The Season after Pentecost: Proper 11, Year B

Jesus’ compassion

  • 2 Samuel 7:1-14a
  • Psalm 89:20-37
  • Ephesians 2:11-22
  • Mark 6:30-34, 53-56

Jesus knows that a tough schedule leads to burnout, so he seeks a time and place where the disciples, after their training mission, can relax and rest (6:30-32). However, when they arrive at their retreat site, they find more work to do. Without rankle or resentment, Jesus teaches and ministers to the people’s needs, spiritual and physical.

The portion of scripture that we don’t hear in today’s gospel reading (6:35-52) is Mark’s account of the feeding of the 5,000. (We hear John’s account of this next Sunday.) Even though Jesus is in need of a period of withdrawal, he realized the need of those who followed him was greater than his own. They were hungry for the truth he could impart, and were as confused as a sheep that have no shepherd (v. 34a). In his compassion, Jesus again began to teach them.

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The Season after Pentecost: Proper 10, Year B

Death of a Prophet

  • 2 Samuel 6:1-5, 12b-19
  • Psalm 24
  • Ephesians 1:3-14
  • Mark 6:14-29

When the disciples began to spread the word of Jesus, the authorities took notice. Herod, terrorized by his guilty conscience, believed that Jesus was John the Baptist returned from the dead. In those days it was believed that the spirit of those who had died a violent death worked through others. He was sure Jesus had come to plague him for executing the prophet in order to save face with his friends and to appease the vengeance of his bitter wife. Herod knew that John was a “righteous and holy man.” He wanted to protect the Baptist, but when his image as a powerful king was called into question, he abandoned his concerns for the Baptist’s welfare to protect his own reputation.

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The Season after Pentecost: Proper 9, Year B

Sent Out For God

  • 2 Samuel 5:1-5, 9-10
  • Psalm 48
  • 2 Corinthians 12:2-10
  • Mark 6:1-13

Beginning in Chapter 6, Mark’s story of Jesus moves out beyond the familiar territory near the Sea of Galilee. Skepticism abounds in Jesus’ hometown. Why? Perhaps because his teachings cut through old understandings. “He taught them as one having authority” (1:22); that is, he comes with a radical, new message that departed from the teaching that the people expect from the synagogue. Jesus’ message always offends those who prefer old religious ways and refuse to risk by welcoming the new way of God’s kingdom (Luke 5:39).

Jesus’ neighbors had a certain expectation of his potential – he would follow in his father’s (Joseph) footsteps as a carpenter. What had been happening in this town in which Jesus grew up these past 30 years? Continue reading

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The Season after Pentecost: Proper 8, Year B

God’s Power to Heal

  • 2 Samuel 1:1, 17-27
  • Psalm 130
  • 2 Corinthians 8:7-15
  • Mark 5:21-43

Today we have two remarkable stories of healings by Jesus, one story told within the other. In both cases, the individuals involved have come to Jesus out of their desperate need along with faith in his power to help them.

Jesus has just returned from the country of the Gerasenes and is teaching a crowd in Capernaum. Jairus, described as one of the leaders in the synagogue, comes to him and falls at his feet in a gesture of respect. He tells Jesus that his daughter is at the point of death. In verse 23 we hear of his faith in knowing that if Jesus only lays hands on her, she will be made well. So Jesus heads out, with the large crowd following him.

Within the crowd is a woman who has suffered from a hemorrhage for twelve years. She finds her way to Jesus, and reaching from behind, touches his cloak, believing that a simple touch will relieve her of her disease. Immediately she is healed, but Jesus feels his power leave him at the same moment and stops to ask, “Who has touched me?” Imagine the scene – would you come forward and admit this? In fear and trembling, she steps forward; instead of reprimanding her, Jesus commends her faith and tells her to go in peace. Continue reading

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The Season after Pentecost: Proper 7, Year B

tempestadHe-qiPower and Faith

  • 1 Samuel 17:(1a, 4-11, 19-23), 32-49
  • Psalm 9:9-20
  • 2 Corinthians 6:1-13
  • Mark 4:35-41

Today we have two great stories from scripture: David & Goliath and Jesus stilling the storm. In both cases, there is a power of unimaginable strength that appears to be in control of the “human condition.”

Goliath, the behemoth Philistine, intimidates all by his physical appearance and battle prowess. He evokes fear and dismay to all he approaches. However, David (the youngest son of Jesse as we heard in last week’s Old Testament reading), volunteers to fight him – without armor for protection or a dangerous weapon of war. Instead, with just five smooth stones and a sling he calls on his radical faith in God’s protection. David slays Goliath with one stone’s throw. This act is a witness to the power of the living God, through whom the seemingly weak are able to overcome the powerful.  Continue reading

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The Season after Pentecost, Proper 5: Year B

The Eternal 

  • 1 Samuel 8:4-11, (12-15), 16-20 (11:14-15)
  • Psalm 138
  • 2 Corinthians 4:13-5:1
  • Mark 3:30-35

Because we look not at what can be see but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal. For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 Corinthians 4:18-5:1

We know that God who raised the Lord Jesus to life will raise us too. Our eyes are fixed on the things that are unseen, what is seen passes away; the unseen is eternal. Faith leads to hope even in the face of adversity. Paul writing to the Corinthian converts declares what it means to experience the longed-for redemption. Anyone who trusts in the Lord can tell of it. We all have the same Spirit of faith in whom we believe; thus we are able to speak, as Paul did. Continue reading

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The Season after Pentecost, Proper 4: Year B

je43New Freedom

  • 1 Samuel 3:1-10, (11-20) or Deuteronomy 5:12-15
  • Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18 or Psalm 81:1-10
  • 2 Corinthians 4:5-12
  • Mark 2:23-3:6

All power over life and death belongs to God, and we can never control it. This challenges us to confront the conventions of the world. Despite any difficulty, God allows our witness to persevere for Jesus’ sake. Although the Ten Commandments were given to the people generations earlier, there is always a need for clarification and further understanding of what God requires of us.

Today’s Gospel is an example of that. Among the Pharisees, the Sabbath, with its blessings of rest, worship, and quiet, had turned into a rigid routine full of regulations and restrictions. As Jesus and his disciples travel over the fields on the Sabbath, the disciples began to make a path, itself strictly forbidden as “work.” Hungry, they plucked a few ears of grain and rubbed them between their hands to get out the kernels of grain. While they only took a tiny amount, their “reaping and threshing” motion was considered work. Hence the Pharisees outrage – they were working on the Sabbath. Continue reading

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