Like an artist sketching in broad strokes on a huge canvas, Paul in the first 11 chapters of Romans has traced with great intensity God’s patience and persistence at making peace with humanity. The strokes get broader, the colors ever more vivid, until Paul is himself overcome at what he sees.
As the focal point of our lives, mealtimes reflect the nature of our shared lives. They are a central space for expressions of love, caring and affirmation through both the provision of nourishment and the conversation that surrounds a meal from preparation to clean-up.
Have you ever been in a conversation in which it seemed that you and another person were not talking about the same thing even though you were arguing about it strenuously? Something like that is going on in Mark. Jesus and the Pharisees are in conflict with one another but not necessarily about the same things and certainly not on the same terms.
Peter often reminds us of our humanity: that’s his gift to us. Perhaps it was also a gift to Jesus. Jesus must have been tempted by what Peter said to him. Jesus certainly would have preferred not to have to talk about suffering and death. We honor the humanity of Jesus to say that he was tempted by Peter’s words. Perhaps Peter is naming something like fear within Jesus and bringing it to light. It scares Jesus, and he responds forcefully. “Get behind me, Satan!”
I got into trouble once. Big trouble. I was enjoying myself at a barbecue supper with several clergy in a small northern Kentucky town. When we ran out of some food items, I volunteered to drive my MG—with the top down, of course—to find a grocery store. I was on my way back to the barbecue when a local officer nailed me for speeding.
I grew up in an era before video, Veggie Tales or Bible-based computer games. I was raised, at least in terms of religious education, on the flannelgraph. To this day, although I know that the scriptures are peopled with characters of texture and nuance, I think of Bible people and see pastel paper figures pressed on a felt board.