Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Not now...I don't have time to pray...really?

Mark 1:29-39 reminds us that as important to the salvation of the world that Jesus’ earthly ministry was, it was not so important that Jesus didn’t have time to take care of himself, and his spiritual connection with his Heavenly Father. We may have important jobs and our "time may not be our own," but if Jesus can find the time to care for his spiritual nurture, how much more can we find the time?

Friday, January 27, 2012

What have you to do with us Jesus of Nazareth?

Our discussion on Mark’s Gospel Wednesday night helped us focus on those “attachments” in our lives that, take charge like “demons,” and prevent us from hearing/doing the will of God. We asked how is the man with the “unclean spirit” any different from us as we wrestle with those demons that are a part of our humanity?
Why is it that this man who lives on the margins of society and has reached the depths of despair, knows who Jesus is better than anyone in the room? What have you to do with us Jesus of Nazareth? I know who you are. You are the Holy One of God.” Maybe it’s when we realize that we are powerless and unable to “white knuckle” our way through life and its challenges alone, that we understand that Jesus has everything to do with us.

As we brought the evening to a close, someone asked “Can we obey God’s law without surrendering to His will...and is there a difference?
I look forward to your comments

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

“What business do you have here with us, Jesus? I know what you're up to! You're the Holy One of God, and you've come to destroy us!"

The crowd is astounded - stunned - by the teaching of Jesus because they know him only as a peasant wood worker from Nazareth. (After all, nothing good has ever come from that part of town.)

In Mark 1:21-28, this unclean spirit is the first to "know who Jesus is," the Holy One of God, and publically acknowledge him as such. 

The fact that Jesus can order the spirit to be silent and come out of the man further confirms that Jesus has spiritual authority; is a person of higher spiritual rank than the unclean spirit; is a Holy One of God.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

How to become a good fisherman

Great session last night...thank you all. The following "manual" on how to become a good fisherman serves as a great metaphor for what it means to be called to follow Jesus and, I think, helps us reflect on some of last night's discussion: 

Jesus said, “Simon, if you follow me, I will teach you how to fish for people.”  

What are some of the characteristics of a good fisherman?
1.      You have to love it. It has to be in your blood. It’s an absolute pleasure to live in that wind and rain, cold and sleet, it has to be in your blood.
2.      You have to be dedicated to it. You have to get up at three in the morning. The best salmon fishermen are on the water when it is dark. The good fishermen make the extra effort.
3.      Another mark of a good fisherman is that they are experienced. If you fish a lot, you learn from other fisherman. It is basic. If you are a good fisherman, you didn’t learn it on your own. Somebody taught you.
4.      Another mark of a good fisherman is you have to know the fish. You have to know what and where they are biting. The fish are there; that is not the problem; there are hundreds and thousands of fish in the water down below you, but how to catch them is another matter. You have to learn that information from other fishermen or your past records.
5.      Another mark of a good fisherman is patience. You need to learn to sit patiently and wait and wait and wait, trying different lures and baits and depths and speeds and holes. You don’t have to tell good fisherman about patience. They live with patience. 

You don’t need to know a lot of Bible verses. I have discovered that people with a wealth of
Biblical knowledge are not any more effective fishermen and women than others. Fancy
equipment isn’t the key to good fishermen. The longer that you are fishing for Christ, the longer
you learn that people are not asking hard Biblical questions, theological questions.  Hard
questions aren’t getting in their way of becoming disciples. The point is: you need simple and
good fishing equipment and that simple equipment is the love of God/Christ and love for other
people in your soul. (Reverend Edward Markquart, Home / Epiphany B / Mark 1: 14-20, Epiphany 3B, "Fishing for Christ")

Regards, Bob

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

What was so compelling about Jesus and his message that prompted these men to drop everything and follow Him?

In thinking about this story in
I am tempted to say “That was another time. People today just can’t drop everything and go like that.”  Maybe…and maybe not.  Even if it didn’t mean abandoning everything you have and all that you’ve known, what could following Jesus into the new and unfamiliar mean in your life? 
Is it possible that sometimes we get too comfortable, too unwilling to risk, too unable to step out in faith?

What are we called to leave behind as we follow Jesus and what might we be called to move toward?

Thursday, January 12, 2012

…But He will Baptize you with the Holy Spirit

Last night’s discussion of our readings enabled us to focus on what it means to be baptized in the Holy Spirit and what it means when we say “we are present” to His grace. We also asked how being present and being baptized in the Holy Spirit are connected.  In trying to understand, we shared experiences during which we have felt moved or compelled to “do something,” i.e., to give of ourselves when it was the last thing we wanted to do.
Sometimes acts of kindness are relatively easy and gratifying. At other times they require effort to “stay” and resist the desire to walk away.  What causes us to feel “stuck in place,” unable to yield to our own self –interests? We agreed that these are the times when we say we are “present” to His will and that these transformative moments are in a way, renewals of our baptismal vows.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Whose King Is This Anyway?

A common theme in the three lessons appointed for this day is the manifestation of God to people outside the religious community. Isaiah reminds the community of its call to be a light to the nations and destroys the separation between internal and external forces.
 St Paul in Ephesians suggests that the ultimate purpose of God is the unification of humanity in a truly multicultural community where all distinctions between "insiders" and "outsiders" have vanished.
 Mark reminds us that such distinctions began to erode with the coming of Christ, who was revealed to some who were thought to be “outsiders” and paradoxically rejected by many who believed they were the "insiders." This was a bitter lesson for early believers, who at first were all Jewish and who knew that they were the elect of God — the shocking idea that impure Gentiles were, from God's perspective, on equal footing with them.
Jesus abolishes not only the barriers of nation, race and ethnicity. He also transcends the boundaries of gender, religion, economics and social stratification, for in Christ “there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28); the magi were only the tip of a very big iceberg.
Dan Clendenin, The Journey with Jesus: Notes to Myself

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Are We Looking or Waiting and What Gifts Do We Have to Offer?

Last night we discussed the significance of the Feast of the Epiphany which represents our longing for intimacy with God. It was pointed out that the Magi contrast those who wait for Jesus with those who make an effort to find Him or go to Him. We asked if we were waiting or following.

The Good News of Christmas or the Epiphany is that "God is With Us" (Emmanuel)! We, like the Magi require the Light  to see Him, find Him and serve Him... in the people and cicumstances of our everday lives.

It is time to stop talking about how much we love one another and time to really start showing that we do! Only then can we be able to come together as the family that God intended. Only then can we truly be a people of hope within whom the Holy Spirit lives and breathes.

Like the Magi, our search continues---but so does Epiphany

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

"I have baptized you with water, but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit"

“One crucial aspect of baptism is not what happens when we're baptized but what happens after we're baptized. 
 Mark's Gospel 1:4-11 as well as our reading from Acts 19:1-7, prompt us to share with others what Christ brings into our lives and into the world.  Not to focus on Christ only as someone who did something for us 'back then' but to focus on Christ as someone who, through the power of the Spirit, lives in us and moves us forward today. John’s baptism of repentance and Paul's baptism in the name of Jesus ultimately find their fulfillment -- in our transformed lives.”
Frank L. Crouch, Dean and Vice President, Moravian Theological Seminary