened, and this will cause new praises in others, & so their life, their best. This I want, Jesus. This I want.
Mt9v9-10 Follow me. Rob Bell speaks of such 'following' in the rabbinic tradition as being covered in the dust of you teacher, as in the muddied face of a chasing cyclist, unmudguarded adrenaline. That, reaching mid-teens, Torah students of 'Harvard' quality would be offered to “lech acharai” - “to come follow me” - to travel with their rabbi. Calling to be a disciple is thus an elite ascription of prized competance, as Lk6v3 Jesus compares his disciples to David's A-team 2Sm23. So, following, you would then 'powder thyself in the dust of their feet' bounding close behind him, that is, 'when I move, you move, just like that...' 'oh oobee doo, I want be like you, walk like you, talk like you, it's true..' 'there isn't an ocean too deep, a mountain so high it can keep me away..' We are ducklings after our mother duck. Follow me, is not merely follow my rules, nor follow my advice only, but follow Me, so the chase, so the human adventure, so the race marked out.
Mt9v11-12 It is true, the wise word that Jesus speaks to both our sickness and our health, for we are always in wars both, to be brought before Jesus. v9-10 speaks to our health, but here I linger to think about ways of being sick. & we have been thinking of the sickness of longing...lovesick, heartsick, homesick kinds of sick. Jesus came to meet you here. To meet you here.
Mt9v13-14 'People talk of the sacrifice I have made in spending so much of my life in Africa .. is that a sacrifice which brings its own blest reward in healthful activity, the consciousness of doing good, peace of mind, and a bright hope of a glorious hereafter? Away with the word in such a view.. I never made a sacrifice.' Livingstone. Phil, go and learn what this means and apply it. Mt11v30 Jesus burden's net weight is light, so his (sacrifice) is easy; Hb12v2 for the joy set before him he (sacrificed)..; Jm1v3 consider it pure joy when you (sacrifice)..; 2Cor9v7 God loves a cheerful (sacrifice).. .. This is not making-it-look-easy, but rather a sense of perspective of the joy of the big picture. For Good News to be good news, any apparent sacrifice in our gifts, weddings, evangelism must be conspicuously out-weighed by a total comportment of joy, otherwise our sacrificial gifts are unmerciful powerplay.
Mt9v15-16 you know what, I am taking this for the wedding, to speak all that's literal as well as metaphorical in what my heart hopes & fears at the moment, particularly for organisational exhaustion. Please God, be our means & end, let the wedding be joy not mourning, feasting not fasting, so let it be the overflow of my joy as being close to my bridegroom, which images deeper still joy of being with Jesus, of being close to You. Make it so, we need you.
Mt9v17-18 (v16) Patching up out being-torn death. Faith is not accessory, not an additive, not a modesty screen, not a stitch-in-time, not a nicotine patch, not a band-aid on cancer, not an opiate for the masses, not a cosmetic concealer. The gospel-as-accessory is ruinous, it tears apart the patch and the patched. As when faith is a patch you stitch onto natural revelation, it will unweave the rainbow, it is a ruinous way to consider both science and religion. As when Ruskin, Semper and Loos develop ornament-as-clothing, the life-within wars against the cladding and so emerges today's cruel modernism, naked and shivering and unpatchable. Oh Phil, do you now know, life and faith are active ingredients, an intrinsic unity of wine+skin,body+soul, nature+nurture. As Octavia Hill argues, old tenants in new apartments will tear the fabric apart: they are a unity to be developed personalistically, integratedly.
Mt11v19-20 I've been trying to contrive a something round these verse these two days, & ask for Christ's fresh eyes, even now. Jesus confronts us with 'follow me' 20 times in the NT, apparently, but here Jesus follows us, Jesus follows me. So I meditate on Ps139v5's behindness as well as beforeness. Sometimes we don't hear God's voice first, but bring v18 what confronts us, to find that v19 Jesus follows us, Jesus follows us.
Mt9v21-22 She touched him. Matthew Crawford on Working with your Hands: 'It's true, some people fail to turn off a manual faucet. With its blanket presumption of irresponsibility, the infrared faucet doesn't merely respond to this fact, it installs it, giving the status of normalcy. There is a kind of infantilisation at work, and it offends the spirited personality'. Reach out and touch faith, touch the tactile pedagogy of mature Christianity. Phil, learn that Jesus is real, his power is real, you are embodied, he desires your active participation. v21 'be made well' touching and making: Jesus is immersed in continual physical interaction, see you are not only Ps139v14 well made, you are Rev21v5 made new, and made well: and this for the purpose of making, making disiciples Mt28v19, making generally Ecc9v10, Col3v23, making pertaining to weddings: So1v11
Mt9v23-24 Jesus isn't pulling out Tim Burton faux naivete here. There is a self-knowingness which conveys something of his personality & intelligence, it is a healthy holy thing to remember, that humour goes beyond itself, that conviviality (stretching this verse) begins or deepens the interpersonal. So we, like Christ. & of being unafraid to be laughed at, as per our bolder friends, as per the anecdotes from those who have eschewed stripper socials. So we, like Christ: wry knowing, bold declarations.
Mt9v25-26 I sit sipping my coffee this morning, being brought from sleep to life, let caffeine not be my saviour. As with all idols, elevating wakefulness in a hierarchy of virtues, or using chemical assistance as a cover for neglecting right sabbathing, will take its toll. .. 'the crowd had been put outside' – Who is 'the crowd' for you? Three possible motives for evicting the laughing mob: 1. Clarity of discernment-of-a-still-small-voice requires a certain measure of silence and solitude. 2. The will to crowd-pleasing and people-pleasing is identifiable in their absence. Crowd-fasting brings into focus for me what I do for intrinsic motives before an audience of one. 3. Dealing with people as persons not as things is our aim. Ruskin makes it a dichotomy: 'You either make a tool of the creature, or a man of him. You cannot make both' – Your Talithas must be ministered to as persons not propagandistic pawns.
Mt9v27-28 Following & asking, questioning & answering. They followed Jesus, shouting requests. What does that look like for us? What does that feel like? We are told Jesus' questioning response only comes when he had 'gone indoors' .. was he ignoring them before? Was there eye contact? Do we know how to hound this Christ? Praying for those who feel they drag after Jesus shouting. & of going inside, an architectural meditation, the boundaries of a room which makes possible face-to-face, the questions & answers as Jesus' here. Too strong, perhaps, but still, God, take me in to the holy of holies. You ask for belief, the richer, love-believes-all-things, gives-itself-completely, kind of belief. If we ask, you will come.
Mt9v29-30 Believing prayer. Believing prayer. Jesus wants that from us so much. He longs for us to really know him and so his questions prod us to say what we think and to do what we love and to believe what we believe and so to lean in with believing prayers. Lk9v20 Who do you say that I am? Jn21v17 Do you love me? Mt9v28 Do you believe that I am able? .. O I believe, help my unbelief! .. v30 Shh now, some of this is just for you-and-Jesus (not all post-secret subscribers), sometimes its just for you to enjoy, just for you to know, just for yoru internal person to be united to jesus through. Some God encounters don't need to be translated. Not every healing has to be broadcast. Because God wants to know you as an ends in itself. You are now a mans to an end, you are not an evangelistic cog in an impersonal gospel machine. You are a Person and God loves you. Shh now Phil.
A word out of time,
Running ahead, lagging behind,
Out of kilter, off track, off beat.
of the misaligned.
Take me to Jesus,
As he and she and they.
Christ remakes this ether,
From marrow to sky.
Drives out, keeps out, speaks out,
So to seal me (in).
Mt9v33-34 “Good morning Eeyore,” said Pooh, “Good morning Pooh Bear” said Eeyore gloomily. “If it is a good morning, which I doubt,” said he...The willful doubter chooses to ignore the evidence because their prejudice regarding 'belief' itself is faulty, thus the skeptic claims: “For those who don't 'believe', no amount of evidence is enough. And for those who do 'believe', no evidence is necessary.” Such are we Pharisees, who willfully prefer to doubt and so end entangled in the strange logic of demons casting out demons...There is a faulty syllogism at work: demons have power, power changes people, Jesus changed people, therefore Jesus was a demon. This betrays a belief in the superior power of demons over and above the goodness evidenced by Jesus here. As those who might demonise Octavia Hill ('never was any house like this seen in London') Syllogistically: OH=profit=capitalist=power=injustice=she cheated.
Mt9v35-36 Jesus has compassion on us, because we are helpless. Knowing this over those we pray for, that they would know the voice of the shepherd (praying over H today) – Jesus aches after them, know it again and remember that it precedes v37-38 every time you hear them read: otherwise potentially ugly words, for who wants to be harvested? But Jesus speaks them beautifully, because he sees these lost sheep for their lostness, while he knows each dazzling dimension of what it is to be found. And wants them to know. I am oft a wandering sheep, lost of my carer, blind to her voice. Today God said Is30v18 I wait to be gracious to you, Sarah, dear sheep, please let me shepherd you.
Mt9v37-38 The. Harvest. Is. Plentiful. It actually is, dear Phil, take the Bible at its word, calibrate your sight, adjust your expectations thusly: every bus a combine harvester, every tube carriage white for harvest, every colleague brims with kingdom potential, they are each a full sheaf of grain waiting to be artisan bread. True, no one wants to be 'harvested' as though they were dolphins tangled in a dragnet, but harvested in the sense of being brought to a God-designed glory out the raw material of vegetable matter. So, pray earnestly v38? But it's a goldrush town, it's a wedding feast, no? Who wouldn't want it? Mt22v5 'But Phil paid no attention, went off back to his farm, and there murdered some evangelists...' and I have been one who Pr10v5 'snorteth in the summer'...Inclined to legalism and laziness, pray for me earnestly to the Lord of the Harvest, for eyes to see the harvest that *is* ripe.