Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Blogging Towards Sunday, November 27th

Today’s passage of Mark continues the teaching of Jesus in parables. Undoubtedly, since Mark is a good writer, it is directly connected to the parable of the Sower and the Seed (Mark 4:1-20).  In that parable we learn of God’s abundant and amazing grace similar to seeds scattered on diverse and different types of soil.  God gives the gift of faith and then grows it as we respond.  We’re not just passive observers, but also actively involved.

lamps | measures | seeds oh my!

The first parable of the lamp and the bushel remind me of my childhood and the song we often sang in Sunday School, “hide it under a bushel? No!  I’m gonna let it shine!”  But that’s from Matthew 5.  It’s not what Jesus is talking about here.  What is Jesus talking about with the hidden and made manifest?  A light is meant to illuminate the room.  Why then do we need ears to hear?  Isn’t it obvious?  Not to me! 

Friday, November 18, 2011

Bumper Sticker of the Week

Questions for going deeper with the Scriptures for today, November 20th

Today’s passage of Mark contains the first major teaching passage included in the gospel.  Several times Mark has emphasized Jesus’ teaching prowess and the way in which his teaching has an authority that many have never yet witnessed (examples include Mark 1:21-22; 1:39, 2:1-3).  Jesus tells a parable in response to the concluding verse (35) of chapter 3.  “Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”  So how do we know what’s God will is?

structure of the text – what’s in a parable?

The first teaching narrative is a parable.  It’s a Greek word that has taken on a new meaning because of the gospel and is used in most modern languages.  So what is a parable?

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

 Blogging Towards Sunday, November 13

Today’s passage of Mark begins following the description of the 12th of the 12 disciples as the one who will betray Jesus (3.19) and then continues describing those who oppose Jesus who range from the Jerusalem scribes – or religious experts – to include even his own nuclear family.  What role does family play in our lives? How do we understand family today?

Friday, November 04, 2011

Occupy Oakland

There's been much brouhaha about Occupy Oakland for the past days, in particular since the police intervention last week and the general strike yesterday.  I am quite progressive and believe that the Occupy movement can bring about good for our society.  So either I'm objective or subjective, as we each can only start our thought process from our own individual point of view.  Today I've heard on the radio and read in media and notes that Oakland has sunk into violence and that the occupy movement is a shame and a sham.

I spent most of the afternoon yesterday in downtown Oakland at the occupy general strike headquarters with my 9 and 7 year old children.  We heard music and speakers.  We saw signs, posters, educational murals and a candle ridden station for peace.  We inhaled marijuana that was smoked by some.  We heard prayers offered at the inter-religious tent.  We saw babies in strollers and carriers on the parents' backs.  We saw grandparents with their grandchildren.  We saw school groups in matching t-shirts.  We saw teachers, urban professionals, homeless, students, diverse clergy and random working class folks all milling around together peacefully.  It seemed much more like a music festival or neighborhood festival than a riot or chaotic gathering of looters.  Never was I afraid - for myself or my children.

Blogging Towards Sunday, November 6th     

Today’s passage of Mark tells of the increasing power of the ministry of Jesus and this of his choice to name a group of twelve disciples who will be his inner circle and constant companions. 

the spreading impact of jesus among the people | Mark 3:7-12

The people are overwhelmed with gratitude for Jesus.  His words, presence and healing actions seem to touch a need, to connect with a deep common longing for something unknown, promised and dreamed of.  Mark describes the crowd as if they are going to crush Jesus, as they press upon him and exert pressure upon him to respond to their needs and desires.   Interestingly enough the entire narrative is structured around the actions of Jesus.  He is not passive, but active, setting the tone, changing the conversation, challenging the status quo (v. 7, 9 12 are his actions which frame the story).