A Provocation: The Baptism of Our Lord: January 7, 2018: Mark 1:4-11

Turning the world right-side-up is, now as always, the task at hand.

provokingthegospel

Mark 1:4-11
1:4 John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

1:5 And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.

1:6 Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey.

1:7 He proclaimed, “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals.

1:8 I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

1:9 In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan.

1:10 And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw…

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A Provocation: The Epiphany of the Lord: January 6, 2019: Matthew 2:1-12

Another Provocation from 3 years ago reflecting on (in the words of an old hymn) “Man, at war with man….” The old hymn asks us to “hear the angels sing.” This year I wonder what that means, especially in the midst of the activity of groups like the Boogaloo Bois who imagine that this is the moment to start a second Civil War.

provokingthegospel


1 When Jesus was born,
in Bethlehem of Judea,
in the days of Herod,
the king,
Look:
Magi from the East arrived in Jerusalem.
2 They said:
Where is the one who was born King of the Judeans?
For we saw his star in the East,
and we came to worship him.
3 After the king, Herod, heard this
he was shaken
and all Jerusalem with him.
4 After he gathered all the high priests,
and scribes of the people,
he inquired from them
where the Messiah is born.
5 They said to him:
In Bethlehem of the Judeans
For thus it stands written through the prophet:
6 You, Bethlehem, land of Judea
you are not least among the leaders of Judea,
for out of you will come one who leads,
one who will shepherd my people, Israel.
7 Then Herod,
after secretly calling the magi,
learned exactly from them…

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A Provocation: Third Sunday of Advent: December 17, 2017: John 1:6-8, 19-28 

“Make a straight road for the God whose Name is Mercy, make it in the wilderness, make it in chaos, make it in our imaginations so that we can bear the hard, chaotic work that lies ahead of us,” so says the prophet.

provokingthegospel

John 1:6-8, 19-28 
1:6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.

1:7 He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him.

1:8 He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light.

1:19 This is the testimony given by John when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?”

1:20 He confessed and did not deny it, but confessed, “I am not the Messiah.”

1:21 And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the prophet?” He answered, “No.”

1:22 Then they said to him, “Who are you? Let us have an answer for those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?”

1:23 He said, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the…

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A Provocation: Second Sunday of Advent: December 10, 2017: Mark 1:1-8

This one is worth another look, especially after so much raging and screaming.

provokingthegospel

Mark 1:1-8
1:1 The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

1:2 As it is written in the prophet Isaiah, “See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way;

1:3 the voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,'”

1:4 John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

1:5 And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.

1:6 Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey.

1:7 He proclaimed, “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to…

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A Provocation: Twenty-third Sunday After Pentecost: November 12, 2017: Matthew 25:1-13

“Those who arrive late have the door shut in their faces, this though it is the middle of the night and they are alone on the street.  Beyond that, this story of separation and exclusion aims its energy at women.”

provokingthegospel

Matthew 25:1-13
25:1 “Then the kingdom of heaven will be like this. Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom.

25:2 Five of them were foolish, and five were wise.

25:3 When the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them;

25:4 but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps.

25:5 As the bridegroom was delayed, all of them became drowsy and slept.

25:6 But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Look! Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’

25:7 Then all those bridesmaids got up and trimmed their lamps.

25:8 The foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’

25:9 But the wise replied, ‘No! there will not be enough for you and for us; you had better go to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.’

25:10 And while they…

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An Invitation to Provocation: Resurrection and Resistance: The Gospel of Mark

Pam Faro (a HIGHLY skilled storyteller and a dear friend) is joining me to present a four-session online workshop on the gospel of Mark, starting on October 29th. We have a good group joining us already, but I wanted to invite you all to come, too. This is going to be a good group to think and explore with, and Pam will be performing scenes from Mark’s story, which is worth the price of admission all by itself!

Please consider signing up!

Here is the Eventbrite site:

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/resurrection-resistance-the-gospel-of-mark-registration-121477655939?fbclid=IwAR1OPGZoWohPa6cAYJfpbrB9CgcUxL_VPWljBySn1YAzM5erNXtGvxef84Y

A Provocation: Twenty-first Sunday After Pentecost: October 29, 2017: Matthew 22:34-46

The Pharisees test Jesus after seeing him do well in an argument with Sadducees. That means they take him seriously. It is an honor to stand for a test under such circumstances.

provokingthegospel

Matthew 22:34-46
22:34 When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together,

22:35 and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him.

22:36 “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?”

22:37 He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’

22:38 This is the greatest and first commandment.

22:39 And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’

22:40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

22:41 Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them this question:

22:42 “What do you think of the Messiah? Whose son is he?” They said to him, “The son of David.”

22:43 He said to them, “How is it then that David by the Spirit calls him Lord…

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A Provocation: Twentieth Sunday After Pentecost: October 22, 2017: Matthew 22:15-22

This scene is full of jokes with a bite. The jokes come at the expense of play-actors that just are not good at acting. What play-actors might you be thinking of just now?

provokingthegospel

Matthew 22:15-22
22:15 Then the Pharisees went and plotted to entrap him in what he said.

22:16 So they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are sincere, and teach the way of God in accordance with truth, and show deference to no one; for you do not regard people with partiality.

22:17 Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?”

22:18 But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, “Why are you putting me to the test, you hypocrites?

22:19 Show me the coin used for the tax.” And they brought him a denarius.

22:20 Then he said to them, “Whose head is this, and whose title?”

22:21 They answered, “The emperor’s.” Then he said to them, “Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things…

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A Provocation: Nineteenth Sunday After Pentecost: October 15, 2017: Matthew 22:1-14

And again: three years later we are still dealing with anger.

provokingthegospel

Matthew 22:1-14
22:1 Once more Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying:

22:2 “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son.

22:3 He sent his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding banquet, but they would not come.

22:4 Again he sent other slaves, saying, ‘Tell those who have been invited: Look, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready; come to the wedding banquet.’

22:5 But they made light of it and went away, one to his farm, another to his business,

22:6 while the rest seized his slaves, mistreated them, and killed them.

22:7 The king was enraged. He sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city.

22:8 Then he said to his slaves, ‘The wedding is ready, but those invited were…

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