Archives: 5 Epiphany

Are We Charging People for the Gospel?

We have a fascinating window into the life of early-career Jesus in our gospel lesson today.

This is right at the beginning of the Gospel of Mark, in chapter 1. Jesus has been baptized, called the disciples, healed one other person, and then we arrive in our scene today.

Simon and Andrew take Jesus to their house, presumably to show their other relatives this amazing person they’ve decided to follow.

I can imagine the skepticism of their parents, spouses, and other siblings. “He’s who? And he does what? Heals people? Proclaims the Kingdom of God? And you’re going to follow him? What about your job and your responsibilities?”

Peter and Andrew are totally sold on Jesus, but the rest of their family isn’t. And so it’s not surprising that they want proof of the miraculous works Jesus supposedly can accomplish.

Conveniently, Peter’s mother-in-law is right there, and she is ill.

And Jesus heals her.

The word spreads through the town like wildfire, and by suppertime, as Mark says, “the whole city was gathered around the door.”

Scores of broken and hurting people offer themselves to Jesus in desperate hope of being healed.

And he heals them all.

But it takes a severe toll. Continue reading

Trump: The American Shadow Concretized

Two weeks into the wild ride of having Donald Trump as our president, and a lot of us are worried.

I have talked with friends, family, fellow clergy—people feel helpless and afraid.

The Muslim ban, “alternative facts,” a litany of cabinet appointments of people who have vowed to destroy the very departments they now head, demonizing and threatening the free press—it seems as though all our fears are being confirmed.

And yet I hear from people who voted for Mr. Trump how glad they are to see him fulfilling his campaign promises. We are divided indeed.

Even with all the positive energy generated by the Women’s March and the upcoming Scientists’ March, there is still a thread of fear running through the optimism—will it make any difference?

President Trump with the heft of a Republican government behind him has a lot of very legal power to do a lot of terrible things.

I would say, “May I be proved wrong!”, but thus far the campaign and the administration are chapter and verse the same poisonous rhetoric of exclusion, division, falsehood and fear.

I think we have a deeper problem. Continue reading

Take a Deep Breath of God

What is the best thing you’ve ever done?

What is the moment in your life when everything you ever wanted came together with every ability you have and it just clicked?

For some people it might be the moment of giving birth, or the moment of making or accepting a marriage proposal.

Others might remember an ostensibly smaller moment that ended up having great impact, like helping a stranger who became a best friend, or making an apology and saving a relationship.

In the strange mix of hectic confusion and dull monotony that swirls through our days, we live for those moments when we accidentally step into the center of God’s will.

Today’s gospel holds just such an important moment for the disciples.

Jesus is still very new to them and they’re not sure if they’re witnessing a talented charlatan or a prophet sent from God.

They left their jobs and their homes under the strange power of his invitation, and they have witnessed a demon being driven out of a man in the synagogue.

In what will possibly be their last chance to turn back, they return to Simon Peter’s house because his wife’s mother is ill.

No doubt some of their family members are hoping they will see reason and go back to their fishing boats.

No doubt some of the disciples themselves are thinking, well, this was an interesting week, but it’s time to go back to reality. Continue reading

Salt and Light

Salt and light.

That is what Jesus calls us today, what Jesus calls us to be today, so we want to spend some time exploring what he’s asking of us.

Being called the light of the world is suitably flattering and the symbolism makes immediate sense.

Being called the salt of the earth, well, that one takes some doing to figure out what Jesus might have been talking about.

We notice that Jesus seems to be teaching in this passage about our role in society, how we as Christians impact the larger human family.

He calls us not just salt and light for ourselves, or salt and light of the church, but “salt of the earth” and “the light of the world.”

He’s teaching us that our commitment to discipleship is important for way more than just our own personal spirituality. Continue reading