2009-06-22 by Laurie Clark
I've been thinking about the mourners who were outside Jarius' house. When Jesus said that the 12 year old daughter wasn't dead, but asleep, they laughed.
Why did they laugh? Were they not so serious in their mourning? NT Wright says they were probably professionals - people who were there to help the family in grief let it all go. Did they think Jesus was ridiculous? Callous? Were they laughing like Abram and Sarai, in disbelief? or chuckling, hoping that just maybe this new guy on the scene was onto something?
Sometimes, when I'm preaching, I'm hoping for laughter. it helps the sermon, engages the listen. But sometimes the laughter catches me off guard. i didn't think people would laugh and they did, or maybe it's some nervous twitter. or maybe I've just really embarrassed myself by tripping over my words or missing (another) pop cultural reference. Did the laughter bug Jesus? Or did he just keep on, focused on the next steps, pressing on to the healing that was about to take place.
Or were they laughing because Jesus was too late. She was dead already. Ha. In your face, Mr. Jesus Christ.
Sometimes that happens in the church. we're too late, and the laughter is convicting and condemning and it hurts. A friend told me a story recently of her mother. Her family founded a church, a big, downtown, neighborhood church. A high steeple. her father was the treasurer for years (the good kind). She grew up in the church, raised her kids in the church. Then, she came down with Alzherimers and Parkinson's and all the forgetfulness adn tremors these illnesses bring. Her husband faithfully stayed with her, and no one came. no one called. no one visited. Finally, seasons into her illness, some people from the church called and said, "We'd like to come and sit with Merle. we want to give you a break. you can go out for a few hours." And his father said, "You're too late." "you're too late. It's past the time she'll know you. It's pat the time she would be comfortable with people that will be strangers to her. I'm sorry, but don't come. you're too late." Ha, ha, ha. Ouch.
But that is the grace and gift (one of many) in this story. Jesus isn't too late. And he knows it. He calls to this 12 year old, in his language and she wakes up. God's kingdom is here, now. It's another sign that death is not forever, and life is given to us to be lived. It's also another sign Mark gives us to point us to the cross - where Jesus will meet evil and death face to face, and ha, ha, ha, win.
May the church follow Jesus, and not be late again.
2009-06-21 by Laurie Clark
O Israel, Hope in the Lord.
What does it mean to "hope in the Lord?" In the Mark 5:21-43 reading, the bleeding woman is looking for a solution to her physical pain. That's understandable. No one wants chronic suffering, especially the kind of physical illness that isolates us from our family, friends, and faith community. In his commentary Mark for Everyone, NT Wright points out that these two healing stories are about "Fear and Faith" (p. 58-61)
When are we able to push through our fear and reach out to Jesus? Do our fears hold us back, the way a crowd might physically push against us? Is it the hope in the Lord that gives us the strength to even just sneak up behind and brush our fingers along the hem of his cloak? Is there any guarantee that our faith will heal us?
Today, I have more questions on this scripture than answers. But I am hoping in the Lord, and trusting that insights will come.
What are your questions when you read this text?
Peace of the Healing Christ to you -
St. Luke's on 5th
2009-06-21 by Laurie Clark
Dear Bloggers -
My name is Rev. Laurie Lynn Clark. I serve as a United Methodist pastor at St. Luke's on 5th in Columbus, OH. St. Luke's is a unique congregation. It is young - only 55 years in existence. It's a blessing to still have some orginial members with us. For the last 30 years, St. Luke's has intentionally welcomed people with disabilities. This ministry wasn't planned. It just happened, a gift from God. Now, on any Sunday, a quarter of our worshipping congregation are people with disabilities often accompanied by their care givers. At St. Luke's, we are truly one body, everyone joining everyone else in worshipping God and sharing in ministry. People (with disabilities) are full members, attend Sunday School, serve alongside everyone else, and participate in worship each week as acolytes and Communion stewards. Together, we are limping and leaping towards wholeness, seeking God's presence in our midst.
It is from the context of a congregation that I will blog this week on the gospel lesson, Mark 5:21-43. I look forward to entering into this holy conversation together.
Peace of the Living Christ to you,
Thanks and Job
2009-06-19 by David von Schlichten
Thank you to guest blogger Roger Gustafson for his wise, insightful posts. Scroll down to splash around in them.
I will preach on Job this Sunday. I will provide an overview of the book, emphasizing the book's message that there is no tidy correlation between a person's moral behavior and suffering. Suffering is not a punishment. I will go on to proclaim that, while God may not explain to us why we are suffering, God does help us deal with the suffering. I'll post my sermon tomorrow (Saturday).
We just had a terrible storm the other day. I don't know why we had it, but I do know that Christ is with us in the boat.
Yours in Christ,
David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator
Living in the Presence
2009-06-18 by Roger Gustafson
Good Lord, the disciples are more afraid of Jesus than they were of the storm, and he just saved them from it! Before, they were afraid for their lives; now, it’s almost as if they’re afraid of their lives: If we’ve thrown in our lot with this One who just turned out to be completely beyond our experience and expectation, what’s in store for us when we reach land? This part of the service was definitely not in the bulletin.
But great awe can turn into great appreciation, and that can turn into courage. It might take time, as it did for the disciples, but it happens.
Enough about boats. I love road trips on a motorcycle. The planning, the anticipating, the packing, checking over the bike – it’s all part of an exhilarating experience in which I quickly remember how elemental life really is.
Most of the time, I am guarded and sometimes guided by insulators. I delegate and assign and manage. At work I have a storehouse of resources, including an imaginative co-pastor to consult in the event of a creativity drought and an administrative assistant to protect me from the peddlers of the latest sure-fire, shrink-wrapped evangelism program. At home I have caller-ID to alert me to the deputy sheriff’s association pledge-takers. I live with insulators, shields.
Not so on a motorcycle. The greatest value of a road trip is the fact that the road doesn’t care. Forget to pack an essential, the road doesn’t care. Forget to tighten something, neglect to fill up at the gas station you just passed as the needle on the gauge began to tip toward “E,” break the front zipper on the leather jacket as you’re about to head into the Rockies in late October, the road doesn’t care. Deal with it. There’s no one to call for suggestions, no one to delegate the solutions to, no resources to call upon. Except yourself.
It’s amazing how quickly I’m able to identify my insulators once I’m stripped of them, how refreshing it is to be glad of their absence. How curious and ironic, then, that it is at precisely the times that I’m engaged with the immediacy of life – dealing with it by my wits – that I have an overwhelming sense of and appreciation for the immediacy of the presence of the Almighty. Ah, so this is what “filled with great awe” feels like!
This God-awareness doesn’t ease the pain that comes from skidding and falling on wet pavement or laying the bike down in the middle of an intersection in order to avoid being hit by someone running a red light (we’re still responsible, and sometimes we pick up the tab for others’ bad judgment), but it does encapsulate the entire ride in bright and grace-filled promise. It also reminds me that my life is not primarily about me but about the astonishing God who has entrusted it to me; and it sharpens my desire to use the resources that God has implanted in me, to use myself fully.
“Teacher, do you not care … ?” Yes, he does. But his always-ready caring is not a replacement for our own. It’s the gracious box in which we deal with the chaos that life occasionally brings our way. It’s the Teacher’s caring that shapes us for the future.
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