Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Daily Office Reflection: Announcing

Psalms 119:97-120 * 81, 82; 2 Samuel 9:1-13; Acts 19:1-10; Mark 8:34-9:1

Jesus announces the dawning of the kingdom of God in Mark's Gospel today....our last verse is "Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see that the kingdom of God has come with power." We know this is a reference to the end of the Passion narrative that is coming and Jesus' resurrection. Jesus ushers in the kingdom of God. To be part of that kingdom Jesus tells us we have to take up our cross and follow lose our life so that we might find it....that we cannot gain anything through the acquisition of tangible things, that by acquiring those things we are in danger of losing that life promised.....

Theoretically these instructions sound do-able, but in practice we know that they are quite difficult, if not impossible to achieve. Juxtaposed against that knowledge are the experiences that I have witnessed of people who have enormous wealth, tremendous possessions, and are probably the unhappiest people I have ever met: angry, sad, alcoholic, depressed to name just a few of the symptoms. Certainly not every person of means is this way, but I have witnessed enough of them to know that the trite old adage "Money can't buy happiness" has a good deal of truth to it.

I think we need to strive for a balance in our lives. A balance of our wants, desires and needs as set against Jesus' invitation to be a part of the kingdom of God. What will bring us happiness? How do we define happiness? What is important? Simple questions. Hard to answer.

Copyright 2009, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Daily Office Reflection: Don't You Understand....Yet?!?

Psalms 80 * 77 (79); 2 Samuel 7:1-17; Acts 18:1-11; Mark 8:11-21

You can hear the exasperation in Jesus' voice today trying to make the disciples understand what is going on....I think he is doing a bit of transposition of his annoyance at the Pharisees onto his slow-witted disciples. Be that as it may, Jesus spoke in analogies, using symbolism, irony, and many other literary tools to illustrate his points. And yet, even though we know this, even though this is common knowledge, there are so many in this world who insist on being literal in their translations of the Bible. So much of the complexity of God's involvement is lost when we box ourselves, and in fact box God, in these translations. We lose the potential for growth, newness, surprise when we try to put limitations. This attempted limiting of God's work is the height of arrogance. The good news is that God will still find a way to get through to us. The big question is are we ready and open for that voice?

Copyright 2009, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.