Thursday, September 27, 2012

Mark 9:38-50

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Mark 7:27-34

Tonight’s Good News is for all who have ears that can hear, from Mark Chaper 7 Verses  24 through 37
The role of Jesus will be played by George Stephanopholus to exaggerate the political undertones of Mark’s Gospel.  In Mark’s story, Jesus is a political commentator who is thought to have a liberal bias.
The serophonecian woman will be played by Michelle Obama, because in this week’s story you’re supposed to know that she is an ethnically different Jew who follows different rules.  Like in Shakespeare’s Othello, racial undertones are powerful way to dramatize this difference.
The part of the man who cannot listen and whose speech was not understood by others will be played by Clint Eastwood.  I think you’ll get why if you’d read the papers this week.

Now that you know who is in the story, let me catch you up with what has already happened:
First, Jesus is baptized, the heavens are torn in two and the divider that separated the stuff of God and evil spirits from the stuff of humans was broken.  From the sky flew the holy spirit.  But it went into Jesus so quickly, the people are left wondering if the stuff that flew into Jesus was good or bad.
As the munchkins asked Dorothy, the people are left wondering are you a good witch or a bad witch?
Jesus isn’t really a witch, but things get confusing because the demons seem to think that Jesus is the son of God, while all the holy people seem to think that Jesus is full of demons.
Later a fancy guy from the temple asks Jesus if he can heal his sick daughter, but Jesus gets distracted when a woman who has been bleeding for 30 years touches him and is healed.  Jesus notices that his power is starting to deplete, so he confronts the woman.  During this conversation the fancy guy’s daughter dies.  
Knowing his power is depleting, Jesus runs away from crowds who try to get him to heal them.   He travels all over to different parts of the sea trying to find a place where he can rest.  But, he can’t find one.
The gossip gets so loud that Jesus’ mother and family come to take him home and Jesus declares that his followers are his real family.
Then, just before this story, a group of faithful folk ask Jesus why he doesn’t follow all the same handwashing rituals that they do.  He tells them it’s not about outward rituals, but rather inward love and acceptance of all people. 

Now in today’s story, Jesus crosses to region of Tyre by way of Sidon, but assuming you have no idea where that is I’ll show you the route I took flying from San Francisco to Rochester, MN.  All you need to know is that Jesus goes to a place that is really different.  The people think different, they look different, they worship different .  About as culturally different as my journey, but you have to remember that the kind of Jew Jesus was, is very different than the Jews he would discover.
So, Jesus does what any good Messiah who is expected to heal all the sick, feed all the hungry and bring peace to the world would do.   He hides!
It doesn’t say how he hid, if he hid under a table or some blankets.  Or if he put on a disguise. 
But since all the other times he tries to change locations to get away from people who want him to heal them if fails, you can imagine he was trying really hard.
But it doesn’t work.  It was obvious where he was.
The syrophencian woman, whose daughter had an unclean spirit heard where he was and graveled at his feet begging for him to help her daughter.
Jesus tells her, that it’s not fair to feed the children’s bread to the dogs.  In the original Greek, Jesus uses the female gendered word for dog, which in the English would be translated into a word that starts with a “B.” 
Yes, Jesus is being a jerk here.  He’s telling the woman that her kind are not worthy of his help, presumably this is because she is of a different ethnicity and worships differently.   
But the graveling woman is not fazed, she musters up the same courage Jesus must have had in the previous verses when he talks to the faithful ones about hand washing rituals.  She tells Jesus that even the dogs eat the children’s crumbs as they fall off the table.
Jesus responds saying: “because of your answer go away.  The demon has left your daughter.”
She went home and found the child lying on the bed and the demon gone.

Then Jesus returned from the region of Tyre, through Sidon towards the Sea of Galilee in the region of Decapolis.  This is really a picture of the great lakes, but again, can you really tell the difference?
Wherever he ended up, some unnamed people, brought him a man who couldn’t hear and had a problem speaking to others.  They begged him to lay hands on the man.  They begged in a less demeaning fashion than the syrophencian woman had moments before.  
This time, without being a jerk, he took the man who couldn’t listen away from the crowd, put his fingers in his ears, spat his healing spit and touched his tongue.  Then he sighed (possibly in exasperation), looked to heaven and said “Ephphatha” which means “be opened.”  Bang his ears were opened and the impediment was released from his tongue and the man who didn’t listen began to speak in a way others understood better.

Then Jesus told them not to tell anyone about the healing.  But the more he told them not too, the more they told everyone.  The blabber mouths declared: Jesus does everything well, including making those who can’t hear, hear and those who we cannot understand able to speak so we can understand them.