Stumbling blocks

30 September 2018
Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost
Proper 21B (RCL)
Esther 7:1-6, 9-10; 9:20-22
Psalm 124
James 5:13-20
Mark 9:38-50

Let me start by saying that when I was doing my CPE on the rehab floor at Mass General Hospital in the mid-1980s, there was a young man on the floor who was having his hand reconstructed. On the basis of this passage, and feeling guilt about what teenage boys do, he laid his right hand on a railroad track. I’ll never hear this passage in Mark without remembering that young man and the horrible guilt and pain this caused him. We need to use care in reading. Continue reading “Stumbling blocks”

Childlike wisdom

23 September 2018
Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost
Proper 20B (RCL)

Porverbs 31:10-31
Psalm 1
James 3:13-4:3, 7-8a
Mark 9:30-37

Many will react to the reading from Proverbs this week. We will hear it as constraining women to a particular social place and role. I find it surprising, however, that she is clearly able to own and buy property, run a business and have servants, all apparently independently of her husband. Early in the book, a contrast was made between wisdom and folly portrayed as women. I think we could read this passage on two levels; one as an example of the gender expectations of the time, and also as an example of wisdom. Continue reading “Childlike wisdom”

Losing my religion

16 September 2018
Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost
Proper 19B (RCL)

Proverbs 1:20-33
Psalm 19
James 3:1-12
Mark 8:27-38

I am writing this as Hurricane Florence is barrelling toward the Carolina coastlines. It is not particularly comforting to hear Wisdom say, “Because you ignored my reproof, I will laugh at your calamity.” As Wisdom literature, Proverbs is likely addressed to young men making their way in the court; but it like all biblical literature, it is probably also address to Israel as a collective. Certainly, if a young man ignores the advise of Wisdom, we expect calamity. But what does it mean for a nation to ignore the counsel of Wisdom? What is that counsel? Continue reading “Losing my religion”

A voice for the voiceless

9 September 2018
Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost
Proper 18B (RCL)

Proverbs 22:1-2, 8-9, 22-23
Psalm 125
James 2:1-17
Mark 7:24-37

This passage in Mark makes us uncomfortable. Was Jesus really this rude to anyone? Matthew attempts to soften the passage by having the disciples complain to Jesus that she won’t leave them alone. But it stands starkly in Mark. Jesus calls her a dog. Continue reading “A voice for the voiceless”