Blogging Towards Sunday, January 29th
This pericope (section of the gospel) seems to be perfect for us as we gather today for worship and our shared ministry work of discernment, discipleship and rededication as a community of faith at our annual congregational meeting. Mark tells this story in juxtaposition with the story of the horrific feast at which the 1% of ancient Palestine gorge themselves at the table of Herod Antipas and punctuate the debauchery with the beheading of John the Baptizer all for a king to avoid shame and his mistress to exact revenge on a too courageous prophet. (Mark 6:14-29)
In the larger scheme of Mark’s retelling of the Jesus story, we see that these two contrasted stories about feasts follow Jesus sending out the twelve disciples to do ministry (Mark 6:6-13). On one hand it’s remarkable that he would dare to do so: the disciples seem so clueless: They were terrified by Jesus’ calming of the story (Mark 5:35-41). They don’t seem to get the parables and basic teachings of Jesus about the Kingdom of God (Mark 4:10). And yet on the other hand, Jesus has redefined family – the principal thing in terms of identity in the ancient world. Family isn’t about your family name, your gender, your tribe; but rather it’s about who you follow and how you follow them in your life. For Jesus, anyone who follows God, seeking to do God’s will in the world, is part of his family. So in the end the disciples might not be 100% clear on what’s going on, but they get the big picture (even if not very clearly). They too seek to know God, to follow God, and to do God’s will in the world. Maybe we ourselves are not all that different than the disciples today?