Our life is an apprenticeship to the truth, that around every circle another can be drawn; that there is no end in nature, but every end is a beginning; that there is always another dawn risen on mid-noon, and under every deep a lower deep opens. - from, Circles, by Ralph Waldo Emerson, in Essays: First Series (1841)
1) Prayer: Take a deep breath and be still for a moment; then pray,
Lord Jesus, please be present with me now as I read your word. In these moments, please encourage me and give me fresh confidence in you and your love. Help me be open to whatever you want to teach me. Help me be ready to respond to you with trust and obedience. Amen.
2) SKIM Mark 6:45-11:11
Yes, SKIM this lengthy stretch of scripture. It isn’t cheating to use the translator-inserted-headings to help you keep track of the overall flow of things.
SKIM it again, and notice the verses shown below, which indicate the geographical itinerary of Jesus’ ministry. Note the maps beneath the listed verses, below.
SKIM these chapters third time, and notice what grabs your attention – what raises a question, what upsets you, comforts you, etc. Read those particular words slowly, silently; pause, see what happens. Read those words again, slowly, out loud; pause, see what happens.
PRAY for whatever these readings have stirred up. You may have something crystal clear that you are able to pray about in a focused way. You may have nothing more than, “Jesus, I don’t know what to make of all this. Nonetheless, help me continue to process what I’ve read, and speak to me as you will.”
Verses marking Jesus travels, Mark 6:45-11:11
He made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. Mark 6:45
When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and moored the boat. Mark 6:53
From there he set out and went away to the region of Tyre.Mark 7:24
Then he returned from the region of Tyre, and went by way of Sidon towards the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. Mark 7:31
He got into the boat with his disciples and went to the district of Dalmanutha.Mark 8:10
They came to Bethsaida.Mark 8:22
Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi;Mark 8:22
Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves.Mark 9:2
They went on from there and passed through Galilee. Mark 9:30
Then they came to Capernaum. Mark 9:33
He left that place and went to the region of Judea and beyond the Jordan. Mark 10:1
As he was setting out on a journey … Mark 10:17
They were on the road, going up to Jerusalem.Mark 10:32 They came to Jericho. As he and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho ...Mark 10:46
When they were approaching Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany, near the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples ... Mark 11:1
Then he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple; and when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve. Mark 11:11
3) For Reflection: there is always another dawn risen on mid-noon, and under every deep a lower deep opens. - Emerson Re-reading, we always find a new book. - C. S. Lewis ________________________ Sometimes I enter Holy Week with some trepidation. Not because I worry that re-entering the Passion Narrative will make further inconvenient demands on me, but because I worry that I will be unmoved by the events around which I have organized my life. So I am relieved when, as happened this morning, I’m spiritually energized by passages I’ve inadvertently been treating like tapped-out mines. I’ve already called your attention to the source of what grabbed me – Jesus was always on the move, never landing anywhere. Jesus wasn’t exaggerating when he said, “The Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” Mark dutifully recounts Jesus’ movements, including details about his destinations, so much so that it’s possible to map out where Jesus went, in sequence. This is true except for Mark 10:17, which reads, He was setting out on a journey. Jesus is off for some unnamed place; Mark doesn’t say where. I wouldn’t have noticed that this is the only place where Mark doesn’t specify where Jesus is heading, were it not for the fact that WE ALL KNOW PERFECTLY WELL WHERE JESUS IS GOING. God bless Mark for throwing in a little dramatic irony (which, according to Mr. Levin in 10th grade English, is when the audience knows what is going on but the actors on the stage do not). (It is taking far to long to write this little ‘reflection,’ because several attempts to articulate why this matters to me have collapsed on themselves. So I’m jumping ahead to my conclusion. See if you can make sense of how I got there.) I am unexpectedly brought into Holy Week a couple of days early. Somehow the Spirit has given me a running start. Instead of stepping into Palm Sunday as if I’m watching a movie I’ve seen 50+ times, I’m leaving the region beyond the Jordan for … who knows where? I’m following Jesus as I have been, and now we are going to the next place, wherever that is. Somehow the Holy Spirit, for a few moments anyway, managed to tilt my perspective so that Mark’s insertion of irony placed me on the stage rather than in the audience. Perhaps being right in the middle of this pandemic, just in the middle of it, the outcome entirely unknown – which is extremely unnerving – is in play. Everything is in flux, but it’s certain that this Holy Week is going to be unlike any we’ve experienced before. I’m not trying to positively spiritualize this frightening chaotic mess we are in. The world is in crisis, it is horrific, and we are not above it. It isn’t happening “over there;” we are assured it is right here. The other shoe is going to drop, but we don’t know when or how close to each of our homes. AND, and the AND is my point, God is doing what God does. God is meeting me, as I hope and pray he is meeting all of us, while we are face with the almost-too-painful-to-bear $%!@!!$ with which creation is plagued. Jesus is God-With-Us, Jesus is for us as we walk with him on his journey, wherever that is … 4) Prayers:
for the Holy Spirit to bring you comfort and assurance in the middle of these days, in the middle of the particular pains of your life and the lives of those you love
for the ability to be fully present in your life and in the world as it is today, and at the same time to be fully present in the transcendent, earthy realities of Holy Week
for yourself and your loved ones
for our church, our community, and our world, particularly in light of the pandemic
Thank God for meeting you, for the opportunity to sit, read, and pray, and pray for an awareness of God's presence through the day
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