July 14, 2019
Earlier this week, I was trying to remember exactly where my grandparents had lived when I was a little girl. So I called my mom. My mother has never been known to give a straight answer to a question when there’s a story she could tell instead. So, when I asked “do you know the name of the street where Grandpa and Grandma lived in Pretty Prairie?” her answer started out with, “All three of us girls were born on Uncle Harry’s farm. I think Edie Beth was about a year old when mom and dad moved to Hutchinson…”
An hour later, I had heard stories about my grandfather hauling coal in the winter and ice in the summer, my grandmother recovering from typhoid fever in a sod house on the Kansas prairie when she was a little girl, my great-grandfather dying just shortly after he’d finally paid off a debt his brother had incurred years before, and a few other tidbits of family history. But I never did learn the name of the street where Grandpa and Grandma lived in Pretty Prairie. Continue reading
July 7, 2019
Classroom teachers know that proximity holds a lot of power. Good teachers move around the room a lot, getting close to students as they work. The teacher’s nearness does two things: it raises a student’s level of concern enough to encourage the student to pay attention (and stay out of trouble), but it also makes the teacher more available to answer questions and offer support.
Proximity to the teacher offers safety, and at the same time it holds a student accountable. Proximity to the teacher increases the probability that the student will actually learn something. This is why we almost always see the disciples staying really close to Jesus. He holds them accountable at the same time he offers them safety.
But at some point, students leave school. They have to take the lessons they’ve learned into the world, and practice those lessons on their own. The safety net is gone, and they have to hold themselves accountable. Continue reading
June 30, 2019
When I was a little girl, my hometown replaced the old municipal swimming pool. It was about time. The filtration system in the old pool didn’t work very well, and the water was murky. The pool was too small for our growing community, and the diving board was … not safe.
So after an entire summer with no swimming pool, we suddenly had a new, up to date facility with twice as much area as the previous pool and not one, but three diving boards. The diving area was deep enough now to accommodate a true ‘high dive’ board, as well as two smaller ones. Kids lined up in a constantly moving stream to jump off the lower boards, but the high dive was reserved for serious divers only. Continue reading
November 18, 2018
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
November 11, 2018
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
October 28, 2018
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
October 21, 2018
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