Easter 3

Four days ago, Haley Joel Osment turned 30 years old.  Remember him from the Sixth Sense and then from nothing of note after that?  So I’m going to go on the premise that you’ve all either seen the Sixth Sense or at least know the plot twist, but spoiler alert anyway: Haley Joel Osment could see dead people.  But remember that when you first saw the movie, you didn’t know that until well into the story, and so despite following along and taking it in and perhaps noticing some clues along the way, it took the revelation of “I see dead people” to make the whole thing make sense.  Once you know that the preternaturally mature little kid can see dead people, everything in the Sixth Sense just sort of falls into place.

 

“Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures…”  This is essentially how St. Luke wraps up his Gospel.  In one chapter, Luke goes from the big plot twist, the Resurrection, through a couple of Jesus sightings to the Ascension in 50 verses.  There’s not a lot of narrative in all of this, but you might recognize the story of the Road to Emmaus, on which Jesus joined two of His disciples, though they didn’t recognize Him; Jesus walks with them, explains the Scriptures, and then the disciples recognized Jesus when blessed and broke the bread at dinner.  As soon as they recognized Him, He poofed out of their site, which must have been pretty awesome, really.  So those two disciples run back to Jerusalem to tell the Big 11 Disciples what had happened, and as soon as they finished their story, Poof, there was Jesus again.

 

That must have been pretty awesome as well, but admittedly a little frightening.  If I was there, I would have wondered how long had Jesus been there.  Did I say anything bad about Him, make fun of His hair or something?  Luke tells us that they were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost.  But Jesus was not a ghost or a zombie or a golem – He was Himself, flesh and bones, with an appetite for broiled fish, risen from the dead.

 

But Jesus wasn’t there to just say hi or to prove once again that He really was alive.  He was there to open their minds to the Scriptures, to help them connect the dots.  Jesus helped them find that all of Scripture, the whole Bible as they knew it, found its fulfillment in Him.  As Scott Hoezee put it, “Jesus is the Rosetta Stone of Scripture (if not of all reality)—if you know who he really is, you see how within his own person and ministry and now resurrected presence every thread, every strand, every story, every promise, every prophecy winds and wends its way straight to him.

 

“Apparently that is all (the disciples) will need to know.  All that remains is for them to receive the power that will not only solidify this all in their hearts and minds but will give them the boldness to proclaim the truth of Jesus to the whole world.  That power (in the form, of course, of the Holy Spirit) would come eventually but in the meanwhile and up until then, what Jesus revealed to the hearts and minds of the disciples on that…evening was apparently thee #1 thing that had to happen during those forty post-resurrection days.  Once Luke conveys this to us, he’s finished with the forty days.

 

“Everything that needed to be shown and told and taught had already taken place, apparently, in Jesus’ ministry as narrated in the whole Gospel up to this point.  All that remained was for the disciples to understand how all that they had experienced in Jesus’ presence represented nothing short of cosmic history coming to a head.  The meaning of the past, the hope for the present, and the content of the future was all inside the resurrected Lord.  Once they understood that (no small thing to grasp, by the way!), there was really nothing more for Jesus to say or do.”[1]

 

And so here we are, two thousand years later, the inheritors of all that understanding, and so we’ve got an easy time of it, right?  Yeah, right. We certainly have an easier time of it than the disciples did at first – we’re raised with the knowledge that the Hebrew Scriptures are the story of humankind’s interaction with God, all of which finds it consummation in Jesus.  But I’ve got a Master’s degree in all of this and sometimes I feel like I’m wading through the murkiest of waters when trying to grasp the meaning of the Scriptures – it can be like knowing that Haley Joel Osment can see dead people, but not getting that Bruce Willis is dead.

 

So that’s why we do all the many things we do.  That’s why we hear so much of the Bible during the Mass and at Compline and at the Rosary.  That’s why we depend so much on Church School and Adult Ed and our new Bible Study on Thursdays.  That’s why we prayed today for the Lord to Open the eyes of our faith, that we may behold Jesus in all his redeeming work.   You see, none of us can learn and understand the Bible on our own, and even if we could, the joy of learning and understanding it comes from struggling with it together, with Jesus in the midst of us.  So may the Lord open our hearts and minds to His holy word, that knowing His Son as He is revealed to us in Scripture, we may go out into the world as witnesses to these things.

[1] Scott Hoezee, This Week: http://cep.calvinseminary.edu/sermon-starters/easter-3b-2/?type=the_lectionary_gospel

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Easter

Happy Easter, everybody!  It certainly looks like Easter in here, doesn’t it?  And it’s even beginning to look a bit like Easter outside, defying all expectations, given the weather we’ve had in March.  There’s still piles of snow on our grounds, and the churchyard looks like it was struck by a disaster, mainly because it was struck by two disastrous snowfalls.  By a particular grace of God, none of gravestones or other markers in the churchyard were damaged by the falling tree limbs and other debris, but the yard has not yet put on its Easter best.  Given the snow and the downed trees and all, you could be forgiven if you didn’t think it looked a whole lot like Easter.

 

But that would put you in pretty good company, given the fact that the first Easter didn’t look much like Easter either.  Mary Magdalene, Salome, and Mary the mother of James rose early on that first Easter morning because they had a job to do.  It had been a rough couple of days, to say the least – perhaps the worst couple of days they had ever known.

 

Surely they had all witnessed a crucifixion before.  The Romans had the crucifixion thing down – they did it well and often – and they made sure that each crucifixion was as public a display as possible.  But just as sure was that the crucifixion the Marys and Salome witnessed the Friday before was different.  This time they couldn’t avert their eyes, say a quick prayer, mourn the brutality of it all, and walk away.  This time was different.  This time it was their beloved Teacher hanging on that tree, the Man in whom they invested all of their hope, the Man they had seen cure the sick and drive out demons and even raise a friend from the dead.  This crucifixion was so very different.

 

But still, the Marys and Salome had a job to do, and so when the sun had risen enough to make out the paths, they made their way to the graveyard.  Now, I don’t know about you guys, but I love graveyards.  I spend a lot of time in our churchyard, and I’m rarely alone back there.  Many, many people visit; they come to visit a relative or care for the yard or to just be in a peaceful place for a spell.

 

But, as my friend Fr. Warren has said, “as appealing and peaceful as one may find a graveyard, a single grave is an awful thing.  Horrible.  Particularly awful when it is new.  Or newly dug, waiting to be occupied.  No matter how much bright green artificial turf the undertakers use to cover up the earth around it – a grave is still a hole in the ground – nothing else – a hole in the ground waiting to receive a person who is dead – and it’s horrible.  For graves, you see, mean more than just death.  There is a claustrophobic finality to them which seems to rule out hope.  They suggest corruption and decay and signal the end, not just of an individual life, but also of loves and friendships, of ideals and aspirations.  A grave says that someone is gone, and as the earth fills up the hole in the ground or the stone is set in place, it seems insane to imagine that there could be anything more.  The story is over.  The book has been closed.

 

“Scripture tells us that Jesus’ tomb was a gift from one of his followers: Joseph of Arimathea, a rich man, with a brand-new tomb in a garden.  And he gave it as one last act of respect and love for the man who was his teacher.  Yet even though it was the tomb of a rich man and doubtless rather better than most, it was still a grave.  And it said the same thing all graves say:  that someone is gone.”[1]

 

That grave said that Jesus was gone.  All that He stood for, the love and compassion, the integrity and courage, His single-minded and sacrificial devotion to God, the hope of a messiah, a savior, was gone.

 

Salome and the Marys knew He was gone, and so they had their job to do.  What they didn’t know was that Jesus was actually gone.  Gone from the grave, gone from that hopeless, horrible hole in the ground.

 

So it seems that morning looked like Easter after all.  “Do not be amazed,” the angel tells us, “you seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen, he is not here.”  The grave could not hold Jesus; death could not defeat Him.  Christ is indeed risen.

 

This is the good news of God in Christ Jesus: that in conquering death, in Christ being gone from that grave, we too are free from eternal death.  Our stories are not over; our books are not closed.  Now that Jesus has been raised from the dead, the grave has become a beginning and not an end.  In Christ, we are free to live a life of hope, a life of peace, an abundant life.  A life wherein every morning looks like Easter morning.

 

Happy Easter, everybody.

[1] Fr. Allan Warren: http://archive.theadventboston.org/sermons/aw040812.htm

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Palm Sunday

One of the things that always struck me about Palm Sunday is how quickly things turned for Jesus.  First we hear about His triumphant entry into Jerusalem as a king; we wave palms as the people did 2000 years ago, a symbol of victorious peace, and then less than ten minutes later, we’re hearing about His betrayal, suffering, and death.  Those same reeds of palm which were laid at Jesus’ feet become the whips we use to beat Him.  There’s an ancient tradition, long out of practice, of stripping the altar, one of our many symbols of Jesus in the church, and whipping it with the palms as a symbol of Jesus’ passion.  How quickly things turned for our Lord.

 

That turn didn’t come without reason.  Of course, the Jewish authorities already had it out for Jesus, and the Romans, while not paying too much attention, never liked a trouble-maker in their midst.  But then a few things happened on that first Holy Week that ramped up the drama.

 

Depending on whose timeline you follow (John places the clearing of the Temple at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry instead of at the end), Jesus did two big things that eventually got Him into the deep waters.  First was the aforementioned clearing of the Temple, which we heard about in the Gospel a couple weeks ago, and the second was that Jesus had recently raised Lazarus from the dead.  The raising of Lazarus was just too much for the Pharisees to take – it was proof positive that Jesus was a powerful threat to the status quo, and so also a threat to their position of power.  So in the wrecking the market in the Temple and in having the proof of His power walking around Jerusalem for the Passover, Jesus essentially signed His own death warrant.

 

To anyone else, this would have been a staggering fall from grace.  As we’ve seen with so many powerful men lately, you can be on top, seemingly untouchable, one minute, and a total pariah the next.

 

But Jesus was not a corrupt CEO or politician.  In so many ways, it would have been easier for the authorities to deal with Him if He was.  But how do you deal with a Man who is beyond reproach, who is quite literally without sin, who may well be the Son of the living God?  How do you get rid of a meddlesome God?

 

Well, if you are a corrupt leader, as was the case with the Pharisees, you get somebody else to do it for you. As we heard from Mark, the chief priests, with the elders and scribes, and the whole council held a consultation; and they bound Jesus and led him away and delivered him to Pilate.  They accused Jesus of many things, things like claiming to be God, like being a false king, like setting Himself up against Caesar.  It was enough to get the job done.

The question then becomes, How do we get rid of a meddlesome God?  We (certainly I) don’t like to compare ourselves with the Pharisees or with Pilate, but don’t most of us do what they did all the time?  None of us like those moments when we are confronted by God in a way that makes us look deeply at ourselves, those times when our conscience nags us or when God sends us a clear message via a caring friend or passage in Scripture or a paragraph in a devotional, those times when we know we must examine ourselves, our behavior, our motives.

 

And so we attempt to get rid of our meddlesome God.  We abandon prayer, we avoid church, we self-medicate, all so that we don’t have to look any more at this Jesus, who just by being who He is, can cause us discomfort.  We turn on Him in no less of a way than they did.

 

This is called being human, by the way, and while not beneficial, it’s okay.  Expected.  Normal.  Forgivable.  But again, not beneficial – it separates us from one another and from God; we attempt to push Jesus from view even though we know that life is so much better when we keep our eyes on Him.

 

We’re in it now, we’re in Holy Week, and while it’s sometimes hard to look at Jesus – because of our own guilt, and because of the turn, because of the ugliness that came upon Him in His passion – keep your eyes on Him, don’t turn away – He’s going to do something pretty phenomenal next Sunday.

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Lent 3

So the Vestry and I got together this week and decided on a new policy.  From next week on, you will all have to provide your own bread for the Mass, brought up individually at the Offertory.  But since we can’t trust any of you to bring bread that’s good enough for something like the Mass, well, you’re just going to have to buy the bread we’ll be baking here.  And since our baker is Australian, he only accepts Australian money, and so a volunteer will assist you in exchanging your currency at the going rate, which is means you’ll be getting 72 cents on the dollar worth of bread.  And since the Australian baker uses a metric scale, who really knows how much bread you’ll get anyway.  The good news is, every time you lose in this new economy, I win.

 

Sounds delightful, no?  Welcome to the Temple in 30 A.D.  That scenario is enough to make anyone lose it, and if that Temple is owned by your Father, well, that’s a setup for disaster.

 

This week we get a picture of Jesus most of us rarely contemplate.  Our “gentle savior has turned violent.  This Sunday he erupts into unrestrained anger when he sees people vending oxen, sheep, and doves right within the temple, sees money-changers doing business (in His Father’s house.)

 

“Not only is this unlike the Jesus we know, but doesn’t it violate the holy workings of the temple?  These trades-people were selling animals simply because living animals were needed for burnt offerings.  People had to get their sacrifices from somewhere.  And they had to get their money changed, since so many of them came from lands with different currencies.  Sounds quite reasonable doesn’t it?

 

Not to Jesus.  He screams, “You are desecrating my Father’s temple!”  He grabs some cords and yanks them into a knot.  He whips the vendors.  Whips them!  Quite a terrible sight.  And he heaves into an unholy mess on the floor the carefully sorted coins, and then finishes up by hurling the tables into the chaos he has created!

 

“What is going on?

 

“Some external reasons for his vehemence are evident.  Vendors were allowed only in the courtyard of the temple, not inside where they now had positioned themselves.  And the dishonest practices of outdoor market-places had stolen their way into the temple.  The thumb on the scale, the inflated prices, all of that.”[1]

 

Jesus also knew the internal reasons – He knew the hearts of those vendors, those money changers, and worst of all, He knew the hearts of the temple priests who allowed and even encouraged these things.  Jesus knew that those who had been entrusted to know the loving heart of God and to spread that love to His people had turned, turned to outright criminality.  It was too much for Jesus to take.

 

There is an old medieval saying: Omnis Christi actio nostra est instruction: every act of Christ is a teaching for us.  What is it that we are supposed to learn from Jesus today?

 

I’ll tell you what I’ve learned.  I’ve learned that I bridle at limits.  Especially moral limits, I think we all do, that our society does.  “Our talk complains of guilt trips and warns us against the tyranny of shoulds.  But, as is often the case, we caution ourselves against the sins we are least likely to commit.  Our problem is not that we are a guilt-ridden and scrupulous people.  We are not self-denying ascetics.  We are not crimped by moral confinement.  It’s usually just the opposite.”

 

We resist limits.  We bristle at anything that might hold us responsible or duty-bound.  This not only means trouble for those around us, it also means trouble for God.  “People who delude themselves into thinking they have no limits soon start thinking they are gods themselves.”[2]

 

Jesus teaches us today that if we live as if we have no limits, God will eventually take some cords and show us exactly where those limits lie.  Thankfully, this is the same God whose property it is to always have mercy, even if that mercy seems at times to be appallingly strange, like a whip in a temple, or the one righteous man laying down His life for His friends.

 

Sometimes I don’t know which of my sins are worthy of a whip, but sometimes I do.  This Lent is a good time to consider which sins of ours are indeed whip-worthy, to ask God for the wisdom to know where our limits lie, and to thank Him for the grace and mercy to live within them.

 

[1] Fr. John J. Foley, SJ: http://liturgy.slu.edu/3LentB030418/reflections_foley.html

[2] John Kavanaugh, SJ: http://liturgy.slu.edu/3LentB030418/theword_kavanaugh.html

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Lent 2

One of the great things about being married to an artist is that I now have someone to explain everything to me in museums.  My father could always tell me the history behind an awful lot of art and architecture, but Doan can tell me why a certain piece is masterful, decent, or really not very good at all.  Doan had a tough time with me in the Rodin Museum in Philly – I liked the building more than the sculptures it contained.  Everyone knows Rodin because of the Thinker, which is certainly iconic, and if you want to know what the rest of his work looks like, just think of the Thinker in any number of different poses.  At least that’s my impression, hence Doan having a tough time with me.  Anyway, last year was the 100th anniversary of Rodin’s death; Rodin was a complicated guy who lived in complicated times, and he did some interesting things.  He was a faithful Catholic, he even tried to join a Catholic order, the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament, but they found him more suitable for sculpture.  Anyway, his faith never waned, and one day “found an enormous, carefully carved wooden crucifix beside a road.  Rodin bought that cross he so admired and had it carted to his home.  But when it arrived he found that the cross was too big to fit inside his house.  So what did he do?  He knocked down the walls, raised the roof, and rebuilt his home around that cross.”[1]

 

Rodin made the cross the literal center of his home, a constant reminder that everything in life is somehow built around that cross.  And yet, the cross is a challenging symbol, to say the least; it would seem that if you wanted to live a happy and peaceable life, you wouldn’t build that life around an instrument of torture, shame, and death.

 

But Jesus being Jesus, He makes us contend with that device and everything it symbolizes; He commands us to actually carry it with us.  “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”

 

“As Steve Garnaas-Holmes has said, “the cross in Jesus’ day was not a logo or a metaphor…The cross was an instrument of pain, shame, absolute loss and death. It was a real weapon: the only way to, ‘take it up,’ was to become its real victim.”[2]

 

As an aside, this passage from Mark’s Gospel is one of the reasons I love the Bible so much – it’s one of the things that makes the Faith so attractive to me.  The writers of the books of the Bible seemingly whitewashed nothing.  Outside of Jesus, every character in the Bible, even the heroes, the one’s considered righteous, were screwed up people: Noah, Abraham, Samson, David especially, Solomon, all the disciples, they all had massive flaws, they bumbled through life like the rest of us.  Then we finally get to Jesus, perfect in every way, and what does He do?  Knowing what’s coming, He embraces the most hideous torture machine ever and tells us that if we want anything to do with Him, we have to do the same.  No one can say Christianity is either wimpy or boring.

 

Anyway, despite death on a cross being a real possibility for Mark and for the early Christians he was writing for, and despite Peter, Andrew, Philip, Thaddeus, and Simon actually going on to be crucified, crucifixion is no longer a real threat for the average Christian.  So what do we do with this cross thing?

 

Well, the first thing we need to think about is what Jesus did with that cross.  As one of my favorite Lenten collects says, Jesus made an instrument of shameful death to be for us the means of life; Jesus took all of human sin and brokenness with Him on His cross, and therefore made that cross to mean the exact opposite of what sinful humanity meant for it to mean.

 

The cross, then, has become the “place of our ultimate transformation…a place to hang our arrogance, our rage, our bitterness, our prejudice, our greed –and then let them die, so that something more eternally good and grace-filled and Christ-like” can be raised up in us.[3]

 

“If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” Will this Lent be the time in which you take your cross and hang every evil on it, every injustice on it, every hardship and pain on it, and let the cross do its work?”  Will this Lent be the time you build your spiritual home around the cross?[4]

 

[1] The Rev. Dr. Robert Baggott: http://day1.org/6454-cross_purposes

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

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Epiphany 5

You’re probably not unsure of what I’ll be doing at 6pm tonight.  I’m Giants fan and I watched our season slip away in horror, and I’ll never become a card-carrying Eagles fan, but if you can’t get behind Chris Long and Carson Wentz and company, you need to get your pulse checked.  We saw a meme on Facebook this week that featured a Methodist church sign; the gist of it was that the Bible mentioned “eagles” 33 times and ‘patriots’ 0 times, and so at 6pm tonight I’ll sit down with a bag of chips and my Lipton Onion Dip and say a little prayer for the team featured in the Bible itself.

But it’s not 6pm yet, and there’s no better place to be than right here.  Jesus is in this place, and so here there is found grace and joy and healing.   St. Mark, he was a master of setting a place in his narrative, of making sure we knew when and where things were happening.

In today’s story, Mark tells us that we are in Capernaum at the Peter’s home.  Lot’s of stuff happened in Capernaum, despite it not being a particularly important place.  Capernaum was a fishing village of about 1500 people, but it’s also the place where Jesus healed the servant of a Centurion who sought Jesus’ help, and the place where the friends of a paralyzed man lowered him through a roof so that Jesus might heal him.

Today we’re in Peter’s home in Capernaum, which was fairly impressive, all things considered – he must have done pretty well for himself.  You know those houses that have a mother-in-law suite?  Remember when that was a big deal in real estate?  Well, Peter had a mother-in-law suite, which was fancy-shmancy back in the day.

As it turns out, Peter’s mother-in-law was sick.  We don’t know what kind of illness she had, we don’t even know here name, but we know she was not at all well.  While she must have known that her son-in-law Peter had ditched the family business to follow an itinerant preacher around, because of her illness she also managed to miss last week’s episode of that same preacher casting out a demon at her local synagogue.  Now, it would take a very nice mother-in-law to accept her son-in-law giving up the family’s only means of support, and so we would have to forgive her if she wasn’t real pleased by the whole thing.  And then here she is, sick as a dog, and her son-in-law brings Him home with him along with all their new friends, and this is a set up for a disaster.

But then Jesus, that itinerant preacher, not with a word but a gesture—“he grasped her hand, and helped her up”—Jesus restores the good woman.  Her response to the healing: she begins to serve them, presumably fixing a meal for the four of them.  It is another of Mark’s cameos of Christian life: a person in trouble is rescued through encounter with the Lord and proceeds to serve others.  The single word Mark uses to describe her action, diekonei (“she waited on them”), resonates with the primary Church word for service, diakonia.”[1]  She shows a simple act of hospitality.

You may have noticed that the word diakonia sounds an awful lot like the word deacon, one of the ordained orders of our church.  Our own Vasu is discerning a call to the diaconate, a call to be one who serves, to be one who makes sure that the practical needs of the Kingdom of God are met.  I am sure that we will support her even as she supports the ministries of our church.

I think, though, that all of us are in some way called to be like Peter’s mother-in-law.  Think about it: she was healed, made whole; she had an encounter with Jesus and was completely changed, and her response was to get up and serve Christ and serve others.

I can’t think of a better example for us!  We have all had an encounter with Jesus, and our response is first to come here and praise Him for all He has done for us, and second to do as Peter’s mother-in-law, to serve Him and serve others in His Name.

Just as St. Mark set this story in a time and a place, our stories have converged in this time and this place.  What has Jesus healed in you lately, and what are you doing to serve Him?

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Epiphany 4

This past Tuesday was the feast of Phillips Brooks, one of the great churchman of the 19th century.  Brooks is best known today as the author of “O Little Town of Bethlehem.”  Former generations, however, accounted him the greatest American preacher of the nineteenth century (and not for lack of other candidates). His sermons are still read.  He’s also famous for building Trinity Copley Square, Boston, which is ranked as an architectural masterpiece, and which I think is kinda okay.  Trinity Copley Square was completed around the same time our building was, but it cost them $635,000 to build, as opposed to the $16,000 it cost us (theirs is bigger).  Anyway, Phillips Brooks was widely recognized (no pun intended), as he was 6’4” and around 400 pounds.  Most people are amazed at the sheer size of the pulpit at Trinity, it really is just huge, but in the end, they just had to build something that would hold Brooks.

Brooks had presence, weight, gravitas.  Like E.F. Hutton, when he spoke, people listened.  We don’t know how Jesus sounded when He spoke, if He had a commanding voice or an arresting presence or a dynamic delivery, but we do know that He spoke as if He had authority.  That authority attracted both followers and some unwanted attention.

Today’s “dramatic healing of the demoniac in the Capernaum synagogue is the first action that Mark narrates after the calling of the first disciples.  Each evangelist chooses a different deed of Jesus with which to begin the story of his public life—Matthew begins with the Sermon on the Mount, Luke with the reading of Isaiah in Nazareth, and here we see Mark beginning the story of Jesus’ public activity with this deliverance of a man possessed by an unclean spirit.  And his presentation of the event is nearly as startling and puzzling as the original experience must have been for those present that evening in the synagogue.  A word of command is followed by convulsion and a scream, resulting in complete liberation.  Curiously, the crowd murmurs, “What is this?  A new teaching with authority!”  (They have just witnessed a powerful example of spiritual delivery, and they call it a teaching.)  What’s more, though they refer to teaching, the account has mentioned not a word of Jesus’ teaching.”[1]

Mark’s telling of this story raises some questions, right?  We can’t possibly think that no one in the synagogue that day saw a demon be tossed out right in front of them and didn’t say, “Whoa, where did that demon go?”  I’m guessing that Mark just figured we’d assume that, and used his very few words to direct us somewhere else.

I’m thinking that Mark wants us to see the “dramatic healing of the demoniac by an authoritative word (as) a demonstration of God’s reign in their midst.  And the people (there) recognize it as such.  This rescue from evil power is indeed new teaching, sustained by an authority that enacts what it claims: God’s kingly power is at hand to rescue… This powerful episode puts in bold relief the truth that the gospel we respond to in faith is not simply a new set of ideas but a truth that is meant to transform our lives.”[2]

That’s why we’re here, right, for our lives to be transformed?  Or perhaps your life has been transformed, and this is the only place to be after such a thing.  Today is our Parish Annual Meeting, at which I hope to see you (shameless plug); it’s another opportunity to witness to the transforming power of Jesus in our lives and in the life of the community.  Bishop Stokes speaks often of evaluating parishes not on their size but on the impact they have, both inside and out; the lives touched, made better, transformed because they’ve been shown the gospel of God, the love of Jesus.

I think if Bishop Stokes were to come and take a look at our impact, he’d like what he would find.  He’d find that we are being taught by Christ, that we learn not only from what we hear in Scripture and in the liturgy, but by what we see in the authority, the power of Christ, that we see here, and in Christ’s work that we are so blessed to participate in.

Come share with us how you have been transformed, hear about our celebrations and challenges, and let’s figure out together how we can join with Jesus in transforming the world.

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