Monday, January 26, 2009

Word for Today - Last Week's Daily Office

Mark 3:13-15 Afterward Jesus went up on a mountain and called out the ones he wanted to go with him. And they came to him. Then he appointed twelve of them and called them his apostles. They were to accompany him, and he would send them out to preach, giving them authority to cast out demons. 

Somehow, I copied my readings down wrong and did this week's readings last week, so this week, I am reading last week's reading... and you thought you were confused! 

Mark writes in lightning like fashion - and yet, artistic and inspired gospel-er that he is, he is able to say a mouthful in a single phrase. These two verses that narrate the appointment of the 12 apostles, though brief, gives a rather comprehensive description of Christian discipleship and vocation. I know this sounds preacher-like, but Mark gives us three characteristics of those who would follow Jesus and share his ministry. How do we measure up in these 3 areas?

1) Disciples are those who spend time with Jesus (they were to accompany him). Strange as it seems, this is one of the weakest areas of the church's life today. When I served as pastor, I was amazed at the shallowness of the faith, prayer life, and Bible knowledge of the typical American lay person. Spending time with Jesus, learning his way, and getting to know his word seems to be low on our list of priorities in a life filled with work (of course) and entertainment. What kind of church /people / disciples would we be if we spent as much time in solitude with our Lord as we do in front of the television set?

2) Disciples are those who are sent out into the world to proclaim the gospel (he would send them out to preach). Not all of us are preachers with great oratory skills... but perhaps the words of St. Francis do apply to us all: Preach the gospel at all times...if necessary, use words. Does the life we live proclaim the gospel we profess? That may be the only gospel many people will ever encounter. What kind of church / people / disciples would we be if the focus of our ministry was outside the walls of the church, being Jesus and living faithfully for God in front of the world, rather than hiding together in the holy huddle and keeping our faith to ourselves?

3) Disciples are those who stand against the evils of this present age (giving them authority to cast out demons). Mark's gospel focuses on the clash between God's kingdom and Satan's domain (Binding the Strong Man, as Ched Myers points out). Every day we encounter the evil that has seduced and captivated us - from Madison Avenue advertising to political idolatry to economic oppression to racial divide, the powers continue to make claims upon us and do their work of destruction and division. What kind of church / people / disciples would we be if we boldly stood up to the powers, battled injustice, and spoke out against the evil that rears its ugly head in insidious ways? 

This is the Spirit's work - to create within us the hunger to spend time with Jesus and learn his ways... to have the mind of Christ. This is the Spirit's work - to anoint us in word and deed to proclaim the good news of Christ by what we say and by how we live. This is the Spirit's work - to empower us and enable us to say "no" to the world and its evil ways, to refuse to participate in the violence, oppression, and hatred that evil spawns, and to work for peace, justice, equality, and righteousness in this world that God loves and intends to redeem.

Lord, I give myself to you today. Create this hunger in me...anoint me to proclaim your ways in word and deed, and give me the courage to stand for righteousness in an unrighteous world. In the name of your Son, who taught us to pray, "Our Father..."

Soli Deo gloria

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