In Mark 5.21-43, the author wraps one story inside of another like a pig-in-a-blanket. One is about a man who wants Jesus to touch his dying twelve-year-old daughter and heal her. The other is about a woman who touches Jesus and is healed of a twelve-year long disease. These are stories of healing. They are stories of faith wrestling with fear. But at their core, they are stories about touch. About contact. About suffering people reaching out for Jesus. About Jesus reaching out for suffering people. They are stories about the touch of Jesus. That’s why Mark wrapped them together like he did.
In the Passover, worship, sacrifice, and ethics come together in a way that may prove instructive for Christians in light of the Cross.
Abel’s blood echoed on throughout history, and echoes still. Whenever justice is deferred. Whenever voices that deserve to be acknowledged are silenced. Whenever the wounds of the people are dressed as though they’re nothing. Whenever people suffer alone. Wherever anybody prays, How long, O LORD?—that is the echo of Abel’s blood crying out.
The text of a sermon I preached at Cordova Church of Christ Sunday, November 2, 2014. To encourage the church to receive the Beatitudes as gifts rather than commands or recommendations.
In Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12, Paul names some specific kinds of gifts God entrusts the church with. It seems to me that he never meant these lists to be exhaustive, for they do not recapitulate one another. It also seems to me that multiple, complimentary gifts can coincide in one agent. Further, it seems perfectly reasonable to me that sometimes a gift that Paul named might come with articulations and expressions that make it difficult for us to see the gift for what it really is. Sometimes the gifts God gives the church are strange, indeed. Let’s pray for enough discernment not to throw them away. Because it also means throwing people away.
The gospel is the narrative that gives us freedom by allowing us to interpret our story. And it is not a story about someone else being your whipping boy. It is a story about God’s refusal to let our murdering of his Child finally determine our relationship to him. It is a story about his rejection of our rejection of him through the Cross–of his not allowing that Cross to have the final word, but undoing it in resurrection. And it is a story about God continuing to invite us through his Crucified-and-Resurrected-Child to come be reconciled to him. The Cross and Resurrection is a narrative that subverts and reinterprets all the stories we have been told, and continue to tell ourselves.
If our sharing in the Lord’s Supper on Sundays isn’t an act of resistance, maybe it isn’t really the Lord’s Supper.
For years I have rejected any application of Ezra-Nehemiah in the church, other than a stern warning not to imitate them. The racism and sexism that justified their decision to have Israelite men desert their foreign wives and children reflects an appalling lack of concern for the vulnerable; and care for the vulnerable is at the core of what it means to be God’s holy people. But can these Scriptures be reclaimed for use in the church? In this post, I explain again why I think Ezra and Nehemiah set a terrible precedent for God’s people; but I also point out a few helpful applications from these texts for the church.