The Law, the Prophet and Jesus walk into a bar….

Thoughts on Mark 9:2-13

Such a meeting was not unusual for you, you often went off by yourself to pray and probably had such conversations on a regular basis. But today, you took Peter, James and John along with you, allowing them to witness your glory, giving them a lesson in who you truly are. Transfigured, your divinity shown through your humanity and you were dazzling. The Law and the Prophets are embodied in you. Dumbfounded, Peter talks when he has nothing to say, filling the air with noise and busyness. A cloud, hiding you, hovering over you and then a voice: “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!” Then emptiness; no cloud, no glory, no heroes of history; just Jesus.

Lord, Jesus, take me with you up the mountain; teach me your glory and your purpose. Let me hear the voice of God naming you and giving me instruction. When you do, when you graciously grant me a glimpse of the kingdom reality, I am like Peter, at a loss for what to do. I busy myself with lofty plans for my ministry, my life, let me build a system to capture this precious experience, to make it tangible and repeatable. Nope. A cloud descends, vision is lost. I am left with only the assurance of who you are and who I am to be in relationship with you. You are God’s beloved son and I am to do what you tell me to do, follow your words, not build structures to contain you.

Loving Father, grant me the grace to go up the mountain, witness the glory of your son and then do what he says. Thank you and amen.

How to be honored by God

Thoughts on Mark 8:34-9:1

If I’m serious about following you, I will deny myself (so no to my ego and my sinful tendencies), commit myself to choose to die (carry with me the awareness and means of death) and then go where you go, do what you do, let you lead. If I hang on to my own wishes, my own ways, my own sense of control, my life will be dead to joy and purpose. What good will it do me to be physically alive, but numb and dead inside? Besides there is no guarantee that all my attempts to determine the fate and safety of my life will pay off. I can’t control the circumstances of my existence. Death/illness comes unexpectedly and/or eventually. Unless I honor you and your words in the midst of this crazy, life, you will not honor me in your glorious life. I want to taste the power of the Kingdom Now. Thank you and Amen.

A warning from Jesus

Thoughts on Mark 8:14-21

You were still musing over the exchange you had just finished with the Pharisees. And the disciples were worried about what they were going to eat. Your tone of voice sounds a bit snippy here, Jesus. Is it? Or am I projecting onto you what I expect to hear? Impatience, Irritation. hmm.

How often do I miss the chance to learn the deeper things of the spirit because I am consumed with the temporary, the workaday worries of this life?

Why do you spend so much mental energy thinking about what you’re going to eat? How you’re going to pay your bills? Have you ever gone hungry? Remember the time I gave you the down payment for your house? When I arranged to have your car fixed when you had no cash for it? Don’t sweat the small stuff. Focus on the big picture. Get it?

Once again, Jesus, with you in the boat is where transformation takes place. You speak of profound spiritual truths and I fuss over what I’m going to eat for lunch. My assumption of your angry dismissal of me comes to the surface and I must dive beneath it. My life stance as being the source of impatience is now the “bread” I’m worrying over, it’s a distraction that pulls me away from hearing your truth. (Debby, take your eyes off yourself and listen to Jesus, he’s telling you something very important.) You are warning me about how something useful and good when used properly (leaven) can go bad and be harmful when not. What is the useful and good that I need to be cautious about? I’ll sit with you in the boat for a minute around that.

My time. It is one thing I have plenty of. Do I use it wisely or let it rot and spoil?

What about you? What good and useful thing in your life is Jesus warning you about?

 

When Jesus leaves…

Thoughts on Mark 8:11-13

Jesus you are often getting into your boat and going to the other side. Today the Pharisees are hounding you, out to pick a fight. They aren’t seeking you out of a desire to understand or know you, but to test you. They are looking for a reason to excommunicate you. They want a sign from heaven. My goodness, you’ve been healing people left and right, feeding thousands from a couple loaves of bread, what more sign could they need? What were they after? Prove yourself they challenged. Their hard hearted, demanding stance broke your heart. You sighed with grief. On the crowds you had compassion, they were like sheep without a shepherd. With the Pharisees, you ran out of patience. Enough, you said. You wouldn’t perform, you wouldn’t dance to their drummer. You got into your boat and left them.

This reminds me of the scripture “today if you hear his voice, do not harden your heart.” Oh my…do not keep demanding of God to prove himself or his love, do not continue to test him. There may come a time when, Jesus grieving over your stubbornness, leaves you. Ouch. Stop. Look at all God’s love has done for you. Don’t have a what have you done for me lately attitude. Ponder the wonder of creation; your creation and re-creation. Slow down, reorient yourself and let Jesus be sign enough.

Let Jesus spit on you (in a good way)

Thoughts on Mark 7:31-17

Back from your vacation, they bring you a man who was deaf and had a speech impediment. They beg you to lay your hand upon him. You take the man to a private place, away from the crowd. With great intention you turn him to face you and gently, purposefully, stick your fingers in his ears, his literal ears. You then spit on your finger and touch his tongue and pray. “Be opened.” And voila, his ears became more that something to hold his glasses up, they became the means by which he could take in the sounds of the world. And the bonds that imprisoned his speech were removed, he could talk rightly, his words were easily understood. Returning him to the crowd you spoke directly to them, charging them to keep quiet about what they had witnessed, but they ignored your warning.  In their excitement they told everyone about what you had done. “He has done all things beautifully, finely, excellently, well.”

How considerate you are, Jesus, taking this man to a quiet place away from the yammering crowd so that when his ears were opened he would not  be overwhelmed by their noise and cries. The first sound he would hear would be your voice, brimming with kindness. In opening his ears, you gave him the means to more easily engage with the world around him. Your spit mingled with his and with a loosed tongue, he could finally communicate the status of his heart. He could speak rightly, plainly and be easily understood. I wonder what the two of you spoke of in these first moments of his restoration? What words poured from your heart into his? What words would he now speak, confident of being understood?

Jesus, take me to a quiet place, away from the clamor of expectations and demands. Look me in the eye and open my ears to hear your voice of love. Open my mouth to speak rightly about me, about you, about the hope and healing you provide. This is my heart’s prayer, for me and for those I love, to be touched by you so your love and intention can be received and believed; and to be united with you, so my words are congruent with truth and easily understood. From this quiet place return me to the world that needs to see the product of your healing touch. Thank you and amen.

Every dog deserves to eat

Thoughts on Mark 7:24-30

You wanted anonymity, so you left the country. Surely, outside of Israel, you could get a rest. Not so fast Jesus, your reputation had gone before you into the land of the Gentiles. The Christ could not/cannot be hidden. A Greek woman, a desperate mother, heard of you and found you out. She came on behalf of her demon-possessed daughter, begging you to cast out the spirit that had made itself a home in her child. You said, no. It wasn’t in your current job description, you came for the children of Israel. But she persisted, she outmatched you in wit and perseverance, you relented and granted her request.

We are never off duty. Our love is owed to all at all times. An off-duty police officer still upholds the law, even though he’s not officially on the clock; a doctor offers medical help when she comes upon the scene of an accident. We are not ministers of Christ’s healing love only when we are among our tribe. Every dog deserves to be fed.

This sure pokes my conscience. I’m so vigilant over my time. On a plane I do everything possible to avoid conversation with my seat mate. I don’t want to give of myself to another when I don’t want to. I’m happy to make Jack a smoothie, when it’s on my time line. If he asks it of me when I’m busy doing my thing, ooh, the resentment leaks out. Oh, selfish me. Lord, I want to be like you, I want to honor my need for rest, have a clear vision of my mission, and then be willing to go off the page when another’s need is made known to me. Grant me the grace to feed the children and the dogs. Thank you and amen.

Jesus calls a meeting

Thoughts on Mark 7:14-23

Usually the crowds followed you, but this time you called the meeting. You had something extremely important to communicate. “Listen closely and make sure you get my point.” You had their attention. “What you take into you doesn’t make you dirty, what comes out of you is what makes you dirty.” Boom. Meeting adjourned.

Huh? What?

In the privacy of the house, sitting around the dinner table, your disciples wanted to know what the heck you were talking about. Once again, you speak slowly so they can understand your point. You take a bite of the lamb kabob and explain. “I eat this food, it enters my stomach and then passes out. Nothing you eat enters your heart, and the things that make you dirty come from your heart. Food is not the source of evil thoughts, they reside within you. Such things as fornication, theft, murder, in fact all evil things are already within you, ready to be spoken or acted upon. These are what make you dirty.”

I get the point. I can’t make myself clean, the dirty is within. Keeping the rules, doesn’t erase what’s written on my heart. It is very important for me to understand this. Very Important. Bottom line: I need a new heart.