Slough-Spring life shouts from below 

Tans to Greens—a verdant show 

Spoonbills, Woodies, Redwings sing 

Croaking, chipping, tinking things 

Resurrection’s whisperings. 

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Skiing on Ashes

Waking to a newly snow-hushed morning
that beckoned softly to ski
on yesterday’s Ashes
I took the invite to natural
With tails to trails
Fresh tracks and dawn rabbits
Shushed the cell phones legion of
engineered-to-dope-ify appeals
Then saw God fling new colors
across the larger screen of the east
Breathed the rare new sunlit air
And in Thanksgiving
Called to the I AM of Life
In this one and only
Resurrected Day!

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Who is Wording Whom?

Poems, I write them…

Or, do they write me?

Do I visit Isle, Bainbridge place?

Or, does it visit its all on me?

I feel your stones songs & bark words

Your blues & winds & greens on sea.

I am finding you, the One, here,

Great actuality, as taking, holding me.

As I rush to conquer other worlds

But pause not to see and stop

Rushing past the end, self-slavery.

You, here, now, Original–grasping me…

You that enters & finally, more fully

Inhabits gift-faith; all us, as we!

(And though I do not will it)-

These back door entrances

The sideways unseen seen-

Your way of coming, Hidden…

You, Being, for us, unveiling

all we cannot, alone, see, or be.

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Politics, Slander and Appeal

Answers from Psalm 7

I was not aware that stress can be a major contributor to cataract onset.  Lack of fluids, not drinking enough water, affects eye health. Dehydration leads to susceptibility to colds and other complications for our bodies. We are 60% fluid; brain and heart, 73% but we can also be 100% immersed in anxiety, worry and the stresses of life.  The Psalms do not pretend, nor placate but allow full human expression of pain while inviting us to imitate the right response to the wrong sides of human nature, expressed.

In Psalm 7, we find one suffering under persecution stress—likely slander. Note the metaphor, “lion”. Feel the inner turmoil of “tear me to pieces” and, “no one to rescue”. Sense the anguish knowing the betrayer is a former ally. They turned on this “friend” due to a difference in convictions.  Sounds too much like politics in polling season! But, circumstances can throw any of us under the bus at the most unsuspecting times.

The Psalmist takes to the airwaves of prayer rather than broadcasting and appeals to God and LORD, Most High. Curiously, this word for God is first used in Abraham’s encounter with a “king of righteousness” (Melchizedek) in the city called “Peace” (Salem) before in is Jerusalem.  Most fascinating for me, as a student of cultures, is the specification of “God (LORD) Most High” is originally a Canaanite word for the God that is “Over All”—and Abraham picks up this word from Melchizedek and uses it as his word to describe the universal and personal work of The LORD, Yahweh (Hebrew).

The setting and appeal of the prayer for deliverance, for inner assurance and larger community awareness is one that assembles all peoples everywhere under one.  This El Elyon is the Most High Power and Appeal, regardless of religious, political affiliation or cultural variations or specific languages. Fair play, good and evil motives are not only “seen” by the Most High but an appeal to God Most High really does bring deliverance. What goes around, comes around, cannot be avoided. Yet both the one asking and the one accused of doing wrong stand under a standard of right-way-of-dealing that is universal with truths that are self-evident to the fair-minded.

Nutrition and self-care are full-orbed and we all need help to be turned to what gives strength to our bones and healing to body and soul—The God who sees, cares and acts, never early or late, but right on time.

A “thank you God” is offered, even before the pain is relieved or justice brought because faith is “the substance of what is rightly hoped for” and “the evidence of what is not yet seen”. Praise be to the God Most High, over all, who is truly a refuge and deliverer to all that call upon Him in truth.

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Tails to Trails

Nuzzled from morning indecision by an eager whine,
polite, with play-bow; and those eyes….
Such eyes of expectation met mine, and held them
in faith and hopeful love of common things-
How can I resist my friends invite to a walk!

With some effort, feet found boots,
arms took sweater and wind-breaker,
head took hat, and hands, gloves.
And, don’t forget a 6’ leash!
My friend’s anticipation carried us to the Trail-Head.

First out, we brush fall frost from leaved grasses.
I sight migrating flocks; he is scenting unseen things-
Pulling me, loosening muscle, to limb, together, striding.
In no time, my “trainer” has me at a cardio level!
My weak excuses and funk are just tracks behind.

I forget myself in his dancing exuberance.
He is all alive, sensing life and wonder to share.
We see, much more, and better, through a friend’s gaze.
How glad I am, again, he has gotten me out!
This brief half hour is well invested!

We turn now, heading back, too soon it seems;
so sorry I cannot go farther-
but this invigoration and its treasures
will renew and replay all day, and beyond
The Trail, outdoor air and pet’s companionship.

Excursions to wild-tinged places renews,
sweetens drab days as I recall writings of Muir,
Leopold, Whitman, Richard Dorer, Muggs Townsend.
Their words and works, with so many unnamed,
preserved woods and wetlands where, now, new trails lead!

We know these excursions take us further than we know…
to Connections we can only have in a partnering.
These “Tail Waggers” so wonderfully beckon us explore,
to savor, together, our priceless outdoor heritage.
“So then, when can we go out again, together?”

Rodney James Spidahl 04-27-2018

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Pathways to HOPE!

Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take on courage! Wait for the LORD. Psalm 27:14

Leaving my wife and three young children in the care of Muslim and Christian friends in a small village near the border of Tchad, West Africa, I had flown home to be with my father in an emergency health situation. I felt the nagging voice of guilt and shame that I, an only child, would leave aging parents and, worse, take their only grandchildren 7000 miles away into the African sub-Sahara! But I needed to encourage both my ailing father and care-giving mother, and so, we entrusted the results to the Lord, telling my Muslim friends, Inshallah (as in James 4:15, say, If the Lord wills . . .)

After God amazingly renewed health for Grandpa Jim, I was returning, but delayed and re-routed. I became so impatient and anxious to know if my family was healthy—it so much easier to preach to others about waiting! The date was early 1990’s, BMCP (Before Many Cell Phones). I was also carrying an expensive cassette duplicator and worried how I would get through customs without paying many $$ (sometimes bribes) that I did not have! After an overnight in Brussels, Belgium, we finally flew into Doula, Cameroon very late at night.

As the crowded and over-tired people pushed and rushed to the counter to find luggage and accommodations vouchers, an odd but reassuring calm resonated in my spirit, reminding me to let go and let God. Reluctantly, I watched, waited and wondered as I became the last of 200 some passengers to be processed. For some reason, I felt led to insist that I stay in the airport overnight, refusing the vouchers. While it was against policy, the supervisor called le chef de la sécurité de l’aéroport and amazingly, I was escorted into an empty office to sleep on the couch.

At something like 4 AM the following morning, I was awakened by a stewardess and told to follow her immediately. As I groggily walked across the tarmac into the tropical smells of the early morning, my brain began to race . . . Where are all the other passengers? Where are the other passengers? I had many unjustified fears in that moment, some of them because I was a Christian missionary going back into a region of 90% Muslim population. As I boarded the plane, I was shocked to see I was the only passenger! After some difficulty in choosing a seat, I settled in. We were three, a pilot, a steward and me. The story was that a plane had been grounded for repairs in the extreme north with a load of passengers and this plane would pick them up and bring them back to Douala.

The take-off was like a rocket! The acceleration of an empty Boeing 737-200 was amazing–as was the descent! Upon arrival, the open doors of the plane led to a deserted customs entry as I strolled into the country with my tape duplicator and “Pas des problems.” Not only was the waiting rewarded, it also opened the way for our ministry to receive and use this wonderful duplicator without additional cost. We eventually made thousands of cassettes of Fulbe (Fulani) folk tales set to song with Gospel verses and themes. I recounted one last month in Testimonies of Hope, “After the Serpent, Hope!”

Did I learn to always trust and on God? No. Yesterday’s experiences don’t guarantee a hope-pass for today. Sisters and brothers and all, let our hearts take courage; we don’t know what will happen when we wait on the LORD; we do know that we are promised to see the goodness of the LORD! (Ps 27:13)

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After the Serpent . . . HOPE!

After the Serpent . . .Hope!
My wife, Alice and our three children were living in a small village on the border of Cameroun and Tchad, Africa. We had been given new names by our friends in the village, ones they could pronounce. I was Ousmanou, my wife, Aisatu, and our children, Alium, Aminu and Jamilatu. We were deeply involved in the lives of villagers, sharing our garden, planting trees, helping dig wells and sharing Gospel portions in Arabic and Fulfulde. For, although the Quran encourages its followers to read all the Holy Books, most Muslims in this part of the Sub-Sahara had no access to the Gospels.
We found that singing the folk stories we learned and linking these to how the Bible speaks of hope in Isa bii-Maryama (Jesus, the son of Mary) was the most effective way share God’s word a place where a book was 1/3 of a year’s wages. I want to share the most listened to story of our time there.
There once was a man and a Serpent . . . He was tired of the city and its buying and selling and corruption for money. He was a Muslim man who loved the open spaces of the country so he would go and do his prayers in the open areas of la brousse. One day, after praying, he asked Allah for special help to understand his place in the world. The next morning, after prayers, he was shocked to see a Snake, slithering directly toward him. More etonnant was that the Serpent spoke! “Have mercy on me, in the name of Allah! My enemies are almost upon me and the man and his dog will kill me if they catch me!” “What can I do? I only have this mat to hide you under?” “No, the dog will smell me” replied the Serpent. “I am used to going into holes . . . open your mouth and I will slither down inside you.” “But, what if you don’t come out!” gasped the man? “Oh, in the name of Allah and The Prophet I will come out” he said. The man agreed for once the Prophet had been invoked, there was no way to refuse safety and hospitality to anyone in need.
Soon came the hunter and son chien, “Have you seen a snake—a very large and fast one?” “I do not see any snake, do you see one here?” the man carefully replied. Not wanting to disturb the man further, the hunters left. Now the Serpent moved up inside the man, and looking out through the man’s eyes, spoke from inside of him. “I am not coming out. I am safe here inside the disguise of your body. If you try to kill me, you will kill yourself” he said. “But,” the man cried, “You said on oath you would come out!” “So I deceived you” said the Serpent.
The man was horrified and went back to meditate and to pray. Soon, from another direction, came what seemed as man, dressed all in white, so white that his appearance seemed to shine like the sun from within! The visitor approached the man with the Serpent inside, offering him leaves of healing. The man thought, “I have prayed and asked Allah for help—I must not refuse this person who is sent to me.” He took and ate. The serpent was eliminated. The man gave thanks to Allah for sending a Deliverer when he needed it most.
When I inquired as to the origins of this story, the Fulbe only said, it was very old. When I asked about the name of the man with the bowl of leaves for healing, they did not know his name. I pondered this and searched for understanding in the Scriptures. We put the song to music, explaining that there is only one real hope for those who have been tricked by the Serpent, who is also called Satan, the Great Deceiver. In all the Holy Writings in all the world, there is only One who is without sin, only one who claimed to come from the Father with healing for the whole world. Only one who claimed to be Word of God (Kalimatu Allah) and always have the Spirit of God (Ruhullahi). This was Jesus, the son of Mary, the One anointed by the Spirit to be the Savior of all peoples of all times in all the world (Almasiihu).
Further conversations led to more conversations and listening to the story and one day, I was taken aside by a leading member of the community there and told that he had found his true hope in the name of Jesus, the one who can deliver from the fear of the night and the power of Shaytan (Satan), the one who causes mischief and desespoir (despair).
My friend, no matter what has gotten into us, the One who made us and purchased us with is love unto death, is able to raise us daily from despair by His glorious resurrection power! He is Hope that in daily faith and renewal, will not deceive.

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Spiritual Physicality

“The Physical Side of Being Spiritual” -It must have been 45 plus years ago (!!) but I can remember the impact this book and the writer of it had on me like it was last week. The author was on a journey toward a more fully human and relevant spirituality! Uff-Dah! In plain terms, “Sometimes we get so spiritually minded that we are no earthly good!”
In brief, real spirituality is a dirt-under-the-nails, make-chili-and-share, do-real-life-together. It is in the physical participation that we understand others and ourselves-humans as those called to be saints (1 Corinthians 1:2). Curiously, knowledge, mind-development and degrees do not necessary translate caring people-imagine that! Love is transferred through deeds which are really “words” with flesh and bone attached.
How does our spirituality grow with/through practical, mundane things done with/for others? I don’t know but it just does. We are made this way. Kind of like eating eggs is better for us than eating alfalfa– we are humans and not cattle and we need to grow in more than just muscle and bone. When we read about Jesus as a ministry developer or teacher, think more closely how his model of Christian education and Christian growth are tied to participatory learning; through actions with and for others?
What does Jesus’ identification with shepherds, gentiles and unclean, crippled, blind, lame people, welcoming and comforting those called “bad” sinners and immoral people have to do with us? Jesus did that but isn’t that just His thing? How do the physical acts of washing feet, eating in countless odd places with his disciples, sharing a common “bank account” and spending a lot of time together as a odd band of folks around the idea of renewing our human relations with Jesus at the center translate into “Godly stuff”? It happens through us giving up self just enough to make love visible.
What is the physical side of being spiritual? It is like Epiphany experienced in feeling a dawn breaking upon us, out in the wet, cold, and dark of mere human religious obedience. Explaining the how we go from bone-chilling cold to warmth is nothing like really being warmed physically to the point of shivering—if you know what I mean. The appearance of God in human forms really is the church being relevant and relational instead of just trying to be safe or to be right.
Jesus risked his total spirituality on becoming human because He knew the Father’s love had to be revealed this way. Jesus knew love was in being “humbled” and “made fully human”. Let us take Philippians 2:8-9 to heart:
“Jesus set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of slave; became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead he lived a selfless, obedient life . . .”
How does letting oneself become fully human change the world? Ask the God-Man, Jesus. Ask the saints. It is divine mystery, the body of Christ; the bread of heaven. Let us live fully, being together in unity and in/with/by/for this amazing God that takes on flesh and bone . . . becoming “small enough that our hearts may be won” (Luther).

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New Year Discipleship

I was recently asked, “So, Pastor Rod, how does discipleship happen at a place like St James?” This is a great question as we come into 2014—How will we be transformed in this year? Our dialogue led us to think about the meaning of the command Jesus gave his followers “to make disciples (learners) of all nations (ethnic groups), baptizing and teaching them to observe all things I have instructed you to follow” (Matthew 28:18-20).
St James has been a “Christian community were tradition meets today and love and grace abound” and I would say this is the goal of most churches, e.g., to carry on their traditions in such a way as to foster a caring and forgiving community. Our updated missional purpose from the Vestry retreat this summer is that “St James exists to be the heart and hands of Christ in community”. This can seem like a tall order to fill . . . yet, with grace, God’s spirit and the whole community, it can be a journey of participatory learning, discovery, growth, transformation. I believe, in Christ, we determine what we will do with our lives; God calls us, loves us, gives us the substance and we choose what to make of it. Isn’t this the message of many parables, “he gave them talents” or, “he constructed a productive orchard and left it to his workers to care for . . .” and so forth. So what do we, the body of Christ at St James, do with what has been called the Great Commission? And, how do we link it to “The Great Commandment” (to love others as God has loved us) in such a way as to be faithful to our calling by God the Father, through Christ our Lord and Savior, in the power of Holy Spirit?
Let me suggest what I see to be basic nutritionally facts of participating in God’s activity in us of learning, discovery, growth and transformation:
We are what we eat. Each day we choose to take words, ideas, yesterday’s regrets, tomorrows problems or God’s daily food into our souls. What if the first thing we did each morning and the last thing before sleeping was to listen to God’s word in a worshipful and prayerful manner? I encourage us all to take part in the Daily Office Lectionary (Year One) on page 934 of the Book of Common Prayer or listen online at http://david.guthrie.net.nz/prayerpage or Google Jesus said, It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life (John 6:62-64).
Eating together is more enjoyable than eating alone. We are individuals made to be in community. A farmer recently remarked how important it is to have two or three animals together, be they chickens, sheep or cattle, “the just aren’t as healthy and don’t grow well if they remain alone”, he said. How much more our renewed image of God as “members of the body of Christ,” created for community. I encourage all of us to be committed to weekly worship at our Sunday morning liturgy and stay for time together afterward. Participate is some form of Christian ministry, education or mission with others. Learning occurs as we personally internalize truth and then respond in appropriate action. Come join us on Tuesday evenings from 6-8 PM, or Sunday morning Bible Study at 9 AM or become part of some other ministry or service at St James.
Local and Home-Cooked is best! My father-in-law, a good friend of Roger Dell and a successful food concessionaire said, “Word of mouth is the best advertising you can have.” We have an amazing opportunity right now at St James to live into our Anglican tradition today as we invite others to feast on what God has provided for us of learning, growth and mission in the heart of Fergus Falls, living out “the heart and hands of Christ in community” at St James!
As we reflect on 2014, one year from now, we will never regret what we do in God’s love during this year at St James. Do not hesitate between many opinions, if Jesus is LORD, serve Him today with others of like mind! His Word is really the stuff of life and to do his will, a feast we can celebrate together!
Pr. Rod Spidahl

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Jesus on the Borderline-Meeting Us Where We Are

Luke 17:11-19 – Jesus was passing between, literally on the border of Samaria on the south and Galilee on the north. Jesus spent most of his ministry in southern Galilee and he had been to Samaria before—he was not opposed to going into territory other God-followers thought was below them! In Luke 9:53 we learn that he had been rejected by a Samaritan village because he was headed toward Jerusalem (apparently bigotry and dislike for other peoples went both ways in Palestine). His journey would have taken him close to MT Gerizim, the Samaritan holy place and he was going to Jerusalem. James and John wanted to call down a strike of angel-fire on the villages! Jesus acts as the peace-maker and rebukes them. But he is “turned away” and this narrative of Luke is arranged around themes of unlikely people welcoming Jesus or believing in him, while his own people rejected him . . . so we must place the location here closer to Luke 10 as Luke is not intending to write a geographical-chronological account but rather a thematic one. Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem for the last time and may be 50 miles out.
It is curious to find this band of brothers as a company of inappropriate associations, united in their common misery of Hanson’s Disease or Leprosy. This affliction dulls the sensitivity of nerves to heat and cold, pain and bruising so that the loss of fingers and toes occurs because there is no mercy of pain. No way for the brain to tell the limb when to stop reaching toward the fire or to tell the hand “WITHDRAW from the burning hot skillet”. No way in working with rough objects for the skin to get a message to the brain that it is being torn open.
Nine Jewish and one Samaritan united by affliction “outside the village” and rendered unclean. This village is a border town between Galilee and Samaria, on the route East and South, crossing the Jordan near Beth-Shan, going south and re-crossing near Jericho . . . this event likely occurs in the northern part of the journey.
For me, Hanson’s disease has a face and strong memories. As part of my families five years among Muslims in Northern Cameroon, eating with the men of the neighborhood every evening, we occasionally had a leper join us. I cannot forget my first encounter, remembering where I sat and where “he” sat, this gentle man with stubby fingers and sores. In the traditional way of eating in this rural village of a few thousand folks, the men would sit in a circle, on the boulevard, with the food bowls placed on mats before us. The “host” (person whose home we sat in front of) would usually take the first dip into the bowl and we would follow in clockwise fashion, each one taking a turn to break off the hot niirri (a millet like bread that resembled hot play dough in consistency). Only the rude and the very rich would eat inside alone for in this place, identity was in community and I could no more ignore this meal than ignore my neighbor when he greeted me (if I was to be a good member of this community, that is). This piece of niirri would then be shaped into a small scoop with the RIGHT HAND using the index and middle finger and thumb (the LEFT HAND was for other jobs!)—there was no silver ware. This small scoop was then the means to dip into the sauce (a thickened substance of mostly leaves and herbs, sometimes beans and pieces of meat (dried minnows or fish, goat or beef) absolutely no pork! If one was adept, the hand hardly touched the sauce, only the half-dollar sized piece of cooked millet and then it was flicked into the mouth by one’s thumb off the platform of the first two fingers of the right hand. After the leper partook, it gave me pause, even though I had resolved to not let it bother me, committing the event, as I had to do with so many other “questionable” things, to Christ. He dipped, others dipped and then I dipped again . . . but it was harder to chew and swallow, thinking I may now get leprosy! I learned later that leprosy is not generally spread by occasional human contact but by living in close, damp, non-ventilated quarters where clothing and bedding is not washed often or well. I sensed the danger and entertained excuses that would allow me to go back home . . . but grace, mercy and not wanting to be ashamed in front of my Fulani friends kept me there. The unclean designations are outlined in Leviticus 13:46 but who’d have thought I’d be placed at the same food dish with a leper?
Jesus healed another leper near Lake Tiberius (Sea of Galilee) but there it was just with a word. Why does He respond to the cries “Have mercy on us!” with a command to “show yourselves to the priests”? I have wondered . . . going to Jerusalem is like hiking to either Fargo or Pelican Rapids from St James church, 50-20 miles away from the place this event occurs-why does he want or need to respect the priests in Jerusalem? There were other priests in the area. There were priests in the villages and in Samaria, they were Samaritan priests. In 2 Kings 17:28 a Samaritan priest was captured and then he returned to Beth-el and he taught the way of the LORD there. But Bethel would not be closer on the route Jesus and his group was on.
This is a long trek for a leper, besides, what would the Samaritan leper do when he entered the Jerusalem, be driven back? They had to stay “outside the city.” How would a Samaritan and a leper enter the temple area—not possible! Would a priest from the temple go outside Jerusalem to see a Samaritan leper? Unlikely, and even more unlikely, how would this poor leper or all ten find the means to offer the sacrifices of birds (one to kill and one to let out in the open field to fly free) and the lamb for the sacrifice and the other prescriptions of meal and oil offerings—Leviticus 14:1-32;they barely had enough to live on where they were!
Curiously, they only had gone a short distance when ALL ten were cleansed! Notice they were cleansed in the going, before getting to any priests but Jesus honors the OT prescription, even though the Spirit heals them from a distance before they accomplish their prescription! It is very likely that they were going to show themselves to the Samaritan priests residing in that village for the Samaritans were also looking for the Messiah (we learn that from the Samaritan woman in John’s Gospel). Samaritans broke from Judaism and established their holy place on Mt Gerizim. According the Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible, Mt Gerizim was a 2887 foot outlook about 30 miles from Jerusalem. It is explicitly mentioned in the OT as place where blessings are received (Deut 11 and 27). Six of the tribes are to stand there to receive the blessing. In Samaritan tradition, it is the “oldest, most central and highest mountain in the world”, the location of the Garden of Eden and the place Abraham brought Isaac for the sacrificial test. This is why the Woman at the well (John 4:20) says it is their sacred site of worship (you Jews worship in Jerusalem and we worship on this mountain). Luke doesn’t tell us anymore. What is told, however, is that the lepers did not address Jesus in the Rabbi title but as “Jesus, Master” (epistata), the language of the disciples for Jesus, “Master, what about these, we don’t have enough bread?” and so forth.
Their simple cry for help is one repeated in millions of voices throughout the ages in the liturgy using Greek words, “Kyria Elieson” (ˈkir-ē-ˌā-ə-ˈlā-(ə-)ˌsän) LORD have mercy! And, Jesus does have mercy!! Mercy to spare! Rarely do we hear this kind of heart-felt cry in the world today, much less the church, unless it is in liturgy but here we have humanity feeling the weight of their pain in leprosy and more so, the psychological pain of exclusion, of being ignored, cast off, rejected, which is far, far worse- to feel and see oneself as “unclean”.
I was drawn in my grade-school years to the haunting theme of the “Rifleman”, “Branded, scorned as the man who ran . . .”, played by Chuck Connor’s. In each episode, the shameful dismissal is replayed, taken out, stripped of medals and uniform, rank and title, sword broken in half . . . a sword he carries throughout the series.
“All but one man died…There at Bitter Creek…and they say he ran away.
Branded! Marked with a coward’s shame.
What do you do when you’re branded, will you fight for your name?
He was innocent . . . not a charge was true . . . but the world would never know.
Branded! Scorned as the one who ran.
What do you do when you’re branded, and you know you’re a man?
Wherever you go for the rest of your life you must prove … you’re a man.”
According to the story, he had the means to clear himself, but in not wanting to sully the reputation of his commanding officer, he bore the shame and did not seek to clear his name.
Shame and being outcast is universal throughout history in all communities . . . the Scarlet Letter, Native peoples driven from the land and force-marched away to “reservations”, the Irish in New York, blacks, yellows, browns and whites. Go to any city in the interior of China today and as a white person, you will hear the “Gwai Lo” title, loosely translated “foreigner” but is more literal in meaning as “ghost-white guy”. It has a “long history of being racially depreciating” (Wiki) . . . a pejorative.
Not only “race” but ways of thinking can cause others to exclude, abuse and reject those whose only crime is to want to learn. Recently, Malala Yousafzai has received the Sakharov Prize, which comes with $65,000, after a member of the Taliban shot her in the face on her school bus in October 2012 for ‘Western thinking.’ Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/world/pakistani-teen-shot-backing-girls-education-awarded-eu-human-rights-prize-article-1.1481662#ixzz2hXpdnfOr
After cleansing the lepers in a divine-human venture of faith obedience to the Word spoken; God offering mercy and humans responding in faith, the Samaritan turns and prostrates himself in front of Jesus and “eucharists” him (euchariston). Renders him full thanksgiving, the word describing our Lord’s supper. Jesus says, “Your faith has made you well!” This much is clear, we are brought to understand God by some event where God offers the Word that carries the possibility for us of enacting faith, when we take it and act on it in faith, God has healed us! Jesus says, “Your faith has healed you!”
Let us take whatever rejection by others, whatever shame or fear placed on us, either by our own fault or simply by misunderstanding or just by events as interpreted by others—be it sin, fault, weakness or life, and call out today in faith, “Lord, have mercy!” The same LORD who healed an unworthy foreigner is among us today, mystically present in the Word and in the embodiment of that Word of Mercy in the bread and wine.
If you are “on the border” today, neither fitting into the rules of religion or church but not without an awareness of something more than yourself, perhaps this word is also for you. “Lord, have mercy!” What is the threat in that cry? Receive this word however you are able, where you are . . . you need not make any promises to God or humans—just take it. Eat it. Drink it. Let this word of mercy be fully yours for this is the character of our God. The saying is sure “If we have died with Him” (by looking to the cross, baptized into his mercy) “we will live with him. If we endure, we will reign with him; if we deny him he will also deny us. IF we are faithless, HE REMAINS FAITHFUL, FOR HE CANNOT DENY HIMSELF.” He will not deny himself but I must deny myself. Deny what your feelings tell you, what your mind reasons about a mercy and grace and love that go “beyond reason”. Be united in spirit with One who was “despised and rejected, a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief . . . the Lord has laid on Him ALL of our illnesses and diseases and by His stripes, you ARE HEALED (Isaiah 53)!
This is not just about being saved for heaven, listen to our Psalm reading again . . . You let our enemies ride on over our heads and we went through fire and water . . .BUT YOU BROUGHT US OUT INTO A PLACE OF REFRESHMENT. This is not a religious “pie in the sky bye and bye but a piece on our plate at this date”— Let us confesses our need and then fall down and give thanks as God meets us with grace and mercy larger than our need! This is the Gospel of Christ for us all. Amen!

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