‘Let’s fish’: Reflections on John 21

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By the time we reach John 21, we’ve read about how the risen Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene, and how he showed up before the disciples (well, sans Thomas). John told of Jesus’ second appearance to the disciples; this time Thomas was around. These later two appearances happen as the disciples were hiding out behind locked doors in fear of Jewish leadership (Jn. 20:19).

John 20 reads like a conclusion to the gospel. John even offers his purpose in writing the whole book: “that you may continue to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God and that by believing in him you will have life by the power of his name (20:31).” In case anyone was wondering what John’s ulterior motive in writing the book was, he laid it out plainly. No guessing games needed here.

But, it’s not the end of the book. John has one more story to share. Continue reading

Words on repeat, or how I read the Bible lately

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Reading the same passage multiple times over a few days or weeks is becoming one of my favored ways of reading my Bible. I linger in the places where I have questions or find myself surprised, while giving myself permission to not know things. I’m trying to hold my assumptions loosely and wonder about them. As I do this, the words seem to come alive and defy my attempts to control them. Continue reading

A Challenge from John

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I’ve been diligently drafting posts all week, but not completing them. I’ve been dancing around issues not wanting to write the post I feel brewing. But, here goes diving in headfirst.

As I read this week’s lectionary texts (Zephaniah 3:14-20, Isaiah 12:2-6, Philippians 4:4-7 if you want to read yourself), I felt an initial sense of joy and rest on my first reading. I was excited to talk about the good news of God.

Then, I came to the Luke 3:7-18 reading. My balloon burst — suddenly and sharply. The tone of Luke 3 didn’t jive with the warm fuzzies of the other passages.  The other passages are about the awesome things God promises and celebrating God. God brings hope; God will dwell among us. God will bring peace. God is our defender. Hopeful things.

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Not Giving Up

112315 Psalm 25Over the weekend, I got my first mean comment on Ragtag Reveries. On the one hand, I can’t believe it took this long. On the other, it totally caught me off guard and ate my confidence. After reading that comment, I could feel myself shrivel up inside.

I talked to a few in my circle. We all need at least a precious handful of people in our lives who can help us see ourselves as more than the worst of what others say about us. In particular, I need help sometimes to know what’s bogus in comments others say about me, and what’s something I might actually need to absorb. More often the former than the latter, since the negative seeps in so much deeper and easier than the praises. I tend to forget the praises when I’ve been criticized.

I can’t help but wonder why is it that the shame voices are so much easier to soak in than the voices where people mention good things about me? This drives me nuts. I know this about me, and yet my brain refuses to intake feedback differently.

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Finding New Hope in Hannah’s Story: Reflecting on 1 Samuel 1

110315 Bible stackLike last week, this was another week where I struggled reading the lectionary passages (1 Samuel 1:4-20, 2:1-10, Hebrews 10:11-25, Mark 13:1-8) and tried to lean into the difficulty instead of shying away from it.

Maybe in the last year or two I’ve gotten better at burying the infertility issues instead of facing them head on. I don’t want bitter. I don’t want anger. I don’t want grief. So the infertility thoughts get packed away in the back of the brain closet while I choose other thoughts. Only those infertility thoughts are not compliant. They pop out from the overfull closet at moments where I really don’t want them.

Are you pulling these back out, God? Or is it me? Either way, can we be done with this yet?

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Self-Awareness, Infertility, and Trying to Take the Bible Seriously

Red Leather BibleEach Monday I plan to write a reflection on my interaction with the lectionary readings for the coming Sunday; this week’s passages are Ruth 3:1-5, 4:13-17, Psalm 127, Hebrews 9:24-28, and Mark 12:38-44.

For those unfamiliar with the lectionary, it’s a prescribed set of Bible readings that various churches around the globe read and interact with each week. Usually churches follow a three year cycle with one year utilizing Matthew, one year using Mark, and one year reading Luke. John gets interspersed throughout each of those three years. I use the listing at Vanderbilt Divinity Library, if you want to look up passages and read along as well.

As I began reading, the interaction proved more difficult than I anticipated. When I read the lectionary texts, I read the Old Testament passage first, then the Psalms, then the letter, and finish with the Gospel. That’s not a statement about the “right” procedure for reading, but just an acknowledge of my habit.

I read through Ruth and Psalms 127, all the while getting my dander up and dreading writing today’s post. I moved to skimming through Hebrews 9 and Mark 12, hoping for easier passages to write about for this blog.

I had a light bulb moment as I thought about my desire to avoid Ruth and Psalm 127. As much as I talk about all Scripture being inspired by God (2 Tim. 3:16), I act as though some parts are a lot more God-breathed than others. Some parts feel like they got more breath than others. And the parts that I don’t like, that seem difficult, that leave me feeling like I’m standing on a thin wire over a deep canyon, those I want to ignore and push aside in favor of more comfortable passages. I noticed the tendency in others before, but ignored it in myself.

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