Friday, 27 January 2012

lectionary leanings: 'what's this then?'

Some musings on this Sunday's gospel passage:

Mark 1: 21-28 
21They went to Capernaum; 
and when the sabbath came, he entered the synagogue and taught. 
22They were astounded at his teaching, 
for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. 
23Just then there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit, 24and he cried out, 
“What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? 
Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.”
25But Jesus rebuked him, saying, 
“Be silent, and come out of him!”  
26And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him.
27They were all amazed, and they kept on asking one another, 
“What is this? A new teaching—with authority! 
He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” 
28At once his fame began to spread throughout the surrounding region of Galilee. 

The writer of the gospel of Mark continues to drive the narrative on at a break-neck pace.  Still in Chapter One, we have moved from the Baptiser's baptism of repentance and Jesus' baptism in the Jordan, briefly noted a wilderness time, have just managed to catch our breath and travelled to Galilee to hear a call to turn and listen to the good news being proclaimed and some fishermen being made an intriguing offer too irresistible to walk away from.  Now we find ourselves suddenly in Capernaum one sabbath day in the local synagogue...

Questions in my head for personal reflecting revolve around what it is to 'teach with authority'; this coupled with avoiding the seduction of 'fame'.  Here, I'm remembering some wise words of Eugene Peterson reflecting on ministry and vocation in 'Under the Unpredictable Plant' about keeping it all real, about being authentic.  And certainly, that can be a challenge when working within and without institutional forms of church: lured by a sort of subtle 'careerism', or lured by building up the biggest and best form of independent church / or type of novel 'fresh expression' ever....
Funny how that's the book I keep coming back to out of all the discernment ones: Peterson speaks in a language that I understand and find myself saying 'yes!' out loud to when I read.  It helps keep life, death, ministry and the universe all a little bit more in perspective at least. 
The gospel text is also one of those passages that both make me smile and have a way of making me feel, for want of a better word, rather compassionate.  Here, both smiling at the irony of demons knowing exactly who Jesus is, whilst feeling somewhat kindly towards the people sitting about going 'what's this then?'
I guess I identify a bit with them: I know I certainly ask the 'what's this then?' question quite a lot as I sit about scratching my head, knowing only part of the whole.
Kinda looking forward to moving from the 'now we see in a mirror dimly' to the 'then we shall see face to I know in part, then I will know fully, even as I am fully known.'
Perhaps that, in the end, is what keeps us all going; in the meantime, it's accepting the stuff we do know, embracing the mystery, and walking forward in the now and not yet of hope.

1 comment:

Nick Brindley said...

I'm preaching on this passage this Sunday and my thoughts are somewhat parallel to yours - here's the sermon if you're interested