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Monday, February 27, 2006

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings

Bacause of the hectic nature of this week, I am posting this a little early. Have a blessed beginning to Lent, y'all.


I am once again going with the Gospel lesson this week, Mark 1:9-15. This first gospel lesson in Lent finds us exploring three very distinct scenes in Jesus’ ministry: his baptism, his temptation in the desert, and his beginning of proclamation of the “Kingdom at hand”.

Jesus himself proclaiming that the time was fulfilled, while his mission on earth was yet incomplete, reminds me of the idea of the “already, and not yet” time that we Christians find ourselves in today.

I think back to when I was pregnant with my children, especially my first child. Was I already a mother, though I had not yet seen my firstborn? I remember approaching those last days of my pregnancy, when I would do almost anything to speed up the process, yet I was quite apprehensive at the changes that would come to my life after he was born.

The writer of Mark’s gospel seems to speed things up to get to Jesus’ ministry. The temptation in the wilderness only gets two sentences! The way Jesus’ ministry is “announced” seems so abrupt, as if the author couldn’t wait to get to the good parts.

Will we have what it takes to get through these 40 days of waiting? How will we endure this time of already and not yet?

What are your preaching thoughts this week?

(Note to those not preaching this week: please participate! The more wisdom the better.)

16 comments:

  1. for me the most significant part of this passage is always that Father God showed his approval BEFORE jesus started his ministry, before he withstood the temptation of satan in the desert before it all.

    I think that's something we as Christians find so hard to accept for ourselves. That God loves us AS WE ARE not for what we do.

    So I'd underline that this week if I were preaching, which I'm not :(

    tx for these words.

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  2. 1) You mean I have to preach AGAIN?!

    2) Cheesehead and Lorna, great insights thank you.

    This is only the second week of this but I gotta say I really like it. It gives me a whiff of what's cooking in this week's Scripture reading and makes me want more.

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  3. I'm a layperson working on a sermon for this text (for a class, not a congregation :). I'm struck by the immediacy of the temptation after the baptism. Jesus was afforded no time to pause, sigh, and simply bask in the power of "with you I am well pleased." Instead, he's sent (or "driven out") by the Spirit, to a place inhospitable and dry, just opposite the rich river he's been immersed in.
    I wrestle with what this means for those of us who would follow our Christ's lead... would we willingly enter the desert, or at least stifle our protests when we're driven there? Two things I take comfort in: 1. The words of the Father went with him. The words that came from Heaven at Jesus' baptism were like bread for the journey -- manifestations of the absolute, unshakeable love, acceptance and pride of God. 2. And the ministrations of angels uplifted him. Through any spiritual desert, in the realm of wild beasts, God always makes a way for His people. He builds us a place to shelter, before we feel the sting of sun or wind. He prepares our way out, before we even go in. And, ultimately, we're in good company whenever we enter a desert season of the soul.

    Other, quick thoughts: Fans of "Survivor" could probably draw some vivid parallels to 40 days in the desert. What does 40 days of remote, rough living do to contestants -- who aren't even alone? Also: Who else was sent into the desert or kept "on hold" before beginning something momentous? Moses and Noah come to mind -- both with the number 40 in their stories, too....

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  4. I found myself stopping again and again on the phrase, "and he was with the wild beasts." I mean, I think it would be clear to any of the original hearers/listeners that there are wild beasts in the wilderness! So why did Mark add that? What was he trying to evoke by that image?

    Isn't there an old Bruce Cockburn song, "Wondering Where the Lions Are"? I think that describes any of us on any given day, waiting to be pounced upon by the various metaphorical "wild beasts" that prowl around us, unsettling us, making us live in fear.

    And perhaps there's also some irony here -- that Jesus was safer with the wild beasts than he was with his fellow human beings.

    Just woolgathering (in service to procrastination, one of my very favorite things.;-))

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  5. The thing that always hits me the strongest about this story is that the water isn't even dry on his forehead and Jesus has to get to work. Hard spiritual work.

    We come to church and we sing pretty songs and hear good preaching- and then we have to go out and face the temptations of the world. We have to get to work.

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  6. I am not preaching this week, but am seeking a lenten discipline to take on -- some sort of prayer or lectio divina. I am looking for suggestions!

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  7. Resist the urge to read the other gospels into reading of the temptation. Resist! Resist! Those temptations are so enormous, they don't feel related to us, to our lives. It's the humanity of Jesus that means so much to me in Mark. He's tempted, in the company of wild beasts, ministered to by angels. What are our temptations? What and who are the wild beasts in our lives? Who are the angels ministering to us?
    I'm contemplating using Mark 1:9-15 as a framework for all of Lent.

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  8. Micahgirl: Try Sacred Space ...wonderful daily lectio website.

    If you would like to try the discipline of fixed prayer, you might want to visit The Online Daily Office or Oremus . For the Daily Office -- all four prayers of the day are a bit intimidating, and sometimes it's just not feasible. What got me into praying the Daily Office was the Compline -- the prayer for the end of the day. If you get to the calendar page, you'll see a link for that at the top of the page. Another one I like to pray at work is the Noonday Prayer -- again, the link is at the top of the calendar page. It's just a nice reality check in the middle of the workday.

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  9. The one thing that has been bopping in the back of my brain today is that the symbol that God uses to remind the people that 'never again shall there be great waters to destroy the earth' - is created by light reflecting off of billions of miniscule bits of... water.

    Ok... two things... the covenant is with all living things - not just humanking.

    Ack! Three things (though this one is tenuous)... the reminder of the covenant - the bow in the sky - is not to remind creation, but to remind God!

    And, no, I have no idea where this is going yet. *grin*

    Blessings and peace - Richard

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  10. I LOVE all the different directions this is going. More, more!

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  11. I write a column for the religion section of the local paper. This week, I posted my column about Lent. It starts off with a crazy family story, but it moves into our need to "create space" during Lent. Here's my challenge--turn off the T.V. for the next 40 days. I'm putting mine in the attic. No T.V. or movies (home or at theater) until Easter. Who is willing to join me? :)

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  12. I'm using this too. My church has representatives of over 40 faith traditions, mostly Christian, but not all "Lent-aware." So I will be talking about Lent as a time to view one's life in the light of the cross. The cool thing about the baptism is that the text does not tell us that ANYONE OTHER THAN JESUS saw and heard the sign from God. And the disciples, in Mark, never understand completely that Jesus is God until the crucifixion/resurrection--they then can review their time with Jesus in a new way, "in the light of the cross." I often wonder whether someone (like the reader of Mark, who is clued in early) might be looking at my life, seeing God at work, seeing me absolutely not recognizing God's presence. A daunting thought. So I will be asking the congregation to ponder what it might mean to look at their lives "in the light of the cross."

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  13. Yeah, I understand the rainbow -- but in that passage the word is just "bow" as in bow and arrow -- a warbow. By placing it in the sky, it must be unstrung and hung up so that it will not be used against humanity again.

    Lots of water passages to use, though.

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