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"As You Pray ....." He had often been here and always it was the same not just the place separate silent but the connections with all that happened daily in the villages and homes by the lake in the hills reappeared and he responded by gathering it all up confidently yet able to doubt and relentless against all evil. Tired hungry and sometimes fearful of the outcome his heart rested in the meaning -visible always to him - of all that was made concerned for human integrity and the maturity of responding to human challenges in daily life. So, as always when he was alone the events of the recent past were burnt, as it were, into sharp focus and transposed to their true perspective people in need people whom he loved people who nagged away and bullied him to show his hand once and for all. Yes - the peace that flowed over him now was strangely compounded with all those daily encounters until he was truly amazed silent still in the presence of a peace that claimed him. He had always been conscious of holding the gift of life up to the Father in blessing sure of the steady provision that maturity of life needed - not just for himself but for all. His constant compassion witness and friendship freely given to all was one with this moment of stillness. Call it 'love' a relationship with the Father constantly reciprocated an unceasing confidence with room to be human and for doubt as well as for ecstasy communion with all that is.
Born of woman born under the law - He dreamed - of humankind's deliverance from law and rite from gods many and lords many. He looked back and thought he saw a motley throng of people perhaps Magdalene, Peter and Nicodemus? perhaps Bartimaeus and Mary? mostly faces appearing and disappearing in the eager, thrusting crowd. And then they were all going through the waters. It must be Jordan. He thought another exodus? another arrival? And he cried out - Have no fear! In the far off distance he saw a dazzling circle of light brighter than the eastern sunrise. And suddenly he woke to the reality of this night to go on? to disappear? He went on through the turbulent and destroying waters an object of hatred and fear of unpitying scorn and derision. For one who was turned to God in all the regularity and rhythm of his being this was no different challenge except the tension of being stretched between God and humanity so that he became a sort of breakwater against which the savage waves of unthinking rejection broke continuously. Have no fear! The meaning of that encouragement reverberated through the inner recesses until the body was lifeless and the Father had run to receive him at the crossing through the waters.
Countless meals with him the host and honoured guest of many gatherings shared with friends and disciples the weak and the profligate as he walked in and out of the villages and towns. Of course no one would ever forget the Last one sombre pre-figuring the impending tragedy and yet - a sharing of joy and hope not yet completely destroyed by the events that followed so swiftly betrayal and death. But in the vindication and in the breathing of Spirit for our rebirth the joy returned a hundredfold and as the kingdom enlarges one by one he is known as for the first time in the Supper his life shared in forgiveness and friendship every time. Did you say that his command was 'Remember me'? How could we not as with him we praise God for all the marvellous works done in his name drawing countless new friends to share the new life offered to all without price. Just let him in who knocks at the door so that we can say to the Father and to each other in joy and thanksgiving in the Spirit 'The Lord is here!'
And they recognised him
The grass around the lake was green but soon the heat of summer would burn it up and in the hills there would only be scrub. Galilee - the place of his birth his growing up work and ministry and transfiguration. We were resting and gazing out over the blue waters of the Lake having just celebrated the supper in memory of him by the shore. Somehow here, in Galilee, we were closer to him than in the celebrated holy places of the south - - in Jerusalem. Of course in Jerusalem the place of the dénouement when the weakness of God confronted the terror of humankind its sin and evil there were moving experiences following in his steps to Golgotha. But now here in Galilee three men were launching their boat further down the shore preparing to fish. We watched as the boat reached the middle of the lake and turned northwards towards the incoming water from Lebanon where there would be fish. It was a moment of disclosure here, this morning, by the lake where it all began. Here the Lord who called fishermen to be his disciples and friends was so obviously the whole person who was challenging us by his gospel - not separated from us in imagination by the events commemorated and by the seasons of birth passion and resurrection following one another in orderly annual procession. We were beginning to be convinced - that all those events etched in the memory as we followed in his steps have meaning because, in Galilee, where once he had promised to meet his friends we had recognised him - in the overlap of the seasons and commemorations - found among the living.
"Do not hold me"
Lord, in the garden Mary exclaimed, astonished, "Rabboni!" But you replied, "Do not hold me." It was going to be some time before we were used to your presence with us everywhere and with everyone and without the need to hold on to you. Previously there were encounters and friendships in the normal course of affairs. You will remember when you called to the small of stature tax man sitting in a sycamore tree "Zacchaeus, make haste and come down; for I must stay at your house today." Always there were meals with those who were counted as outcasts, as well as with honoured friends - a regular feature of your progress through villages and towns - completed by that last meal, full of the foreboding of betrayal and death. But the Father vindicated you in your life and through death to be 'the First and the Last the living one.' So, on the shore of Galilee you were present as your disciples worked, fishing. As if the relationship with you had ended in death. And you spoke to them inviting them - "Come and have breakfast." On the road to Emmaus while their hearts burned within them at the things you said the two disciples recognized you as you blessed and broke bread. Every time, today, with no need to hold on to you, in the meal of Eucharist we surround you come at your invitation to worship and to give thanks with you to the Father. Every time, today, with outstretched hands it is you who bring us into a relationship of love - shared with you and your friends - sealed in bread and cup of life. Glory! Rabboni!
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