February 2015 – Epiphany and Transfiguration
1 February, Mark 1:21-28, Epiphany 4
What comes to mind when you think of Mark’s Gospel? The shortest? The earliest? The most dramatic? A restless story, always on the move? One of these may be what comes to your mind. But have you ever thought about the questions in Mark’s Gospel?
According to the NRSV, there are no less than 118 questions in this Gospel. Since there are 668 verses, in total, in Mark’s Gospel, this means that the reader (or hearer) of this Gospel is confronted with a question every 5.7 verses (on average) This passage has a number of good, meaty questions.
As you read this passage, imagine that these questions are expressed within your own life. What issues do they raise for you?
“What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth?”
“Have you come to destroy us?”
“What is this? A new teaching?”
What issues do these questions raise for your discipleship?
8 February, Mark 1:29-39, Epiphany 5
Visiting the house of some family friends … eating a meal at a table, with good company … talking with one another in good, enjoyable conversations … touching with care and concern … listening, really listening, at a deep level of empathy … sleeping, resting, taking time out … entering into a close relationship with God through a dedicated time of prayer … speaking out in public about what is important in your life, and how your faith shapes the way you live.
These verses are filled with many of the ordinary things of life. Things that we undertake each and every day. Most of what Jesus did was ordinary, everyday stuff. Most of what we do is ordinary, everyday stuff. By and large, most days are quite unspectacular.
And yet, this passage contains lots of hints about things that are beyond the immediate. Jesus heals people. His loving care engages them. His touch transforms them. He casts aside the forces which hold them in sway. He releases them from whatever keeps them in captivity. And he publically proclaims his message for all who will listen to him.
A challenge we face in our lives of faith is to ensure that, while we go about the ordinary patterns of daily life, we are open to the possibility of encountering God…even in the midst of the ordinary!
What can I do to ensure that I live each day open, expectant, waiting for God?
15 February, Mark 9:2-9, The Transfiguration
This scene takes place on a mountaintop – a place where, traditionally, God is encountered. It is a moment when something dramatic and mysterious takes place. This is a special moment; nothing like this has occurred before. Surely, it will be remembered as incredibly special.
But listen to what Peter says! His words show he is much more concerned about things that are mundane and commonplace. “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings.” What Peter said could well be like words we have spoken ourselves. Are we focussed so much on mundane and ordinary things? On the pews, the hymn books, the order of worship? On the state of the building, the sign at the front of the church, the agenda of the meeting?
The story of the Transfiguration challenges us not to be closed to the moment when the presence from beyond our existence enters into our daily life. As the voice from the heavens reminds us: “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!”
Can you recall a moment when the divine voice, the divine presence, caught you unawares?
22 February, Mark 1:9-15, Lent 1
Beginnings are opportune moments to engage in self-examination, and personal and communal reflection. As we begin Lent, we read from the beginning of Mark’s Gospel. This passage might prompt us to reflect on what we most want our discipleship to look like.
Jesus makes a four short statements which express what it means to follow Him: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.” The four phrases in this statement contain the heart of the message that Jesus preached.
The first two indicate that it is about making hope known, and being sensitive to the presence of God. The next two statements indicate that following Jesus requires us to be active, engaged, passionate, and committed to the way that he walks. During Lent, we reflect on what it means to be a disciple of Jesus.
Reflect on the four phrases that Jesus proclaimed. What surprises you? What comforts you? What challenges you?
These reflections for February and March were prepared by Rev. John Squires
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