"As editor of Celebration, the worship resource of the National Catholic Reporter, my decision in 1998 to begin publishing Dick Folger's Gospel Stories of Jesus, a monthly feature that lasted for over three years, began when I read the following passage based on Matthew 3:13, in which Dick powerfully re--imagines the moment Jesus was immersed in the Jordan River by John the Baptist:
"Jesus gasped as the cold water claimed him, flooding the warmth of his back and gushing up around his shoulders. As his head went under water, Jesus held his breath and scrunched his eyes tightly shut. He could feel the current flowing past him. Floating just below the surface in the watery silence, Jesus felt peace come over him. John held Jesus firmly, pushing him down into the Jordan. Through the rippling water, Jesus' face was framed with the dark crown of his swirling hair. John saw Jesus' tranquil expression, like that of a sleeping child.
"The full sensory recreation of that scriptural moment comes alive in Dick's vision, including the powerful theological truth of John's recognition that Jesus was the one he was to proclaim. Familiar scriptural stories, already beautiful in their simplicity, come alive again because Dick Folger has a gift for helping us experience them though our own physical and spiritual senses,
"Paraphrasing the scriptures is tricky business, because the secondary author, like the faithful preacher, must be true to the original. In these reflections on the gospel readings for the Lectionary cycles of Sunday worship, Dick meets that standard as he reconstitutes the inherent drama and emotion of so many stories. You will meet the Jesus that Dick Folger has encountered personally in the gospels. You will come to know the apostles and the people Jesus befriended and healed. But, most importantly,. ask yourself if you don't also begin to see yourself in the story. Once this happens, you will never read or listen to the scriptures in quite the same way again.
"For preachers and for all those who want to enter the readings with faith and full feeling, I recommend The Gospel Stories of Jesus, by Deacon Dick Folger." - Patrick Marrin, Editor, Celebration
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