Gospel of Mark

The Spotting Discipline 10/28/18 (Proper 25B, Reformation Sunday)

The Spotting Discipline 10/28/18 (Proper 25B, Reformation Sunday)

Spotting involves staring at a fixed point while the body is turning to prevent dizziness and maintain balance. The dancer finds a focal point and stares at it for as long as possible, keeping the head level and facing that point while the body turns. At the last possible second, the dancer whips her head around to catch up with her body, returning her gaze immediately to the focal point. This gives her body’s visual and vestibular systems a way to know where her body is in space. The discipline of spotting is to find that one steady, immovable spot and keep your eyes fixed on it no matter what.

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Sacrifice and Salvation 10/14/18 (Proper 23B)

Sacrifice and Salvation 10/14/18 (Proper 23B)

I need to start out by saying this: today’s passage from the Gospel of Mark is jam-packed with details and ideas and lessons. There’s no way on earth that I can address them all in the span of one sermon. So I’ve picked out a few ideas to talk about, and in three years when this passage comes up again, maybe I’ll pick out some different ones. Or maybe I’ll return to one of these ideas and explore it more fully…

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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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