They laughed…

by DanWolgemuth on January 10, 2020

“…they laughed at him” (Mark 5:40)

Humor was not the inspiration for this laughter. There was nothing funny or entertaining that ignited this reaction. This was pure skepticism. Arrogance, perhaps. And probably not entirely unwarranted.

A twelve-year-old girl. Dead.

Death picked the daughter of a prominent leader. Indiscriminately.

The mourners were out. The tears flowed. Wailing filled the air.

Then Jesus. Presumed to be naïve or foolish or overconfident. Jesus.

“Napping.” “Just resting.” “Sleeping.” Was his pronouncement.

This was not a gap in information flow, a breach in communication. He knew. The report had interrupted his travel.

The stark and painful news had highjacked the hope of Jairus, the father, the requester, the guide… on his way home.

The unplanned interruptions to the journey had exhausted the waning hours of life. She was gone. Twelve years old and lifeless.

Jesus overheard. He entered in. He extended, what must have felt like a thread of hope… “Do not fear, only believe.”

Believe what?

There had been no promises made and no commitments given. Believe what?

First, believe that Jesus wouldn’t abandon the journey. Desperate news couldn’t hijack his agenda. Jesus wasn’t about to leave Jairus. In his grief and confusion and pain… Jairus had a companion. The companion.

His hope had a pulse, because Jesus was with him. At his side. On the trail. Each step. Every dusty, difficult and gut-wrenching step.

Then commotion. Chaos. Wailing. A house, now a funeral parlor.

Then the words of Jesus. Words that seem grossly uninformed. Outrageous really. Insensitive to the family. Offensive to the mourners.

“Sleeping.”

Then laughing. Mocking. Jeering. Sneering. Anger.

Thoughtfully, Jesus dismisses the skeptics. This is not a road show. It’s a sacred moment. A cosmic moment. A tender moment.

A touch. A salutation. A word of instruction.

“Arise.”

Long before Jesus walked away from his own tomb, he flexed his death-conquering power. Long before he returned to his Father’s side, he stood by another father… with hope, in love, with power.

And in this story Jesus reminds us, he invites us… to stay the course in the face of skepticism. He illuminates the fact that transformational hope is often greeted with jeers. Maybe even jeers from our own soul.

Doubt prefers to mourn the obvious. To live with death. To cling to despair.

Then Jesus. Hope is not dead, it’s just sleeping.

A pulse. While the mourners wail. A heartbeat.

In the days of painful doubt. A companion.

In the face of mounting fear. A voice.

Arise!

{ 0 comments }

20/20 into 2020

by DanWolgemuth on January 3, 2020

Ophthalmologists and Optometrists have been the most frequently visited physicians in my lifetime.

The typical vision correction has been one factor, but added to that, I have ocular hypertension, and an occurrence of a Central Retinal Vein Occlusion in 2008. This has amplified the value I place on visual acuity. The visual quality that expert medical support and corrective lenses have afforded me is something I don’t take for granted.

So… when the ball dropped on a new year, and that new year is directly correlated to numbers we associate with healthy vision, I pay attention.

20/20. 2020.

A year of focus. A year to calibrate the vision of my soul on the priorities that Jesus established while He walked the planet with an optic nerve. What was it that Jesus wanted us to see? What captured His attention, and what informed His instruction?

In preaching and practice, Jesus made this abundantly clear. Ironically, Jesus’ vision and His corresponding attention fell on those who were most often ignored, dismissed, devalued, or despised. And He invites His followers to do the same.

Jesus informs us that when we see the poor, the hungry, the sick, the outcast, the incarcerated… we are really seeing Him.

Jesus taught that our actions most often submit to our attention. And when we choose to ignore those He values most… we ignore Him.

Our eyes are the gateway to our soul. And our soul is the pathway to compassion. And the compassion of Christ is the onramp to action. Generosity explodes when our vantage point changes. When we see like Jesus, we become more like Jesus. And when we become more like Jesus, we will act more like Jesus.

Action without seeing is legalism. Seeing without doing is disobedience.

See, then be, then do.

20/20 in 2020.

Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. And a man lame from birth was being carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple that is called the Beautiful Gate to ask alms of those entering the temple. Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked to receive alms. And Peter directed his gaze at him, as did John, and said, “Look at us.” (Acts 3:1-4, ESV)

Peter and John learned well. Before they healed, they saw.

Our selfish vision, corrected through the lenses of Jesus. A broken and sin-filled world now calibrated with Christ.

Perhaps it’s time for a visit to the Optometrist of your soul.

20/20. Forever.

{ 0 comments }

The On Ramp to Christmas… a concluding thought

December 20, 2019

Hanging on a wall in our hallway, under glass, are memorable invitations/announcements that have happened in our family over the years. A wedding in Michigan in 1978. The birth of a son in 1981, another in 1983, and a daughter in 1986. Then weddings in 2003, 2006, and 2008. Invitations to hope. Announcements of joy. […]

Read the full article →

The best supporting actor.

December 16, 2019

On a cosmic stage, with the spotlight shining most brightly in a different direction. Joseph. But it’s Joseph who endures the crushing realization that the love of his life, his fiancé, his hometown girl is pregnant. The Gospel of Matthew records it this way… Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. […]

Read the full article →

The On Ramp to Christmas… continued

December 6, 2019

In 1968, after a vivid and moving dream about his deceased mother, Paul McCartney put pen to paper for his last song as a member of the Beatles. The song became the title track of the final Beatles album in 1970. Let it be… Even as I type these words, the melody and lyrics drift […]

Read the full article →

The On-Ramp to Christmas – Part 2 Between Gabriel and Elizabeth

November 22, 2019

Interruptions are often unwelcome, and at times frightening. But just imagine. A young teenaged girl… possibly lost in the anticipation, or fear, or delight of an upcoming marriage. Then, a voice, an exchange, an encounter. With an angel. With Gabriel. “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” Mary was reeling. Not just on […]

Read the full article →

The On-Ramp to Christmas…

November 15, 2019

Her resume was short and unimpressive. Her passion and hope were personal and reputational. But she was clearly on the radar of God. In His plan. Indeed, God has a knack for finding obscure people and elevating them to places of cosmic significance, of eternal impact. Elizabeth. Wife to Zechariah. Righteous and good. Childless. And […]

Read the full article →

Incarcerated – Still Sitting on my Soul

November 8, 2019

From time to time over the last six months, a stagnant memory or reflection stirs in my soul as I think about 26 hours in lock up. Most urgently I’m drawn back to the simple and straightforward process of “intake”. It’s the activity of separating the resident from the last remnant of personal belongings. Individual […]

Read the full article →

I’m Busy…

November 1, 2019

“How are you?” The question crosses our lips or pushes into our ears over and over again. And most often the reply swirls around some variation of… “I’m busy…” Busy. Rushed. Maybe even squashed and breathless and frantic… Have you been there? Are you there? Are the people around you there? As always, the life […]

Read the full article →

Praying with a view…

October 25, 2019
Thumbnail image for Praying with a view…

And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. (Luke 19:41–42, ESV) Jesus prayed with a view. His eyes stirred His soul. And His soul reacted […]

Read the full article →