God has place this wonderful creation in our hands. As U2 sings, "It's a beautiful day, don't let it slip away." We have this one life to live on this beautiful planet so enjoy these reflections on God, faith, life, and music. "After the flood all of the colors came out. It's a beautiful day."

Sunday, October 26, 2014

God Is Still Speaking

 The Call to Discipleship in the Gospel of Mark, Day 69

The Shorter Ending of Mark
[[And all that had been commanded them they told briefly to those around Peter. And afterwards Jesus himself sent out through them, from east to west, the sacred and imperishable proclamation of eternal salvation. ]] 
The Longer Ending of Mark
 [[Now after he rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons. She went out and told those who had been with him, while they were mourning and weeping. But when they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they would not believe it.
 After this he appeared in another form to two of them, as they were walking into the country. And they went back and told the rest, but they did not believe them.

 Later he appeared to the eleven themselves as they were sitting at the table; and he upbraided them for their lack of faith and stubbornness, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen. And he said to them, ‘Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation. The one who believes and is baptized will be saved; but the one who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: by using my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes in their hands, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.’

 So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and proclaimed the good news everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by the signs that accompanied it. ]]  Mark 16:9-20
       So I have to admit I never read this ending of the Gospel, because it was written to fix the problem with the way Mark ended his Gospel. The people who read it didn't like that it seemed unfinished, that it wasn't neatly tied up in a bow with the disciples back together and building the kingdom and so they fixed it. They created a happy ending where those who had deserted Jesus or had run away in fear were now back in the fold. But by fixing the ending the early church tamped down the power of Mark's story and missed the call it placed on our life to take up our cross and follow.  
       But I learned something about this text this year from a blogger. This pastor spoke about not what the text says but what the potential is in the attempt. This text shows us that the story does not end that we keep writing the story. We keep adding to the work of building God's kingdom here on earth. We are the end of the Gospel and the beginning of the next chapter. So how will you you finish the story? What path will you take as you step out to follow Jesus?
      As your path leads you toward Jesus and into Galilee, you go down to the lake shore and there encounter the crowds full of hunger. While by the lake do you see that man, the one with the unkempt appearance who has white hair and beard and is surrounded by Walmart bags. He shows up in church and as he shakes your hand in the line, he got it, the word you spoke, was heard and received and it was a real genuine thank you. An encounter of peace between you. But nervousness surrounds the crowd. They want to fix him. To get him shelter and work and food. He eats some foods and walks out picking up his bags and heads back to the lake. The crowd wants you to know what they tried to do for him  But the story that stuck with you as he visits those few times is the the couple of coins he dropped into the offering plate. For he wasn't there for help or stuff. He was there to worship, to experience God's love.  
       As your path leads you toward Jesus and into Galilee, are you led to a bedside. You have been with her hearing the stories of her life and the joy she has in her children and grandchildren, her worries for the hard times some in her family are going through. And always in those visits are laughter and tears. But here now is the end. She can't speak any longer. You sit with her, you sing the songs that were important to her. You comfort her family. You are there in the sorrow and sadness. You are there sharing God's love.
       As your path leads you toward Jesus and into Galilee, you stop for a moment where evil is present, you are there in its midst helping people to find the path through the darkness and evil and into the light. This isn't an easy path for the evil can be present there in your church, in your family, in the city you live. You want the evil to go away and you have to work hard to restore wholeness.
       As your path leads you toward Jesus and into Galilee, you open yourself up to learn and experience the kingdom. You share what you have learned with your children, your friends, your family, the stranger God pushes you to speak with and share the hope and peace you have found with Jesus.
       As your path leads you toward Jesus and into Galilee, you experience the suffering, the injustice and you don't just walk by. You remember that Jesus tried to change the world, to confront power. And while you wish you could keep the world and your faith separate, you are pulled into the center of power to challenge the injustice in order to bring God' kingdom closer.
       What story will you share of your path?  How will you write this next chapter of your journey with God and Jesus?  Will you stop here for a moment and see where God is pulling you, pushing you, dragging you into the work of following the way, being a disciple, loving the world. 

Prayer Practice:
     Here is the path before you. You have stopped to listen to God's voice calling you, speaking to you, asking you to write the next chapter. Sit here in the stillness, letting God prepare you for the next step on the path.  And when you are ready breathe in deeply and then take the first step on this path.


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