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Soul

20 Jan

a new year’s thought

so, the creator of ‘Soul’ spoke on how he formed, framed, birth it from a story by Herbie Hancock hitting a ‘wrong’ note playing with Jazz master Miles Davis,
here’s part of the quote:

“Miles took a breath and he played some notes and it made my chord right,” said Hancock. “It sounded like magic to me. It took me years to figure out what actually happened. Here is what happened: Miles just accepted it as new and he did what any jazz musician should always try to do – to make anything that happens into something of value.”

‘breathless,’ acts 9

9 Jan
breathless


And Saul, yet breathing of threatening and slaughter to the disciples of the Lord, having gone to the chief priest,
2 did ask from him letters to Damascus, unto the synagogues, that if he may find any being of the way, both men and women, he may bring them bound to Jerusalem.‘ YLT


I love watching movies, TV, with my Priscilla. She concentrates so, she squinches her face up in a lovely architectural frame. And then I begin:

first, an obvious question followed by another and another. Presently, I have to raise my hand quietly, wait patiently for Priscilla to call on me with my one question for the evening.

Yes, today, now I only get one question an evening. A breathe.

Saul had no such limits. His life, his breathe, was words, murderous ones, flowing swiftly, constantly from Jerusalem to Damascus. He, as me on my worst days, could not stop talking.We live in times of copious, various and plentiful words, of numerous breathes. People speak and speak; they blog and tweet; we FaceTime and FaceBook. Our society through Instagram, Snapchat, and Tik Tok breathes each and every moment and thought as they rise.

Some of us have become so enslaved, so addicted to our phones/I pads that it would take a miracle for me, for us, to pause and rest; to slow breathes and reflect.


And we can not listen as we are always in dialogue: either internally speaking or externally, our words are constantly ‘steaming,’ breathing.

Saul had the same breathes. His purpose was to threaten and murder. He could not be quiet. I picture him ‘tweeting’ each step to Damascus. Till Jesus stops him.

As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him.He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.

“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”

The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone.Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything’
Acts 9: 3 – 9

Saul says no words, sees nothing, for 3 days, except this one question: “Who are you, Lord?“

Sitting in absolute darkness and quiet, Saul listens and hears. He is no longer a murderer, but a rescuer; no longer a danger but safety; no longer a Saul but Paul.

For our country, the United States of America, to be changed, transformed, redeemed, we must pray that the Sauls in our midst, those who can’t stop speaking murder, be transformed by Jesus, not us, but Jesus, to Pauls.

Prayer, deep, deep prayer, transforms people and things; institutions and individuals.


Jesus, on his cross, prayed for Sauls. He used his last breathe, he became breathless so we could breathe. So, I pray, ‘Jesus, save, have mercy on me, on my Sauls. My country.”

“Breathe new life into my country. Into me.”

Breathe.

I walk

31 Dec

so,

5 Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children;

2 And walk in love,

my, lord, walk , walk in love

27 Dec

advent wonders 8, Boxing Day 2020, muted voices

26 Dec

Tim Keller, ‘wonder is involuntary praise, joy…wonder, even for 15 minutes each day, to develop praise’ Isaiah 9:1 – 7 ( 12/23/07 )

As we, I, finish ‘advent wonders 2020’, I cannot help but see how this season has been a silent season, a time of voices being muted.
Mute comes from the Greek, myein “to be shut.”
Some writers see muted speech as the powerful expressions of total emotions. Emily Dickinson wrote the “best grief is tongueless,” and Thomas Wolfe defined mute as “choking exasperation and wordless shame.”

As I write this day, the news reports are laced with stories of the pandemic virus Covid-19 mutating in London, South Africa and France. Mutation occurs when one life form is ‘shut down/off’ and another begins. In this time of seemingly endless lockdowns, fractured economies and where breathes are taken and deaths given, living hopes wane.


And yet, … Jesus’ birth story is one of voices, songs, angelic words of eternal hope: a prophecy, the Messianic prophecy fulfilled.


For over 400 years before Jesus’ birth the voice of the prophets in Israel were muted, silent. The people longed to hear God’s words, his voice. But there was nothing.
Silences. Silence.


And then … and then, angels speak: they speak to the elder priest Zechariah; to the virginal teen Mary; they speak to Joseph and Magi in dreams; they speak, sing, to shepherds in fields. And the spirit speaks also, to Anna the Prophetess and to the waiting elderly Simeon in the temple.


There is an after story, a Boxing Day story, to Advent: we are all to speak, sing, shout, as shepherds who function as angelic messengers, for,

when the angels had left them and gone into heaven, shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

In, for all advents, we are to speak to one another; go to our Bethlehems; see him deeply and worship. We are to sing Jesus’ name, as Joseph did that first advent.

And as we return to our everyday after this Christmas, let us glorify and praise God for,

‘For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given, Isaiah 9:6

Jesus, our Messiah is given. And so, shepherds, angels, peoples sing.


I sing- Jesus. I sing Jesus. Jesus.

our lovely Christmas Eve, a night of 7 fishes

25 Dec

bottarga and sweet grape tomatoes

calamari and black ink squid pasta
salmon in a dill savour
diana and martha
Jenny
Priscilla, Christmas crackers
together

his swaddling, his burial clothes, one clothe in this time when we may be, when we may not see, when we may grieve, a lost one and we are, alone, but, but, a wonder – one,

24 Dec

advent wonders 7, from Mark 15 and from Luke 2,
‘And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died, he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!”’

Jesus is at his death moment, alone. On a cross, tortured, flayed, only one person recognises this moment. One. A centurion, a Roman centurion. And this moment calls up another, the night of Jesus’ birth., a starry filled, angel lit night.

‘And it came to pass, in their being there, the days were fulfilled for her bringing forth, and she brought forth her son — the first-born, and wrapped him up, and laid him down in the manger, because there was not for them a place in the guest-chamber. ‘ YLT


Jesus is borne with only his earthly family, Mary and Joseph. Surrounded not by people in a house, but in an animal shelter, placed in a manger. Joseph, Mary are the only ones with him. And the guest-chamber’s animals. But… soon, soon, there will be many; various visitors and worshipers. Soon he will not be alone. Soon, shepherds and angels and Magii will come. Groups of people to see, witness, and attend to Jesus’ birth. 
Other groups of people, though, will come later and led Jesus to his death, his cross. They come not for life, but to call for death.
Very early in the morning, the chief priests, with the elders, the teachers of the law and the whole Sanhedrin, made their plans. So they bound Jesus, led him away and handed him over to Pilate.

Are you the king of the Jews?”asked Pilate.

“You have said so,” Jesus replied.

The chief priests accused him of many things…’

The elders and the teachers, the whole company of the Sanhedrin cry against him. Angels hear. We hear. 

Now it was the custom at the festival to release a prisoner whom the people requested. A man called Barabbas was in prison with the insurrectionists who had committed murder in the uprising. The crowd came up and asked Pilate to do for them what he usually did.

Do you want me to release to you the king of the Jews?” …But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have Pilate release Barabbas instead.’

The crowd calls for a murder’s release, and Jesus death. Many who probably a week earlier cried ‘Hosanna’ now ask for Barabbas life, not Jesus’. 

Our Saviour moves closer to complete aloneness. But he still will grow in this experience, in suffering. 

‘The soldiers led Jesus away into the palace (that is, the Praetorium) and called together the whole company of soldiers….Falling on their knees, they paid homage to him…’

Jesus is surrounded in an open space that is filled with mocking soldiers, Romans. He could not be more alone, confined, abandoned.

He could not be more solitary.

‘They crucified two rebels with him, one on his right and one on his left. Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads …. In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. “He saved others,” … Those crucified with him also heaped insults on him….’

‘With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last. 

The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died, he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God.’

With a cry beyond words, as a new born’s cry, Jesus dies. Yet, yet, there another’s cry, a lone centurion. So, surely….

And I m, I, join with this unnamed centurion, this man who has witnessed multitude of deaths; who leads crucifixion squads, who has killed – this man cries ‘life’ – Jesus is surely life. The Messiah.

His voice this day echoes the night songs of shepherds and the angels; Mary and Joseph’s. Jesus’ life, and his death, sing. This is his song, Jesus, 

who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep, we will live together 

with Him. 1 Thessalonians 5:10

and, 

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5: 8

Advent in 2020, as in all time past and all time to come, can only make heart, mind, and spirit sense in looking at both his birth alongside his death. Jesus’ birth and his death are one, one cry, one song.

One.

christmas 2020, 2 pictures, and one video

22 Dec
2020

two pictures, 39 years apart, tell Priscilla&Charlie’s one life together. 2020 is a year of masks: coverings to keep the virus out, peoples, even friends and families, socially distant, our emotions within. So, this Christmas letter is written to let you all in, in two paragraphs, two pictures, two moments. para1: a snowy day in November we wed in Fordham Manor Church in the Bronx. Priscilla had light pink roses in he hair; we bought her dress together at the little shoppe. I wore a blue pin stripped suit and we served cake and tea and coffees after the ceremony. I invited a small group of friends and family; Priscilla sent out two hundred invites. She wanted a local church so a number of the elderly women who lived in the area could attend. She arranged the transport for them, to and from. Kind, gentle, thoughtful of the unseen, Priscilla. I like to think we married that day because I saw her and she sees me.

and in 1981


When I first met Charlie,I saw his soft brown eyes and heard his unmistakable laughter. Often we drank tea and shared Linzer raspberry cookies at the Tibbett Diner. We talked and dreamed there. It was our hideaway. We still sit there and do our bible study. It’s about three blocks from our house in the Bronx. How grateful I am in this season of uncertainty to know that God has kept us; that He remains the same. May God Bless and keep you all. Merry Christmas Charlie and Priscilla
Hebrews 13:8 “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”

and a grandchild

a hero

advent wonders 6, songs for angels as they, we, journey

21 Dec


My wife, Priscilla, sang Mary’s song in our church when she told me, and loved others, she was pregnant with our first child. A Lupus survivor in her thirties, no one, not even herself, could believe we were having a child. Moved, with her angelic voice and a 12 string guitar she sang Mary’s song,
My soul glorifies the Lord
47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
49 for the Mighty One has done great things(for me— Luke 1: 47 – 49

Angels visit, speak, call, exclaim In the Old and New Testaments. Their words are never actually called ‘song.’

But their appearances always are poetic. And Poetic songs, words result. Appearances that from angels inspire song. From Hagar’s response to her Angel visit, ‘the God who sees sees me.’; ( Genesis 16:13 ) to Mary’s song, and to how she sang ( I believe ) with Joseph as they traveled to Bethlehem, …. In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world…. And everyone went to their own town to register.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.’ ( Luke 2 )


What did Mary and Joseph say to each, how did they speak, sing to each other and to their baby?
I think they spoke and sang Psalms: David’s songs and words; his prophecies and prayers.
And then, warmed by the hot breathes of the manger animals, ….
I think they sang these words from Psalm 2,
‘ I will proclaim the decree of the LORD:
He said to me, ‘You are my Son;
today I have become your Father.’
8Ask of me,
and I will make the nations your inheritance,
the ends of the earth your possession.’

This is the first of David’s Messiah songs. Mary and Joseph would have heard, sang it in synagogues. They would had been thinking of David as they entered Bethlehem, his hometown.
And then, in the midst of their son’s birth night, angels appear to them, through the shepherds who enter into the borrowed manger. The shepherds would proclaim the angelic words which surely echoed as they quickly ran through the night to this animal manger. What were these words?

First, from a solitary Angel,

‘I bring you good news at will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

…and then from a great Angel company,

“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” Luke 2: 10 – 14

El Roi, the God who sees and hears. He sees all. He sees Hagar and Mary; he sees Priscilla and Charles. He has his angels visit shepherds. He is a God who loves to sing, as the prophet tells us,


The Lord your God is with you,
the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;
in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
but will rejoice over you with singing.’ Zephaniah 3: 17

Mary, angels, shepherds sing because the God of the universe first sang over us.We can sing, because He sings.
This Advent, sing.

“Joseph, listens, speaks, sings” – advent wonders, 5

17 Dec

Joseph’s song, his one word song,

St Joseph with the Christ Child in His Arms– by Guido Ren

‘This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.’

‘“But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).

When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.

It is easily noted that Joseph ( of Joseph & Mary ) never speaks verbally in the Gospels. Yet, here, he does. Here, he sings.

Joseph’s song is his hands as he moves them to Mary’s dialogue on how she came with this child; his lyrics are his plan to put Mary away without shame; his song is his dream when the Angel tells him to take Mary as his wife. And his builders hands forms, creates a heavenly and an earthly family.

Jesus’ character is formed by the Lord’s placing of this son in Mary and Joseph’s hands. Jesus chooses disciples and friends like Joseph, and his family- working men and women. Fishermen and caring women who design households. Mary receives this child and Joseph takes and gives. 

What is Joseph’s song then? 

His song is love. A love freely given, then taken and then restored to him, through him, for us. Joseph’s singing is in his actions, his considering, his taking, and his giving. Joseph’s song is, the one word we know he speaks, is Jesus. 

Joseph gives, calls, speaks and sings this child Jesus. He names and He sings,

Jesus 

Lord, this Advent, please help me sing as Joseph, help me to act, sing,

Jesus.