The coming of God's Kingdom is always accompanied by some level of disruption. When God's rule comes to bear in ways and places it had not been brought to bear before, the status quo will be overturned. At this present moment we are already experienced a rather large amount of disruption. There is no question that what had been the status quo has been overturned. While this is distressing and stressful, it is also an opportunity to invite the Kingdom to draw nearer still. During this period of chaos, why not invite God to reorder our lives further still, that even when this crisis is ended we might more fully live as citizens of God's kingdom.
This message comes from our first week of our worshiping apart due to the coronavirus outbreak and suspension of services. It was delivered to the congregation via Youtube. The message is a reflection on the great commandment and the second which is like it. Specifically, Jesus commands us to love God with all that we are and to love our neighbor as ourselves. Even during this season of isolation and quarantine the commandment remains, and we would do well to consider how our love is made manifest in our lives. The scripture readings are pulled from video recorded by members and friends of the congregation for inclusion in the Youtube podcast.
Jesus has a way of making us see the heart of the matter, even when doing so is uncomfortable. In today's lesson a man's asks what he must do to inherit eternal life. After Jesus first response, the man is rather sure of himself but Jesus pushes further and deeper. By the end of this exchange the man is filled with grief. Jesus had exposed his need for grace. When we take them seriously, Jesus' words and life do the same for us. We cannot escape the truth that the love meant for God and neighbor is often misplaced and misguided. We all need grace. Thankfully, God offers it freely and in abundance.
This message is from Transfiguration Sunday on which we remember the experience of Peter, James, and John. On a mountaintop they witness a foretaste of the risen and glorified Christ. Peter, at least, would have liked to linger there but it was not yet time for that. Work remained and that worked was down in the valley. Likewise our lives are not meant to be a succession of mountain top experiences. Our lives include them, but the work which is our as disciples takes place in the valley of life, among the hurting and the suffering. A day will come for us to linger in the presence of the risen and glorified Christ, but that day has not yet come. First we must follow Christ through the valley and to the cross.
In today's reading Jesus is confronted regarding the ritual washing of hands. His accusers no doubt sought to discredit him in public. In classic form, however, Jesus takes his accusation and turns it around. He not only deflects the attack but uses it as an opportunity to lead us to a deeper truth. That truth being that God is far more concerned about what's in our hearts than God is concerned with what's on our hands.
We have all experienced failure in our lives. In our text today we hear three tales of failure, yet the failure does not belong to the person we might expect. In each case there is a failure to listen, a failure to hear. We find in each more than a failure, but a refusal to hear a word that challenges assumptions and perspectives. As Christians we must be open to the word that challenges. God's word often challenges us. That is how we learn, that is how we are transformed. Even those convictions we hold ardently should be examined. Arrogance leaves little room for growth.
In today's text, Jesus is interrupted as he travels from one point to the other. In the end, however, it seems that this interruption was at the heart of the entire text. Sometimes we too are overly focused on the reaching the end of our journey. We are preoccupied with questions about what will happen when we arrive there. Those questions are important, but we ought not to be so focused on such things that we fail to seek a holy encounter along the way. Such encounters make us new and grant us assurance that we are made whole and counted among God's people. Such encounters remind us that the end of the journey will be just fine, but Lord has accompanied us the entire time.
Today we consider an interesting passage in which Jesus heals a man possessed by a legion of unclean spirits. All this takes place in a gentile region and by the time it is all said a done an entire heard of pigs has run off a cliff and died. This series of events prompts many a question. In the end this message comes to one in particular. To what extent would we rather bear the suffering of another than the inconvenience of his/her healing? It is a challenging to think about.
Today we consider the story of a man, carried by friends, lowered through a roof, forgiven, and then healed. It is a passage rich with opportunity for reflection on who we are called to be in the lives of those around us and on who Jesus can be for all who find their way to his feet.
We continue reading our way through the gospel of Mark and consider the fact that Jesus not only silenced demons but asked those whom he healed to tell now one about him. How are we to make sense of this? As we consider this question we arrive at a realization. Jesus did not come in history to eliminate human suffering. His compassion move Jesus to intercede, this is the nature of God, but ultimately Jesus did not come to undo human suffering but to share in it and make of it the very instrument of our redemption. We hold on to hope for a day to come, at the culmination of both history and God's redeeming work. In that day all suffering will cease, but that day is yet to come. What then can reasonably expect of God here and now as we long for his new advent? Not to heal our every ill or transform our every circumstance, but to abide with us. To give us strength and to be for us a light even in the midst of darkness.