moments, ‘adopted, not abandoned’

11 Jul
a father, a mother

in the dark night, Sokol’s voice asked me to stop and pause; then as he invited us to be a part of his family, I thought…

an across the street neighbour, Sokol’s father and mother had the virus in 2020. His mother survived; the husband, Sokol’s father didn’t. It has been a year since the father passed. Every weekend this Albanian family goes to Woodlawn Cemetery. They go together. This is how they practice remembering. Now, a year past, they are planning a memorial dinner for family at a hotel in White Plains. A full overflowing dinner, with the whole family. Chicago, New York and Albania. All in. And they want Priscilla and I to attend. It is a week and bit from today, tonight, 17 May. Sokol waited by my porch till 9 pm to ask.

We will gather if I ‘would please come’ on the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend.

the Greek word associated with this time of remembrance, this type of memorial is, ‘anamnesis’ – a definition,

Anamnesis is a Greek word that means “a calling to mind,” from the roots ana-, “back,” and mimneskesthai, “to recall” or “to cause to remember.” Definitions of anamnesis. the ability to recall past occurrences. synonyms: recollection, remembrance. type of: memory, retention, retentiveness, retentivity.

but, the Greek word Sokol and his family is asking me to sit with them, is, I believe, the word ‘Kainos’ and it comes from the ancient Greek, meaning of ‘new’ or ‘fresh.’ They want to keep the father ‘fresh’, alive, and not shrouded in grave clothes. They want me to be ‘fresh’ and alive with them to speak, hear, see and feel. They desire not silences, but songs; not an ending or a closure, but a newness, a beginning.

I, abandoned by my own family, over and over again. Shrouded in their silences and inactions through the last 50 years of my life, now I am adopted by the most unlikely, by aliens and strangers. Abandoned, once, twice, again, again – yet…

I am not, not forgotten. remembered and looked for, waited for on a May night. adopted, not abandoned.

adopted by an Albanian Muslim family. loved. Love.

safe. saved.

a thought, a word, from Peter

8 Jul

a pause to briefly consider 2nd Peter 3

Dear friends, this is now my second letter to you. I have written both of them as reminders to stimulate you to wholesome thinking. 2 I want you to recall the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets and the command given by our Lord and Savior through your apostles.’

an essential pause, what is ‘wholesome’ thinking?

For Peter and the young suffering Christian Church it has to be NOT living in present despairs, but ‘whole’ transformative thoughts/ long term meditations & reflections

and this type of thinking must involve an essential ‘command’ from the Word…

1 Peter 1 defines – I believe- this command,

22 ‘Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart.’

the word, the truth, cleanses; deep, sincere struggling love heals

We are to love, from our hearts

love

goodbyes

29 Jun
our first grade Priscilla…
… and our to be five year old Liv

with our grandchildren in Tampa this last week of June 2021, I showed Priscilla’s picture above to grand daughter Liv. Her response these days,

‘Goodbye to by past self’ and Grandma’s Priscilla’s response to our Liv, ‘ goodbye to my present self.’

It is good, a good practice to say ‘goodbye’ – yes – to presents and pasts; to previous selfs and present, momentary ones.

It is good to say ‘goodbyes.’

so, I could not

23 Jun

speak at Harry Jones MBC NYCanointing as pastor; I was to be away with family, but yet, I sent this to him today..

Friends, family, brothers and sisters in Christ – All – Greetings this

Blessed day; a day of a new beginnings. For Manhattan Bible Church a home grown, a loved leader has been called to pastor this church. Harry Jones today is called by your, by my by all’s Master Shepherd. He is called by you; by his family and by his heart. He is called first, by his heart that has always been centred on Jesus. And, Yet, yet… he is yours and you are his by these heart callings. Harry Jones has especially been called by Jesus to shepherd here, here, at Manhattan Bible Church.

Harry’s qualifications and gifting to shepherd are numerous, and the closing of Psalm 78: verses 70 -72, a Maskil of Asaph describes the essential gifting of a shepherd,

70 

He chose David his servant

    and took him from the sheepfolds;

71 

from following the nursing ewes he brought him

    to shepherd Jacob his people,

    Israel his inheritance.

72 

With upright heart he shepherded them

    and guided them with his skilful hand.

As David, Harry Jones has performed the primary role of a shepherd, he was among the sheep. Harry has been alongside you all in the sheepfold. You know him: he knows you.

Second, next, Harry has been brought to this pastoring by Jesus. You are God’s people, his ewes, his inheritance . ( Think of this for a moment: we are God’s inheritance. Wow. ) And He has entrusted you to Harry. So … why?

Because of these next two qualities, these next two giftings:

Harry has a pure, an upright heart. A heart of integrity. This is how Harry sees and feels

He has a put, a loving heart. Harry feels for you, for me, for all. With humble empathy he loves. His love for Joveda, his four daughters, for the hurting and the joyful mirrors David’s shepherd’s heart. His work as an Elder, as a Bible teacher, as a youth leader illustrates his familia love.

Finally, Harry Jones has a ‘skillful hand.’ His two hands act as one: he holds; feels; clings and loves. Harry shows this quality by his love for teaching, holding and loving God’s word. His has put himself through seminary, has sat with elders and is sitting listening to the word.

Harry will not let go. He will not let go of the word or his church; his family or his friends; the saved and the hurting unsaved. Harry Jones is His shepherd for his inheritance, MBC. They will hold you, love and shepherd you. Harry and Jesus will hold.

He loves you. Pastor Harry has a love that will hold.

Bless the Lord.

cake, June 6th

6 Jun

priscilla’s 6 June b day

6 Jun
as a little girl
with her Matthew Bible study present
at ny botanical gardens ( with me )
with her friend, Matteo

Above are some images from Priscilla’s birthday ( more will follow )

file:///var/mobile/Library/SMS/Attachments/00/00/FA4062C8-9ED1-439A-AC11-56BF5524B911/IMG_2988.HEIC

file:///var/mobile/Library/SMS/Attachments/99/09/E9440C20-FFEC-4237-A40B-0C039F84A53A/IMG_2989.HEIC

remembrance, Joey

31 May

Joey always wanted to be a soldier, a Green Beret. When we adopted him in his 14th year, we heard his desire to graduate high school; enlist as soon as possible and grow into a USA army officer.


But we talked him into trying college, Houghton College in Upstate New York, for a year. He met his wife, Rachel, there; marries at 20 and they separated at 21.
Called up to a formation exercise while station at Fort Bragg, NC, Joey drove in the 5 am deep darkness of 10 May 1996, took a turn on a curve road by a creek in a borrowed car, overturned into the creek’s waters and drowned.
He was almost 22.


He never fought in a conflict for his country; he owned a home in North Carolina that was two weeks from foreclosure; nor did he have many male army friends. He was truly alone.


When I met with Joey’s commanding officer, it was to pick up his body. I was in North Carolina with his mother Priscilla, my wife, and Rachel, the wife he was separated from. His commander told me, ‘Corporal Johansen was just young and angry. He would have grown out of it in time.’
Time, the one gift that might assist in Joey’s life, I could not give him. I gave him what I thought would heal, at least help in healing, of his physical hurts, his sexual abuse, his life addictions and pains.
A car; ( a prime condition Cutlass Supreme ) and a home; a leather jacket and a college education; a wedding and 3 adoring younger sisters ( one of them, Deirdra, named her second son ‘Johansen’ in Hero’s middle name ).

Hero Johansen.


When I reached the Funeral Home to retrieve Joey’s body to return to his NYC home, I was alone with his Commander. Priscilla and Rachel did not go with us as they were unsure what Joey’s body would look like.
They were hurting.

So was I. Unsure of the damages.


The Funeral Director greeted us. A woman of about 30, she lead us to Joey’s room. Before I entered, she paused and said ‘You can go in by yourself first if you like, to have a private, personal moment.’

I paused. The Commander nodded agreeing with her suggestion. Moving toward the closed door, I stopped and turned to the Director, and asked,

‘Pardon, but have have never met a woman Funeral Director before. How did you come to this profession?’

She smiled, ‘I know it is unusual. Three years ago by baby girl, Sara, died suddenly, unexpectedly. I could find no peace. Not in church or in counselling; not with friends or family. The worship at my church was beautiful but loud. I couldn’t sit still. I needed quiet. I started attending a Roman Catholic service, the Mass. I found the quiet helpful. Peaceful. And I felt God speaking to me one day in church,

“‘ Now you can help others to rest.’“


‘And so I opened this Funeral home. A home for the hurting….can I tell you something? I never do this, but I feel I need to tell you. When I was fixing your son’s body, I felt as though there was a lot of anger, hate, in him. But as I moved him, I felt his hurts, his angers, leaving him. And that he was at piece.’

I said thank you and went in alone. His body had not a scratch on him. He was knocked unconscious and drowned in the waters. He felt at rest. Peace.

Some soldiers fight in both outside and internal wars. But all struggle with the internal. All.

This Memorial Day I remember Joey. He struggled; he fought; he lost and won. But at the end, his very end, God gifted him peace, release. Healing. I had not adopted Joey; I could not give him peace. God did. Jesus did.

“And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.” 1 John 5: 11

the Lord God counsels, – thus, speak to me, my Lord from Job 38,

18 May


Then the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm. He said:

2 “Who is this that obscures my plans

with words without knowledge?
3 Brace yourself like a man;
I will question you,
and you shall answer me.
4 “Where were you ….

We do not know how long Job suffered; or sat in ashes; or how long he suffered alone and with his friends. It could have been a week. Or longer.

Job 7:3 states, “I have been allotted months of futility, and nights of misery have been assigned to me.”

So, how long? How long did Job wait to hear from his God? In suffering? Are these metaphorical months, or actual ones? We don’t know. Except, we do know that this waiting that whatever the time was, we know it must have seemed an eternity. An eternity of suffering, an eternity of time…
And in a moment, He speaks; the Lord speaks wisdom, “Who is this that obscures my plans with words without knowledge?”

The Lord’s plans have not been spoken in words to Job; He has spoked though in every specific moment and event, every action and pain of Job’s sitting in time’s ashes.
David, as priest and prophet, sings in Psalm 16: 7 – “I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me.”


Here, the Lord’s counsel is defined. All moments, even those of sleep, has the Lord touching and speaking in and to our hearts. How do we know He speaks, counsels?

Because, as David, when we awake praise Him; sing a song to Him; feel and know Him through all he allows, places and acts in our lives. We feel him.


Out of life’s whirlwinds, He speaks, whispers, shouts and moves.

So, we pray,
“Help me not to darken your counsel, your words, movements, acts and seemingly silences, with my questions, my doubts. Help me to hold onto to all you place within and without my heart. Counsel me my Lord.”

Counsel me

a touch, before Joseph’s passing, life, from the Lord touches

3 May
from Genesis 50


22 ‘Joseph stayed in Egypt, along with all his father’s family. He lived a hundred and ten years 23 and saw the third generation of Ephraim’s children. Also the children of Makir son of Manasseh were placed at birth on Joseph’s knees.’

On Sunday 2 May the news show 60 minutes had a doctor speak about why he fought so hard and long with the American government to reveal the seriousness of the COVID 19 pandemic.
Carter Mecher stated in response to John Dickerson’s question: “Michael ( Lewis ) writes that all of you are motivated by your, your love of life. Do you agree with that characterization?

Dr. Carter Mecher: My training was in critical care medicine, so I operated ICUs. And in an ICU, what I got to see and what I got to witness was the final struggle for a lotta human beings. I got to see the last, last days, last weeks, last moments of a lot of people. And, you know, in sports they talk about, you know (emotional) – sorry. They talk about, like, you know, players leaving it all on the field. And you know when I would see these patients in the ICU, I would watch them in that struggle. And they left everything on the field, everything. And you know, my question for us is, almost 600,000 people in this country have left everything on the field. And the question is, have we?”

Joseph answers the doctor’s question.

Joseph of Genesis, betrayed and rejected by his family; enslaved and in- prisoned within a foreign people, Egyptians; rescues all. He rescues, as a trope of Christ Jesus, Egyptians and his family Israel; himself and the world; his earthy father Jacob, and his future descendants.
Joseph leaves all on his field, his world of famine. And in doing so, so rescues. How?

He rescues by touch and forgiveness you, me, all. Joseph left nothing, leaves nothing on the field.


In these days of Zoom, where we long for community; for face to face moments and experiences, where we desire to remove our masks, Joseph feels his great grand children on his body, his knees.
He feels here the enduring, eternal, everlasting arms of our Lord, the promise of a personal life with the Saviour Jesus to come, on his knees as he rests.
And he will return home.

What joy. How loved. Touched, Joseph lives.

every….

27 Apr

https://unsplash.com/photos/eMX1aIAp9Nw

I have always ( please note ‘all ways’ ) hated the global language of ‘all and every and never.’ Today, this day, after multiple silences, betrayals, rejections and overlooks, I embrace their, these, touches, these words. I embrace because all of these global negative words, even the seemingly positive ones ( I would never hurt you like … I will always be there for you ) have the inescapable promise of disappointment and overlooking, of unseeing. Yet, Jesus promises—

Revelation 7:9 ‘After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands,…’

Palm Sunday is now is everyday. A welcoming; an embracing…. a loving.

Jesus here promises that all will come; all will stand in love; all will be as one. For this to happen,

He will heal every wound

Kiss away all resentments and self pities

Gently salve all physical brokenness

He will wipe away all, every, all tears

He is the one and only, the all in all, who will always embrace and love.

Jesus is all, my all, yours. He is for, with, every one.

He heals in love.

All.