Jul 09

Discipleship 101: The Call of Love

He calls to us. “Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.” Will we yield to his call? Will we cross over the wall we have built between him and us? He has come to us eagerly, longingly, leaping on the mountains, bounding over hills: noble, graceful, delighted with us, yearning for us. Not content to wait for us to show up at his doorstep, he has come to our house, he has peered in through our windows, and, seeing that we are still here, he has cried to us, “Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.” There’s no recklessness in his call; he comes to us with abandon, but he also knows it is the right season for love: winter is past, flowers bloom, figs ripen, cultivated vines show their blossoms. Creation plays peacock while our Lord prances to meet us, but we wait to hear his voice. Will we shy away, or will we embrace his transport and delight? Continue reading

Oct 31

Zacchaeus: Identity Crisis

Luke sets us up, right at the beginning of this familiar Bible study, the story of Zacchaeus—the wee little man. In chapter 19, verse 2, Luke tells us in no uncertain terms that Zacchaeus is a sinner. There was a man in Jericho named Zacchaeus, and he was a chief tax collector, and he was rich. Tax collector, rich: in Luke’s gospel, these are both ways of saying, “Sinner! Outsider! Outcast!” The only question, it seems, is what kind of sinner Zacchaeus will turn out to be. Which side—the tax collector or the rich man—will win out? Continue reading

Jul 18

The Better Part

The Bible is about God. There are a lot of things the Bible is not about, and we could spend some time discussing them and maybe even arguing about them. Last week, though, when we dedicated the new pew Bibles, I told the children that the Bible was where we, as Christians, together, turn when we want to learn how to love God and our neighbor. The Bible—and I think no one will argue with me about this—is not a dictionary of the English language, and it’s not the autobiography of Mark Twain. The Bible is about God. Continue reading

Nov 16

Trust in Christ!

With this morning’s reading from chapter 13, we reach the end of our time together with the gospel of Mark. We started with Mark last November, on November 30, 2014, the first Sunday in Advent. Interestingly, when began with Mark last year, we started with Mark 13:24, just a few verses after the end of this morning’s reading. Fifty weeks later, we have come full circle, covering most, though not quite all, of the rest of the gospel, from the beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, in Mark 1 to the women running away in fear from the tomb in Mark 16. Sure, we’ve wandered into the gospel of John from time to time, and we’ve also focused on passages from outside the gospels altogether on more than one occasion. But for most of the last year, when we’ve gathered together as the church at Centre, and when I’ve preached, we’ve sat at Mark’s feet to hear about Jesus. After today, we may not hear from Mark in worship again for two more years. 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