Monday, September 24, 2012

Mark 9:38-50

Pentecost +18 - Year B

Mark 9:38-50

“Someone missed a comma in our authorized orthodoxy! Off with their head!”

So immature disciples react before the individual components of a larger teaching have connected with one another into a nuanced whole larger than the sum of its parts.

At stake is not who is exactly for us or against us, but the connection of folks to deeper powers than they can claim for themselves. Regardless of motivation, whether it comes from one religious tradition or another or none, a blessing is a blessing and receives yet more blessing.

To put a stumbling block in front others based on one’s limited experience is to reduce the value of gifts, including one’s own. When one gift is discounted it turns out that all are reduced. Gifts, like common-wealth, depend on a matrix of gifts that enhance the environment in which they operate.

Consider a list of gifts from Romans 12: Prophecy, Serving, Teaching, Exhortation, Giving, Leadership, and Mercy.

Try prophecying in a culture that does not value teaching carefully considered relationships between categories of life and you’ll see your gift is bound to be relegated to the weird or witchcraft. Exhortation without modeled service based on it turns anything said into pious mouthings and outmoded creedal responses to glimpses of a new heaven and earth. Giving and Mercy unconnected to Leadership reduces giving and mercy to personalized charity bandaids rather than going to the heart of systems to stop hurt being done in the first place and turns our concept of leadership into variations of patriarchy where a few know what’s best for all.

In some sense we don’t get this gift of multiplication without going through difficulties that offer the possibility of seeing beyond the limits of simply addding one cultural platitude to another and glimpsing a better-seasoned life by applying an appropriate tool or gift (mine or someone else's) in a given situation.

Nurture an internal refining fire based on a basic question, “Why not?” and you’ll find a new appreciation for renewal through encounters with “others”. Your gifts will enhance others and their gifts will enhance yours. Now we have a basis for choosing peace together. Peace based on a widening and deepening of gifts is not sweet and ideal, but savory and practical.

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