God, who has been my shepherd all my life

 

Genesis 48 recounts a rather poignant scene.  Jacob (Israel), a widower (2x) now in Egypt, is dying but rallies after hearing Joseph has come to see him.  And so he recounts to Joseph firstly his encounter with God, when fleeing his brother Esau, where God restates the promise given to his father and grandfather.  He then tells Joseph that his two sons will be regarded as his, i.e. not grandsons but sons and then secondly he recounts the death of his beloved wife and Joseph’s mother, Rachael, at Bethlehem.

Joseph then presents his sons to Jacob to be blessed and Jacob deliberately blesses the younger above the older saying:

“May the God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked,

the God who has been my shepherd all my life to this day,

the Angel who has delivered me from all harm,

May he bless these boys……….”

 

These are the things I noticed:

  1.  Only a chapter or so earlier, one of the first things Joseph says to the family he has just been reunited with, is that they are to make sure they tell Pharaoh they are shepherds.  This is so that, though despised, they get the best land.  I can’t help but think that tending sheep and livestock, here described, is starting to become part of their identity.  (It also sets up well the tension which leads to the Exodus.)  So I think this personal statement by Jacob that God has been his shepherd is something that means much when reflecting on his checkered but redeemed past.
  2. This is mirrored much later by King David, also once a shepherd, in Psalm 23
  3. There is much that is for-shadowed here of Christ, the good shepherd.  Though Jacob recounts Rachael’s death in order to hint perhaps that Ephraim and Manasseh could have been the sons he had if she hadn’t died, the connection with Bethlehem seems significant.  It seems from early on Bethlehem is linked with tending sheep and with Rachael’s death, two things that are significant in the accounts of Jesus’s birth.  In these accounts it is carefully pointed out that he is born in Bethlehem (the Messiah’s birthplace) and that his birth is announced by angels to shepherds.  Also that Herod’s infanticide is predicted by Jeremiah as “Rachael weeping for her children” which causes the flight to Egypt.
  4. Bethlehem became the place also where lambs were tended and taken to Jerusalem for sacrifice, so, an interesting thought, perhaps, of Christ being both Good Shepherd and Lamb of God.  This second understanding of Bethlehem though is not contained in the above passage.
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Sign of the Spirit

December 2015 January 2016 217Last night we watched a documentary on the devastating effect of “Crack” in Brazil.  Whilst filming much human despair and misery among the “crack lands” the interviewer showed an A.O.G. van arrive distributing food, praying for folk and offering help to those wishing to overcome their addiction.  There didn’t seem to be anyone else doing so.  They said their success rate of rehabilitation was about 3 in 10 which the interviewer indicated was quite good given how addictive crack is.

God at work in unexpected places.

This morning, I read of Jesus in Matthew 8 encountering a roman centurion. Jesus marveled at his faith saying, ” I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith”.

Faith in unexpected people.

Later on, I read in Acts 11 of where Peter in Jerusalem was called to account for entering a gentile’s home.  He explained the circumstances which included a vision he had had plus there was an angelic visit to the gentile Cornelius and this resulted in an outpouring of the Spirit on the group gathered at Cornelius’ house.  This then changed the Jewish folk’s tune.  They praised God saying, “So then, God has granted even the Gentiles repentance unto life.”

God’s Spirit given to unexpected people.

As I drove home from dropping the kids off at school I was surprised to see what looked like a dove as a cloud in the sky this morning.

An unexpected reminder of God’s Spirit.

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Flinders Piering

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Timbers aged, grained and grey

Once with verdant fingers on raised hands

Now reveals the sparkling green and blue beneath

so we see Eternity in the heart of man

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That sometimes quiet but restless sea

Reminds us, this is not our home

as on the saline breeze, comes confessed wisdom;

The restless heart finds its rest in God

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Lofty Branches

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Lofty Branches

Lifted high in silent praise

Illuminated cloud behind, slowly dances

and Sing to me as I wake

 

This high cathedral of vapour and leaves

Reveals the smallness within

and I sink to my knees

in Repentance of sin

 

In forgiveness and peace, swathed

Restored there with my Maker

I rise, arms high in silent praise

like Lofty Branches

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Christmas Day 2014

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Finger-like tendrils

Noiselessly drift in the sky

A reminder perhaps

Of tiny hands of a baby born

Yet also the hands of

An Incarnate Creator

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Persian Astrologers

Once pondered a sign in the sky

Then searched for

No ordinary Jewish King

For what other reason

Would they bother?

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Currimundi Beach

Staring at a thin blue line

Life on hold, tediously updating

Reflection of leaves on a black screen

Gently ruffled, quietly swaying

Slanted sunlight near the end of day

Silently highlighting

Tops of hedges, edges of trees

Just outside

 

A short walk to the beach

And the light is slowly changing

On a sand bar a photographer shoots

Groom and bride

With a bare eight month bump, by which

In prior times some would be mortified

Changing times midst

A changing tide.

 

So though the tide goes out

Pastel shades and peaceful waves provide

A whisper almost audible

From a Creator still good and kind

And chiffon clouds spread and swirl

With delicate patterns broad and high

And gathered curves fashioned

On a sky canvas

 

Joyous voices atop incoming waves

Games played in the outgoing channel

And little daubed clouds

Sometimes grey, sometimes pink or yellow

Drift from tired storm clouds

Framed by mountains and mangroves below

And are momentarily bedecked

With jeweled edges

 

Beneath a purple robe

The day’s regent is slowly departing

whilst elsewhere the night’s queen

Is steadily rising

And a photographer’s tripod and camera

In the channel, capturing

The quiet splendour

Of light on water

 

As the light dims on the outgoing tide

so of day and year, little remains

But as sure as night turns to light

So the tide will return again

And as the times change

Faith, Hope and Love remain

So let righteousness roll on as the stream

Though the tide goes out or in.

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Isaiah 9:2-7

Merry Christmas!

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Standing

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This wick still smolders

though the wind still howls

I’m bruised not broken

though blown about

And while the storm still rages

the ground beneath stays firm

Still I’m standing

 

 

Where else have I to go?

Your words bring life, I know

For on Christ the solid rock

is where I stand

 

 

When the winds grow quieter

And silent weeping ceases

Light slowly waxes

with hope and peace

I look up and see

You holding on to me

For still I’m standing

 

 

Grace like manna, enough for each day

Lord hold me close, I pray

I’ll walk again, I know, someday

But for now it’s enough just to stand

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Analysis

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Analysis

Note by Note

Bar by Bar

Chord progressions and melodic phrases

Woven and stitched together delicately

A quilted cloak of comforting sound

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An Isaiah Rant

Not clever enough to replicate the underlying poetry of Isaiah, I have aimed for a form something similar to its translation:

Where is this “life force”
that we may examine its DNA?
In what petri dish
is this “evolutionary process”?
What museum houses
the “universe” and its laws of physics?

And what did it design?
What have they created?
Apes evolved from humans
capable only of hearing and seeing
that which ensures their survival.
For there is little reason or logic
all that is left is ridicule and the ridiculous.
Meaning is meaningless and
Purpose is enslaved to being
another link in the evolutionary chain.

So how did the beginning begin?
What “life force” brought forth a “life force”?
Through what process did this “evolutionary process” evolve?
How did universe
swung into motion the physical laws?

Surely our eyes see
the waddle and quack of the Designer.
For our reflections reveal
an imperfect image of our Creator.
Our minds regain reason to understand
and meaningful intelligence to create.
Our hearts guided by love and grace into the arms
of an interventionist God.

OK, now I have that off my chest I can get some washing done….

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