In the Biz

Mark 10:46-52* – The 22nd Sunday after Pentecost – for Sunday, October 25, 2015

Then Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man said to him, “My teacher, let me see again.” (Mark 10:51)

BartI am Bartimaeus.

In the Bible, in the New Testament, in Mark, this blind beggar Bartimaeus was mentioned once. His encounter with the Nazarene was so brief, his shouts to gain Jesus’ attention likely still echoed after he scurried from the page.

“Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” he bellowed.

With him, I also cry out. I think I know who he is. I think I know what he wants.

In the seven sparse verses where Bartimaeus claimed and departed center stage, one word and one phrase suggest a compelling link between the two of us. Both word and phrase conclude sentences. Both challenge my daily experience as a Christian, minister, and writer. Continue reading →

The 13th Disciple

Mark 10:35-45 – The 21st Sunday after Pentecost – for Sunday, October 18, 2015

“Allow one of us to sit on your right and the other on your left when you enter your glory.” (Mark 10:37)

number-13_2431820bEveryone heard James and John’s question. Though they would’ve denied it, they sought the favor from Jesus with their outdoor voices.

“Allow one of us to sit on your right and the other on your left when you enter your glory.”

You know what I mean. They didn’t whisper. They didn’t wait for a private moment. They didn’t rise early for a pre-dawn and private stroll with Jesus. James and John, together or apart, rarely cared who overheard them. Now, don’t get me wrong, those two brothers are good guys, and truly—truly—care about others. I’d go to hell and back with them. In fact, in following Jesus, it often seems like we’ve all walked into dangerous places, and have spoken words that put targets on our backs. I’ve seen how the Roman soldiers glare at us, wondering if we were threats. The Pharisees don’t hide their frowns, their dagger eyes searching for weaknesses in Jesus.

John and James are my friends. They are like brothers to me. Continue reading →

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 →