Finding the Lessons

I try to post well in advance of the upcoming Sunday.

You will want to scroll down to find the bible study for the lessons closest to the upcoming Sunday.

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Thursday, February 9, 2012

Sixth Sunday After the Epiphany, Year B

"Ched Myers ("Binding the Strong Man") opts for the angry reading. After his comment about the leper daring Jesus to heal him, he writes...The cleansed leper's task is not to publicize a miracle but to help confront an ideological system: the change in object (from "priest" to "them") suggests a protest against the entire purity apparatus, which the priests control. He is to make the offering for the purpose of "witnessing against them" (eis marturion autois). This is a technical phrase in the Gospel for testimony before hostile audiences (6:11; 13:9). [p. 153]."

Exegetical Notes by Brian Stoffregen at CrossMarks.

Prayer

Cleanse and restore us, O God, and heal us continually from the sinfulness that divides us and from the sinfulness that divides us and from the prejudice and discrimination by which we degrade ourselves and dishonor your image in others.  Help us to stretch out our hands in love especially to those our society scorns and to recognize in their faces the very image of Christ, blood-stained on the cross. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever. Amen.

From Prayers for Sunday and Seasons, Year B, Peter J. Scagnelli, LTP, 1992.




Some Thoughts on Mark 1:40-45

Jesus made a noise like a horse - he was so exasperated and incensed!

A lot of preachers will be trying to figure this one out. We will turn to scholars and they will say, and we will typically preach:

Jesus was upset because his preaching mission was interrupted.
Jesus was upset because the man is unclean.
Jesus was upset because the man doesn't believe Jesus can heal him. (Marcus, Mark, 209)

I was struck by the scholar  M. D. Hooker's thoughts (Commentary on Mark, 80).  He believes Jesus is disgusted with the demon.  One might expand this to include the system as well; as in Ched Myers' text Binding the Strong Man

How often do we get exasperated with the person and not the illness?  How often do we get exasperated because we have more important things to tend to?  How often do we get exasperated because of how we might be perceived if we are with someone for whom they disapprove?

We are all guilty of this.  Me included.  We may however loose a great preaching moment if we simply take our exasperation and project it onto the text.

What if we reread the story this way: The leper comes to Jesus. He has, more than likely, already been to the priests to no avail. He comes to Jesus who is not a priest and simply says, "Jesus you could make me clean"; which given the last few chapters is true.

Jesus snorts like a horse because he is simply disgusted - with illness, with the powers that be, with the world...but not with the man. No with the man he is moved and so he acts.  He reaches out and touches the leper, making himself unclean according to the holiness code.

Then he sends the clean man away, not in secrecy, but why send him back to the religious power that could not make him well in the first place.  No, he can go and he not tell anyone.

How do we begin to move our congregations to snort like a horse when confronted by the brokenness of the world, to be incensed; and then move them to action on behalf of those who come to us and invite us to engage in healing?

So often we are thinking someone else more talented, someone more generous, someone more schooled, someone else will come along and heal the leper raising their hand before us and inviting us into their life.  The reality is that we are being invited - you and I.  There is just us. And, we have been sent by Jesus.



A Little Bit for Everyone




Mark 1:40-45

40 A leper came to him begging him, and kneeling he said to him, ‘If you choose, you can make me clean.’ 41Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, ‘I do choose. Be made clean!’ 42Immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean. 43After sternly warning him he sent him away at once, 44saying to him, ‘See that you say nothing to anyone; but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.’ 45But he went out and began to proclaim it freely, and to spread the word, so that Jesus could no longer go into a town openly, but stayed out in the country; and people came to him from every quarter.

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