Night Before Street Witnessing

Friday night he had taken about a half-hour in prayer: “Lord I am doing this as an offering. Not because you need my input in particular. There are many others. But I sense an urging to represent your Son out there in the everyday, and in the midst of bustling people without any thought of Church. I truly believe that Jesus is most worthy of common respectful discussion in the open streets; not just behind the bricks and mortar of a church. This is the way I will present Him. Conversational. No direct scripture reading. I will have to speak a little slower than normal. The loud speaker distorts things.

I will tell people that I am not out there plugging any particular church. I realize that I might be mistaken for a Jehovah’s Witness or a Mormon. They seem to be the only ones systematically on the streets. Pity. They have no idea who your Son is. They are earning big blue stars on a big glitzy tally board somewhere. Grace is entirely foreign to them.

I will abbreviate a testimony, and will move right into one of the fascinating stories of Jesus’ kindness and authority by the Sea of Galilee. I desire to show your nobility, courage, compassion and courtesy, Jesus. They have all heard about the blood and gore of Calvary; about the prospect of Hell which results from their basic disinterest as well as from their known wrongdoings. I want to show how you could always identify with the hurt, awkwardness and loneliness, and then offer just the right solution. The people out there will be encountering nothing but strangers who do not want to engage or to consider anyone else’s pain. Society is getting just that blunt and dispassionate.

But you Lord, never change. Send a few tomorrow morning who are ready to make contact.

Doug Blair, Waterloo, ON


Man of Merciful Action

Jesus still walks aisle-ways in churches, hallways in hospitals, back-streets in villages, lonely offices of decision. Are we still as likely to get excited about that prospect?

Painting by James Tissot

Ain’t Gonna Rain No More, No More…The Film Noah: Doing Violence to the Word

I knew that there was controversy.

Genesis 6 “sons of God”, whoever and whatever they were, portrayed as rock-encased Transformers, once angels, employed to build the Ark and to stave off the attacking hordes. The so-called “watchers”. A vicious warlord seeking to gain control of the boat, surviving the Flood and hiding among the animals, waiting for his chance at mutiny. Son Seth’s wife amazingly transformed from barrenness and giving birth to twin girls who were at peril briefly of sacrificial death at the hands of their Grandfather. Son Ham’s near act of patricide. The Patriarch’s total misunderstanding of the role of God’s mercy in the whole episode. His wife’s near rebellion in the stern performance of the assignment, and the pain of two of the sons not securing wives before the Deluge (scripture says 3 sons had 3 wives on board. Genesis 7: 7). All of the creatures on board put to sleep by some strangely potent incense. Malarky.

Just so much fiction. I had not wanted to respond like this. Just another Bible thumper, fastidiously looking for faults. But as the movie progressed I felt literally ill and uncomfortable. Of course the sights and sounds of mass destruction of the human race were heart-rending. (Maybe it was the spicy chicken from dinner?)

Russell Crowe appears disturbingly one-dimensional as the determined messenger of God’s bad news; as the job-site foreman; as the prophet who struggles, with Grandfather Methusela’s help, to get the foreboding visions right. Here a briefer role is given to Anthony Hopkins.

On the good side of things, the scenes of gathering the creatures, of destructive waters coming from every direction and launching the boat, were magnificent. Noah also tells his family the story of Creation and the sinful fall of Adam and Eve, launching the human race into covetousness, self-will and violence. Until late in the film Noah sees his family as no better than the myriads lost in the terrible waters. God simply needs some animal care-takers. “The animals are the innocents.”

But then comes once more that very real Bible theme: “in wrath remember mercy”. The rescued family, holding hands together and praying on dry land, realize their special position in God’s sovereign will and election. There will be a new beginning.


Hear how Eugene Peterson paraphrases the setting for the story in The Message:

When the human race began to increase, with more and more daughters being born, the sons of God noticed that the daughters of men were beautiful. They looked them over and picked out wives for themselves.

Then God said, “I’m not going to breathe life into men and women endlessly. Eventually they’re going to die; from now on they can expect a life span of 120 years.”

This was back in the days (and also later) when there were giants in the land. The giants came from the union of sons of God and the daughters of men. These were the mighty men of ancient lore, the famous ones.

God saw that human evil was out of control. People thought evil, imagined evil – evil, evil, evil from morning to night. God was sorry that he had made the human race in the first place; it broke his heart. God said, “I’ll get rid of my ruined creation, make a clean sweep: people, animals, snakes and bugs, birds – the works. I’m sorry I made them.

But Noah was different. God liked what he saw in Noah.

John Four and a Thirsty Woman

Each noon for the water
When others were gone
And Jacob’s well good all these years.
Their gossip was hurtful
Could not get along
Alone I addressed all my fears.
The men had been many
Not all had been wed
To me, or to those gone before.
The present one helpful
Perhaps there was love
Provided I cooked, swept the floor.
But here sat a man
And waiting it seemed
And asking me for a cool drink.
And I of Samaria
And he quite the Jew
Oh what would the gossipers think?
He spoke of a water
That never ran dry
That tasted as fresh as the dew.
A strange living water
Relieving all thirst
As if all my past life He knew.
But no condemnation
Just hope in His eyes
And gentle words thrilling my soul
I must tell the others
Could this be the One?
Long pledged to make broken hearts whole?

Doug Blair, Waterloo, ON

Lights Going On

He is letting go.
That awkwardness at the mention of grace
That lowering of the eyes
As Jesus is named.
He is open to stories
Anecdotes of merciful intervention
Films coming out that
Name the New Birth unashamedly.
End of lunch illustrations
Of Beatitudes, Blood, Blessing and Brotherhood.
I marvel at this young welder
Just out of high school
But showing sensitivity, nuance
And humour well beyond his years.
And there have been trials
Parents divorced.
A brother stepping forward
To an unexpected pregnancy.
He gets many of the gopher jobs
And the novelty of some
Rather mindless factory functions
Tries to get him down.
But unsuccessfully.
The kid has resilience.
Watched a rather serious accident go down.

He catches on fairly well
He respects the tips and cautions
Coming from the older ones.
He can throw it back
When the jabs come.
I wish him well.
I wish him Christ.
And yes, he is being “apprehended”.

Philippians 3: 12

Doug Blair, Waterloo, ON

Sunrise by the Seine

Imagine being 27 again. Cheap air fare because you’re a pilot. Snap decision to try 5 days in Paris in March. Extensive walking tours. Totally a loner trip. Bumping into a young girl on the plane whose parents would have a friend running a cheap hostel in the City.

Late winter. No line-ups for the Louvre or Notre Dame Cathedral or the Eiffel Tower or the Palace and Grounds at Versailles.

Yep, pretty nice…and so it was over the last week for my son Jordan. Sheesh.

Doug Blair, Waterloo, ON

Egyptian exhibit at the Louvre – Napoleon swiped it

Palais de Versaille

owned by somebody who’s nuts with hydro

Notre Dame Cathedral (hunchback was away)

early morning’s walk…café accordions came later