How ‘Bout Some Quarters?

Mark 10:17-31 – The 20th Sunday after Pentecost – for Sunday, October 11, 2015

“Jesus looked at him carefully and loved him. He said, ‘You are lacking one thing . . .’” (Mark 10:21)

coinsThe rich man was a good man.

From not stealing to honoring his parents to loving God (and more), he hadn’t merely memorized the essential commandments of his faith. They were the benchmarks of his daily life.

But could he achieve eternal life? He approached Jesus.

Tell me, Good Teacher, what else should I do? (Clearly he was a Type A, can-do, overachieving kind of guy.)

Jesus looked at him carefully and loved him.

I wonder how the rich man pictured the goal of his request?

Is eternal life a heaven of still waters and green pastures that we long for in today’s landscape of a dry earth and drier souls? Is it the better place where the swing low, sweet chariot transports us from dreary to dreamy? In my reading of scripture, I don’t doubt that Jesus spoke of eternal life in the same breaths he took to elsewhere promise the heavenly mansions prepared by God. So why not picture a fine divine future—a “better place”—when wondering about eternal life? Continue reading →

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The Realm of Dependence

Mark 10-2-16 – The 19th Sunday after Pentecost – for Sunday, October 4, 2015

“When Jesus saw this, he grew angry and said to them, ‘Allow the children to come to me . . .’” (Mark 10:14)

Did Jesus want me to be like a newborn? I’m sorry, but I want my adult life to involve more than napping interspersed with food input and poop output.
Did Jesus want me to be like a newborn? I’m sorry, but I want my adult life to involve more than napping interspersed with food input and poop output.

In a slice of Mark’s Gospel highlighting the religious laws about divorce in Jesus’ day and that adultery was nearly universal (in Jesus’ day or today), its final verses flummoxed me.

People were bringing children to Jesus so that he would bless them . . .

Please, let me elaborate on divorce. I’m an expert! I’ve been divorced. Please, let me bemoan adultery. If not an expert in adulterous ways—trust me, I’m not—I’m at least an amateur. After all, in one of the many irksome Gospel passages, Jesus challenged us easily flummoxed humans to realize that merely leering at another (Matthew 5:27-28) was adultery. How prescient, since old Mr. Know-It-All, aka Jesus of Nazareth, commented about lustful gazes, gawks, and glances long before the Internet. What happened in Jesus’ day—inappropriately daydreaming about your fellow villagers—is now easy as a mouse click in the era of Ashley Madison and dating apps that range from the safe to the, er, weird. Continue reading →

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Repeat, Repeat, Repeat

Psalm 24 – The 18th Sunday after Pentecost – for Sunday, September 27, 2015

“Our help is in the name of the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.” (Psalm 124:8)

Look both ways . . .
Look both ways . . .

Look both ways before you cross the street.

Eat your vegetables.

Don’t put your elbows on the table at meals.

Make your bed.

Always say please and thank you.

My parents repeated these and many other statements. The oft-said phrases were house rules, family guidelines, loving warnings, and life lessons.

When my wife and I brought a puppy into our home this year, one of the first phrases she heard was, “Do your business.” Actually, Kynzi—our irksome, wondrous golden retriever devil and angel dog—never heard that phrase inside the home. But the moment her cute little butt roamed the yard, and it appeared she might be on the verge of, er, losing a little waste weight, we proclaimed: “Do your business.” Continue reading →

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