Oct 12

The Rich Man

The scary thing about this morning’s gospel reading is that Jesus isn’t mad at the rich man. Jesus isn’t frustrated by him; he isn’t exasperated by the man. Jesus was not angry, and that’s what’s so scary about this passage. Because when Jesus tells the rich man to sell his possessions and give away his wealth to the poor, Jesus isn’t mad at the man or trying to drive him away. Jesus loves this man enough to tell him to get rid of all his stuff. Jesus loves the man too much to let his wealth get in the way of becoming a disciple. Continue reading

Sep 07

Strange Territory

In Mark’s gospel, Jesus spends most of his ministry in the western region of Galilee. If you picture the Sea of Galilee as my left hand, then the area where Jesus usually ministers is where my right hand would be (the reverse is true if you held up your own hands). But in today’s reading from Mark 7, Jesus wanders into strange territory, into the foreign land of Tyre, far north of his home region, close to the Mediterranean Sea. Tyre is Gentile area, and in more ways than one Jesus is as far from the Jewish capital of Jerusalem as he’ll ever be. While in Tyre he heals the daughter of a Syro-Phoenician woman, the Gentile daughter of a Gentile woman, and on the way back home he heals a man unable to hear or speak, a man who might also have been a Gentile. Continue reading

Jul 20

Not A Model for Ministry

I hope all of us have the passionate enthusiasm for Jesus shown by the crowds in this morning’s gospel lesson. Jesus is here! Run to him! Race ahead of him to the other side of the lake! Don’t let him get away from you! He has what you need! He is what you need! Flee to him, and discover his healing touch, his mercy, his grace, and his compassion. Continue reading
Jun 29

Surpassing Grace

Twelve years. She had been sick for twelve years. Cut off from her friends, her family, her community. Unable to touch anyone without drawing them into her illness. She had tried everything, this unnamed woman. Doctors, healers: they’d helped themselves to her money, but they hadn’t helped her. After twelve years, twelve long, hard, barren, miserable years, she was spent. Everything was flowing out from her: energy, money, blood. Nothing was being restored to her. Then she hears about this Jesus fellow. He’s healed people, they say. He’s taken on the illnesses and scourges that bind people, that hold them back from living full lives as God intends. Maybe he can help her—word is, he’s back in town. She shouldn’t even be out, but maybe she can just sneak through the crowd. “If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.” Continue reading

Jun 22

The Shape of Our Stories

When we become disciples of Jesus Christ, one of the most important and difficult things that happens to us is that we acknowledge God’s authority over the shape of our stories. We like to fool ourselves, of course, into believing that the shape of our story is all our own, that my story does not look like anyone else’s, that I can make my story into whatever I want, so that my life is unique. But all stories owe their shape to other stories. When people asked you, “What do you want to be when you grow up,” they were really asking, “What shape do you want the story of your life to take?” And maybe you said, a firefighter, or an astronaut, or a teacher. The details—which subject you would teach, or where on the moon you would land, or how many people you would save from disaster—were unpredictable, but the story you wanted for your life already had a basic shape to it. I’m guessing most of us stopped thinking about the shape of our stories a long time ago, but not all childish things are meant to be put away. Continue reading