Sunday, February 12, 2006

February 19, 2006 - Year B - Epiphany 7

Isaiah 43:18-25
Psalm 41
2 Corinthians 1:18-22
Mark 2:1-12

Faithfulness is an important category for meaning.

There is a call to be faithful to the past, but not so rigidly that we fail to be faithful to an emerging future.

There is a call to be faithful to neighbors and to G*D without one negating the other.

There is a call to a faithfulness that goes beyond consistency, else we couldn't participate in justice for both the poor and the rich, the strong and the weak.


  1. Mark 2:1-12

    "The content of faith is not some or other proposition about Jesus; this Jesus has repeatedly rebuked. The content of faith is rather this holy impatience, this all out, go for broke, determination that the lame be made to walk. . . .

    "It is not hard to see why the clear meaning of this episode has been assiduously covered up by ecclesiastical exegesis. The words of Jesus' opponents, 'Only God can forgive sins,' are repeated with mind boggling and pious regularity by those who suppose that they are followers, not of the scholars, but of Jesus! This is possible only by a kind of exegetical slight-of-hand that substitutes the religion of the experts for the word and deed of Jesus. In this, as in so many other respects, the Christian scribes have succeeded in remaking Jesus into the founder of the sort of religious tradition that he meant to abolish! The word and deed of Jesus is as destructive of religious Christianity as it was of religious Judaism." [from The Insurrection of the Crucified by Theodore W. Jennings, Jr.]

    Again and again we read these stories from the perspective of giving Jesus more than every benefit of the doubt so we can turn them into propositions about forgiveness rather than faithful deeds. What challenge is present here to your usual way of hurrying through this story because you think you learned it in Sunday School?

  2. 2 Corinthians 1:18-22

    "Let there be!"
    "It is good!"
    "G-D is faithful!"
    "Promises to be!"
    "First, Spirit is in our hearts!"
    "G-D establishes us in Christ!"
    "Bring a Friend!"

    "Amen! Yes! Amen!"

    Even if you see a glass as half-empty, it is still possible to say, "Yes!" Even if you see the world realistically and note all the ways in which it has gone awry and the ways in which it might yet be redeemed, it is still possible to say, "Yes!" Especially if you see a glass half-full, it is important to say, "Yes!" In each case we are called to actually beyond saying, "Yes!" to living "Yes!" in each situation in which we find ourselves.

    We have been affirmed. Let us affirm.

  3. Psalm 41

    Even though verses 6-7 may refer to the construction of worthless idols, there is still a word of encouragement here. Whether the friends of the paralyzed one had built Jesus into a healing idol in their minds or not, they caught the Markan sense of faith - persevere through challenging times - in the phrases they probably used back and forth between one another, "Take courage!" and "It is good."

    The dynamic is true for us whether we use it in regard to our-one-true-faith or something we are only hoping-against-hope for. We work to support one another even if we have a vision of G*D supporting us, all and each. We don't just sit back and wait in silence, but we charge against barriers to wholeness. If "The Lord" acts first, wonderful, but we won't wait to find that out.

    Charge! (That's just another way to spell "faith".)

  4. Correction

    If you wondered where the comments about Psalm 41 were coming from, they came from Isaiah 41. Ahh, the joy of stress that affects one's perception. If these comments can't even be trusted to be in the correct book, how can they be trusted at all.

    I still stand by the comments but would confess they are misattributed. So, make up your own comment about Psalm 41.

    If you would care to look at Psalm 41: 6-7 it would still be possible to reflect on the way that even those who love G*D find ways to whisper incorrect doctrines and imagine the worst of God. All of this paralyzes their spirit, if not their body, as they attempt to protect G*D's good name and freeze G*D into being the same today as yesterday, as though today were not different from yesterday and as though G*D were not alive.

    Believers need as much on-going forgiveness as those we name as sinners.

  5. Isaiah 43:18-25

    Remember good-old Jesus, teaching away in the synagogue. Then comes a load of sin through the roof. This is an opportunity to keep on teaching and rebuke the interruption. It is also a time to remember Isaiah 43:24-25: you have burdened me with your sins but I blot out your transgressions for my own sake, to be consistent with my own teaching, my own image.

    What do you do with the loads of sin that come your way to interrupt an otherwise wonderful life? It is so easy to keep holding folks sins against them and so hard to move on, to remember not such sin, to help folks stand without the props of certainty and socio-religio-politico-trappings.

    Even when sinned against, G*D forgives. What do you do when sinned against?

  6. 2 Corinthians 1:18-22

    "For all that has been, thanks. For all that will be, yes." [Dag Hammarskjold]

    The "yes" of promises made and implied still needs the "amen" of implementation.

    The "yes" of promises re-evaluated and then set aside could use the "whew" of relief.

    The "yes" of promises re-evaluated and reconfirmed anticipates an "amen and amen" of getting on the stick of implementation.

    Promises don't just sit around waiting. As messages they are massaged along the way. This might let us off the hook of acting as we wait to see whether the promise was a flash-in-the-pan or persistent. If we use it in this fashion we will lose the joy of partnering with the future. So, even though the "yes" of promises is yet a bit indefinite, jump in with as many feet as you have available. Even a tip-toeing toward tomorrow is better than being firmly planted in what all too quickly turns to the cement of deeds that follow us into eternity.

  7. Mark 2:1-12

    There are times when I am the paralyzed one. It is then necessary for me to trust my friends to carry me along.

    There are times when I am one of many who help to carry someone who is paralyzed in one way or another. It is good to be in concert when doing this as folks pulling in different directions are helpful neither to the other carriers (in a good way) or to the one being carried.

    As we continue with this passage, it is important to remember the action implied in miracles involving faith. Whether the faith is on the part of the healer, the friends, or the ill, it is a faith that refuses to stand down from an understanding that the future can be different than the present.

    May you be steadfast in your future orientation.


Thank you for blessing us with your response.