Sunday, February 05, 2006

February 12, 2006 - Year B - Epiphany 6

2 Kings 5:1-14
Psalm 30
1 Corinthians 9:24-27
Mark 1:40-45

Do you do what you do do for a reward?

Well, a word of thanks would be nice.

If you do it for reward, will you then take back what you do if thanks or other recognition is not given in the way you desire it to be shown?

What do you do for either the sheer joy of doing it or because it is what you understand is asked of you to be in touch with a larger meaning of life? Yes, count those ways!


  1. Mark 1:40-45

    Translators have to choose which ancient manuscript they will translate from. Does Jesus respond in "pity" or in "anger"? As you know from your own experience there is sometimes only a knife-edge of difference between the two.

    Rather than trying to justify a strict constructionist position for one or the other, one way to cut such a Gordian knot is simply to look at Jesus' response. Whether out of pity or anger, Jesus affirms his choice to heal brokenness.

    I suppose motivation does makes a difference to the one doing the healing, but the one being healed doesn't seem to care a whit about such.

    In turn-about fashion. It doesn't seem to make much difference to Jesus what motivation the healed man had for blabbing about this healing, in direct contravention of his instructions. Whatever the healed one had in mind (presume something good here) the result was Jesus spent more time in the wilderness, beyond town boundaries.

    So where do we find intentions being of less consequence than responses? Whether for consistently good reasons or lousy ones, I'd be glad to get the U.S. out of Iraq, we don't need a permanent military base in that region. Again, regardless of where folks would find their justification, I'd be glad to have the U.M.C. and other denominations recant their over-generalized response to human sexuality of homosexual/bad, heterosexual/good. And, whatever the rationale folks need to use, I'd be glad for an unlinking of power with money and violence with redemption.

  2. 1 Corinthians 9:24-27

    Do you not know that in a race the runners all compete, and everyone receives a prize?

    Our competitive environment leads us to think there is only one winner per race. If everyone, then, is going to win (good old universal salvation) then there will be a whole series of races until one race has only one runner. Actually it is this last race that exemplifies all the others. Everyone competes against their own limitations and dreams of what might yet be.

    I can still remember being a 440 yard high school record setter and conference champion. That qualified me for the state tournament, where I came in last. Believe it or not, I learned more in that last race than I had in all the previous ones and it held me in good stead when I went to the university and was on the track team.

    I didn’t get the perishable gold medal, but the imperishable one of clarity on what goal I was really running for – running to be the best runner I could be and the best learner I could be.

    I wonder what Paul would think of the Special Olympics and how that would inform his imagery of faith journeys.

    We sometimes set very high goals for everyone that forces everyone to fudge to make themselves seem better than they are. Our religious language actually gets in the way of our spiritual maturity.

  3. Psalm 30

    When we remember the dispute between Jesus' response to the leper's request as one of anger or pity, we can play a bit here as we hear G*D's anger being for a moment and G*D's favor/pity for a lifetime.

    Often times we hear popular religion getting this the other way around. A basically angry God can be temporarily placated with a bit of repentance, the recitation of dogmatic mantras, or lots of lout praise. When sufficient has been done, God will have pity and we can move on to repeat the cycle because we are very unoriginal sinners who repeat basic sins again and again.

    So, how does this model show up in your life? What G*D are you imaging? Are you equal parts of anger and pity? Are you weighted toward anger? Toward pity? Is your current balance one you want to keep or change? Why? So what are you doing to keep or change it?

  4. 2 Kings 5:1-14

    Ahh, the mighty, still liable to disease, shame, and death. Even in the face of acknowledged disaster, we strive to stave it off with our little perks of power.

    Laughter seems appropriate when seeing Naaman struggling with knowing what to do, who to see, and finally listening, no matter how half-heartedly, to a wee slave girl. Naaman must have been feeling particularly vulnerable to listen to one of the mute folks, the underclass, the slaves, the (fill in your own description of the no-accounts).

    Even so he struggles to maintain his place, to pay for the non-purchasable, for the priceless. He looks for a healing production worthy of his status. And he gets something open to anyone, anytime.

    I wonder if Elisha was also filled with anger and pity while dealing with Naaman. Anger and Pity may be qualities that are not bound by circling exiles or centers of authority.

    It would be interesting to have Naaman converse with the unnamed leper before their healings, to have them experience their healing in two different ways, and to reflect together on how they understood what happened to them. This conversation might open up new opportunities for us to hear one another in our various stages of mortality. We might get a better glimpse into where anger needs to be directed and where pity might be liberally applied.

  5. 1 Corinthians 9:24-27

    In the journey of spiritual maturity (a wonderful, never-ending story), we all compete with ourselves. Each race is to best use a unique set of gifts, experiences, and expectations. When all is said and done the question is how far I have come and how much further I have to go. There is no stage of life from preconception to resurrection where this is not the case. We all can rejoice that we have come thus far. We can all rejoice that we're not done yet.

    The only disqualification is that of being unaware that the salvation of one is the salvation of all and vice versa. We disqualify ourselves, we are not disqualified from above (that's where the qualification is already accomplished and from when we might get back in the race to be whole as G*D in Christ in you desires to be whole through a process of having our children, our image, stand on our shoulders and go further).

    So, we don't close our eyes and run off in all directions. We sense our call and those called alongside and strike off for the preferred future that yet awaits.

    Enjoy your journey. Enjoy the journey of others. Coach others. Receive coaching from others. Becoming who we are (being who I am) is a worthy prize.

  6. Mark 1:40-45

    "When it gets too dangerous inside the religious establishment, Jesus stays out in the country. John Wesley did the same thing! Maybe that is where some of us will need to go."

    Read more of this Reconciling Ministries Network Devotion.


Thank you for blessing us with your response.