FOLLOW ME

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Opening Prayer

O God, you declare your almighty power chiefly in showing mercy and pity:  Grant us the fullness of your grace, that we, running to obtain your promises, may become partakers of your heavenly treasure; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.  (BCP 234)

TEXT

Matthew 8:18-34 NRSV
Now when Jesus saw great crowds around him, he gave orders to go over to the other side.
A scribe then approached and said, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.”

And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”

Another of his disciples said to him, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”

But Jesus said to him, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”

And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him.  A windstorm arose on the sea, so great that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep.  And they went and woke him up, saying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!”

And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, you of little faith?”  Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a dead calm.

They were amazed, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him?”

When he came to the other side, to the country of the Gadarenes, two demoniacs coming out of the tombs met him.  They were so fierce that no one could pass that way.  Suddenly they shouted, “What have you to do with us, Son of God?  Have you come here to torment us before the time?”

Now a large herd of swine was feeding at some distance from them.  The demons begged him, “If you cast us out, send us into the herd of swine.”

And he said to them, “Go!”  So they came out and entered the swine; and suddenly, the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea and perished in the water.  The swineherds ran off, and on going into the town, they told the whole story about what had happened to the demoniacs.  Then the whole town came out to meet Jesus; and when they saw him, they begged him to leave their neighborhood.

READ

Discipleship is a puzzling thing; in the midst of great struggle, suffering, and difficulty lie moments of great power and revelation.  “The Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head,” Jesus says.  “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead,” Jesus says.  Homelessness, shunning of family loyalties—these are the hallmarks of discipleship.  But moments later the storms are stilled, the demons cast out, for even the winds and waves obey him.  Toyohiko Kagawa, a Japanese Christian who spent over a decade among the poor, knew both the suffering and the power.
-BR

 

Unloved and lonely
Here I sit
Leaning against
My brazier;
Now and then
I raise myself
To rake dead ashes.

Listlessly,
I look about the room.
Newspapers
Pasted on the walls
Show pictures
Of a worthless world…

O devil-world,
I pile
Tears upon tears
Till I am spent,
But not,
Not yet,
Will you repent.

God,
How I long for Thee!
All feeling else is gone.
This three-mat hole
Where sunlight never strikes,
This poverty so dread
That I would fain
Cast out the cat
I cannot feed,
(The cat that comes
Again, and yet again)—

But I am satisfied,
Satisfied. . . . .
My eyes behold Thee here,
And when I close them
I
Can feel Thee watching
By my side.

Farewell to paper-pasted walls;
I get me up
And shove my shoddy sandals on.

Throughout this land
I go to preach,
“The Kingdom is at hand!”
—Toyohiko Kagawa (1888-1960)
from “Beside My Brazier” in Songs from the Slums
Translated by Lois J. Erickson

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