Saturday, June 18, 2016


Death is a fearful thing, but to be dead and alive at the same time is surely worse. He had always thought so, and now his experience confirmed it. To be a leper was to be dead to your family, your friends; your place in society and the trade you had lived by. You were dead to the Law of Moses and the worship of God. There was no place for you in home or synagogue or temple. Even here in Samaria, where some rules were far less strict than Jerusalem, that remained a constant. The horror ascribed to leprosy was universal  You were an outcast from everything that made life sweet and good, condemned to have no fellowship with anyone except your fellow outcasts, and they, living in a world without hope or kindness or any rule of law except the one that demanded that they name themselves “unclean”, were not always generous or caring. And the while, even as you endured these things, your body rotted away inch by inch, and your self-loathing grew in proportion. You were feared and despised by all, and all joy was fled from life.

But, even among lepers, rumours travel and news is shared, especially news of a man who worked miracles of healing. When you have no other hope such a possibility, however remote, is potentially the most exciting prospect in the world. Of course, not for everyone. Some had turned their backs on hope, preferring a cynical pragmatism to protect themselves from further disappointment. But he had not yet fallen so far, and nor had some others. So, when they heard that this Jesus was travelling in the border lands between Samaria and Galilee, well, why not give it a try?

They waited in hope by the roadside, and there were ten of them. And strangely, as he waited, the hope of healing tore his heart wide open. All the suppressed pain and longing rose up inside him, and he discovered that his leprous eyes could still cry. He kept his face averted, ashamed of his emotions.

They heard the sound of people coming, and gazed anxiously down the road as a group approached. The lepers did not dare to come close, so they stood at a distance and cried out, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us.”

“Go and show yourselves to the priests,” he replied, and somehow his bare word was enough for them. They knew the law, they knew that only a priest had the authority to declare them free from leprosy and allow them to re-enter the community . So, obediently they set off, hardly daring to think about it.

But while they were walking, they discovered they were healed, and their pain and fear was turned to joy. He stopped, he looked at the flesh which had become his disgusting prison and saw that it was new and whole. Every mark every disfigurement, had vanished, and he was overwhelmed with wonder. Forgetful of his companions, he turned and ran back to Jesus, shouting to the world his praise of God, for he knew that nothing less than the power of God could have done this. He came and fell at Jesus’ feet, pouring out his broken, stumbling words of thanks. He was complete, he was whole; his world, his life had been remade by the mercy of God. He heard Jesus comment on the fact that he was the only one to return with thanks, but that was not his concern. He had no room left for anything but wonder and joy.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Perhaps ..

Perhaps I’m not the artist but the art,
The one you shape and mould and colour in,
Carve and smooth out, retouch relentlessly,
Infinite patience whittling me within.

Perhaps I’m not the singer but the song,
The music that Your mercy loves to play,
The theme resolving sorrow into hope,
Anguish to wonder, darkness to new day.

Perhaps I’m not the dancer but the dance,
Your choreography positions me
Lifted to heights I never thought to reach
And plunged with grace to rise exultantly.

Perhaps I’m not the writer but the tale
You tell again, the story old and new,
The wonder that we weep for every time,
The marvel that is gloriously true.

Saturday, June 04, 2016

I believe

I am the king of all I survey, ruling a great and mighty empire. Other nations and their gods fall before my armies. Who is like unto me? Who can compete with my power and glory? I am the chosen vessel of Bel and Marduk, the gods of my people, and perhaps I have outstripped even them in glory. My power knows no limit. I move peoples and nations according my whim, mixing them up so that they might become one people, just as when water and wine are mixed together and cannot be separated again.  But is it enough?

No, it is not enough. I want more than just their subservience, I want their worship. I have ordered the construction of a mighty golden image of myself. Who is fitter than I am to receive the worship, the homage, the adoration of the people of Babylon? I am Nebuchadnezzar and I believe that I am a god.


My name is Nebuchadnezzar and I am not a god, just a foolish and vainglorious man. I believe that there is one true God in the universe, the Most High, King of Kings and Lord of Lords. The only power any man has is the power that the Most high allows him to have.

I should have known, I should have believed much sooner. First there were the boys who refused to eat the idolatrous meats from my table, yet they throve. (How could I not have seen? How could I not have known? But pride is a terrible blindness). Then there was my prophetic dream of the large statue made of various materials, which no one but Belteshazzar, prophet of the Most High God, could discern or interpret. He told me then that it was his God who was the revealer of mysteries. I should have known when those three Hebrews refused to bow to my image and I had them thrown in the fierce flames but they did not burn. Instead they walked around in the furnace with the same ease with which I walk around my private gardens, and they were in the company of another who was as glorious as a son of the gods. How could I not have realised that He was so much greater than I?

But I persisted in my folly. I was warned in a dream to change the direction of my heart, for the Most High is merciful beyond man’s comprehension, but I was wedded to my pride, so the King of Heaven humbled me so that I might be delivered. In the very hour when I raised my voice to declare that the glory of Babylon was a reflection of the glory and majesty of myself a voice from Heaven de3clared my sentence. Everything I treasured was taken from me, I was driven forth from the city, and, with my sanity vanished, my very humanity disintegrated. For seven years I lived like a beast of the field, filthy, unkempt, unsheltered, eating grass like mindless cattle. I had neither majesty nor dignity.

After seven years came a moment of blessed clarity, and I lifted up my heart in praise of Him who orders the kingdoms of men and gives them to whomsoever He pleases. And my kingdom was restored to me.

Now I believe and declare that all glory dominion and power belong to God. His kingdom, and his alone, has dominion over all the world and shall endure for all generations. And all He does is right and true and just.