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Some Good News Stories


SOME GOOD NEWS STORIES

At the end of the Gospel of John, the Evangelist makes the following claim:

This is the disciple who is testifying to these things and wrote these things, and we know that his testimony is true.
And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written. (24-25)

This claim is the driving force behind "Some Good News Stories." Have you ever wondered about – for example – what happened to the Roman Centurion after he made his claim as to who Jesus is? Or maybe you have pondered, the woman who was caught in adultery that Jesus refused to condemn, what is her story? If you have, then you will understand the depth of the process called “walking between the lines.”
Once a week (for however long it takes), our DRE, Earl Gervais will share some stores with you - stories in and of those told to us in the four Gospels.

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All the stories found here take their form and shape from the book Walking Between The Lines: Some Stories The Bible Didn't Tell. The process of “walking between the lines” is really quite simple. It is taking the time to look at the stories of Scripture (particularly the New Testament) through the eyes of those who might have been there. If you have read the original WBTL, you already understand the process. If you have not, then please stay right here, for I am about to give you a brief tutorial on the process of “walking.”
This TRUTH found in the above mentioned passage from John, lit such a fire in me, I could not listen to any Sunday Gospel without wondering – what else might be the case! And that is the foundation of “walking between the lines.” Here’s the way…

You pick a passage from Scripture, any passage. Then you have several options…
1)    You can take one of the characters in the story, maybe it’s Peter, the Samaritan woman at the well, or the Roman centurion standing at the foot of the cross, or even the rooster who crowed three times. (You really should hear his story; but you will need to read the first book). Then you ponder, let your heart and soul wonder - think about WHAT ELSE they might have been doing, thinking, or saying. Ask yourself a few questions. Close your eyes – SEE the story unfold.

2)    Or, as you read or hear the story, see you there. Tell the story as though you are a participant. (I can’t take the credit for this manner of walking, St. Ignatius of Loyola founder of the Jesuits came up with it first.) Or, there is a third possibility
3)    …make up a character, and have that character interacting with those that the Scripture shares. I do it all the time. I can’t rewrite the Scripture story, but I can wonder what else was happening, who else was around. Jesus did nothing in isolation.

Trust me, as soon as you start reading the stories here, or the ones in the first book, you will get it; and then, I am sure, you will never look or listen to a Scripture story any other way. And then when you complete the final step – allowing God to whisper, and speak to your heart – you will journey to places that you never imagined were there.


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A Birthday Story (John 1:19 -28)

My full given name is Septima Calida Veturia, but those who know me well simply call me Cal. Somehow I managed to grow up in one of the poorest sections of Rome, but I can now claim that Senators and high ranking members of the Roman Army come to me for favors. The home of my childhood was located in the eastern section, near the Wall of Aurelian. In fact I am not sure you could even call it a home, it was more of a tent with a few pieces of wood bracing it up. Today, I own most of the land around the Circus Maximus.

I would be lying to you, if I said that over the years I came to my wealth through honorable and completely honest means. I can only hope that due to recent experiences, my soul has a place in the mercy of Yahweh. Now, the first question you are probably asking is, how can a woman of Roman heritage come to understand of the love of God? Well here is my story.

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It all came about when I decided to leave Rome and travel to Joppa, then on to Philadelphia, better known in that region as Rabah. One of my trading partners had died, and for some reason known only to a dead man, bequeathed his entire business to me. Rabah had become a major crossroad city of trade from the East to Jerusalem. On this particular day, after spending the night in Jericho, my wagon broke a wheel right before we were to cross the River Jordan.

I noticed a crowd gathering about one hundred meters away. My curiosity got the better of me, and I walked over, while some of those in my employ where attending to the wagon. Most of the people were sitting on the banks of the river. Standing in the middle of the waters was a man, almost half naked, holding a staff, and screaming things at the top of his lungs; mostly calling on the King of the region, Herod, to stop his adulterous ways. I must be honest, adultery never really bothered me. Though I had never married, I also never fretted over being with married men. In fact, adultery, often helped secure some huge profits for my business.
As I was turning to return to my caravan, something deep inside beckoned me to stay as I heard the man say.

“I am not the Messiah.”

When I turned around, I saw that the man had walked to the shoreline, and he was addressing several priests, probably Levites. I recognized their dress immediately. In my short stay in Jerusalem, I had come to do business with a few of them. One of the priests raised his voice.

“What are you then? Are you Elijah?”

“I am not,” the man answered.

I edged my way a little closer. I was never one to shy away from any manner of confrontation, even one that didn’t include me.

“Are you the Prophet,” another pressed.

Calmly the man answered, “No,” which seemed to agitate the group. Now I was really intrigued, because I didn’t care for these priests, who always went about thinking they were better than the rest of the people.

Then the one who seemed to be the spokesperson for the group stepped forward and practically screamed, “Who are you, so we can give an answer to those who sent us? What do you have to say for yourself?”

The man came completely out of the water, and he seemed to tower over the group who came to challenge him. I almost wanted him to take his staff and whack one of the hypocrites standing before him, but instead he dropped the staff he was holding and reached both his hands out in front of him in a manner that appeared as though he was welcoming the group to something.

“I am the voice of one crying out in the desert, make straight the way of the Lord.”

By this time a few Pharisees had arrived on the scene and were standing a few yards away. I trusted Pharisees even less than priests. I will tell you why one day. There were two of them and they stepped forward.

“Why then do you baptize if you are not the Messiah or Elijah or the Prophet?

The man gave a glance up to the sky, then turned his gaze straight toward the eyes of the two men confronting him. It was as though he was gazing straight into their souls, and into mine.

“I baptize with water; but there is one among you whom you do not recognize, the one who is coming after me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to untie.”

I had absolutely no idea what he was talking about. Who was he talking about? There was no one else there. There it was again, that same feeling which was urging me to stay and listen was now burning like a raging fire in my heart. It was as though something had been lost inside me for years and had suddenly returned, and was calling out to me to speak to this man.

Just then one of my servants came and said, “Mam Calida, it appears we will not be able to fix the wheel until the morning. Do you wish to return to Jericho?”

“No Tatius, set up camp. I think the desert air will do me some good.”

“Very well mam! I will send the wheel back to Jericho for repair.”

When Tatius left, I turned to a man standing not far from me, “Do you know the man in the water?”

“Yes mam, he is my teacher. His name is John. I have been with him for a year now. He promises that soon a savior will be coming.”

“A savior of what?”

“Of our souls.”

I don’t know why, but I asked, “Could you introduce him to me?”

“Of course.”

As the sun began to seek shelter in the western horizon, and many of the people who had been listening to this man, along with those he was immersing in the water had left. The man came walking toward me. He stopped right in front of me, and he spoke.

Thank you, I will gladly accept your invitation to supper and the chance to sleep in a proper shelter.”

Then he walked right past me to where my servants were setting the camp, and began to help them. I just stood there for a moment trying to gather my thoughts, to process this sense of awe and wonder that was now raging in my soul.

The camp was set, and supper went by without a single word being uttered. Questions were swirling in my head at numbers that an abacus could not calculate. Finally the man turned to me and said, “Come, walk with me, I have a story to share with you.”
He reached out his hand and pulled me to my feet. As he did, I formally introduced myself, “My name is Septima Calida Veturia.”

“I shall call you Cal. Do you mind?”

I nodded in the affirmative.

“I come from…”

“It doesn’t matter where we come from, we are all born in humanity, in the image of the One who created us, and loves us, as no other will ever love. What matters is where we are going.”

Before I could ask the next of the plethora of questions I had, he continued.

“Do you remember the sighting of the Great Star?”

Again, I simply nodded.

“That was the first sign. That night a child was born to a virgin, and many who gave witness spoke of angels, and wise men, and heavenly hosts proclaiming. And soon that child will reveal himself to the world and he will come and baptize you and I in Spirit and in life, and he will teach us and show us the way of love.”

John led me to a spot near the water, and we sat in silence for a while, and watched as the reflections of the moon and the stars danced upon the water.

Then, this baptizer of men, told stories to me which sent my spirit soaring. Then he got up, crossed the river, and disappeared into the reeds. I just sat in quiet contemplation. He spoke of ways of living in the world that I had never considered.
I got up and returned to my tent. My dreams were filled with so many colors, I would never remember it all.

When I woke in the morning, John was sitting near the campfire, sharing, with most of my servants, some of the same stories he had shared with me. He got up, came over to me, kissed me on both of my cheeks, thanked me and headed back into the river. Another crowd was gathering in the distance.

I turned, “Tatius, we are staying one more day.”


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NOTE: If you have missed any of the previous stories, just e-mail me at egervais@arch-no.org, and I will send them to you. There is a new "Good News" Story posted every Friday.