Start From Whatever Hood Ya Come From

Finding Jesus

because they had been baptized

 

At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee. – Mark 1:9 (Mark 1:9-13)

Skipper’s Sun grew up in a region always on edge. Centuries of conflict between one sect and ah nudder, between different beliefs, diverse backgrounds and races and loyalties left folks distrustful of one ah nudder. Bandits roamed about. Zealots terrorized folks. Rome ruled, but due ter its distance from seats of power, much of Galilee remained under the control of whatever local militia might ‘ave the most power. Bribes be expected, beatings the punishment fer them who refused. This be the neighborhood the Sun come from.

So when Nathanael asked, “Can any good thing come from Nazareth?” (John 1:46) it be a right fair question. It be like asking if anything good kin come from the slums of Bristol.

But at age thirty, the son of a carpenter sets out from Nazareth with no influence, no followers, no formal rabbinic teaching, and no expectations from others that he ‘ill amount ter anything.

Only a few know him ter be Skipper’s Sun and most dare not speak of it.

Down ter the Jordan River he walks. Thar the Sun finds his cousin, John, calling folks ter repent, confess thar sins, and be baptized. Now the Sun doth not ‘ave ah thing ter repent of. He ne’re committed a sin. Other folks don’ know this, though, so ter set things right from the start, the Sun wades in ter the Jordan ter show that being washed clean of our filthy living be the first step towards turning ter Skipper.

Ah good many folks ‘ill make all manner and excuses fer why they don’ need ter be baptized. Folks bathe. Folks shower. Folks frolic in ponds, lakes, rivers, streams, and sea. But they won’ take a dip fer Skip? Don’ make sense.

Some claim they had water sprinkled on thar head when they was a tiny tot, or they was baptized once, but kin not remember when, or being baptized be an out-dated way of showing ya be a follower of the Sun.

Only think on this: if the Sun, Skipper’s only boy, thought it worth his time ter take a dip, could it not be a thing ya ought ter do as well?

The Sun seen the heavens opening. Now that be an odd thing ter see in it self, but then Skipper’s Holy Ghost of Truth descended upon Him in the way a dove might come ter alight on a branch.

A voice came from the heavens: “You are My beloved Son. In You I m well pleased.”

Kin Skipper say the same ’bout ya? ‘Ave ya done the first things first? Or did ya head off on yer walk with the Sun without taking the steps he took at the start?

We be called ter follow the Sun, not get ahead of him. Walk in the ways he walks. Start at the start. Start from whatever hood ya come from.

If a feller or lass says ter ya, “Ya ‘ill ne’er amount ter anything,” don’ ya believe it fer a second.

Be baptized in ter the Sun and ya ‘ill become Skipper’s child. If ya ne’re do anything else, that right thar be a right fair accomplishment. Take a dip and sail on, brothers and sisters. Take a dip and sail on.

Where ever ya be sailing, that be whar ya ‘ill most like end up. Plot yer course with Skipper and his Sun.

Pirate fact: “Keelhauling” be a form of punishment whar by a length of rope would be tied ’round and under the ship’s hull. the grievous breaker of ship’s rules then be tied ter the rope and plunged under the ship. Back and forth, up and down the feller would go ’till he be drowned dead or cut ter shreds by barnacles. Even pirates knowed thar be punishment fer breaking the captain’s code of conduct. Lubbers might think on this a wee bit when they be tempted ter break Skippers Code of Conduct.

Begin with the Good News That Skipper Loves All Folks

Mark 1:5 (Mark 1:1-8)

Begin with the Good News That Skipper Loves FolksAll the country of Judea was going out to him, and all the people of Jerusalem.
Mark 1:5 (Mark 1:1-8)

John Mark appears ter have spent a good amount of time listening ter the preaching of Simon Peter and making notes. Fer a time John Mark ministered with Saul Paul and Barnabas, but then the lad got a bad case of homesickness and jumped ship.

Though at first Saul Paul refused ter take John Mark back, at the end of his life Saul Paul pleads fer John Mark ter come quickly and bring Saul Paul’s cloak, parchments (perhaps so Saul Paul could pen more letters), and scrolls (so as ter read more of Skipper’s words.) It might be said of John Mark that he learned under a pair of Skip’s greatest Good Spiel messengers: Old Pete and Saul Paul.

When we read John Mark’s words it be as if through the Holy Spirit of Truth we be transported back ter the first century and enjoy a front row seat of the Sun’s travels, actions, and words.

After reading short passages of John Mark’s tale, close yer eyes. Feel the dust on the tops of yer feet, the caked mud ‘tween yer toes. Taste the salt of sweat in yer mouth whilst the sun bakes down on ya. Hear the murmuring of others whilst the Sun’s words echo off buildings. Inhale the odor of sheep and cattle being led ter stalls near the perimeter of Jerusalem. If this whar yer first time hearing, how would ya respond ter the Sun’s words?

This be our challenge: ter hear afresh these loving and hope-filled words of Skipper spoken about his boy.

Now let us haul up our anchor and set sail toward the rising Sun.

 

The beginning of the gospel of the Sun starts with: “Behold, I send my messenger ahead of you—before your face—who will prepare the way.”

John the Baptizer, the cousin of Skipper’s boy, appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. the whole Judean countryside and all folks in Jerusalem went out ter him. Confessing their sins, they whar baptized by John in the Jordan River.

John went about wearing an outer garment made of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist. His meals consisted of locusts and wild honey. Though odd in appearance and diet, his message was spot on:

“After me comes the one more powerful than me, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

This be our challenge from John: that we be washed clean in water as ah testimony of our filthy spirit, that we repent, and prepare to meet the one Skipper will send ter take away all sins.

John preached of how all the wrong we done kin be cleared off Skipper’s ledger when we come inter the Sun. No matter how bad ah thing ya think ya done, the Sun kin wash away all filth if only we ‘ill come ter him, confess, and be saved by his nail-scarred hand.

If we want to begin at the beginning of the Sun’s story, start with this good news: Skipper loves folks so much he sent his Sun ter dive inter the sea ter save us.

Once we accept that Skipper and the Sun be love through and through then it be ah mite easier ter turn toward the pair and ask ter be part of the crew. This be the theme of this tale of John Mark: that we receive the love and grace and mercy of Skipper and his Sun and sail with ‘em.

Pirate FactsPirate Facts: Although technically not ah rank, Swab be ah sailor who mops the decks using the swab is called ah “swabbie.” The term has come to describe someone who is not held in high regard by the commanders and crew.

 

Parroting the Prayers of Skip’s CrewParroting the Prayers of Skip’s Crew

Lord, favor me because of your loving-kindness. Take away my wrong-doing because of the greatness of your love. Wash me inside and out. Make me clean from my sin. Though others may not know my heart, you do. My sin is always in front of me. I have sinned against you, and you only. I have done what is sinful in your eyes. You are always right when you speak, and fair when you judge. Forgive me. I put my life in your hands. (Psalm 51:1-4)

 

Your Hearts Are Far From Me

Finding Jesus

Your Hearts Are Far From Me

“These people honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.” – Mark 7:6 (Mark 7:1-6)

Once after tha Sun and his mates healed sinners and Samaritans, some Pharisees asked tha Sun, “Why don’t your disciples live according to the traditions of the elders and wash their hands after leaving the marketplace?”

Now back then, them holding to tha tradition of tha elders would not take so much as one bite unless they give thar hands a thorough washing. This be especially so after they come from tha marketplace. They also kept many other traditions, such as washing of cups, pitchers and kettles fer eating.

No doubt, ya may ‘ave heard yer mum say sumpin like, “Wash yer hands ‘fore coming ter tha table. Cleanliness be next ter godliness.”

Only personal hygiene not be tha thing that riled tha Pharisees and teachers of tha law. No, tha thing that stuck in thar craw be tha riffraff tha Sun and his mates hung out with. Tha snooty, critical attitude of tha religious leaders be in opposition ter tha welcoming, loving approach of tha Sun: in fact, be an affront ter tha Sun.

“You honor me with your lips,” tha Sun said, “but your hearts are far from me.”

A long time later in tha Revelation of him self tha Sun charged folks in tha Church in Ephesus with a similar attitude.

“I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen!” (Revelation 2:4)

Ter be sure them in Ephesus meant well. They be busy ’bout helping others. They refused ter tolerate wicked people. They tested them who claimed ter be apostles, but missed tha mark. They persevered and endured hardships fer tha sake of tha Sun and Skipper. They pressed on without growing weary. And still tha Sun warned that if they refused ter come back in ter his arms and love him with all thar heart he would remove thar influence and authority.

A good many folks and crew and congregates be like tha Pharisees and teachers of the law and them in Ephesus. With thar lips they spout a good line ’bout loving tha Sun, but thar hearts be elsewhere.

Fer some thar hearts be on traditions they growed up with.
Fer some thar hearts be on making sure all keep ter tha rules and kicking out any who step out of line.
Fer some thar hearts be on meeting tha physical needs of others whilst failing ter point folks back ter tha Sun.
Fer some thar hearts be on accepting all without correcting and rebuking any — even tha most unrepentant sinners.

All miss tha mark. Our first task ought always ter be ter fall in ter tha arms of tha Sun and love him only. This be right easy ter do when we think on how little we deserve his love and how great his love be fer us.

If ya think ya deserve tha Sun’s love then ya think ter highly of yer self. Only way ter get shed of that attitude and come out of tha darkness and in ter tha Sun’s light, be ter exchange yer life fer tha Sun’s. Only then kin ya love others with tha love Skipper has fer ya. Question be: will ya?