Sharing Bread

I love to bake bread. I find the process of mixing and kneading relaxing and the time of waiting for loaves to rise a great opportunity to rest and simply wait. When I am feeling very stressed or waiting for something to change in my life, I will often make bread as a means of de-stressing. The upside to this is that then my house is filled with the aroma of fresh baking and we fill the tummies of our friends and neighbours with the end results. Today, with a little prompting from my husband, I made loaves to share with our Muslim neighbours who are breaking their fasts as they participate in Ramadan. Once the sun went down, we took steaming, warm loaves over to them and wished them well.
Our neighbors were thrilled and blessed. The unexpected gift was gratefully received and they were so pleased that we acknowledged their tradition. You see, all our neighbors know we are Christians, so there was no illusion that we were celebrating as well. They knew that this was a deliberate act to show them love. Interestingly, when Muslims share gifts (usually food) during the holidays they might use the phrase “give gifts to spread love to one another” as a way of acknowledging gifts. So the gift of bread we shared with our neighbours was spreading love.

To be honest, we did not share bread with them because we wanted to convert them or to show them how cool and hip us Christians can be. We shared bread with them because we love them. We love them because they are people, because they are our neighbours, because they have adorable and respectful children, and lots of other reasons. That love we have for them is unquestionably rooted in Christ, and it is most definitely an outpouring of our faith and our desire to give to one another as there is need.

What did Jesus say about this? In Matthew 22: 36-40, he tells us outright that we are to love our neighbour. He didn’t tell us to love your neighbour with the intent of converting them, or love only the neighbours who believe what you do. He doesn’t tell us to love only the neighbours who come to your church events. He just said to love God first, and love our neighbours. I appreciate that there are no qualifying statements on loving the neighbors. It speaks to me that Jesus didn’t want us to have agendas in our love. It seems to me that it demonstrates that once we love God, the rest becomes a natural following of that love. It doesn’t matter if we love Muslims, Hindus or atheists. It matters that we love. It doesn’t’ matter if they are gay, straight, living together, married, single or any of that. It matters that we love.

My husband has often talked about one day standing up in front of a church and saying “Love one another” in as many ways as possible, over and over again so that maybe people will get the message. I understand that he wants to do that because it is so easy to not love those who are different, whose customs don’t align with ours. It’s easier to be indifferent or even away from people who don’t do as we do and it is comfortable to be with people who are like minded. It’s okay, even good, to be with and encourage people by hanging out together. When we are limited to ONLY doing that, I think we miss the point of Jesus’s message to love each other. In our experience, when we commit to loving those who are not like us, we have found that our love for God increases. We begin to see more clearly how each person is created in the image of God and how diverse His kingdom really can be. Loving all our neighbours brings community, vitality and challenge that we would not find if we limited the ‘who’ that we love to people we think are candidates for coming to our church or into our faith community.

This week, I encourage you to think about the verses in Matthew 22. Look around your community and seek how Jesus shows you to love your neighbours. And then, do it. Love one another.

Advertisements
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fragrances

Last Christmas, a dear friend gave me some very lightly scented cream for dry skin. This was a blessing to me because I am quite sensitive to most perfumes and this one is so light that it doesn’t cause a problem. Well, it turns out that this cream also is very effective at moisturizing my dry skin and makes it feel all soft and smooth, which is also a blessing due to my age and all kinds of other fun factors. Most of this delightful product has now been used up and I decided that perhaps I would treat myself and buy another little container of it. I went to the store it came from and found it, without a price tag on it, so I asked the nearby clerk. I guess my face was unable to hide the sticker shock because she pulled up a half size container and told me a lower price. Either way, the lovely cream is out of my price range.

As I left the shop, a few things rolled around in my mind. The first one was: What on earth was my friend thinking when she bought me this lovely and expensive gift? I felt like I had been overly lavished on by her, like I didn’t deserve such an expensive product, even if it is really good. My own ideas of my value as a human cut into my graciousness at the gift. I understand the generosity of the gift, and I still allowed myself to think that I should have been a better friend to her over the last few months, that I should have used it more sparingly, that I should be better at financial management so that I can afford to get some for myself. The list of things I “should” have done became pretty long. Every time that I misspoke or didn’t ‘like’ her status on social media came into play in my mind.

In Luke 7: 36 – 50, there is a story of Jesus at the house of a Pharisee named Simon. A woman comes and weeps at the feet of Jesus, pouring expensive oil out onto his feet. Jesus, not surprisingly, does not have a conversation with her about all the things he should do for her to deserve this gift she is giving him. He doesn’t tell her to wait until he dies on the cross and rises again. He doesn’t list off all the sins she committed and why he isn’t ready to have his feet smelling nice. He graciously accepts her offering. When I am trying to live like Jesus, graciousness needs to be a key part of who I am – without a list of why I don’t deserve it. His character in this situation is simple and kind. This is a tough thing to understand, especially for a person like me whose extroverted nature wants to put others first. I am the queen of excuses why I don’t deserve special treatment, not necessarily because I have low self-esteem but also because I can usually think of twenty other people who deserve to be blessed. However, if I truly want to live like Christ, I need to be willing to graciously accept what is offered.

Going back to my thoughts about the expensive cream, I also thought about the idea of being a fragrant offering. So often when we read the Luke 7 passage, the message ends up being about how we should be like the sinful woman giving a fragrant offering. I couldn’t help but wonder if there is more to it than that though. I am not disagreeing with the idea of giving an offering that smells good, but I am proposing we should be looking at how Jesus responds to the truly repentant woman and modeling our acts of forgiveness in the same manner. Jesus doesn’t shake his feet away and kick the woman off. He lets her be fully repentant and lets her grief of sin run its full course. I am an interrupter. I don’t mean to be, it’s just what happens to us extroverts sometimes. I blurt things out. I especially have a tendency to do this when the situation can be interpreted by myself or others nearby as awkward. I don’t think this is just an extrovert thing, I think it is a humanity thing. Jesus, however, demonstrates that we need to allow people to fully express their feelings. By thinking my friend should not have spent so much on me, have I supressed her desire to show me she cares for me? I hope not! Of course, there are times where a gift can be too lavish (seriously, try to give me my college tuition to see if that is one of them) because of motivation or manipulation, but that isn’t the case here. By following the example of Jesus, I willingly accept the full extent of the care my friend showed me by giving me this gift. That becomes not a fragrant offering, but a fragrant receiving of the gift. As Jesus’ feet were cleaned and smelled good because of this gift, so we need to allow our receiving to make us fresh. We need to be willing to have our walk become fragrant with the gifts of those we associate with.

Lastly, I wondered if Jesus went out and bought a jar of perfume for his feet. Okay, maybe that sounds silly, but the point is that he had just been given this lovely gift and instead of then squandering it for his own benefit, he blessed the woman who gave it and honoured her. I don’t think it was wrong for me to want to purchase the expensive cream, but if that was all I took away from the gift, I would have missed out on something. He used what HE had to bless the woman. Clearly, I don’t have the cash on hand to buy expensive gifts for my friends, so that isn’t an appropriate response, however, if I look at what gifts I do have to give – time, a listening ear, cookies- sharing them with my friend is completely appropriate, even Christ-like. Jesus doesn’t give her what he doesn’t have and I don’t think he expects us to give what we don’t have either. It seems a bit ordinary or common to say only give what you have, but it is, I think, modeled by Jesus.

I liked the cream very much. Honestly, if I could, I would buy it again. It is more important to me, however, that instead of crying over what I can’t have, I model Jesus and his graciousness. This week, are there things you need to remember to receive fragrantly? Are there areas where you need to walk graciously in or with the gifts you have been given?

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What’s with the Weather?

It’s beginning to look like spring around our area. As I walk about with my dog, I see all kinds of signs that warmer weather is coming – leaves beginning to bud, trillium sprouts, violets and orchids popping up. I understand why spring is used to describe the beginning of new things. However, last week we had one mother of a storm, complete with hail, freezing rain, snow and high winds. As the temperature fluctuated dramatically over the course of a few days, it was difficult to feel very spring-like! On social media, people posted complaints about the weather, claiming it was unexpected and claiming we “should” be having warmer temperatures by now. Sorry, but this isn’t the first or last time we will be blasted with unpredictable cold followed by unseasonable highs. You can blame it on climate change or pollution or whatever you want, but it’s been happening for as long as there are records about the weather in spring. We simply can’t predict when it will be the idealistic version of spring we all dream about.

In Matthew 24, Jesus is talking about being ready for His return. He uses the fig tree opening its leaves in preparation for summer as an analogy for being ready. Given our current weather situation, I thought this was quite relevant. I couldn’t help but think of the full implication of that. I think that Jesus used that picture quite deliberately. If Jesus was in my neighborhood, he might have used tulips or cherry blossoms or crab apples. Even though I look every day at the growth in our nearby forest, I still can’t tell when the leaves are going to be fully out or if the flowers are going to bloom. It is lovely and beautiful when it happens, but a week ago, I would have told you they were going to be blooming by today. When the ice storm hit, I was certain that they would all be dead and the forest floor would be a puddle of muck and decay. Yet today, when I was walking the dog, there they were, looking (to my eyes) as ready as they were before the storm for the season of blooming.

So how does this affect my everyday life? How do I live with the unpredictability of the weather? The fact is that I am prepared. I can look at the weather forecast and be ready with whatever I need to face the daily changes. I have the tools I need for whatever comes – I have prepared for the eventualities of rain, snow or anything else. The same can be said about my faith. How am I ready for whatever storms happen in my spiritual growth? Again, I have been given tools. Please don’t be confused and think that I am trying to predict that there is a specific time. Jesus was very clear that we will not know that. There is not an accurate forecasting tool for it. When I speak of spiritual storms I am talking about those life events that can feel like they have crushed or defeated my faith, events like sudden loss or lethargy or emotional strains that make me question God. All those things can feel very overwhelming and it is tempting to just complain about them. But storms can also look like unseasonable heat, those times when stuff is going so well, we forget to keep our spiritual life in shape. We still have what we need, even when we don’t feel it. It’s funny because it feels a little bit trite to spell out the tools- prayer, reading Scripture, staying connected to other believers- because it seems so easy to say and yet, during those storms, we forget we have the tools. In some ways, it’s like the people on social media who were taken by surprise and were wearing shorts when the ice began to fall. Looking at the forecast is easy and there are multiple ways to access it. There really was no excuse for not being ready. For followers of Christ, it’s the same. All those things that we can access to brace storms are right at our fingertips to access. They are never too far from us. We just need to do it. We have no excuse except for our own stubbornness or carelessness to be ready.

The great thing about the words about the fig tree is that he promises the good stuff will come. The tree will open its leaves and summer will arrive. Jesus has not left us without hope. It’s about weathering through while we wait. I won’t pack up my winter jacket just yet and I will leave the ice scraper in my car. I will be ready and I will patiently wait out the weather until summer comes. Are there things you need to weather through? Be encouraged by the promises of summer and be prepared while you wait.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Jumping Ahead

In my spare time, I enjoy writing poetry and recently, in an attempt to mature in my writing, I decided to try a new form for how I write that poetry. In the verse that came out of that attempt, I used references to an epic work (Dante’s Inferno). I took the work to my literature professor, and asked him for help in evaluating it. His comments were helpful to me but he also reproved me for my use of the references. I had, in my anxiousness to be more ‘mature’, misused some of the references. He corrected my thinking by explaining the original meaning and context of the passage I had quoted. I appreciated learning it and also that my professor acted Christ-like in his approach to teaching me what I needed to learn. He knew my intentions were good, and pointed me in the right direction.

This desire of mine to jump ahead of what I knew in order to grow is nothing new, either for me or other people. As I grow in my faith, I find myself looking again to how Jesus handled people like me and how He responds when we try to jump ahead of what His plans are. I specifically look at Peter, who is one of my favorite people. In several instances, Peter wants everything all at once (“Not just my feet but my hands and head as well!”[John 13:9]; “Even if all fall away, I never will!” [Matthew 26:33]; “Lord, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you!”[John 13:37]). He throws himself with all abandon and good intentions into following Jesus. Like my desire to be more mature, I threw myself into writing the poem, not fully understanding the meanings which I was using inappropriately, without the full understanding. My intention, like Peter’s, were good. It is right to want to be fully engaged in using the gifts that you have to bless the Lord. But also like Peter, I needed correction and patience, to learn the whole of the story before committing to the parts.

Jesus must have loved Peter very much because in each circumstance where Peter wants to jump ahead, He gently corrects him. Jesus is fully aware of how Peter will fall and yet, He still uses him to further the kingdom. Looking at some of the responses Jesus gives, I can’t help but think that Jesus smiled a little when answering:

Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.”” (John 13:10) I like this because it shows that Jesus, even though He knows Peter will deny him in just a little bit, still sees that Peter is ‘clean’. I like how Jesus doesn’t tell Peter he’s wrong for wanting his whole body washed. Peter will see later the importance of the washing of their feet. My attempt to write a poem with references I didn’t fully understand was written with the good intention of being better, of being more mature. That wasn’t wrong, and it doesn’t make me a bad poet. It means though, that I might need to wait to learn a bit more and see a bit more (and read a bit more) before I can fully understand the significance of what needs to change. In my faith, Jesus is continually keeping us moving forward at the pace He determines, not just when we want to be ‘all in’ right away.

““Truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” But Peter declared, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the other disciples said the same.” (Matthew 26: 34-35) When my kids were little, we played this game where we would try to “out love” each other, which usually ended with something like “I will love you to infinity and back”. Then when they were teenagers, there were those days where it was hard for all of us to even go the next few minutes without wanting to sell each other to roving bands of gypsies. The innocent abandon with which Peter declares his love to Jesus is touching. In my mind’s eye, I see Jesus smiling at Peter, maybe even tousling his hair a little, like I would when my little kids promised to love me to infinity and back. Jesus speaks truthfully to Peter and lets him live that moment of abandoned promise. True love, as demonstrated by Jesus, means that correction is tender and firm, aware of the truth and the intent of the person blurting out their declarations and still being okay with what they are saying in response.

“Then Jesus answered, “Will you really lay down your life for me?” “(John 13:38a) I’m so grateful for people who challenge me to really mean what I say. Okay, I don’t always appreciate it at the time, but I usually come around. It was difficult for me to hear that I hadn’t been perfect in my attempt to write. I like the way Jesus is prodding Peter to think deeper about what he just blurted out. Shouldn’t our attempts to correct others always be to make them more honest and truthful to themselves, not just to us? If we want to live like Jesus, that is exactly what we need to do. It’s a learning process to be more and more focussed on who we really want to be. If I really want to be a good poet, I need to be willing to actually learn from what my professor taught me. Peter needed to learn that laying down his life for Jesus was more than he understood in that moment.

I’d love to tell you that I went back and immediately corrected the poem, but I didn’t. I will after I complete the next phase of my learning in literature classes about Dante’s Inferno, but for right now, I am going to let the gentle correction seep in. Like Peter, I may just need to wait a little bit to understand the full capacity of the meaning. I think we all have areas where we either need some gentle correction or need to step back and let corrective words sink in. Maybe you aren’t a poet or writer but have another area where you need to be reminded not to jump ahead of where you are. Correction isn’t a bad thing. Don’t forget that in the end, jump-ahead-Peter was the rock on which the church was built. God uses us when we are ready and gently prepares us in the interim.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Take a Flying Leap

When my kids were small, we used to swim at a local outdoor pool quite regularly. We befriended the lifeguard, Christie, and often enjoyed hot summer afternoons bouncing around in the water. On one occasion, I was helping one of the boys put on his float assists when suddenly the younger broke away from me and jumped into the deep end. He didn’t know how to swim yet and Christie, who knew this, immediately leapt in after him and pulled him to safety. She scolded him appropriately, handed him over to me and no sooner had I said thank you, he (giggling) did it again. Christie, of course got him again, but this time she stayed with him in the pool and helped put the float assists he needed onto his arms while he squirmed and wiggled and told her she was pretty.

I’ve been thinking about John 21. The guys are out fishing and not having much luck, when Jesus tells them to throw their nets on the other side, which they do. Suddenly Peter realises that it’s Jesus. Then dear impulsive Peter puts his clothes ON and jumps out of the boat. I like to think that he was so excited (and so certain that Jesus was the Messiah) that he just fully expected to just run across the water to shore. I also like to think that he arrived at the beach completely drenched but so happy to see Jesus that he just didn’t care. He was ready to completely abandon himself to the Lord. Wow. So I began asking myself, what would it take for me to be that unrestrained in my faith? What would it mean for me to just believe so whole-heartedly in Jesus and have so much trust that he would come through that I would jump fully clothed off a boat? I also asked my husband the same question.

My husband answered with a different question. Knowing I had seen a miraculous healing of a small child while on a mission trip, he asked me if I thought I expected that the next time I saw an ill child, that God would heal that child as well. He then related a story of a time when he prayed fervently for a week for his cousin who is disabled to be healed. He fully expected to see her the following Sunday at church, up and walking around like everyone else. It wasn’t a selfish prayer, it wasn’t a prayer he would get a reward from. It was a genuine prayer to relieve the suffering of someone he loved. When he went to church though, she was exactly the same. And that, he shared, is when he began to distrust God.

I think this is so key in what happens with Peter. He trusts Jesus. My son trusted Christie. And yet, my husband trusted that his cousin would be healed. So then, what do we do with the times when we trust God and he doesn’t come through as we expect? When the answer to our prayers is no? When we step out in faith and it fails? How do we reconcile statements from Jesus that if we had the faith the size of a mustard seed we could move mountains with the many times we pray for people and nothing seems to happen? How do we move from that place that feels like despair and failure because of lack of faith to a place where we will leap out of boats wearing our clothes because we believe in Jesus so completely?

When I look farther back in the story of Peter and his relationship with Jesus, the precursor to him leaping off the boat, I see a very different situation. Peter swears allegiance to Jesus at the last supper, but then falls asleep when they go to pray, denies Jesus, and leaves the ministry of the disciples to go back to being a fisherman. Hadn’t he see firsthand all the miracles? Didn’t he even perform some in the name of Jesus? Didn’t he admit openly that all the promises of God were fulfilled in Jesus? And yet, there he is, after the resurrection, after all he had witnessed, back in the fishing boat, back to the mundane tasks of everyday life.

Perhaps the point of the story isn’t that Peter jumped in the water. Maybe we end with this story and the restoration Peter because the author wanted to show that even before Peter “got it” and had the faith to change the world, Jesus called him. Maybe it was to show that Jesus will restore us no matter how many times we just give up on what he calls us to do. When we get so discouraged that we just give up and go back to fishing because it is so comfortable and familiar, Jesus will still provide for us (although it might not be a meal on a beach), and will still be willing to help us out. Perhaps what we need to learn from this story is that Jesus remains the same guy, even when we do everything the wrong way and don’t trust him at all to do what he says. He will not only welcome us back, but prepare us, forgive us, and keep his promises to us.

I think I might be fishing in my faith right now. Maybe I am sleeping. I know the promises of Jesus. I know they are right and true, but I feel pretty static and unengaged. This story of Peter gives me hope. It tells me that this time in my walk doesn’t mean the end of my faith, that there is always more to come, It tells me that Jesus will provide and restore me and I will know, like Peter did when they cast the nets on the other side of the boat, that it is Him who calls me. For now, I will learn what I can, rest, and maybe catch a few fish.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Response

I’ve been trying to think of how to write a post in response to the student movement for gun control in the USA. I am Canadian, but I have relatives and friends across the States and am indirectly impacted by the actions. I am also the mother of kids who are barely out of the teenage years. I am immensely proud of my boys and it strikes me how important it is that we give our kids a voice. The march of students, the rising up and protests from this age group inspires and encourages me. In part, I wish my generation had been more vocal about some things or perhaps it is more accurate to say that I wish my generation still was more vocal about these things. In part, I am just darn proud of the action these youth are taking.

I was looking to express some emotions about how this protest, this social justice action has even had to take place. I read a poem by Kathy Fish entitled Collective Nouns for Humans in the Wild . The impactful statement in the poem used words that I had not found. I looked for Scripture and came across 1 Timothy 4: 12 – 15. Again, it gave words that I want to just shout out. “Don’t let them out you down, guys!” And I came across a myriad of song lyrics from characters like David Bowie and Toby Mac. I felt like everything has already been said by a lot of other people, in more effective ways than this little space in which I say my piece.

I’ve been reading the story of Jesus feeding the five thousand (Matthew 14: 13-21) and as I read, I thought that this event has much more to offer than just a story of food. I actually thought of the first response Jesus had to the crowd. He had compassion on them. It’s interesting because he doesn’t teach them a lesson first, he heals them. The youth who are stepping forward are hurting people. They have seen their friends and teachers dying. They are heartbroken. When we ask the now cliché question of “What would Jesus do”, we should see that he would heal them. It’s tricky for us. How do we heal heartbreak? How to we soothe such immense grief? Is it done through prayer? Or is it done by joining them, standing beside them and having tissues to wipe away tears? Is it done through preaching? Or is it done through speaking kindly to them as individuals? Healing might just mean we are standing with them, being together with them – not as moms, dads, cousins or however you want to categorize the relationship – just being together to say that we know they are here and we want to be here with them.

Secondly, he doesn’t tell them to go home. In fact, Jesus tells his disciples that they don’t have to go. When I was young and things were rough in my life, a particular family always had a door open for me. Not having to leave their house was, for me, a show of how much they loved me. These students, as much as I value education, might just need some of us to stand up and tell them they don’t have to go. School, chores and other flotsam of daily life– those things are most definitely important, but so is letting kids have the freedom to stay where they need to be. This ties in with the healing part of how Jesus treated the crowds, but there is also an important difference. I think that Jesus could very easily have told those he healed to go back to work, to go join society as productive member again, but he doesn’t. He tells them they don’t have to go. It’s their decision to make. He has done the healing, it’s complete, but forcing them back to work right away wasn’t his priority. He didn’t heal them just to make them face the situations that might have caused the injury in the first place. The youth, as they are healing, might just need to stay.

Third, he feeds them. I’ve thought at least a thousand times that if I had a pizza business, I’d probably bankrupt myself right now trying to send food out to all these youth. I’d need Jesus to miraculously provide toppings because I would be feeding these kids until I couldn’t do it anymore or until they were all full. Having had teenagers, I know that pizza often fuels life. I also know that after emotional situations calm down, once people feel safe and welcome, they get hungry. It’s a natural consequence of healing. How do they know you are on the road to recovery after a medical procedure? It’s when you eat. I don’t own a pizza business, so I am not giving out pizza, but are there others out there who might? Could churches “be Jesus” to these youth by feeding them? What message would we send them if we provided them with enough food that they would all be satisfied? What did Jesus tell the crowd by his act of compassionate feeding? He showed in a very physical, tangible way, that he will provide enough, even when there are five thousand.

It’s easy for me to write this from the other side of the border. I’m not facing my government or my neighbours when I write these things. I can’t afford to take the trip down to stand with the youth. I’m not standing next to the NRA or another dissenting group. I can’t promise that I would actually do the things I wrote down here. It’s frustrating in many ways. So what can I do?

I already do my best to make my home a place where everyone is welcome, where you can have a different opinion and a voice, where you will always be able to show emotions – any emotions, and where you will always be able to stay a little longer if you need to. I will feed you. I will follow the example of Jesus. I encourage you to do the same.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Tiger!

Tiger, Tiger burning bright
In the forests of the night
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?
– William Blake, The Tiger

My earliest memory of hearing this poem is one of my father holding me on his lap, reading it from a poetry anthology. I easily visualise my father in his chic brown polyester pants, his orange and brown plaid button up shirt and his goatee. I can smell pipe tobacco and whiskey on him as he reads to me in his maple rocking chair. I still have the book, so my immediate picture is one of a cartoonish tiger, smiling in a patch of green grass scattered with flowers.

A few years later I came across the poem again, only this time the illustrator drew a darker picture of the tiger, teeth bared, surrounded by dark foliage and a night sky, ready to pounce on some unseen prey just off the page. The artist had emphasized the yellow eyes of the tiger with hints of flame, making the magnificent beast seem considerably more terrifying. It made more sense to me than the cartoon tiger of my childhood.

Now, as an adult, I have come across an interpretation of the poem that suggests that it is not a physical tiger that Blake was writing about. While I still have an image in my mind this interpretation has helped me to see that there are still new ways to view this old and familiar poem. You could say that my understanding of the poem is evolving or perhaps maturing.

One of the reasons that I like the way Jesus teaches if that he uses the device of parables, and layers his speech with meaning. Interestingly, Jesus is only one of a handful of influential or prominent people who does not have a book of his own writing (Socrates is another). There isn’t a so-called “Book of Jesus” and yet his message was/is so profound that there are multiple accounts of it. This speaks to me that there is a level of expectation from both the Father and Son and Spirit that we use our brains to understand truths.
Do we, for example, think there is an actual field being sown by some poor farmer in the parable of the sower in Matthew 13? Of course, there is a time to think that way. Perhaps you remember felt boards in Sunday school, the ones with a smiling blonde Jesus showing us a poor farmer with a big bag of seeds and all the assorted places where the seed fell to grow (or not grow). There really is nothing wrong with that imagery, however if that is all you take from that story and you never look beyond it in that form, I suggest you are doing yourself a bit of a disservice.

In this particular parable, Jesus does talk us through to demonstrate how to break it down. As he walks us through, he opens up the rest of the parables to be examined. Why would he do that? Again, I think that he is raising a (godly) expectation so that we will not simply blindly accept what he says makes some sort of kingdom sense.

I think that part of the gift of freewill that we are given from God is also that we are free to explore his words and his ways. God wants us to know him well, become intimately acquainted with him, so to speak. Like my growing understanding of The Tiger, I believe the more we seek and dissect and dig into the Word, the greater our understanding and appreciation will be. Will it change our view of God? I hope so! Is that dangerous or bad? The unchanging nature of God will remain constant. Just as the words of the poem never change and it is still a lovely verse to read, so too it will be when we see more and more of the Father.

Where do you need to dig deeper this week? Be encouraged to take a second look and get to know Jesus in new ways.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment