sunday february 29 2021

When individuals no longer fit into the slots where we place them, when ideas outgrow the confines of our thinking, when change threatens to force new ways of viewing others or ourselves, two options emerge. One option circles the wagons, raises the walls, and rejects any possibility that change in us or others could be good or even possible. Another option considers that maybe—just maybe—God calls us to be something and someone other than what has always been. Encounter with Jesus posed that choice in Nazareth. Encounter with Jesus poses that choice in your zip code, in the communities where you and others come to be known in ways confining or liberating—or more often, something of both.“Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. Then Jesus said to them, “Prophets are not without honor, except in their hometown, and among their own kin, and in their own house.”—Mark 6:3-4

saturday february 27 2021

[In Gethsemane] Jesus rejects violence as the means to deal with conflict and confrontation. “No more of this!” he cries out after violence is tried. Love of enemies is hard to practice when weapons hold the day. But Jesus bids us here to something deeper than deciding whether to brandish arms in the face of enemies. The challenge is to reconstitute the way we think and speak and react to those with whom we are in conflict. He summons us to be more creative in facing opposition than resorting to character assassination and gossip that fights fire with fire and leaves us all with burns on our hands and spirits. The challenge is to reject policies and practices that promote or ignore violence not only in society but also in our families and neighborhoods.When those who were around him saw what was coming, they asked, “Lord, should we strike with the sword?” Then one of them struck the slave of the high priest and cut off his right ear. But Jesus said, “No more of this!” And he touched his ear and healed him.—Luke 22:49-51

friday february 26 2021

People were bringing little children to him in order that he might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them. But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs.
—Mark 10:13-14

thursday february 25 2021

Even Christ does not get to do whatever he wants. Even Christ defers to the authority of God. The path of faith is not the exercise of personal prerogative. … Jesus challenges the church to have a view and practice of authority that is precisely opposite to the wider culture of that day and our own. “Lording it over” others is not how Christian community functions, no matter how efficiently it seems to work in the corporate world or political backrooms. Power and privilege reside in service. If you want to be first in line, you take care of all the others in line first.James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came forward to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” And he said to them, “What is it you want me to do for you?” And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.”—Mark 10:35-37

wednesday february 24 2021

Faith does not find resolution by putting Jesus’ or God’s back to the wall, and demanding an answer once and for all about whether we’ve all just been kidding ourselves with all this God talk. No, faith for us like faith for the Baptizer comes in having our ultimatums to the Holy turned into searchings for the Holy. Jesus bids us to discern in the sights and sounds of creation, in the experience of community,When John heard in prison what the Messiah was doing, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?” Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them.—Matthew 11:2-5

tuesday february 23 2021

That is the challenge Jesus brings: to view community and kinship in ways that turn long-standing traditions of relationship upside down. It is the challenge to experience community and kinship with those unrelated by blood, with those unrelated by commonalities of political persuasion or gender attractions or economic status. It is the challenge to affirm that community in Christ is founded solely on the grace of our being named by Jesus as brother and sister and mother, and our ensuing call to do the will of God as done by Jesus.And looking at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”—Mark 3:34-35

monday february 22 2021

The Gospels describe a variety of people whose encounters with Jesus result in challenge. In most instances, Jesus challenges those individuals themselves—and through them, us. Jesus encourages them, and us, to conceive of family and community beyond societal norms. Jesus confronts them, and us, to decide for ourselves whether Jesus’ ministries of compassion and justice embody God’s purposes for this world. Jesus calls them, and us, to a discipleship whose core is self-yielding service rather than self-serving privilege.He went up the mountain and called to him those whom he wanted, and they came to him. And he appointed twelve, whom he also named apostles, to be with him, and to be sent out to proclaim the message.—Mark 3:13-14