Since ancient times, travelers have journeyed to sites of religious significance in order to deepen their faith. But I’ve never been much of a pilgrim. I was raised a Pentecostal, and in one regard our brand of faith was very modern: unlike most premodern people, we did not recognize any “sacred places.” For us, all places were alike to God because God had created them all.
Sometimes we are most afraid of what we most need. It’s one of the more perplexing mysteries of the human heart. Happiness, peace, healing and all the other elements of fullness of life can be right in front of us, but instead of embracing them, we back away in fear.
In Mark’s Gospel the antidote for a fixation on power is a little child. In chapter nine, Jesus again shares news of his pending passion with his disciples. They don’t understand and are afraid to ask. Instead they argue among themselves about who is the greatest.
I appreciate the lectionary’s knack for relating Old and New Testament texts, but I have no idea why King David’s adultery with Bathsheba is coupled with Jesus feeding the 5,000 and walking on water. Perhaps the intent is to contrast the bad behavior of David with the admirable acts of the Son of David. King David not only absconded with another man’s wife—he had the husband killed too.
July is vacation time for many of us. Anticipating grilled burgers, potato salad, sunshine and seashore can get us through months of occupational drudgery. We all need time away to kick back, relax and recharge—even Jesus did. We read in Mark 6 that he invited his disciples to join him for a beach getaway. It had been a busy chapter for them all.
Jerry’s phone call came as a pleasant blast from the past. He and I had attended elementary school together, but then my family moved 50 miles away and I hadn’t seen Jerry for six years. Now we were about to “split for college,” as he put it, and he proposed a party with our classmates.
If you’ve attended college, you know the kind of dream I’m talking about. It goes something like this: You’re a student again on a campus that looks totally unfamiliar, and you’re running to get to an exam that started five minutes ago and that you just remembered you forgot to study for. Sorry! Looks like you’re not going to graduate.
In 2000 David Buttrick began a project that focused on the language of Jesus and the ways in which attention to Jesus’ language can inform and shape preaching. Speaking Conflict is the final volume in that project (the first two are Speaking Parables and Speaking Jesus).