SAYING, “YES,” TO HEAVEN

Saying, "Yes," to Heaven

Saying, “Yes,” to Heaven

Saying, “Yes” To Heaven
Matthew 4:12-23
© Hilary F. Marckx, all rights reserved

Out minding their own business
and the next thing they know
heaven has snuck up on them
and taken them hostage.
Oh sure, they could have said, “No,’
but there they were and there was Jesus
and what could they do,
say “No,” to God?
Well, it was Jesus, the guy from Galilee.
Galilee from whence no good thing comes.
And maybe they should have run,
because saying, “Yes,” turned out to be
torture and a death sentence—
they would end up losing everything.
Saying yes.
It seemed so easy.
Fishing wasn’t all that good anyway.
Jesus seemed, I don’t know, refreshing,
compared to mending nets and casting lines
that came back empty.
Ambling around the countryside,
shmoozing people, following Jesus,
proclaiming the kingdom, singing good songs, and
living off the land seemed like a job to die for—
and it turned out to be just that.
What does it mean to you to proclaim the kingdom?
What does it mean to you to proclaim Christ is among us?
What does it mean to you to follow the way of Jesus?
What does it mean to you to say, Yes,” to God?
What do you mean when you say you are a Christian?
Do you believe that Heaven is now, and if so,
what has changed about you since before you believed that?

********
Matthew 4:12-23 — New Revised Standard Version

Now when Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee. He left Nazareth and made his home in Capernaum by the lake, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, so that what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:
“Land of Zebulun, land of Naphtali,
on the road by the sea, across the Jordan,
Galilee of the Gentiles—
the people who sat in darkness
have seen a great light,
and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death
light has dawned.”

From that time Jesus began to proclaim, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”

As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the lake–for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him.

Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing every disease and every sickness among the people.

RECOGNITION

Hope #3

Hope #3

John 1:29-34 — The Message

The very next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and yelled out, “Here he is, God’s Passover Lamb! He forgives the sins of the world! This is the man I’ve been talking about, ‘the One who comes after me but is really ahead of me.’ I knew nothing about who he was—only this: that my task has been to get Israel ready to recognize him as the God-Revealer. That is why I came here baptizing with water, giving you a good bath and scrubbing sins from your life so you can get a fresh start with God.”

John clinched his witness with this: “I watched the Spirit, like a dove flying down out of the sky, making himself at home in him. I repeat, I know nothing about him except this: The One who authorized me to baptize with water told me, ‘The One on whom you see the Spirit come down and stay, this One will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ That’s exactly what I saw happen, and I’m telling you, there’s no question about it: This is the Son of God.”

Recognition
John 1:29-34
© Hilary F. Marckx, all rights reserved

We keep looking.
We keep seeking.
We keep peering into an
unknown chasm
called eternity
trying to catch a glimpse of
something
we have only speculated on,
dreamed of,
considered —
the Divine Being,
the Holy One, God.
I wonder, though,
if it could be that
we have already
seen this divinity —
been in its presence,
and not made the connection,
not registered,
not recognized God for whom God is?
What if we look at God all the time,
but are blind
to God’s Presence?
We wait for a descending Spirit to affirm.
We expect Gabriel’s horn to blow and announce.
We want cosmic excitement and bright lights,
bells,
whistles,
smoke,
great gushes of wind,
a deep heavenly voice,
and legions of angels darting to and fro,
and all we seem to get
is the mundane.
We get life,
rocks, pebbles, sand, a random cloud, a spider,
weeds, rain, and by the way,
other and very random people
with strange ways, sweat, body odors, and
all looking for the same thing—God.
I submit:
all these things are that very thing
for which we seek;
the Divine Spirit.
Another way to say this is
if spirit can be matter,
then matter can be spirit
and It seems we have already
discovered what we sought
and all we need to do next is to recognize.
The problem,
though, is that once
we admit
that all that exists is sacred and divine,
we will then have to enter ourselves into that category
too,
and, well, that could get messy…

A DAY FOR A QUESTION

Potentiality - #38

Potentiality – #38

Psalm 148 — The Message
Hallelujah!
Praise God from heaven,
praise him from the mountaintops;
Praise him, all you his angels,
praise him, all you his warriors,
Praise him, sun and moon,
praise him, you morning stars;
Praise him, high heaven,
praise him, heavenly rain clouds;
Praise, oh let them praise the name of God—
he spoke the word, and there they were!
He set them in place
from all time to eternity;
He gave his orders,
and that’s it!
Praise God from earth,
you sea dragons, you fathomless ocean deeps;
Fire and hail, snow and ice,
hurricanes obeying his orders;
Mountains and all hills,
apple orchards and cedar forests;
Wild beasts and herds of cattle,
snakes, and birds in flight;
Earth’s kings and all races,
leaders and important people,
Robust men and women in their prime,
and yes, graybeards and little children.
Let them praise the name of God—
it’s the only Name worth praising.
His radiance exceeds anything in earth and sky;
he’s built a monument—his very own people!
Praise from all who love God!
Israel’s children, intimate friends of God.
Hallelujah!

* * *

A Day for a Question
© Hilary F. Marckx, all rights reserved

Have you ever had a question
you couldn’t quite
articulate, yet
you knew needed asking?
Today is Epiphany Sunday—
a day for praise,
still for me,
a day with a question mark.
It is the celebration of a story about three
philosophers/kings/wise-people/mystics/leaders
who journeyed
far to find the
Christ-child and to pay homage.
It is a story about recognition,
discovery,
value,
gifting.
It is also a story that establishes
Jesus as one who gathers
and draws into his sphere
the seekers of the world,
as well as those
who hope for comfort and nurture—
Jesus,
the Heart within all hearts.
The three in this story needed
something and we are not told
what, but whether
it was just to satisfy intellectual curiosity
or some deep inner
need, they crossed deserts
and mountains from
afar to make their discovery.
We are told that it was the Christ-child,
a new king of the Jews
whom they would venerate
but I wonder
if it was something else entirely?
What is that thing our hearts desire,
that we
would make perilous journeys to discover?
Is there an object of our desperation,
if we are indeed desperate
for this,
propelling us through our lives,
driving us,
moving us?
Can we name it?
The things I
need as I traverse
my own
personal
mountains and deserts:
first and foremost,
love,
camaraderie,
security not so much,
but hope and peace for sure.
There is a question
I would ask of the Heart
which dwells within all hearts,
and I need an answer.
I cannot quite identify it,
let alone formulate the question.
But this is what I truly seek:
an answer from the
Heart within all hearts
and it is yet to be asked…
And so
in anticipation of the promise
of discovery
Epiphany Sunday offers
I will lift my voice with the writer of this Psalm
and give praise.

THINKING ABOUT TIME

Thinking About Time
© Hilary F. Marckx, all rights reserved

Thinking About Time

Thinking About Time

Ecclesiastes 3:1-15 — New Revised Standard Version
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to throw away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.
The God-Given Task

What gain have the workers from their toil? I have seen the business that God has given to everyone to be busy with. He has made everything suitable for its time; moreover he has put a sense of past and future into their minds, yet they cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. I know that there is nothing better for them than to be happy and enjoy themselves as long as they live; moreover, it is God’s gift that all should eat and drink and take pleasure in all their toil. I know that whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it; God has done this, so that all should stand in awe before him. That which is, already has been; that which is to be, already is; and God seeks out what has gone by.

* * *

Friend, and singer songwriter Dave Hamilton,
has written a song he’s titled,
Thinking About Time:

“I get up before the dawn when the dark is not quite gone. Early birds sing with delight ready for the day’s first flight. Gentle breezes stir the trees I greet the morning with stiff knees and I like to start the day in my own peculiar way but the hours fly by fast the morning calm just doesn’t last. The afternoon comes rushing in and soon the day is gone again. Chorus: Oh where does the time go a mystery just like a black hole I’m losing my mind thinking about time.”
Well, it seems that time is on our minds,
as well.
But in truth there is no time.
We have no future, really.
We have no past, actually.
All we have is now—
always now,
forever now.
So,
if you think 2016 was a horrible year,
it really is but a fly
speck on a long
continuum of past fly specks.
Friend and fellow theologian,
Jay Johnson, says:

“It’s random. It’s just the numbers calculated by a Roman pope centuries ago.”

Still,
a coming year,
a past year have
so much meaning and weight for us,
and place a huge
burden upon our souls,
but it is all based
on an artificial construction.
So the questions
are not
what will we do
or
become
in the coming year,
but, rather,
what are we being now?
Not how are we working
for a non-existent future,
but who,
in this present,
do we choose to be?
Not who are we becoming,
but who are we now?
Each second we breathe
we make choices.
Still, we work hard at time,
making time stretch,
re-creating time,
trying to force time
to give us more,
praying for just a little extra
of a fictitious creation
when the only
thing that we have,
can ever have,
is our now.
We gather at our communion tables
hoping for a reprieve from
the tyranny of now.
But what we actually receive
is grace for a
now
that is new and
forgiven and
whole and
untarnished,
and really, isn’t that enough
for all the
nows
of our lives?
For the Communion Table
with its bread and cup,
represents
what we get
with every breath we take—
now.