Gospel of Mark

A Vulnerable Heart 09/23/18 (Proper 20B)

A Vulnerable Heart 09/23/18 (Proper 20B)

The way to welcome God is to welcome the most vulnerable in society – specifically, in this illustration, children. Throughout the Gospel, both before and after this episode, we will hear of the other vulnerable ones we are meant to embrace: the sick, the dying, the poor, the socially unacceptable and ritually impure, the outsider, the foreigner, the refugee.

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Peter’s Confession 09/16/18 (Proper 19B)

Peter’s Confession 09/16/18 (Proper 19B)

To us, more than 20 centuries later, Peter’s confession is spot-on. It makes perfect sense. But that is only because we know how the story turns out. Back then, however, Peter really had no reason to call Jesus Messiah, or Christ. It’s not a terrible stretch to argue that Jesus has demonstrated that he walks in the lines of the prophets, but he definitely hasn’t done anything that would suggest that he’s the long-awaited Messiah.

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Going the Distance 09/09/18 (Proper 18B)

Going the Distance 09/09/18 (Proper 18B)

We might expect Jesus to promptly consent to heal the woman’s daughter. After all, that’s what he’s been doing for the last 6 chapters – taking care of people in need! But no. Maybe he’s tired from that long walk. Or he’s grumpy from not getting enough to eat. Or he’s still worn out from all of the ministry he’d been doing before he got to Tyre and is frustrated that he still hasn’t had a moment of quiet all to himself. Maybe the disciples wouldn’t stop talking or arguing or singing as they walked all those miles and he has a headache. Or maybe he is, like Alexander in the children’s story, just having a “terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.” We don’t know why, we just know what: he says to her, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.”

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The Unpardonable Sin? 06/10/18 (Proper 5B)

The Unpardonable Sin? 06/10/18 (Proper 5B)

It’s a sad fact of life that sometimes people suffer and then die from their sicknesses. Even Jesus’ friend Lazarus died. And just as sometimes people die from physical illness, so too do people sometimes die from mental illness. Just as modern medicine can’t always cure physical disease, so too it can’t always cure diseases of the mind and spirit. So once again I remind us: never once does Jesus condemn those who are beyond healing in this life to an eternal life of suffering, of being beyond God’s reach.

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The Gift of Sabbath 06/03/18 (Proper 4B)

The Gift of Sabbath 06/03/18 (Proper 4B)

These are interesting stories, but what do they have to do with us? What are we twenty-first century progressive-leaning Christians to make of the sabbath?

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On the Move 04/01/18 (Easter Sunday)

On the Move 04/01/18 (Easter Sunday)

And so it ends. The male disciples have already withdrawn from the story, having hidden after Jesus’ arrest. And now even the three women who were present for his crucifixion and who have come to take care of his body flee in silence. We may find ourselves terribly disappointed in all of them. And then no sightings of the resurrected Jesus? We may find ourselves terribly disappointed in the author of Mark’s Gospel, too.

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Heart Matters 03/18/18 (Lent 5)

Heart Matters 03/18/18 (Lent 5)

During these final weeks of Lent, perhaps we can identify and begin – with God’s help – to erase the lies that have been etched into our hearts and souls. As we make our way towards the new life and joy of Easter, perhaps we can work on letting God write the truer truths on our hearts in big, bold letters so that we will never again forget.

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A Field Trip to Capernaum 02/25/18 (Lent 2)

A Field Trip to Capernaum 02/25/18 (Lent 2)

The cross: an instrument of torture and execution. Not only is Jesus going to go there; he is also telling his disciples that they have to go there too. As someone once said, “And so Peter begins the long tradition of Christians arguing with Jesus.”

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And So It Begins (Again) 02/18/18 (Lent 1)

And So It Begins (Again) 02/18/18 (Lent 1)

The wilderness. A place of temptation. We know a lot about that too, don’t we? I had thought I’d talk this morning about our personal, private temptations, but then seventeen people were murdered at the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. One of the biggest temptations of all, it seems to me, is idolatry. And this morning I’m concerned not so much with personal idolatry as communal idolatry; that is, the gods we have a society have decided to worship together. Here in America, we have made an idol of guns and gun ownership. And we, the citizens of the United States, through our actions and inactions, have allowed that idolatry to replace our humanity and our common sense. We have allowed the idol of the gun and gun ownership to replace our God.

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Up — and Then Down 02/11/18 (Transfiguration)

Up — and Then Down 02/11/18 (Transfiguration)

So I suspect that it is with some relief that Peter, James, and John follow Jesus up a mountain, away from the crowds and the noise and the smells, away even from the other disciples, to a place of quiet and solitude. Just as they are catching their breath from the strenuous climb – it was, after all, a high mountain – just as they are inhaling the fresh, cool air and enjoying the peacefulness, something indescribable occurs. Jesus’ dirty, worn-out clothes become dazzling white.

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