Tuesday, July 9, 2019

A Prayer For This Week (July 8 - 14, 2019)

By Prayerful Liviving


Father-Mother God, in spiritual communion I worship You.
I bow down and prostrate my human will to Your commands.
I am repentant for when I have ever doubted Your all-ness,
and for the occasions when I’ve missed the mark.
I sacrifice everything for the beauty of Your holiness.
I draw near to You, God. My desire is to grow in Your grace.
I am so thankful for the demonstration of your Truth,
I take in Your bread of heaven, I sip Your inspiration of Love.
I rise to the morning meal of the revealed truth of Life everlasting.
Daily I strive to follow the example of the Master, Christ Jesus.
With humility and willingness I serve Your children here.
We are baptized into one body of Christ by You, Spirit.
I am totally devoted to You, Lord.
And so it is, Amen.

Monday, July 8, 2019

Peter's Repentance

By Ken G. Cooker

[Luke 5: 1-11; John 21 1-22]

I’ve been here before.
Slogging away for no return.
I’d gone back to my fishing,
What I grew up doing, and knew well.
I sniffed the breeze, judged the wind and the currents,
Dropped down the net.
And hauled up with aching arms and hands.
Nothing.
I looked at Nathanael and Thomas. Caught John looking at me.
We could read each others thoughts.
What were we doing here?
How had it come to this?
We had seen Jesus twice since his resurrection
Not just seen but touched, - Thomas even more so.
Yet we felt flat, as empty as our nets.
The selfish retreat of fishing for fish that weren’t even there a meaningless routine,
A hollow comfort of escape to the past, fear of the future.
As I hauled on the wet rope another weary time I felt a disbelief and frustration born of guilt. I had denied him three times in public, was now denying him with every pull of the net, my life returned to what had been normal.

I thought back three years, back in this very boat.
It seemed like an instant replay of when it all started.
Back there again, hauling up the unfilled empty weight. All night, nothing caught.
Frustrated, we'd been washing our nets when this man Jesus had asked to step on board, preached his gospel from there to the crowds gathered on the shore.
And when he had left speaking told us to go out again, to launch into the deep, let down the nets. I remembered and felt the pointlessness, the weariness and memory sending a shudder down my spine.
I’d answered for all of us. What’s the point, - the fish just aren’t biting.
Yet we obeyed because he had asked.
When I hauled up, I had nearly fallen in with the jolt. The net had broken with the weight of fishes.
I’d had to call James and John, - and here we were again. Time was all confused. We had struggled to bring the catch to shore, -it had filled our two boats, and we only just made it.
The fish must have been there all the time.
We had been dumfounded, and when he said to follow him, we did. Left all. He became our master.
Three years of non-stop miracles, lepers cleansed, limbs restored, multitudes fed, storms stilled by his word, - he had even got me to walk on the water, until I looked down and began to sink! I knew he was the Christ, - I’d told him! He shewed us what could be done.
He overcame death. I'd seen him twice since! And here I am still fishing.
And I have caught nothing.
The rocking of the boat seemed to mock us all.

I stretched up long and hard, the early morning light glinting on my sweat drained nakedness. Turned to James and John.
“I’ve just been thinking back three years ago. We’d all been out fishing, and the fish just weren't there. Do you remember, it was when we met Jesus. He spoke to the crowds from my boat, and afterwards said to launch forth. I scoffed at the idea, but we did, and couldn’t bring the load of fishes in! You had to help us. And here we are again. It’s like a bad dream!”
Had I achieved nothing in all this time? The daft panic question…Was Jesus just a dream?

I hauled again at the reality of another empty net.
A stranger on the shore called out.
“Children, have ye any meat?”
He can’t see the barren wooden floor, awash with froth and weed.
I shout back the understatement of the year. “No!”
He calls out yet again:
“Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find.”
We felt impelled to obey.

The net went over the other side, and it was barely drawn across the water when it resisted, almost fought against us; it was heaving with fish!
John said, “It is the Lord.”
Tears filled my eyes with re-ignited memory..
I now KNEW! Grabbed my garment, tied it quick and tight, dived in!
Jesus! Jesus!

Powerful strokes gave the lie to previous weariness.
I reached the shore, stumbled through the dragging water,
Dripping joyously as I ran to him.
He was sat calmly by a fire of coals, with fish and bread.
“Bring of the fish which ye have now caught.”
We all heaved the full net up the beach,
Renewed strength, newly awakened.
Another flash back those three years hence, - those nets had broken, but this now not spoiled. We stopped to count the abundance. One hundred and fifty-three!! And they were big fish too!
Was I living in the present or the past? I heard again Jesus’ earlier words as we hauled those broken bursting nets: “Fear not, from henceforth thou shalt catch men.”
And I had selfishly gone back to my fishing….

The present jolted back at me:
“Come and dine.”
We ate of our fish, the work of our hands. The bread and the fish were the best I’d ever tasted, but that was not why I remembered that meal. It was Jesus, my Lord. The Christ. Sought me out yet once more. Me not deserving. I had disowned him in public three times, but here he was, not disowning me, any of us. We had even denied him by going back to our fishing, despite having seen him alive since his awful crucifixion which only John watched. Why did he even bother to look for us? How did he find us?

I felt his love.

The rising warm light of a beautiful cloudless day was matching and lifting heart and soul.
We had finished, all comfortable round the fire. Wondering. Trembling with anticipation.

“Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these?”

What a question is this! Why pick on me? In front of everyone! And why Simon and not Peter? Had my reversion to fishing, my denials, robbed him of the rock he expected me to be? Not “Have you truly repented” but “Lovest thou me.” That’s the real proof. Who or what is more important? What do I really value most? What I think of myself, or how much I really love him? I give my answer.
“Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee.”

“Feed my lambs.”

His final command confirms his forgiveness and re-establishes the purpose and rock of my being, the selfless demand to love God and not self, before which we all must bow.
And in that true repentance of thought, changed wholeheartedly from self to God, I know I can never again go back. A new and deep awareness fills my being. Words are easy. I must now reach out and prove my love for Jesus by my love for others. No more denial, but stronger, so much stronger, the affirmation of God-based action!

My life-purpose changed: Not about me, about others.

FEED MY SHEEP!

And I just knew in another flash of understanding, that as Jesus had given me this command, he knew I would have all that was needed to fulfill it. He had re-established in me what he had declared before I had denied him: “Upon this rock I will build my church.”

I knew once again that the power of God was with me, and as God had been with Jesus so that Love would be guiding me in my deeds. My love of Christ would be evidenced by what I did now.

The past did not matter. A weight had lifted off me. I felt the joy of reaching out at Christ’s command. My love for Jesus was to be shown in my love for others.

“Feed My Sheep”

I looked at Jesus and he read my thoughts “I give you my oath, I will”

Acts 5:12 (to ;) And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people;

Download a PDF of this poem

©Ken G Cooper 2019                         
kencooperpoetry.com                     
kengcooper@btinternet.com                                                       
Ken G Cooper Poetry You Tube

Monday, July 1, 2019

Where are the nine?

By Ken G. Cooper

[Luke 7:12-19]

My life had changed, suddenly everything had gone wrong and I didn’t know why. Leprosy had become evident on my skin. People around me assumed it was somehow a punishment from God, and I was told to leave my home.  I had always been faithful, but that was the law, whether Samaritan or Jew, the stigma was the same.

I knew my family still loved me, but this was a terrible trial for us all. The expectation of healing was low, and my priest was clear that this physical separation would last until he could ratify any healing. He did not look confident. His sympathy was but empty words of kindness.

I ended up in a leper village between Galilee and Jerusalem. Ten of us formed a friendship. We often went walking, but always on the alert to keep away from others, ringing our wretched bells as necessary, staying close together. Although I was a Samaritan among Jews, they took no notice, - I was one of them, - diseased, leprous, cast out.  I had lost my faith, and with that all hope.

One of the local priests would occasionally come by and shout out family news for those they knew. Last time he came he told us about this Jesus of Nazareth. He wasn’t sure about him, but this man was certainly making a name for himself. Some called him The Messiah! In fact he was healing people and expecting his disciples to do the same.  What! He had even healed leprosy! We ten were together when the priest said this. We looked at each other, and all thought the same thing: “I wish!”, but then the better question: “How? Where is he? Can we ever get to him?”

“He’s on his way to Jerusalem with his disciples.”

How do you explain how one’s thought can shift so quickly? From nowhere I suddenly felt a divine impulsion, - my own emptiness suddenly sparked up with a deep deep prayer, Oh Father, - please, please, let this be true, guide us to this man Jesus, guide me once again to You!

My friends were quick to consult, - it took just seconds! We got together and headed straightaway for the nearest village on the road to Jerusalem! Our bells were as impatient as we were. We all felt it was worth the gamble, - would we meet up with this Jesus? What were the chances?  But I felt a different emotion, - a yearning within me to reach out once more. I had left God, but He had never left me. I felt Love’s guidance. I suddenly realised I was at last listening again.  I knew God was guiding me and we would indeed meet with Jesus.  I was seeking regeneration, my dear friends seemed to be just after their healing.

And it was not long before we all saw a procession ahead of us. This must be Jesus and his followers.  We increased our pace, bells ringing. We were heard, and they turned to see.

We shouted out as one and with reverence: “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!”

“Go shew yourselves unto the priests.”

That’s all he said! A simple command. But what wealth within!  The confident expectancy of healing, the dismissal of the claim of leprosy, no need for interrogation – just a simple statement from those many yards away embracing all ten of us.  It seemed no big deal for him, - but it was for us!! We obeyed and began to walk back the way we had come.  Right before our eyes the leprosy just disappeared! What joy! My friends were staring at their flesh, now new-born and clear, - all those years of fear and pain and stigma eradicated in moments. We were free!!

et I didn’t need to look.  I just knew. I had felt the power of God running through me. So many thoughts going through my mind! My friends were marching off in glee. I called after them, but they were not listening anymore, they kept pointing at their bodies. And here I was, spiritually renewed! I felt refreshed, that God had guided me here for this very reason, - to stand whole and free, to rejoice! That simple command of confidence was all it took, and we believed! I believed!  I turned back, saw Jesus and his followers all watching. I jumped in the air, shouted “YES!”, skipped and ran o where Jesus was standing, and knelt before him with overflowing gratitude and new-found humility. My leprous mortal past not even a memory, but the joy of recognition filling my heart and soul.

Jesus spoke: “Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine? There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.”

Jesus spoke: “Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine? There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.”

He knew I was a Samaritan! It hadn’t mattered! His outreach and love were unconditional! I felt once more the love he had shown us, I felt the embrace of his followers as they now included me in their joy.  I saw man as God’s beloved, whole and free, and Jesus had been there for me, was there for all of us. 

He continued speaking: “Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.”

I stood up. The love in his face shone and I felt its radiance. His love had made me aware of my true nature, - far beyond the flesh, - the glory of God reflected in man.

A day later, my priest confirmed what I knew. I was free.

I went to my family. We embraced, and the love we felt was as never before.

“Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.”  Revelation  7: 12 Blessing


Download a PDF of this poem

©Ken G Cooper 2019                         
kencooperpoetry.com                     
kengcooper@btinternet.com                                                       
Ken G Cooper Poetry You Tube

A Prayer For This Week (July 1 - 7, 2019)

By Prayerful Living


God, You are the one and only Lord, the true God, forever near, omnipresent.
Oh, that my prayer can even begin to express Your greatness.
You are the great I AM, infinite, omnipotent, all powerful, divine Principle.
Divine Soul, Your uni-verse is one song, harmonious, all good, beautiful, majestic.
Divine Spirit, You are all-knowing, understanding all things, omniscient.
Divine Truth, You are all-seeing. Your truth is the victory.
Divine Life, You are all-acting, the only creator, the only cause.
Everything in the universe expresses You, praises You.
Divine Mind, You are all-wise. I give thanks for Your infinite wisdom.
Divine Love, You are all-loving. I feel the radiance of Your steadfast love, embracing all.
Gratefully, I am Your reflection, Your servant and witness.
You are the Eternal, and I will glorify and honor You for ever and ever.
And so it is, Amen.