Posts Tagged ‘Gospel of Mark’


Isolation. In what some dub, the before times, there would need to be a share of the statistical evidence to understand the disconnection that exists between neighbours in our highly cyber connected world. As we emerge from the restrictions in Alberta, and lockdowns almost in some areas of Canada, the known truth of isolation and that it can be complex simplicity that can solve it. Why complex simplicity? For isolation is disrupted by connection, but connection means letting others in, which comes at a risk but it is that risk of invitation inwards that the writer of the Gospel of Mark would pinpoint as the Kingdom being near. Vital relationships, a relational hub where you can meet and be, authentically who you are created to be. This has should be the journey church is on as Christendom gasps its last.

We need to develop and live into a new understanding of being relational hubs, that step beyond resourcing in a community hub, to the connection of people together and what happens there. But where to begin?

Is this possible? Can the church shift away from a command and control power base, to being what the earliest writers and livers of the Way were? An interdependent community? Sharing in common, speaking truth to justice. Acknowledging harm, repairing that harm done. For the key is the love triangle of God-Self-Neighbour, which rests in relationship.

The biggest challenge?

Surrendering the pride of institutions. Realizing that in the transfiguration, the brand/denomination on the building does not matter, rather it is the people and how they live out of the love of the Holy Mystery to be their truly created and called authentic selves for the betterment of the community.

Can we radically open ourselves up to do life together?

Some viewing to grow our understanding:

Archbishop Desmont Tutu on UBI

A brief video overview of The Presbyterian Church in Canada’s role in colonization and residential schools is now available to watch at https://presbyterian.ca/…/20/video-residential-schools-pcc

This video presentation is intended as an educational tool to help people understand the ways in which racism and colonial attitudes shaped the church’s mission, with devastating consequences. (Image and text from Social Media Post, please note there are questions for group and/or self reflection while viewing the 30 minute video).

This coming Friday out of Costa Rica TEC Seminars:

This Friday July 23 at 6pm (Costa Rica / Mountain) MIT professor Dr. Jeff Hoffman will join us for a webinar about the MOXIE experiment. MOXIE will demonstrate a way that future explorers might produce oxygen from the Martian atmosphere for propellant and for breathing.

Dr. Hoffman is a veteran of 5 Space Shuttle missions and logged more than 1,211 hours and 21.5 million miles in space.

The link to register is below.
https://bit.ly/LAT-Moxie— with Daniel Francisco Pérez Murillo and Andrea Jimenez Fernandez.


This Sunday I was invited to preach at Knox Presbyterian Church in Calgary on Mark 6:1-7 (New Revised Standard Version):

He left that place and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. On the sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astounded. They said, “Where did this man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been given to him? What deeds of power are being done by his hands! Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary[a] and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense[b] 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.” And he could do no deed of power there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them. And he was amazed at their unbelief.

Then he went about among the villages teaching. He called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits.

Here is the service:

Here is the link

The Speaking Notes:

Thank you to Mark and the Session for inviting me to speak today as we continue our journey through the Gospel of Mark.

Ever been judged by your backstory? Your family connections? Where you are from? Had unfair assumptions made about you based on how you talk or dress? Ever let those effect who you are in your day-to-day life? Perhaps in what the Dalai Lama dubbed Job, Career or Calling, or in church-speak vocation, y’know what you do to pay the bills, but also what you do because of your passion and who you are? Ever notice how other’s thought patterns or beliefs about who you are, in certain environments can shape your internal monologue? Or even your ability to do what you know you can do?

This is where today’s passage is taking us in the Gospel of Mark. For it can be seen as a moment in time for Jesus, much like we encounter in our own lives. It is one of the gospel moments, I love to take time in community to say, let’s be Jesus in this moment and ponder what we hear from the chorus of neighbours…or as the catch phrase goes, who’s renting space in your mind and heart? We’ll take some time with the passage, and then some time on what we can tease out for our own soul care and soul work.

Read Mark 6:1-7:

He left that place and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. 2 On the sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astounded. They said, “Where did this man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been given to him? What deeds of power are being done by his hands! 3 Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary[a] and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense[b] at him. 4 Then Jesus said to them, “Prophets are not without honor, except in their hometown, and among their own kin, and in their own house.” 5 And he could do no deed of power there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them. 6 And he was amazed at their unbelief. Then he went about among the villages teaching.  

It is presented as an external dialogue, where you can see the encouragement loop and the passive aggressive discouragement loop. Those in attendance praising the work Jesus has done, the power of his words, and his healings. The healings which are more to reveal the unwelcome of community, and to push the boundaries of inclusion and belonging. Then you get the snipers, those that do not want to see good or hear change and look for that. They look to what is known about Jesus, and what the scandals are. How he can hardly be a holy man for just look at his family. He was a tradesman, so how could he be “wise” or, we know his family-his brothers, and sisters. This can be a familiar refrain used for esteem or disrespect dependent on the family’s reputation. It is also being able to show that this were children that grew up and alluding to any known shenanigans Jesus and his siblings got up to. Let’s be honest here, who growing up regardless of place in time in history has not gotten up to some mischief. These are the reminder phrases. In case that doesn’t work though, the nay sayers decide to pull out the ultimate reminder.

They name him through the matriarchal lineage of his mother, Son of Mary (not Son of Joseph as was the tradition and practice). This was pointing out that his father truly was unknown, and that Joseph decided not to follow the law and have Mary cast out or stoned. That is Joseph decided family had more to do with than simple biology and was about belonging. But that was the simplest part of the story, see, Mary, well, Mary was the powerful piece of the story that scared the neighbours I think. If you spend time exploring the Mary visions throughout history, historians and Marian Theologians agree that Mary appears more than Jesus to both Christians and Non-Christians, simply because she can share the message of hope and love without centuries of horrendous baggage. Even though in this moment those “who took offense” are trying to turn her powerful yes to God into baggage for her child and derail what is being heard about the place where all belong, where labels do not matter, and the Image of God is beloved in its beautiful and blessed many forms. See Mary was the teenager in a patriarchal society, God decided the way society worked was not right, and skipped over talking to her father, or her betrothed as she was seen as less, in the Roman Empire as a non-citizen in short form she was property. God didn’t care, he went directly to Mary and asked her. The power of shaking the foundations of the systemic wrongs of that era began, with a peasant class, Jewish teenage girl, simply taking control of her own story, because her Creator honoured their beloved creation not the system of oppression created by man. In the hearing those offended were hoping to derail, in the story what is affirmed though for those with open hearts, is that all have voice and belong.

Though what we see in the closing verses, is what is called unbelief and creates disruption in the story as what is normative for a Jesus visit is not as impactful. Which can leave the reader thinking this is about level of belief for miracles or healing, though in other instances we have seen this not to be the case.  Ponder with me for a moment, could this be a story we enter learn through Jesus’ eyes. In this moment and time, where perhaps, he is feeling a bit of the imposter syndrome while, what may have been happening is that the trip had the same results as others, though the re-introduction of the negative monologue of his childhood had let him and perhaps, those around him, to see the outcome differently.

Have you ever had someone thank you for something and you schluff it off as nothing, or perhaps congratulate you on an achievement and you offer up x,y, or z rationales as to why it wasn’t a big deal? Perhaps offering opportunities the seeking more information loop starts, so your reticence holds you back, or simply the “I’m not good enough” or …. I am sure we all have different voices or impulses or feelings, much like was displayed in this short passage that hold us back or create a filter to experiences so we cannot truly experience and know the wonder we are a part of.

For those who watch RuPaul’s Drag Race, he will talk to the queens in short one to one time and call these tracks the saboteur. It is a life coaching tool; I prefer the term gremlins. It creates such a vivid imagery. There are two things that usually spring to mind, one is the World War II idea of a gremlin which is a mischievous imp that is causing an undiagnosable mechanical failure. See the connection with the offended and the soundtrack being laid down? The other is obviously the campy horror movies of the 1980’s Gremlins, which saw things go awry for the mild mogwai if they get wet or fed after midnight, they turn into horrific monsters of terror. Both works, when our underlying mild gremlin is fed a bit, it can create a space of flight, fight or freeze.

As I contemplated the passage of Jesus’ rejection in his hometown, what the commentators and scholars said, and my own background this is where I saw the connections in the why does this matter to us now. Jesus showed what happens when we leave our gremlins alone, we can still do life, but as the last two verses showed it’s more of a “meh” life. Yet, we also noted high tension in Jesus’ community, and is it also possible that the gremlins and “meh” life moment, kept him and his family safe.  And this brings us into the soul work as we have journeyed through Jesus’ eyes, I now ask for a bit of trust to do some care for ourselves.

If you are able grab a piece of paper and a pen or pencil or simply, come back to this talk when you are ready for this practice.

Take a moment to sit up a bit straighter, centre yourself, however you are comfortable, with some deep diaphragmic breaths.

Now as we come out, take a moment to think of what your internal dialogue, feelings or intuitions are, with your pen and paper- draw your gremlin. Give them form. Take time with comic speech bubbles and add the phrases around or feelings that the gremlin uses.

Is the picture of your gremlin clearer?

You know what’s missing? A name. Take a moment and name your gremlin.

In this process, we are praying and acting. We are taking back our story. It is very hard to do any soul work in a nebulous vacuum. Once named however we can truly work with the gremlin.  Say hi to your gremlin using its name. You are meeting truly for the first time. See everything the gremlin has been a part of.

Do you like the gremlin in your life? Do you want the gremlin out of your life?

This is a key question. Just as Jesus pointed out a prophet in their hometown, it is because the gremlin can be the loudest in the most familiar of places because it can be fed after midnight if you will. Are we going to stop feeding it? If you are ready to get rid of the gremlin, the first step is thanking the gremlin. Why? First, it disarms the power, but also it acknowledges that the gremlin has been a part of your journey for a time, and in that time has done what it thought was best.

Once thanked, now it is time. If you are ready, then say goodbye to your gremlin by name. Once you have said goodbye, then destroy the image, simply ripping it up and putting in the compost or recycle bin, or if safe and you have a tin for outside burning is always good for a freedom ritual. I mean Jesus showed an end of the gremlin as he stepped out of the story and began teaching again the neighbouring towns. His own freedom ritual, with the next story being about sending out his disciples two by two.

I do want to take a moment to caution though, this is one moment in time when we are freeing ourselves from a gremlin. After this moment, they have less power. They may return, but now you are familiar with them. You know their words and tactics. By doing that, you can call them by name, and show them the exit sign.

If you chose not to say goodbye to your gremlin today. That is also fine, we have had a long relationship with them. Talk with someone who you trust, set up a time to revisit the gremlin and your decision. These simple things of follow up coffees or teas can aid in the process. For we are interdependent, we need community. If you chose to say goodbye today, take time to touch base with a good friend to celebrate.

For that is the simple nuance, Jesus heard his gremlins internally and externally in this story. Yet he lived into who he was and moved through their voices to continue with his life and teachings. May we continue to be who we are lovingly created to be as well.

Thank you for entering into the story, and the soul work.

Amen.

For the curious, here is what is happening within Knox Community via the June 2021 Knox’s Binding Threads Newsletter:

Benediction:

The ancient Hebrew story in Genesis reminds us it is not good to be alone. We are created for community, belonging. Created by the spirit, loving one another, as Jesus reminded us to love ourselves, and called very blessed and very good by the loving Creator. Let us go outwards living that love and creating that belonging in our world. Amen.


No photo description available.

From DC Comics Facebook Page Captain Carrot

Ah the joy of Easter, my children even in their tweens and teens waking up to see what the Easter Bunny has left. Many decry us for “commercializing” Easter, but really it is the joy of the new, the love of discovery and mystery, and as my Mum always said, as long as you believe they will come (whether it was Santa or the Easter Bunny), and much like the early church, our family functioned and had its soul because of our Matriarchs.

We are entering into the unknown, we are living the unknown, as I have been sharing during this Holy Week. Our current times of social distancing, the anxieties, and fears some or all of us may be feeling at different moments is exactly how the friends of Brother Jesus were feeling up until the morning. The morning the women would go to show their love for their friend, son, (possibly) husband, and teacher. The one who showed them the way of radical love in shattering the principalities, the oppressors, those that put land and money ahead of people. They believed, they lived, the finally belonged affirmed in being a full person.

Saturday evening, when the Sabbath ended, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome went out and purchased burial spices so they could anoint Jesus’ body. 2 Very early on Sunday morning,[a] just at sunrise, they went to the tomb. 3 On the way they were asking each other, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” 4 But as they arrived, they looked up and saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled aside.

-Gospel of Mark 16:1-4 (New Living Translation)

No photo description available.Then they were crushed by defeat. Are you hearing or seeing parallels in your own journey of life? Belonging? Love wins? Shattering glass ceilings? Affirming human rights? Decolonizing your country, and your own soul? Renewing, rebuilding, reconnecting, resurrecting a new and healthy self and community?

For all this was rolled into the women heading to the tomb. They were honouring the loss, grieving. Thinking that they had been defeated, was it all for nought? The same question can echo through our whole being during times of dissonance, times of disconnect, times when we feel defeated, those 1 step forward 2 steps back time…yet…

When they entered the tomb, they saw a young man clothed in a white robe sitting on the right side. The women were shocked, 6 but the angel said, “Don’t be alarmed. You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth,[b] who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead! Look, this is where they laid his body. 7 Now go and tell his disciples, including Peter, that Jesus is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there, just as he told you before he died.”
8 The women fled from the tomb, trembling and bewildered, and they said nothing to anyone because they were too frightened

-Gospel of Mark 16:5-8 (New Living Translation)

See the source imageThe Universe, the Infinite Holy Mystery that all is in, and is in all, shook the status quo even furtherr than Brother Jesus. For they said… NO! To his death. NO! to the oppressors winning! NO! to the normalcy that society allows and builds rationales around for why all are not equal, all are not taken care of, all are not valued.

Easter Sunday, the Empty Tomb is the beloved Creator shaking the world and whole universe, all of creation with their:

NO!

And fear is a response in the grief cycle. It shook the women to realize that they had prepared themselves to mourn, to honour, and what were they handed?

LOVE WINS!

We are walking towards the empty tomb during this pandemic, we are expecting and desiring a return to the old status quo when we emerge. Just leave this time in the tomb. Same as the Empire and their apologists desired when they killed Jesus of Nazareth. And the resounding answer that this story would end, was simply, No.

Then they briefly reported all this to Peter and his companions. Afterward Jesus himself sent them out from east to west with the sacred and unfailing message of salvation that gives eternal life. Amen 

-Gospel of Mark 16:8 (New Living Translation, shorter ending)

They moved through the fear stage, and continue co-creating a new way of life. One that included everyone, brought everyone along, where resources were shared equitably, and when a need was heard of, it was filled. Where purpose and belonging were not tied to monetary means or whether or not one was a “citizen” of the Empire. More so, it was tied to one’s own inherent worth, gifts and talents being shared.

You belong because you are.

Let that settle in, as this morning Pope Francis used Easter Sunday to launch a new resurrection in the world, a clarion call that echoes these sentiments– #popeforubi. UBI is Universal Basic Income, yes my Trekkie brethren, we are one step closer to the Utopia of Star Trek.

To recap, for the simplicity of message as we find in the writings of John-Mark (in the Gospel of Mark), whose family owned the Upper Room, discipled by Peter and Paul, who recorded the stories of Peter for his gospel as tradition told us, written for an Empire audience of the Romans, yet simply what are we seeking today? My reflection Facebook after Resurrection Sunday service online:

Almost 2,000 years ago (just shy 12 yrs give or take) the empty tomb gave the friends a choice to radically continue the journey of love to transform their world. To throw of the chains of Empire, persecution, colonization, dehumanization cloaked and hidden in the name of God…the message was clear, whether they believed with word, seeing, or touching, Brother Jesus was alive, and the command of the whole heart was clear, love as he loved (and loves) us.
Will you be a part of the resurrection, co-creating the world today, and forward from this time in the tomb to the new resurrection day? Will you live out love? Allow for authentic belonging because we all have value for simply being?
Will you step out of fear into hope? And love as if each moment of each day is Easter Sunday?

 

 

 


In the opening of the Gospel of Mark, Jesus declares the Kingdom of God is near. For many, this has become an existentialist end time argument. It points to awaiting a final battle, an anti-Christ, and finally God interceding into the history of humanity to craft a Utopia. Truly perpetuating the stereotype of so heavenly minded, no earthly good. It is definitely a sin to follow that, as in the word sin meaning missing the mark (ah gotta love intended puns).

See Jesus was rooted in the stories of the Hebrew Bible (what some call the Old Testament). He understood what was meant to be, and whose responsibility it was to bring it into being. What was meant to be was a truly just society, the Kingdom, and whose responsibility? Humanity.

This is a lens that one does not need to take back when exploring the Prophets of the Hebrew Bible. It is the heart they brought to their teaching to the Nation that was either in exile or on the precipice of exile (i.e. trying to right the ship so it did not happen). It is part of the collapse of myself into a need for recovery with the PNES-PTSD. Personally I did well in the helping ministry. A physical symptom of stress, TIA, broke down my mental resolve, and then, the interior castle shattered like Corelle plate unleashing the pain of the past not as a dripping fawcett, but rather a comic book alien invasion splash page. My body converted the pain to seizures to try and stop it…it did not work. It needed help to get back on track, and continue the healing journey.

The intervention for me was the public health care system in Calgary, AB. After fighting through stereotypes, and having a former student advocate the ball truly started rolling on getting the help needed. That feeling of exasperation as I continued going back, I wonder if it is what Isaiah felt, continually coming back to the people, who kept missing the point. Isaiah is classed as a major prophet, this is due to scroll size, nothing more (sorry the Brit in me couldn’t resist a good scroll joke):

“Rejoice with Jerusalem!
    Be glad with her, all you who love her
    and all you who mourn for her.
11 Drink deeply of her glory
    even as an infant drinks at its mother’s comforting breasts.”

12 This is what the Lord says:
“I will give Jerusalem a river of peace and prosperity.
    The wealth of the nations will flow to her.
Her children will be nursed at her breasts,
    carried in her arms, and held on her lap.
13 I will comfort you there in Jerusalem
    as a mother comforts her child.”

14 When you see these things, your heart will rejoice.
    You will flourish like the grass!
Everyone will see the Lord’s hand of blessing on his servants—
    and his anger against his enemies.

-Isaiah 66:10-14 (New Living Translation)

The prophet lays it out. The Kingdom is a here and now thing. A place where all are fed. All belong. All are cared for.All have a home.

Why?

Because we share in one image. One Love.

Imageo Dei.

Unlike lately in Alberta with recent bills rolling back workers rights, LGBTTQ2+ student safety, food programs for kids in need, and supports for children with disabilities…with this talk of Kingdom (those politicians that profess Christ pay heed) HAS NO QUALIFIERS.

It is simply being, and living, Holy Love.

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coverWhat happens when the helper needs help? For over 20 years Ty Ragan served his neighbour from the rough camps to the shelters to home and every where’s in-between. The simple life lesson of Jesus of Nazareth to love your neighbour as yourself was the centre question to be answered in his life. In May 2016 his life would begin to change drastically through unknown seizures and strokes. Enter into the ripples that brought him to 2016, the transformational power of love of family and friends as he seeks new ripples in hope for his soul.

Buy from Amazon.


Find something, if it’s not important, make it important.

-Dr. Dix (Jesse Stone Series)

So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.

-Gospel of Mark 16:8 (New Revised Standard Version)

Soul Ripples

The winding road of healing from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder/Psychogenic Non-Epileptic Seizures/Conversion Disorder. Quite a mouthful I know. Quite a journey in this life, and the reboot has stalled at 55%, though that is much better than it has been for almost two years, which is great. It is the journey of seeking meaning, even if it does not have meaning, making it have meaning. It is the journey out of the tomb with the discovery it is empty, and what one is to do with it. Writing one’s own Gospel, own labyrinth journey.

Soul Ripples

That is the journey I am on. The winding road of renewed discovery. Reading, finding my way. Jules Schwartz in his two books had a Tulpa of Superman aid him in his healing journey. In Wonder Woman and Psychology one of the contributors makes the point that it becomes easier to heal from Trauma if the one on the journey has seen a hero move through it. Wonder Woman being the Tulpa there. Doctor Who Psychology: A Mad Man with a Box illustrates the journey of suppression, repression, deflection, and internalization of PTSD from the War Doctor to the 9th Doctor to the 10th Doctor and finally to the 11th. Showing it is possible, but it comes down to journeying with those you trust in facing that which is hidden in the bowels of your own psyche, hidden deeper than a Gremlin or a Shadow, but which effects your physiology more than either ever would.

Soul Ripples

Star Trek and Star Wars’ own take on psychology illustrate discovery of true self. Of embracing who you are meant to be. In this journey as well the latest issue of Philosophy Now tackles Free Will, and ponders the decline of the philosophy as an academic pursuit. Where in the west it is rolled to often into the sciences, religious studies, business or political science. It tries to make a humanity a hard science, and as such destroys that which is the beauty of it.

Philosophy is about understanding the why. It is unpacking, and is meant to be outside of academia as well as inside academia. Its pursuits should be literary, but also pop fiction, sci-fi. Much like the social sciences need to veer away from desiring to be hard science, and re-embrace that which they are explaining the why of life. Together it creates interdisciplinary beauty.

Soul Ripples

In my own journey, not so much a specialist, but a generalist. In a bygone era would have been called a renaissance person. Now it is looking into theology, psychology, sociology, anthropology, philosophy,  story telling, politics, history, and present day life. Looking for meaning, and renewing meaning.

Soul Ripples

Do not talk about sex, politics or religion at the dinner table. What a boring dinner table that would be. Discovering that which needs to be given meaning to move forward. Holding to the heroic stories that have shaped you. Sharing the stories of Star Trek, Super Heroes, Robin Hood, Mental Health, Family life, Religious life, political life, spies, and oh so much other laughter and tears.

Soul Ripples

A simple memoir, by a simple monk, seeking to understand his family and mental health.

 


By Benny Leung

The resurrection is the cornerstone of the Christian faith and I trust many of us are familiar with the Easter narratives.  The resurrection, as many of us know it, is a happy ending to the grander gospel story – the crucified Lord is risen, He appears to his followers, commissions the disciples to a world-wide mission and ascends to heaven.  Indeed, this is exactly Luke’s narrative on the resurrection story.  The reality, however, is that the resurrection stories are quite diverse across the four gospels.  For example, Matthew reports the resurrection, reappearance as well as the great commission but makes no mention of the ascension of Jesus.  John’s narrative is shorter still as he only narrates the resurrection and reappearance.  In today’s message, I will focus on Mark’s account of the resurrection story.  As usual, I will begin with an analysis of the passage and then proceed on to the hermeneutics.

It is consensus among modern biblical scholarship that the Gospel of Mark ends at 16:8.  After all, the most reliable early manuscripts all conclude with 16:8 and do not contain verses 9 through 20.  Unlike John, Matthew and Luke, the ending of Mark is perplexing and suspenseful.  For example, the women were told to deliver the news of resurrection to the disciples but fled the tomb instead, because they were afraid.  There is no joy, no reappearance, no great commission, no ascension.  Perhaps this is why the later scribes, out of good intention, added verses 9-20 to ‘complete’ the story as the early church tradition knows it.  Today I will not argue whether these additional verses should be part of New Testament scripture.  Rather, I want to focus on the perplexing and suspenseful ending that is dictated in 16:1-8.

The three women, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome, have witnessed the crucifixion.  In particular, according to 15:47, the two Marys also witnessed the burial of Jesus.  According to verse 1, the women prepared spices to anoint Jesus’ body likely because the burial took place in a hurry and there was not enough time to prepare the body properly.  From the perspective of the readers of Mark, another woman had anointed Jesus in Bethany not too long ago (14:3-9).  The actions of the three women in chapter 16 resonate with the narrative in chapter 14; together, the two accounts frame a story of victory.  Particularly the former account foreshadows the death of Jesus, while the latter account is a denunciation of the power of death over Jesus.  That is, the anointing of the body did not take place because Jesus has risen.

The three women expected to see the body of Jesus as they had the intention of anointing the body.  The question “who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?” is a legitimate question.  After all, Mark wrote that the stone “was very large” and it would have been beyond the ability of the women to move the stone.  What follows is a surprise to the women.  Not only was the stone rolled away, but they saw a young man dressed in a white robe.  Present day readers, given the knowledge of the other Gospels, would be inclined to conclude the young man as a heavenly being.  However, the fact that the women were “alarmed” would also allude to a similar notion.  The Greek word for “alarmed” is also means “terrified/fearful/astonished”, which is a typical human reaction in supernatural encounters.  The idea that the young man is a heavenly being has significant implications – a message has been delivered from heaven and now humans must proclaim this message.

What follows is the resurrection announcement (16:6 NIV):

 

“Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified.  He has risen!  He is not here.  See the place where they laid him.

 

Jesus the Nazarene and the crucified one are inseparable.  Jesus the Nazarene is the dear Rabbi who the women had travelled from Galilee to Jerusalem.  Jesus the crucified one is the one whom the women witnessed suffering on the cross.  It is this Jesus who is not found in the tomb because He has risen.

 

The Greek word for “risen” in this verse is a third person passive verb.  In fact, a better translation of verse 6 is found in the NRSV where it is translated as “He has been raised”.  The implication of the third person passive verb would suggest that the resurrection itself is not caused by Jesus himself but God.  The fact that God raised Jesus resonates with the cry of “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me” (15:34) – God had never forsaken Jesus!  Rather, the resurrection is a judgement on those who mocked Jesus before the cross.  More importantly, God made Jesus a victor over the enemy – the power of sin.

 

After delivering the resurrection message, the young man instructs the women to “tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.”  The empty tomb and the testimony of the women do not serve as sufficient evidence for the resurrection, particularly in a culture where women are deemed lower in class and less credible.  Instead, the key to proving the resurrection is the encounter between the disciples and the resurrected Lord.

 

Furthermore, this set of instructions also alludes to the rehabilitation of the disciples.  The singling out of Peter is likely designed to resonate with the Peter’s denial of the Lord instead of a suggestion that Peter would be a leader in the church.  This mention of Peter, in reference of his denial, ties closely with 14:26-31 where Jesus predicts the scattering of his flock, his resurrection, and the mention that he will go before them to Galilee.  Mark does not describe the disciples seeing Jesus, instead he recounts a promise that this will happen.

 

Finally, Mark concludes his gospel narrative with verse 8 – “Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb.  They said nothing to anyone because they were afraid”.  This ending is perplexing because it is not an ending that we would expect.  The women had intended to anoint a dead body but was greeted by a message of resurrection instead.  Shouldn’t they be filled with joy because Jesus has been risen?  Rather they fled in fear and kept silent of the good news.  At the same time, the ending is suspenseful because, unlike the other Gospel writers, Mark does not venture into Jesus’ reappearance, the great commission, or the ascension, leaving the narrative without closure.

 

While some would challenge Mark as a poor narrator, I would argue that Mark purposely concluded the gospel narrative with an open end.  Bible scholars dated Mark to be written sometime between A.D. 55 and 70.  By this time, the early church has established somewhat of a foothold and the community of faith would have heard the testimonies of the disciples concerning the resurrection.  In other words, the resurrection would have been deemed as fact and not folklore that required objective evidence.  If that is the case, the message of Mark has no incentive to prove that the resurrection is true.  Instead, Mark wishes to challenge the community with this: you have now heard the gospel, what are you going to do with it?

 

I have stated many times that Mark portraits the disciples not as examples but failures and counter-examples.  Yet, the Lord, through the young man in the white robe, assures the invitation to them.  “Go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.” serves as a vivid reminder that the Lord is faithful to such a point where He keeps the covenant even to those who have failed in the most epic way.  Peter said, to the Lord “Even if all fall away, I will not.”  Yet, according to Luke 22:60-62:

 

Peter replied, “Man, I don’t know what you are talking about!”  Just as he was speaking the rooster crowed.  The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter.  Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.”  And he went outside and wept bitterly.

 

It is not tough to imagine what Peter had felt after seeing the soul piercing eyes of Jesus.  The man who vowed loyalty to the Lord ended up betraying the Lord.  Peter is now broken but the Lord, through the invitation to Galilee, seeks to reconcile with Peter.

 

As distant as the resurrection story is to the present-day Christian, the application of the story’s principles is timeless.  “Go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.” is as applicable to us as it did to the disciples.  A common blind spot amongst Christian men and women is the notion that we think we are invincible to temptation.  I, for example, have fallen victim to this blind spot.

 

I graduated from university in 2005 and so I am an old dog now.  Shortly after graduating I was involved with a woman whom I had a physical relationship with.  As a person who had been attending church since a teenager, I have promised the Lord to not do such things, but I have failed to keep my promise.  The relationship lasted a few years and we eventually parted ways.  The bible is right that man and woman become one as they join in an intimate way.  I knew I had hurt her, I knew I had hurt myself and I knew I had failed the Lord.

 

Like Peter, I was in so much shame that I felt unworthy to attend church.  However, the holy spirit convicted me to confess to a few brothers and sisters whom I had trusted.  One of the brothers made extra effort to walk along side with me in through the journey.  He made me promise to read one chapter of the Gospel a day.   Beginning with the Gospel of Mathew, it did not take long for me to get to Mark 16:17.  “Go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.”  The Lord had gone ahead not only to meet Peter but to meet me also.

 

If the physical Galilee is the place where the disciples were called to witness a renewal in discipleship, then Mark 16:7 is the Galilee where I heard Jesus’ call again – a call for repentance, a call for renewal, a call for obedience, a call to follow him once more.  The Lord has come to reconcile with me.  It was like seeing Jesus in a different way; I was able to see him more clearly than before.  But make no mistake, life was not rosy after this.  In fact, some had used this information as a weapon against me, but such is the consequence of my misdeeds and I have no one else to blame but my foolishness.  Yet, the Lord has used my testimony as an encouragement to others who are in a similar predicament, and at the very least, I am no longer living in the bondage of my misdeeds.  Perhaps Mark is right after all, life is not necessarily easy when God decides to turn it upside down.

 

Let me wrap up today’s message with a quote Tim Geddert’s commentary: “Mark ends his Gospel, not by telling the reader what happens in Galilee, but by telling them what must happen in Galilee.  It is not about literal journeys back and forth between Galilee and Jerusalem, but a life of following Jesus.”  The resurrection story is not only about how God defeats the power of sin but also about how holy God has come to reconcile with man.  The invitation to Galilee is open to me as it is to you.  Most of us here have heard and accepted the Gospel but now what?  Now we must go to Galilee, where we will meet Jesus and respond to His call once more!


Image result for palm crosses

Yesterday our neighbours to the South, and many in Canada #Marchforourlives to end gun violence. Watching the feeds it was inspirational, and shattering, and yes I hope these young people carry through on voting in their countries to shake up both the USA and Canada’s false 2 party system and show true change for citizens.

But it got me reflecting even deeper, for today is Palm Sunday. A day that those who dive deeply into the Liberation/Social Gospel/Progressive/Red Letter Christian/Catholic Workers Movement/Franciscan (read those who live in the margins as Brother Jesus called) do not look beyond. It is Holy Week. The week we travel the journey to the betrayal to the cross to the shivering in wait for our own capture and death for raising our voice against the powers to be, and then the resurrection.

1 year apart, on one of the most radical protests in history my kids decided to declare radical love and belonging as taught by Brother Jesus was their way (baptism)…Palm Sunday…the day the Empire and Religious controllers flexed their might, and a rabble of shit disturbers came to town with a different way that sooo scared them and shattered the existing glass ceilings the authorities broke their own laws to try and silence it. What happened? They got their ass kicked (sounds like two little radicals I know- we will belong and win with Love Daddy! or as Lee declared this year to his Nana at the heavenly tea party–Nana I Won!): Brad Paisley’s Shatted Glass ( https://youtu.be/As6wenBaRQI )

-Facebook Post March 25, 2018

 To often the church and the follower want to completely skip the journey. It is why the week if celebrated has been contracted by many, where Palm Sunday becomes Passion Sunday. It missed the point. Jesus, the one that should have not been heard, was heard. Jesus the one that should not have garnered a following, had a following. Jesus, the one that should not have shook the world…shattered it. Over 400 active warrior would be kings/messiahs lined the roads hanging from crosses. The Empire led into Jerusalem by their psychotic, Pontus Pilate with his legions showing the strength of Rome to remind the rabble, those less than human of what fate awaited those that spoke against Caesar.

This stance re-enforced by the Religious Controllers who were the opioid of the people under Caiaphas, who ruled the Sanhedrin at the Herod’s family whim. The Herod family who played all sides of internal Roman wars to always emerge in a favourable light of the people. The family that led a genocide of the first born sons at the rumblings of this labourer being born in a barn to a peasant girl because he might have been of God or as rumours said a rape child blessed by God…but there was something scary being born from this illuminated teenage girl’s powerful yes.

3 years of shaking the foundations. Rattling the ladder of power and beating it into a circle that could be danced wider to include more of those cast aside and cast out, as the matriarchs taught. Included. Affirmed in their personhood. Life made accessible.

The Empire commanding their presence upon their parade of power.

When the first whispers hit.

Brother Jesus was on the other side, entering quietly.

The Empire, Religious controllers, and bureaucrat were offended when those that were told they did not belong. Found Belonging cheering the victory calls of battle, not for Brother Jesus, but because of him they now had a voice in their own life.

A cheer that so rattled the super power, the only way to silence it was to cast aside all that kept the Empire’s peace to ensure that the voice would be silenced… the plot begins… when the voiceless raise their voices.

Sound familiar?

Palm Sunday 2018 Gospel reading, what call to belonging resonates in your heart with these words:

When Jesus and his disciples drew near to Jerusalem,
to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives,
he sent two of his disciples and said to them,
“Go into the village opposite you,
and immediately on entering it,
you will find a colt tethered on which no one has ever sat.
Untie it and bring it here.
If anyone should say to you,
‘Why are you doing this?’ reply,
‘The Master has need of it
and will send it back here at once.'”
So they went off
and found a colt tethered at a gate outside on the street,
and they untied it.
Some of the bystanders said to them,
“What are you doing, untying the colt?”
They answered them just as Jesus had told them to,
and they permitted them to do it.
So they brought the colt to Jesus
and put their cloaks over it.
And he sat on it.
Many people spread their cloaks on the road,
and others spread leafy branches
that they had cut from the fields.
Those preceding him as well as those following kept crying out:
“Hosanna!
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!
Blessed is the kingdom of our father David that is to come!
Hosanna in the highest!”

-Mark 11:1-10


Remorse. Making the best decision one can in the instant whether it was the best of the worst or best of the best. A comic writer once said, the Joker and Lex Luthor are such great villains not because they are villains, but in their own story they are the heroes.

Tonight, was the second last book discussion group on Levi’s Aquarian Gospel. It is a great reinterpretation of the story of Brother Jesus, as many who have worked through previous reflections/spiritual practices that it has brought up. Tonight, it was noted how possible Gnostic texts and/or deutero-canonical Hebrew Bible texts may have fleshed out some teachings and scenes.

Yet we come down to a character that is either completely played as an ubiquitous devil of the disciples, the kind of lecherous thief: Judas Iscariot. Pre-destination belief may lay out that he was meant to betray Jesus known as the Christ for the full glory to unfold. Others could argue free will making a choice based on a bad moral base and this jealousy/feeling of emasculation that led to betrayal?

Or was it the story of a man who was trying to make the messiah-teacher he followed, fit the messiah he was raised to be to over throw the oppressors that treated the peasants as at best play things, as at worst possessions of disbarment.

This was a passage that made us go Hmmm:

Aquarian Gospel:

Chapter 169

Judas is filled with remorse. Hurries to the temple and throws the thirty pieces of silver at the feet of the priests who take it and buy a potter’s field. Judas hangs himself. His body is buried in the potter’s field.

1. Now, Judas who betrayed his Lord, was with the mob; but all the time he thought that Jesus would assert his power and demonstrate the strength of God that he possessed, and strike to earth the fiendish multitudes and free himself;
2. But when he saw his master on the ground and bleeding from a score of wounds, he said,
3. O God, what have I done? I have betrayed the son of God; the curse of God will rest upon my soul.
4. And then he turned and ran with haste until he reached the temple door; he found the priests, who gave to him the thirty silver pieces to betray the Lord, and said,
5. Take back your bribe; it is the cost price of my soul; I have betrayed the son of God.
6. The priests replied, That matters not to us.
7. Then Judas threw the silver on the floor, and, bowed with grief, he went away, and on a ledge beyond the city’s walls he hanged himself and died.
8. In time the fastenings gave way, his body fell into the Hinnon vale and after many days they found it there a shapeless mass.
9. The rulers could not put the price of blood into the treasury, and so they took the thirty silver pieces with which they bought a potter’s field,
10. Where they might bury those who had no rights to lie within their sacred grounds.
11. And there they put the body of the man who sold his Lord.

In the journey of understanding our own depths, take time to pause, and reflect on this passage of Judas, and these from the Canonical Gospels (those within the Christian Testament as set by Constantine, and affirmed again by the Principalities at Reformation): Matthew 26:14-16; 27:1-10; Mark 14; Luke 22; John 13.

The Spiritual Practice:

Begin to understand yourself. Write the story of Judas Iscariot from a first-person narrative. Complete free-fall (this was a style of W.O. Mitchell, it means keep the pen moving on paper, do not let it stop for at least 15 minutes).

Reflect on the story of Judas that emerged through your own reflective heart.

Who is Judas in your gospel?

What new resonates in understanding the journey with Brother Jesus?

 


Translation by Neil Douglas-Klotz in Prayers of the Cosmos

O Birther! Father- Mother of the Cosmos

Focus your light within us – make it useful.

Create your reign of unity now-

through our fiery hearts and willing hands

Help us love beyond our ideals

and sprout acts of compassion for all creatures.

Animate the earth within us: we then

feel the Wisdom underneath supporting all.

Untangle the knots within

so that we can mend our hearts’ simple ties to each other.

Don’t let surface things delude us,

But free us from what holds us back from our true purpose.

Out of you, the astonishing fire,

Returning light and sound to the cosmos.

      Amen.