Unlike my Century
colleagues, I am not an avid book reader; I have no new history, novel or
memoir to commend for our summer reading list. My spare-time reading consists
mostly of seeking research gems or insights in critical biblical journals. Yes,
sounds like work.
A few weeks before I was ordained, a gunman entered a
Benedictine monastery just north of Kansas City. The man parked his car in the
parking lot, walked into the monastery and opened fire. He shot and killed two
monks and wounded two others; then he marched into the chapel and shot himself
in the head.
It always takes time to get my bearings when I jump into a week's
lectionary texts, because I'm wading into a story that's already
underway. A week and a half into Lent, we're in Mark 8 and Jesus is well
into his ministry. He has fed the multitudes, twice. He has called and
sent out his 12 disciples. He has preached and healed, and he's
beginning to turn toward Jerusalem.
Not far from where I live is a geological oddity. Stone Mountain is a bald and rounded mass of granite a mile and a half long and nearly a thousand feet high. Eons ago, molten rock pushed up from the earth’s core to the surface, then bubbled out and hardened into a monolith. Given the flat landscape around it, what one notices first about Stone Mountain is how unexpected it is. This isolated mass of stone stands all alone, sticking out like a blister on a thumb. It is as if an unneeded chunk of the Rockies was carelessly tossed over the shoulder of the Creator and landed improbably in a Georgia pasture.