Last week, I mentioned that Jesus and his disciples have been walking near the Temple, and that Jesus has predicted its destruction. The thirteenth chapter of Mark’s gospel begins like this: “As he came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher, what large stones and what large buildings!” 2 Then Jesus asked him, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down.” (Mark 13:1-2)
This is the final chapter in the year of Mark – all that’s left is the passion story, which we heard at Lent. This is the final ‘regular’ Sunday in the church year – next week is Christ the King, and then Advent begins. It’s no coincidence that we are getting ready to look forward to Jesus’ birth, just as Jesus is telling us to get ready for his coming again. Advent is always a two-fold expectation of Christ’s arrival.
But right now, the disciples have joined Jesus across the valley from the Temple. Continue reading →
Have you ever given your opinion about something, and then said, “That’s just my two cents worth”? It’s a way of letting the person you’re talking to know that this is just your own opinion, and the listener is free to disagree. When we add our “two cents worth” to a discussion, we let people know that, “yeah, this is what I think, but I could be wrong. I’m no expert. Take it for what it’s worth – not much, maybe.”
Do you remember “sound bites”? We don’t hear about them much anymore, maybe because sound bites have been replaced with tweets. Continue reading →
The story of Blind Bartimaeus acts as a bookend in Mark’s gospel. It closes out a long section that began back in chapter eight, when Jesus healed another blind man – only that time, Jesus had to spit twice before the man could see. This whole section has come to its climax here in chapter ten, where we’ve been walking with Jesus this month. The itinerary Jesus and his disciples have been following, as they travel from Galilee to Jerusalem, has been pretty … eventful. Continue reading →
I knew a guy once who worked really hard at appearing humble. In public, he was always putting himself down, always declining praise when he’d done something good. But in private, it was a different story. One time he told me of a particularly generous thing he’d done for someone we both knew. And then he said, “But of course, I don’t want anyone to know it was me. Jesus says to give alms in secret.” And I thought, “but you just told me.” Continue reading →
Have you ever held a garage sale? Somewhere in the process of getting all the items ready for the sale, did you ask yourself “How did I accumulate so much stuff?”
Our culture encourages consumerism – advertisers play on our emotions to convince us we really need something that, to be honest, we probably don’t need at all. Mary Hunt, who writes a newspaper column called “The Everyday Cheapskate,” has a saying that many of us could put on our bathroom mirrors to read as we brush our teeth every morning: Continue reading →
We begin a new series this week, which will take us through the tenth chapter of Mark’s gospel over the next four Sundays. So let’s set up the context: Chapter 9 gives us the transfiguration, then healing of the boy that the disciples couldn’t help. There are several themes that will be repeated in chapter ten. These appear like threads in a tightly woven tapestry, weaving together ideas that might seem at first glance to be disconnected from each other, but when woven together, they form a perfect image of the Kingdom of God. Continue reading →
We’ve been working our way through the book of James this month, and I mentioned to you last week that this book, even though it comes in the form of a letter, really has more in common with Old Testament Wisdom literature than Paul’s letters to the early church. James has encouraged us to accept all people without showing favoritism to the rich. He’s taught us to listen first and speak second, and when we do speak, to mind our tongues.
This is all part of becoming more like Jesus, that process we call discipleship. As we work our faith, our faith begins to work in us, bringing us to spiritual maturity. In today’s passage, James gets to the very heart of his message. He asks a really important question: why settle for worldly wisdom, when your life can be guided by heavenly wisdom? Continue reading →