The Verbs of Lent: 2

Mark 8:31-38The 2nd Sunday of Lent – for Sunday, March 1, 2015

“After calling the crowd together with his disciples, Jesus said to them, “All who want to come after me must say no to themselves, take up their cross, and follow me.” (Mark 8:34)

Jesus didn’t speak the pleasant, sit-at-the-library-table verb “study me.”

Instead, Jesus said, “follow me.”

Following is scrambling across the worst literal or figurative bridges in life, abandoning the safer side for no good reason other than faith.
Following is scrambling across the worst literal or figurative bridges in life, abandoning the safer side for no good reason other than faith.

It’s easier to study Jesus. I relish settling into my cushy recliner, cracking open a friendly book or two, and gleaning details about the context of Jesus’ era. How can we really understand any of those parables he told unless we understand the role of women in first-century Palestine, or the particular garments people wore, or grasp the pre-industrial techniques of farming, shepherding, carpentry, and so forth? I need to learn about Galilean geography during the Roman Empire so that I can (cleverly) determine when the Gospel of Luke is incorrect about a particular location. I wrestle with translating ancient Greek (should’ve taken more than one semester in seminary), but still like it when I find the nuanced meaning of a word in the Gospel of Mark to wow a congregation or shame an arrogant take-the-Bible-literally colleague . . . Continue reading →

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The Verbs of Lent: 1

Mark 1:9-15The First Sunday of Lent – February 22, 2015

“. . . Jesus saw heaven splitting open and the Spirit, like a dove, coming down on him.” (Mark 1:10)

Baptism-with-ChristJesus saw heaven splitting open . . .

Before the split, there was a flowing river and John the Baptizer.

After the spilt, perhaps split seconds later, heaven was revealed and the dove descended.

In this English translation of Mark’s Gospel, in the grammar of a sentence, splitting is a present participle verbal. It is an action word transformed into an adjective. But verb enough it is.

Heaven splitting open . . . Continue reading →

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No Safe Place

Matthew 21: 1-11  – Palm Sunday – for Sunday, April 13, 2014

“When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking ‘Who is this?'” (Matthew 21:10)

Jesus.
Who is this?

Jesus?
Is this . . . who?

Jesus . . .
This, who is!

jesusentry20All the wide streets, narrow alleys and beaten paths emptied more debris and people into the roiling, boisterous crowd. Wind swirled. Branches chattered. Banners fluttered. Officers barked orders. Soldiers tightened grips on swords and spears. Shopkeepers closed early or doubled their prices. Whores beckoned from the shadows. Thieves rejoiced; so many pockets, so little time. Children played a dozen variations of tag. Dogs snatched food from unsuspecting hands. Over there, two were joined by two more when a fistfight erupted. Not far away, a cripple was trampled. Down a few steps, a woman stabbed a man with his knife. A beggar snatched a purse of coins left on a table. A priest fondled a woman and was kneed in the groin. And they shouted . . .

Help!
Hooray!
Yes!
No!
Now!
Later!
Please!
Never!
I need . . .
You can’t have . . .

And then he came. Closer. Continue reading →

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