“Faith in their hands shall snap in two”

https://foodfaith.com.au/content/events/2018/2/28/breaking-bread-at-harmony-day-with-foodfaith-and-fen

I’ve been thinking about a line from the poem “Death Shall Have No Dominion,” by Dylan Thomas. First of all, my sense of the absurd is tickled by its presence on a site called “Funeral Helper,” where it is listed as a “popular non-religious funeral poem.” Do people at funerals actually want to hear this poem? It’s not entirely comforting. Its language is properly Biblical (which seems problematic enough for the “non-religious” set) but becomes so bleak and at times grotesque that it seems unlikely to make anyone feel better. Unless “Twisting on racks when sinews give way” is an image that warms your cockles, in which case you probably liked Fifty Shades of whatever way more than I did.

On the plus side, it’s at least honest about torture being a sucky way to die.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering what “cockles” means, which I did, Google tells me they are either the ventricles of your heart, from the root word “cochlea,” which said ventricles resemble, or a shellfish that tastes delicious boiled and with a dash of white wine vinegar.

Also, they’re alive, alive o.

A bit of family lore: My husband wanted to name our son Dylan Thomas, but I objected to naming him after a hard-drinking, soul-tortured poet, however beautiful the lines he composed. Wouldn’t that be asking for trouble? So we struck that name off our list. Then, we accidentally gave him the name of a famous comedian. Which is totally fine, because most comedians are well-adjusted teetotalers, right?

But getting back to the poem, the line sticking in my head is this: “Faith in their hands shall snap in two.” It’s stuck because it’s set up echoes in my head with a passage in a book called Interior Freedom, which was written by a member of a Carmelite community with the perfectly perfect French name of Jacques Phillipe.

Jacques writes:

Desire can only be strong is what is desired is perceived as accessible, possible . . . We cannot effectively want something if we have the sense that “we’ll never make it” . . .  [But] Through hope, we know we can confidently expect everything from God . . . But for hope to be a real force in our lives, it needs a solid foundation, a bedrock of truth. That solid foundation is given by faith: we can “hope against hope” because “we know whom we have believed.” Faith makes us cling firmly to the truth handed on by Scripture,  which tells us of the goodness of God, his mercy, and his absolute faithfulness to his promises” (105).”

I can’t set my heart on something I don’t believe is possible – whether that something is a fulfilling relationship, a satisfying job, a dream home, a reconciliation with someone I care about. If I don’t believe those things will happen ever, not in a million years, then why waste time hoping? But the converse is this: Faith provides us with the assurance that we need in order to hold out hope, even in difficult circumstances. It’s not faith in any thing, but faith in a person – in God who is good and always keeps his promises. In Jesus who is the living embodiment of love, truth, and unfailing mercy towards us. Faith, as it says in Hebrews 11:1 “shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.”

That’s why, when we are standing before the Risen Christ and death has been defeated once and for all, we will have no need for faith. We will have all the evidence we need, right before our eyes, that God has been making all things new, all along. The reality of everything we have hoped for will have come to pass. Faith, which has sustained us through all our years, will be obsolete, as unnecessary as a childhood blankie long loved but outgrown.

And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die. 
(Death Be Not Proud, John Donne)
On that day, death will have no dominion. All of our longings will be met in the person of Christ whose body was broken for us, then made whole so that we, too, can be whole. And faith in his hands shall snap in two.
photo credit: foodfaith.com.au

Easter Sunday: He is Risen Indeed

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PREPARE

Spend some time rejoicing in and with our Risen Lord.

READ

John 12:1-18

REFLECT AND PRAY

1) Vs. 9 says that the disciples who saw the empty tomb “saw and believed.” What have you seen as you journeyed with Jesus during Lent? How has Jesus strengthened and sustained your belief?

2) Mary Magdalene goes through a gamut of emotions: mourning over Jesus’ death, alarm and grief when she believes his body has been stolen, then the joy of recognition when Jesus speaks her name and she is able to share the news with the others. What emotions have you experienced as you have encountered Jesus during this Lent season? Which stand out to you and why? How might they be leading you to act and pray?

 

OBEY

 

After Jesus’ resurrection, the disciples enter a time of waiting and praying for Pentecost, for the coming of the Holy Spirit. Ask Jesus to show you what this time of waiting and praying will look like for you, then act accordingly.

 

“Leap of Faith” is a devotional series on the Gospel of John for the Lent season. All readings are available on the Vineyard One NYC app, along with additional resources for Bible reading, worship, and prayer (IPhone app here; Google Play app here).

 

Lent Day 46: The Blessings of the Week

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PREPARE

Today is a day to review your journey with Jesus over the past week. On the day before the resurrection, spend time retracing with Jesus his journey to the cross.

OPTION 1

Look over the week’s devotionals and/or your journal entries (Day 41, Day 42, Day 43, Day 44, Day 45). What stands out to you?  How has Jesus been present to you this week? Where do you sense Jesus inviting your attention so that you may go deeper with him?

OPTION 2

If looking over the entire week feels too overwhelming, reflect on one or more of these themes from the week’s devotionals:

1) Through his arrest, trial, and crucifixion, Jesus’ enemies attempted to strip everything from him: his humanity, his dignity, his followers. They failed because Jesus had an unshakable certainty, given to him by the Father, in who he was and how much he was loved (Matthew 3:16-17). To what extent do you also have this certainty? What experiences have brought you such certainty or contributed to its lack? Is there any part of yourself or your past you need to bring to God for healing?

2) As you read about Jesus’ experiences, what resonates with you and why? How might Jesus be speaking to you through his path to the cross and subsequent new life?

OBEY

In this time of waiting for Easter and the “joy that comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5), allow Jesus’ sorrow to enter your own heart. What is one thing that you sense brings both you and Jesus sorrow? Bring that pain to Jesus and ask him what he has to say to you about it.

“Leap of Faith” is a devotional series on the Gospel of John for the Lent season. All readings are available on the Vineyard One NYC app, along with additional resources for Bible reading, worship, and prayer (IPhone app here; Google Play app here).

 

Lent Day 45: “They Knew It Was The Lord”

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PREPARE

Find a place and posture of that will support your time of prayer. Allow the Holy Spirit to bring you the joy of Christ’s resurrection.

READ

John 21

REFLECT AND PRAY

Jesus’ return from death stimulates the hearts of his disciples. They are rejuvenated by Christ’s resurrection.

There are two scenes in John where the disciples fish with Jesus. The first (John 1:35-42) shows the amazement of ordinary men at an extraordinary man named Jesus. If we compare the first fishing scene to the one in John 21, we can see that the disciples have grown in faith and been transformed by their relationship with Christ.

1) What are some ways you have grown in Christ during this season of life?

OBEY

In both fishing scenes, Jesus calls his disciples to follow him. How is Jesus calling Peter to serve? How is God calling you to serve today? As he speaks to you, answer with a “yes.”

Guest writer: Marcus Samerson

 

“Leap of Faith” is a devotional series on the Gospel of John for the Lent season. All readings are available on the Vineyard One NYC app, along with additional resources for Bible reading, worship, and prayer (IPhone app here; Google Play app here).

 

Lent Day 44: “Blessed Are Those Who Believe”

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PREPARE

Find a place and posture of that will support your time of prayer. Ask for the grace of increased faith in Jesus.

READ

John 20:19-31

REFLECT AND PRAY

1) Imagine how the disciples felt after Jesus was crucified. Although they knew in their heart of hearts that Jesus was the Messiah and that he would be raised from the dead, they were heartbroken. They must have been filled with doubt and even despair. They were hiding from the Jewish leaders. Then, suddenly, in their darkest hour, Jesus appeared and sent them out as the Father sent him. Their tears must have been turned into laughter, their anxiety into peace. Ask the Lord to wipe out any doubt and any fear that may be holding you back and to use you for His purposes.

2) Verse 28 is the only verse in which someone directly calls Jesus God in the Bible. When Thomas saw for himself that Jesus had come back from the dead, he had to believe. In what powerful ways has Jesus revealed himself to you? Ask him to reveal himself to you in beautiful and powerful ways this Lent and Easter.

OBEY

Believe. If you are reading this reflection it is because you in some way or another have experienced God’s love. Deep down you know that Jesus is God and that he was crucified and raised from the dead. Thank Jesus for his perfect sacrifice on the cross. Ask Jesus to increase your faith in him. Ask him to allow your faith to be true (see James 2:14-26, Galatians 5:6, and Hebrews 11).

Guest writer: Abraham Aldama

“Leap of Faith” is a devotional series on the Gospel of John for the Lent season. All readings are available on the Vineyard One NYC app, along with additional resources for Bible reading, worship, and prayer (IPhone app here; Google Play app here).

 

Lent Day 43: “I Have Seen the Lord!”

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PREPARE

Close your eyes and quiet your thoughts. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you seek and find Jesus in whatever way he chooses to show himself.

READ

John 20:1-18

REFLECT AND PRAY

1) In verses 1-10, Mary Magdalene and the disciples run looking for Jesus but do not find him in the way they had expected? Do you identify with them at all? In what way? Are there any times that Jesus has shown up in your life in a way you did not expect?

2) Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic,”Rabboni!” [which means “Teacher”] (v. 16).

Mary did not recognize Jesus until he spoke her name. Then, she turned to recognize him as her teacher. Are there any times in your life where you have felt Jesus speaking your name and possibly inviting you to recognize him in a new way?

OBEY

Take a few minutes to thank Jesus for all of the ways he appears in your life.

In verse 17, Jesus says, “Go instead to my brothers and tell them…” Ask Jesus what he may want you to tell others about him and to give you the opportunity to do so.

Guest writer: Erin Brehm

“Leap of Faith” is a devotional series on the Gospel of John for the Lent season. All readings are available on the Vineyard One NYC app, along with additional resources for Bible reading, worship, and prayer (IPhone app here; Google Play app here).

 

Lent Day 42: “It is Finished”

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PREPARE

Find a comfortable place to pray. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you as you walk with Jesus through his time of trial.

READ

John 19:17-42

REFLECT AND PRAY

When Jesus says, “It is finished,” he may be referring to many endings at once: not only his mission on the cross, his defeat of sin, death, and evil but also his human life and ministry (in his non-resurrected body). He has also “finished” his duty as a human son; one of his last acts is ensuring his mother will be taken care of always, by John. As always in Jesus’ life on earth, we see the human and divine intersect.

1) As you read this passage, what part of Jesus’ “finishing” impacts you the most? Why?

2) As you consider the last 24 hours, where have you seen the human and divine intersect in your own life? Where have you experienced Jesus coming into your human existence, or experienced yourself as moving towards God?

OBEY

The account of Jesus’ death fulfilled Old Testament prophecies, emphasizing that he is indeed the Messiah that was foretold (v. 36). Although Jesus asks us to take up our own crosses as we follow him (Matthew 16:24), only Jesus’ death on the cross and resurrection can bring us freedom from our sins.

What “cross” is Jesus asking you to bear on his behalf these days? By doing so, how are you advancing the work of the Kingdom of God? Ask Jesus to help you bear your cross faithfully as you partner with him in establishing his rule and reign.

Guest writer: Mimi Otani, crazy4jazz.com

“Leap of Faith” is a devotional series on the Gospel of John for the Lent season. All readings are available on the Vineyard One NYC app, along with additional resources for Bible reading, worship, and prayer (IPhone app here; Google Play app here).

 

Lent Day 41: “No Power Unless Given From Above”

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PREPARE

Close your eyes and quiet your thoughts. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you as you walk with Jesus through his time of trial.

READ

John 19:1-16

REFLECT AND PRAY
Jesus endures horrible abuse and torture at the hands of his enemies. He is now a prisoner, brought here by the plotting and scheming of the religious leaders, no longer able to roam free to teach and heal the masses.
1) Put yourself in the place of one of Jesus’ followers. What emotions do you imagine you would have felt while seeing all of this? What conclusions might you have come to about Jesus, yourself, Pilate or the religious leaders, or about what was going to happen next?
2) ” Then Jesus said, “You would have no power over me at all unless it were given to you from above. So the one who handed me over to you has the greater sin” (v.11).
In this situation, who believes they are in control? How do they demonstrate what they believe to be their superiority? How do Jesus’ words show them – and us – another perspective?
3) Think back on a difficult time in your life. How has Jesus used it to show you he is in control of your life, health, dreams, and hopes?
OBEY
Give thanks to Jesus, who chose to endure great suffering because of his love for us. Share the story of Jesus’ love with someone this week.
Guest writer: Mercy Perez

 

“Leap of Faith” is a devotional series on the Gospel of John for the Lent season. All readings are available on the Vineyard One NYC app, along with additional resources for Bible reading, worship, and prayer (IPhone app here; Google Play app here).

 

Lent Day 40: “Lazarus, Come Out!”

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Each Sunday in Lent will focus on one of Jesus’ miraculous signs in the Gospel of John. 

PREPARE

Ask the Holy Spirit to guide your devotional time. Before you read, meditate on John’s words about his Gospel:

But these are written so 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 – John 20:31.

READ

John 11:1-44

REFLECT AND PRAY

1) The raising of Lazarus is Jesus’ most public, powerful demonstration of his authority over life and death, given to him by the Father, and a foreshadowing of Jesus’ own resurrection. At the same time, Jesus’ human emotions are very close to the surface in this story. He cries, becomes angry, and is “deeply troubled” (vs. 33).

What are your own feelings about death? As you reflect on Jesus’ response to death as both God and man, how does this shape your understanding of Jesus? Of death and resurrection?

2) Throughout the story, Jesus is the only one who understands how it will end. Lazarus’ sisters and friends still have to go through a time of mourning before Jesus raises him from the dead. During that time of mourning, Mary and Martha both have an opportunity to reject Jesus; instead, Martha declares her belief in Jesus and Mary runs and weeps at his feet.

Are there any people or things you are mourning right now? Any ways you are waiting for Jesus to act, to bring healing and new life? What would you like to say to Jesus?

OBEY

Before Jesus tells Lazarus to “Come out!”, he says, “Father, thank you for hearing me. You always hear me, but I said it out loud for the sake of all these people standing here, so that they will believe you sent me” (vs. 41-2). On Palm Sunday, consider finding a way to celebrate “out loud” (either by words or actions) Jesus as King and the ways he has brought resurrection to your life.

You are also invited to hear a sermon on this passage. It will be streamed on the Vineyard One NYC Facebook page beginning at 10:30 am Eastern Standard Time. (Previous sermon audio files are available at vineyardone.nyc.)

“Leap of Faith” is a devotional series on the Gospel of John for the Lent season. All readings are available on the Vineyard One NYC app, along with additional resources for Bible reading, worship, and prayer (IPhone app here; Google Play app here).