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Posts Tagged ‘fidelity’


Jeremiah 11, 12 and 13: The Infinity of True Happiness

Saturday, May 11, 2019

These three chapters are filled with sad yet beautiful images, and they follow closely on the heels of a conversation which I have just had with a close friend.  The wicked appear to prosper – they have the immediate joys of this world – the faithful gain, through their suffering, the joy that is abiding and eternal.  True happiness comes from knowing that the correct thing has been done, that justice has been enacted, the broken-hearted have been tended to, the weary have been comforted, the exiled welcomed home.  True, deep and abiding happiness permeates the body, the soul, the mind and the heart when God is allowed to dwell within, when a welcome hearth and table have been laid for the guests, when the Spirit finds a resting place within us.  True, deep and abiding happiness blooms when the soul finds its homing path to the Creator.  True, deep and abiding happiness engenders serenity – even during conflict – when the ego is emptied of self and Christ steps in.  Today, on this Feast of The Sacred Heart, we celebrate the groom who takes us to himself.

The verses from Jeremiah speak of complaint, corruption, a broken wine flask, disgrace, skirts stripped away, violation, sacrifices to no avail . . . yet this prophet asks, as we ought, in chapter 12: You would be in the right, O Lord, if I should dispute with you; even so, I must discuss this case with you.  Why does the way of the wicked prosper, why live all the wicked in contentment?

He challenges further: How long must the earth mourn, the green of the whole countryside wither?  For the wickedness of those who dwell in it, beasts and birds disappear because they say, “God does not see our ways.”  If running against men has wearied you, how will you race against horses?  And if in a land of peace you fall headlong, what will you do in the thickets of the Jordan?

He speaks of innocence defiled: Yet I, like a lamb led to slaughter, had not realized that they were hatching plots against me: “Let us destroy the tree in its vigor; let us cut him off from the land of the living so that his name will be spoken no more.”

Then the answer to this plaint finally arrives: Give ear, listen humbly, for the Lord speaks.  Give glory to the Lord, your God, before it grows dark; before your feet stumble on darkening mountains; before the light you look for turns to darkness, changes into black clouds.  If you do not listen to this in your pride, I will weep in secret many tears; my eyes will run with tears for the Lord’s flock, led away to exile. 

Tears shed in mourning and petition rise to the Lord in a cloud of incense.  Suffering offered as an act of redemption in unity with the Christ ends the wickedness.  Our mourning becomes dancing with the indwelling of the Spirit.  The economy of God’s plan must and will be fulfilled – in a kaleidoscope array of acts of kindness that counteracts acts of scandal.  Division is transformed into union in a symphony of promise and fidelity as the Lord turns all hate to good.

There is no place, no thing, no person who heals as does the touch of Christ.  There is no achievement, no award, no comfort as lasting as is the true knowledge of Christ.  There is no separation, no sin, no evil that cannot be bridged by the covenant with Christ or undone by the strength of Christ.  There is no miracle, no impossibility, no marvel that cannot be achieved by the courage of Christ.  There is no harm, no sinner, no lost sheep that cannot be converted by the love of Christ.

Christ is the transforming bridegroom which Jeremiah promises in later chapters.  This groom will write his vow of fidelity on our hearts.  Let us open ourselves to this Lord.  Let us open ourselves to this pledge.  Let us open ourselves to this miracle of love . . . in this place where the wicked no longer prosper.


A re-post from April 26, 2012.

A Favorite, written on May 30, 2008 and posted today.  The Feast of the Sacred Heart is celebrated 19 days after Pentecost and in 2012 it falls on June 15.

For more information on the touch of grace in Haiti through Samaritan’s Purse International Relief in Haiti, click on the image above or go to: http://www.samaritanspurse.org/index.php/articles/encounters_with_grace/

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Daniel 1-6: Tales from the Diaspora (Part II)

Friday, May 3, 2019

Early Christian Martyrs

Bless the Lord, all you works of the Lord, praise and exalt him above all forever . . .

The verses in chapter 3 will reveal something special for us.  Nebuchadnezzar asks, “Who is the God who can deliver you from my hand?”  Hanaiah, Mishael, and Azariah reply so simply: If the God whom we serve is able to save us from the burning fiery furnace and from your hand, O king, he will do so; but [even] if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods.  

This demonstration of dying to self in love for the Creator is so simple yet so eternal.  Why do we find it difficult to give ourselves over to God when we know that we are here to serve, know and love this God who so loves us that he dies to self for us in the person of Jesus Christ all day every day?  Why do we serve the pagan gods of fame, fashion, fortune, power and control?  Why do we succumb to the gods of addictions to behaviors that are so damaging to self and others?  Why do we preserve self and neglect those to whom we are sent?  These young men speak to us down through the years in both their words and actions when they make their bold statement and step forward to witness to their vocation: Even if their God sees best that they be consumed in the fires of this furnace which is meant to reduce bodies to ash they will not abandon this God.  They will not refuse to witness to this God . . . for they know and understand that this God is greater than all else.

Bless the Lord, all you works of the Lord, praise and exalt him above all forever . . .

We find further examples of human fidelity to God from the days of the early Christian Church when we explore the PBS FRONTLINE site at http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/religion/why/pliny.html   Here we see how Christ’s early followers gain strength from the adversity they experience.  Pliny the Younger and the Emperor Trajan exchange correspondence and agree that some of the Christ followers must be punished yet they are cautious, knowing that this Jesus movement will likely outlast them all.

The fidelity of these early Christians and other martyrs on the site is impressive.  Nothing can make them turn away from God.   As we read we wonder at the human capacity to endure such pain, the human ability to refuse the temptation to seek revenge, and the human spirit that exalts what is good in the face of wickedness.   And so we pray . . .

Bless the Lord, all you works of the Lord, praise and exalt him above all forever . . .

We are God’s works, faithful and true.  Let us act as though we believe in this truth.  Praise and exalt God above all forever.

We are God’s art, varied and vibrant.  Let us speak as though we believe this is so.  Praise and exalt God above all forever.

We are God’s children, frightened and small.  Let us love one another as the father loves us.  Praise and exalt God above all forever.

Amen. 


A re-post from April 18, 2012.

Image from: http://www.nationalgeographic.com/lostgospel/timeline_09.html

For more information on Diaspora, click the image to the right and explore the PBS FRONTLINE site: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/religion/maps/jewish.html

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Daniel 1 – 6: Tales from the Diaspora (Part I)

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Click this image to follow a link to the PBS FRONTLINE site on the Jewish Diaspora for more about what it means to Christ’s followers

During the Easter Octave this verse of Daniel, and others surrounding it, are recited in thanksgiving for the Easter Miracle.  In this second week of Eastertide let us examine one of the church’s most popular and most powerful prayers.

Bless the Lord, all you works of the Lord, praise and exalt him above all forever . . .

Over the many months that we have shared Noontimes, we have reflected on this apocalyptic prophecy nearly two dozen times, and about half a dozen of those times have been from The Tales of the Diaspora, the first six chapters of this book.  These chapters have roots in Israel’s wisdom literature and they are pedagogical in nature, the characters providing role models of fidelity to and trust in Yahweh, the one true god and creator of all.  Daniel was also a figure mentioned in Canaanite texts of the fourth century B.C.E. (his name was Dnil) where he is described as a righteous judge and hero.  He is seen as one who communicates with God through angels and understands information about the future of the world.  Because of his virtue, his words and deeds – along with those other Jewish youth held in captivity – these stories remain with us today, and they serve to help us in our own times of trial – our own fiery furnaces and lions’ dens. They were recorded between the years of 167 and 164 B.C.E. (Mays 623-629)

Bless the Lord, all you works of the Lord, praise and exalt him above all forever . . .

As a child, I loved the stories of the four young Jewish boys, Daniel, Hanaiah, Mishael, and Azariah.  I was stunned by the fact that they had to abandon their Jewish names to take on new, foreign ones, Balthazar, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. I was frightened by the fact that they were not only torn from hearth and home but were also being forced to abandon their God.  It was actually this story which caused me to want to know and understand other languages, realizing that one day I might find myself snatched from all that is familiar to wake up in a daze in foreign territory . . . and I would want to know what these strange people were saying about me and my destiny.  I also remember realizing that it was not the linguistic ability, the intelligence, the strength or the bonds of family or friendship which sustained these young people when they found themselves controlled by pagan foreigners and taken from their temple, their home, their families and community . . . their physical and spiritual places of comfort.  When they were completely separated from the things which most of us cling to in times of crisis and stress, they relied on the one thing which sustained them through the trial of a fiery crematorium and exposure to hungry lions . . . they had Yahweh . . . they had their trust in Yahweh . . . and they had their fidelity to Yahweh.  This alone fed them, rescued them, and restored them to a place of dignity and honor.

Bless the Lord, all you works of the Lord, praise and exalt him above all forever . . .


A re-post from April 17, 2012.

Image from: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/religion/maps/jewish.html

Tomorrow we will reflect more on Tales from the DiasporaFor more information on what the Jewish Diaspora is and what it mean to Christians, click on the image above or go to the PBS FRONTLINE site at: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/religion/maps/jewish.html

Mays, James L., ed.  HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY. New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1988. 623-629. Print.

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Matthew 20:17-28: Prediction

Fifth Sunday of Lent, April 7, 2019

A re-post from Holy Week 2012 . . . 

Thursday and Friday evenings as I stepped off the church walkway and into the darkness I realized that the night sky was not as dark as usual.  The large Paschal Moon hovered over the campus, challenging the brightness of the large, artificial, man-made lamp stands.  Having stayed later than most worshipers to spend a bit of extra time reflecting, I was nearly alone on the campus . . . and I said a small, quiet prayer to the Creator for all the gifts I so easily use that he has so lovingly given.  It was a sacred moment which I wanted to hold, much as the apostles wanted to hold the beauty and fullness of The Transfiguration.  We who live in a place where food and peace are aplenty have much to be grateful for.  We who are called to labor in the vineyard of the one who knows us intimately have much to be faithful to.  We who are so well-loved and guided in the Spirit have much to be hopeful in. God’s justice, Jesus’ compassion and the Spirit’s fidelity can be counted on  . . . always  . . . this we can predict. Just as Jesus’ predicted his own passion, so too can we predict our own struggle with loved ones, colleagues and strangers . . . and our own struggle to follow Christ.

Hans Suess von Kolmbach: Mary Salome and Zebedee with their sons James the Greater and John the Evangelist

Perhaps the Sons of Zebedee today give us a picture of our relationship with Jesus, or maybe we better see ourselves as their mother, Salome.  Like the early friends and relatives of Jesus, we often do not see the consequences of our requests; and we are surprised and even angry at the twists and turns of fate that seem to us to be capricious gods that play havoc with our hopes and dreams.  We become bogged down and may even wallow in self-pity and indignation when events and people beyond our control disrupt our plans.  We see that what we had predicted for ourselves is somehow not budding, is for some reason refusing to come to fruition.  We blame all sorts of people and circumstances, all the while neglecting to give thanks for the one sure thing that we can all predict with ease:  we will be loved always, we will be cared for and rescued always, and we will live in eternal union with our brother, the Christ.  What a great, and awesome and marvelous God we have.   What a sureness.  What a constancy.  What a greatness. What a God!

The full Easter moon rides high across the skies during this extraordinary season of forgiveness.  Its cool light breaks through the darkness, telling us of the daytime sun that bathes the opposing side of the globe.  The tin-tinted orb reminds us that even when we do not feel the warmth and brilliance of Jesus he is with us anyway.

The Paschal Moon rises just as expected, just as predicted.  God guides and protects us, just as expected, just as predicted.  Jesus sacrifices self and rescues us, just as expected, just as predicted.  The Holy Spirit abides with us and graces us, just as expected, just as predicted.  Discipleship will be difficult and arduous . . . just as expected, just as predicted.  The reward for fidelity will be greater than we have ever imagined . . . just as expected . . . just as predicted.  All of this we can foretell with certainty.  The events of our lives, the time and manner of our dying, the size of our income, and the number of our days we cannot.  So tonight, if the sky is clear, step outside your door for just a moment to search the heavens for the Paschal Moon and remember all that has been predicted.  And in the hush and quiet of that moment let us recall all that we have requested and all that we have been given.  And let us pray:

Jesus dies, Jesus rises.  We are saved.  We are loved.  And all . . . just as expected . . . just as predicted.  Amen.


For an inspirational reflection on Salome and her sons, click on the image of the Zebedee family above or go to: http://teamnoah.info/Stirred/ms.html

To learn more about how the date for Easter is chosen, click on the image above or go to: http://news.yahoo.com/moon-affects-date-easter-131202555.html

For the names of the full moons and what these names mean, go to: http://www.farmersalmanac.com/full-moon-names/ 

Images from: http://news.yahoo.com/moon-affects-date-easter-131202555.html and http://teamnoah.info/Stirred/ms.html

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Daniel 2: Public Life

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Daniel before Nebuchadnezzar

I am thinking of all the negative things that happen to Daniel which he calmly allows God to transform into good – his exile, his imprisonment, his gift as an interpreter of dreams which may be used against him . . . because of envy on the part of the king’s magicians.  He knows that the very prediction he is called to announce may bring about his execution.  Daniel withstands all of this – and even more when we read the entire story – by placing his trust, hope, faith and love in God . . . and by allowing God to work his wonderful will with those who are opposed to him, to the Jewish people and to their God.  I am reminded of Psalm 37: Commit your life to the Lord, trust in him and he will act, so that your justice break forth like the light, your cause like the noon-day sun.

Daniel does not let fear of failure or a reluctance to commit to God or to obey God to deter him from his path of fidelity.

Be still before the Lord and wait in patience; do not fret at the man who prospers; a man who makes evil plots to bring down the needy and the poor. 

Daniel does not abandon God or allow the world and its worries to lure him away from following God.

Calm your anger and forget your rage; do not fret, it only leads to evil.  For those who do evil perish; the patient shall inherit the land.

Daniel abides with God just as God abides with him.  Daniel waits upon the wisdom of the Lord, knowing that for God time is eternal.

A little longer – and the wicked shall have gone. 

Daniel knows that the only true emotion, the only lasting force is God’s love for us.  It is greater than anything we can imagine.  It is bolder, more persistent and persevering than anyone we know.  It is the only energy that matters . . . this love and peace of God that comes to us in the form of the man, Christ.

Look at his place, he is not there.  But the humble shall own the land and enjoy the fullness of peace.

Daniel makes a public statement when he expresses his love of God; and as we read his story we may join him to enter into our own public statement about our intensely personal relationship with God.

And so we might ask ourselves: Do we love God enough to make a public statement about our fidelity to him?

 For the humble shall own the land . . . and enjoy the fullness of peace.  Amen. 


A re-post from March 23, 2012. 

Image from: http://myyearofjubilee50.blogspot.com/2011/11/dan-man.html

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Numbers 14:11-38: The Lord’s Sentence

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Tissot: The Grapes of Canaan – The scouts return from the Promised Land

Written on April 22, 2010 and posted today as a Favorite . . .

In the Old Testament God measures out rewards and punishments and today’s reading is an example of this kind of relationship that humans have with the creator.  This is a story about trust, fidelity and awe (or fear) of the Lord.  Jesus and the New Testament tell us a broader story, one of forgiveness, compassion and love.

I do not believe that God really means to strike down his own people in this episode; rather, I believe that he gives his creatures the opportunity to enter into dialog with him and to speak on their own behalf.  What I like most about this story is first, the way that Moses steps up and speaks frankly with God and second, the way God responds in fairness.  It is easy to see that fidelity and trust are paramount in God’s kingdom.  These are qualities that bring Caleb and Joshua to the Promised Land.  They are also qualities that bring serenity to us today if we can only believe that God provides all that we will need in life.  And this is the sentence he delivers to each of us . . . God always gives us guarantee of mercy, forgiveness and love.


A re-post from March 13, 2012.

For more on the Book of Numbers, visit the Numbers – Arrangement of the Tribes page on The Book of Our Life tab on this blog.  Tomorrow we will reflect on the Israelite’s’ Unsuccessful Invasion.

Caleb and Joshua are interesting players in today’s story and for more information about this pair we might go to http://ezinearticles.com/?The-Story-of-Joshua-and-Caleb&id=19374

Visit The Stones Cry Out site to take a walk through the Bible.  Click on the link or the image above or go to: http://thestonescryout.com/the_bible/walk_through_the_bible

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1 Samuel 3: Familiar with the Lord

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Eli and Samuel

This is such a frequently heard story that we might be tempted to read it quickly and assume that we know what it means.  It may be valuable to spend more time with these words to let their full weight and measure sink into us and speak.  God calls us just as surely as he called the innocent boy Samuel.  God has work in mind for us, just as surely as he did for the earnest young man Samuel.  God loves us fully and always, just as he does the constant prophet Samuel.

Samuel is dedicated to the Lord by his mother Hannah – and we can read this story in the opening chapters.  So that we are not tempted to believe that Samuel has some sort of advantage over us by his living in the Temple, we will want to look closely at verse 7: At that time Samuel was not familiar with the Lord.

George Tinswell: Hannah bringing Samuel to Eli

When we seek God’s wisdom by reading scripture, searching for spiritual reflections that open the word to us, we too seek as the young Samuel sought.  One detail of this story which we may overlook is the corruption of Eli’s sons about which we can read in Chapter 2.  When we consider this carefully, we will no longer have excuses to offer for the reasons we are not always faithful to God.  Our defense of a complicated childhood, a difficult workplace, or a prickly family or neighbors will no longer hold water.  When we see Samuel grow to his potential despite the weeds among which he grew, we come to understand that there is no reason we cannot begin to grow in God . . . in order that we become familiar with the Lord.

When we turn to others to share the good news we have heard about God’s revealed word to us, we too prophesy as Samuel did.  Samuel grew up and the Lord was with him, not permitting any word of his to be without effect.  We may frown at this simple statement and wonder why some of our words fall on deaf ears and some of our actions are scoffed.  Rather than preoccupy ourselves with these anxieties, we might better want to place all of these worries at God’s feet and remember that only God can cure impossible people and mend impossible situations.  As we read the Story of Samuel as a grown man in later chapters we will see the struggles he encounters with the stiff necked people who clamor for a king.  Samuel will confess to God that he has been a poor messenger and God will reply: It is not you they reject, they are rejecting me as their king.  As they have treated me constantly from the day I brought them up from Egypt to this day, deserting me and worshiping strange gods, so do they treat you too. (1 Samuel 8:7-8)  We ought not be surprised when others reject the words we speak in God’s name, we are told.  These people reject God himself.  Like Samuel, all we need do is remain faithful to God and continue to walk in God’s way . . . knowing that we are learning to become familiar with the Lord.

Georges De la Tour: Awakening Eli

When we stand firm in God at the expense of our comfort, when we witness faithfully and run the risk of losing some of what we are in the world, we too will be familiar with Lord . . . just as Samuel grew to be.  The Lord continued to appear at Shiloh: he manifested himself to Samuel at Shiloh through his word, and Samuel spoke to all Israel.  We may wish to hear God’s voice more distinctly.  We may want God to touch us more obviously.  We may long for stark clarity from our God.  Yet let us consider these facts.  We are created in God’s image.  We are dearly loved.  We are accompanied by angels, saints and even God himself.  We are sustained, harbored, cajoled, wooed, healed, restored and saved by God.  We are even given the freedom to return this love . . . or to reject it.  We are given the opportunity to deeply, intensely and even passionately become so familiar with our God that we are able to wake in the night and respond to that quiet call of our name: Here I am!

When we begin to doubt, when we begin to frown at what we believe we do not have from God, let us consider what it is we do have.  And let us grow as Samuel grew, to become ever more familiar with the Lord.


A re-post from December 12, 2011.

Images from: http://my316notes.blogspot.com/2010/12/i-samuel-316.html and http://firstlutheranbp.wordpress.com/2009/01/17/u-pick-the-prayer/

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Joshua 23: A Final Plea

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Jericho

It is clear that Joshua understands his people when we read today’s Noontime scripture.  He has brought them from the edge of the wilderness into the fertile land that God has promised them.  He has led their troops, solved their squabbles, and he has kept them faithful to God as they live side by side with pagan peoples.  He has one final plea.

We are about to enter the season of Lent, a time for reflection and introspection. Today we have an opportunity to consider that we stand before Joshua, a man who knows our story. Let us listen well.

Strive hard to observe and carry out all that is written in the book of the law of Moses, not straying from it in any way or mingling with these nations while they survive among you.  We might recall here the parable of the weeds growing among the wheat in Matthew 13:24-30 that we considered in our Continued Progress NoontimeGod does not call us to wipe out all who oppose or stifle us; rather, God asks that we learn to grow amid those who would pull us from our steady progress toward God.  Joshua calls likewise to us today, encouraging us to follow the voice of God, to grow in wisdom.  When we allow God’s wisdom to counsel us rather than succumb to our own petty fears and whims, we will have responded to this final plea.

At your approach you have driven our large and small nations, and to this day no one has withstood you.  One of you puts to flight a thousand because it is the Lord, your God, himself who fights for you, as he promised you.  We so quickly take credit for our successes and blame God for our failures.  It seems we cannot withstand the truth of our own existence.  When we remember the so many big and little triumphs of our lives in the light of God’s goodness instead of the brightness of our own effort, all anxiety, resentment and envy melt away.  We cease to compare our circumstances to those of others; we see our lives for what they are: a continuing response to – or a willful turning away from – God’s call.  Joshua asks us today to consider the origin of our security and achievement; and he reminds us that God alone governs all.  When we admit that God’s strength and fidelity are gifts we receive without even asking, we will have demonstrated our own willingness to respond to this final plea.

If you ever abandon God and ally yourselves with the remnant of these [pagan] nations while they survive among you, by intermarrying and intermingling with them, know for certain that . . . they will be a snare and a trap for you, a scourge for your sides and thorns for your eyes.  Joshua worries, of course, that his people will disappear into the societies that surround and live side by side with them.  He knows how easily we can be convinced that daily prayer and faithful worship have little effect upon us.  He understands our weaknesses because he has managed the in-fighting and back-stabbing that happens when people come together in a common cause.  He also understands our strengths because he has led a stiff-necked and cantankerous people successfully by following God’s counsel rather than the shallow wisdom of oracles; he has deferred to God’s plans and put away his own.  Joshua recalls the covenant they have agreed upon with God and that it invokes reward or doom; he reminds his people that God always keeps his promises. When we willingly turn away from the siren call of the idols that clutter our lives, we will give witness to our own commitment to God, and we will have answered this final plea.

This chapter closes with a description of God’s Wrath and before we become frightened by these images let us remember that Christ comes to fulfill the Old Testament Covenant and to replace it with a new Law of Love.  When we remember that the God of wrath we see described here is actually the God of Love that Christ shows us . . . we will have little trouble – and much reward – when we respond to Joshua’s final plea.


Adapted from a reflection posted on December 11, 2011.

Image from: http://www.biblebios.com/joshua/joshua.htm

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Mark 1 -3A Reason to Believe

Tuesday, February 20, 2019

Today we return to the Gospel of Mark and when we study these opening Chapters we discover that they provide the perfect resource for us when we have had a bad day, an awful week, a cataclysmic month, or a horrendous span in our lives.  In these simple stories we will find the courage to continue an arduous journey; we will find hope that will impel us forward through tragedy.  We will even find the strength to help others who journey alongside us. Mark shows us a typical series of days in the life of Jesus in such a way that we might see ourselves putting aside our worldly worries to follow him.  Mark, with his quick-moving, thriller Gospel, gives us a reason to believe.

John the Baptist serves as a precursor or herald for the Messiah who follows him.  Our troubles and woes often announce themselves as well.  We feel a frisson of fear, a foreshadowing of something not fully revealed.  When we follow Jesus we will know that these forebodings are not our ultimate end.  Our end is rescue and redemption.  John baptizes the one who saves us all and Jesus unites with us in our own baptism.

The Spirit drives Jesus into the desert for forty days where he lives among wild beasts, is tempted by Satan and is ministered to by angels.  We too are driven into the barren wastes where we also met with devils and angels.  When we follow Jesus we will know that these dead places are not our last stop – even though they may seem to be at the time.  Jesus relies on the Father and unites with us in our own sufferings and temptations.

Jesus begins his ministry.  He cures many.  He gathers a following.  He chooses steadfast friends from the countless who follow him.  He is hounded by those who envy his relationship with God and the people.  We too step into the world to reveal our gifts and to allow God to act through us.  We too encounter obstacles to the Call we feel.  We too are harassed by those who cannot abide our closeness with God.  When we follow Jesus we know that there is no one, no idea, no thought, no thing that can separate us from God.  God never strays; it is we who have the choice to abandon or to abide.  Just as Jesus turns always to the Father so do we.  Jesus unites with us in the struggle.

Jesus steps into dangerous territory and his family and friends caution him, they even question his work.  We have seen the look of disappointment on the faces of others who misunderstand our steadfastness, who feel betrayed by our fidelity to the Gospel.  We know the sensation of rejection when those we love can no longer abide with us in the Spirit.  Jesus invites us to be one with him in the sacrifice we make in our own Gospel journey.  Jesus bonds with us as his sisters and brothers; he holds us close.  Jesus becomes one with us and takes up our too-heavy cross.

These opening stories in the Gospel of Mark draw us into Jesus’ story just as a good cinematographer hooks us in the opening shots of a film.  Jesus moves from friend to foe, from those who love him to those to hate him; and he always keeps his eye on the Father.  Jesus accompanies us in our own story; and he helps us to be mindful of the Spirit.

As we prepare to enter the Lenten season, we do well to read these opening Chapters of the Gospel of Mark for he tells us all and he tells us quickly.  Mark celebrates Jesus even as he foretells his awful end.  Mark holds no punches, sweetens no madness, and obscures no ugliness.  Mark shows us all.  Mark’s story gives us hope when tragedy strikes.  Mark’s story gives us courage when cataclysm hits.  Mark’s story helps us to prepare for the journey.  Mark’s story gives us a reason to believe this amazing Christ.


A re-post from February 20, 2012.

Image from: http://www.atotheword.com/2011/04/05/jesus-man-born-blind-for-works-of-god-to-manifest-in-him/

For more on the Gospel of Mark, see the Mark – “I Am” page on this blog. 

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