Mark 8:31-38 – The 2nd Sunday of Lent â€“ for Sunday, March 1, 2015
â€œAfter calling the crowd together with his disciples, Jesus said to them, â€œAll who want to come after me must say no to themselves, take up their cross, and follow me.â€ (Mark 8:34)
Jesus didnâ€™t speak the pleasant, sit-at-the-library-table verb â€œstudy me.â€
Instead, Jesus said, â€œfollow me.â€
Itâ€™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 Jesusâ€™ 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 (shouldâ€™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 →
Mark 1:21-28 – The 4th Sunday after Epiphany â€“ for February 1, 2015
â€œThe people were amazed by his teaching, for he was teaching them with authority . . .â€ (Mark 1:22)
It was in a college class in 1973 when one of my speech communication professors recalled Martin Luther Kingâ€™s appearance at a rally in the mid-â€˜60s.
The professor was white, highly educated, and had been raised in Depression-era Texas. He described, as he lectured to his students, the remarkable reactions heâ€™d witnessed as King inspired the crowd. There were men and women, young and old, poorly and richly dressed, black and white (along with the other colors humans are labeled with); some sat and others stood while all pressed against their neighbor as they listened.
And they all seemed to be listening. Thatâ€™s what amazed this professor, a dispassionate evaluator of speeches and debates. At some point, he had reluctantly shifted from Kingâ€™s riveting words to study those near him. King had captured the attention of every listener.
King spoke with authority.
Kingâ€™s wordsâ€”his truths, hopes, dreams, metaphors, stories, confessions, criticisms, and challengesâ€”seemed to impact and impress each individual. One smiled. Another nodded. The next wept. There was cheering, clapping, amens!, and hugs. Continue reading →