Monthly Archives: September2015

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Pastor’s Blog  Rev. Aislinn

Mark 9:30-37
30 They went on from there and passed through Galilee. He did not want anyone to know it; 31for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, ‘The Son of Man is to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and three days after being killed, he will rise again.’ 32But they did not understand what he was saying and were afraid to ask him.
33 Then they came to Capernaum; and when he was in the house he asked them, ‘What were you arguing about on the way?’ 34But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another about who was the greatest. 35He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, ‘Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.’ 36Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, 37‘Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.’

At the beginning of our scripture for this week, Jesus is giving his disciples a warning of what is coming in their lives. When read this, we know that it is a warning because we know the end of the story and the future that Jesus is preparing them for. However, the disciples completely miss the point, they don’t just miss it, but start talking about something that doesn’t even matter—their status. How often do we ignore what God is preparing us for in favor of our own self-interest?
We probably do not debate with our peers about “who is the greatest,” but our actions say that we are concerned with our status—the place in society that our money and power can get us. Yet, Jesus answers this desire for status by saying that the first must be last of all. Last week, we heard Jesus say, “Deny yourself, pick up your cross, and follow me.” This week, we hear him say, “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.” These statements are countercultural. They go against all of the pressure that we have to be the best and have the most.
When those desires consume us, they are what we think about. Much like the disciples, we are too focused on what we want to actually hear the good news that Jesus wants for us. I often say that the Spirit of God speaks in us, through us, and in spite of us. If we believe that God is speaking, are we actually listening, or are we, like the disciples, missing the point?
My prayer this week is that we begin to listen to God speak through scripture, prayer, and those around us.


Rev. Aislinn

Pastor’s Blog       Rev. Todd Watson

He [Jesus] asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Mark 8:29 NRSV
On the day that Jesus was asking these questions he knew there was a buzz spreading about him – people were talking and speculating about this person who was clearly more than a simple carpenter from Nazareth. Interesting how his friends and closest followers respond to the first question Jesus asks – Who do people say that I am? They tell him that people are saying he is John the Baptist, or Elijah, or one of the other prophets. So, the teaching and healing Jesus has been involved in leads people to think of the great figures of their faith from the past. They use those great past figures to make sense of what they see in Jesus – to give him identity – to define him.
But Jesus presses past this larger speculation about his identity and asks those who have lived closely with him, day in and day out – But who do you say that I am? I like to imagine a significant silence in the group at that moment – a significant silence borne of the certainty that they have never heard of or known anyone quite like Jesus – a silence that speaks volumes about how he moves their faith experience beyond the prophets who had come before him. Then Peter, in his role as spokesperson for the others, finds words for what was going on in that silence – and says, “You are the Messiah.” As I imagine it Peter does not say that with any sort of iron clad certainty at this point in the Gospel. Rather I think his words bespeak the “Ah ha!” moment they were all having – the moment in which they realized that this man, their friend and teacher is something new and long-awaited in their faith tradition – this was the one come to save Israel. This Jesus is the Messiah! And once the word tumbles from Peter’s lips and is out there among them it changes everything – they move from being a band of friends and followers into the life of discipleship. An in the second half of this gospel reading Jesus gets serious with his disciples about what that life will require of them – no stroll in the park for sure! Their lives will become cross-shaped if they stick with him.
Marcus Borg, a religious writer of the last 20 years, has written something that I find very compelling when it comes to pondering this second question from Jesus, Who do you say that I am? Borg wrote this:
“For those of us who grew up in the church, believing in Jesus was important. For me, what that phrase used to mean, in my childhood and into my early adulthood, was ‘believing things about Jesus.’ To believe in Jesus meant to believe what the gospels said about Jesus. That was easy when I was a child, and became more and more difficult as I grew older.
But I now see that believing in Jesus can (and does) mean something very different from that. The change is pointed to by the root meaning of the word believe. Believe did not originally mean believing a set of doctrines or teachings; in both Greek and Latin its roots mean ‘to give one’s heart to.’ The ‘heart’ is the self at its deepest level. Believing, therefore, does not consist of giving one’s mental assent to something, but involves a much deeper level of one’s self. Believing in Jesus does not mean believing doctrines about him. Rather, it means to give one’s heart, one’s self at its deepest level, to the post-Easter Jesus who is the living Lord, the side of God turned toward us, the face of God, the Lord who is also the Spirit.
Believing in Jesus in the sense of giving one’s heart to Jesus is the movement from secondhand religion to firsthand religion, from having heard about Jesus with the hearing of the ear to being in relationship with the Spirit of Christ. For ultimately Jesus is not simply a figure of the past, but a figure of the present. Meeting that Jesus, the living Jesus, who comes to us even now – will be like meeting Jesus again for the first time.” (From Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time, p.136-137)
True believers must move from secondhand religion to firsthand religion. Where are you, and no matter where you are on the journey of faith, where do you need to go? God bless us this Sunday as we move through this text and examine our faith. Peace, Todd

Main Event Sunday Night  beginning September 13, 2015

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