Sunday, October 17, 2021

Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time/ Proper 25 (B), October 24, 2021—Job 42:1–6, 10–17; Mark 10:46–52

Job 42:1–6, 10–17

 

William Blake: Job and His Daughters (1800, Butts set)

 

 

Job’s Non-Hollywood Ending

 

First, Job is told to say his prayers

for his annoying friends;

It must be prayer's required for

the Lord to make amends.

Next, sympathy and gifts turn out

to be Job's grieving need,

Since kindness, not explaining,

all our hurting spirits feeds.

And now we know Job's daughters' names!

And they were given land!

Who knew that such catastrophe,

such progress could command?

These things we need to see, to keep

the blindness from our eyes,

About old Job's disaster which

resulted in surprise;

Not just that all was well again,

but life was fully new;

Thus, grace which always looks ahead

is what will see us through.

 

Scott L. Barton

 

Then Job answered the Lord: “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. ‘Hear, and I will speak; I will question you, and you declare to me.’ I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”

 

And the Lord restored the fortunes of Job when he had prayed for his friends; and the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before. Then there came to him all his brothers and sisters and all who had known him before, and they ate bread with him in his house; they showed him sympathy and comforted him for all the evil that the Lord had brought upon him; and each of them gave him a piece of money and a gold ring. The Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning; and he had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen, and a thousand donkeys. He also had seven sons and three daughters. He named the first Jemimah, the second Keziah, and the third Keren-happuch. In all the land there were no women so beautiful as Job’s daughters; and their father gave them an inheritance along with their brothers. After this Job lived one hundred and forty years, and saw his children, and his children’s children, four generations. And Job died, old and full of days.

 

+ + +

 

Mark 10:46–52

 

                       El Greco (Domenikos Theotokopoulos): Christ Healing the Blind

                           ca. 1570  Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

 

No Scarcity

 

I see just why they tried to hush him up,

To make Blind Bart pipe down, and make no noise;

A guy like that is apt to take away

Attention one might otherwise enjoy.

 

But Bart, who did not see the way I do,

Knew Jesus was the answer to his prayers;

That is, he knew he had the right to love—

Which no impediment can e’er impair.

 

And so, he bravely called out, “Help me, too!”

And, sight regained, then joined with leaps and bounds

The movement pledged to show, that with good things,

There’s always plenty more to go around.

 

Scott L. Barton

 

They came to Jericho. As he and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Jesus stood still and said, “Call him here.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart; get up, he is calling you.” So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. Then Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man said to him, “My teacher, let me see again.” Jesus said to him, “Go; your faith has made you well.” Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way.

 

 

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time/Proper 24 (B), October 17, 2021—Hebrews 5:1–10; Mark 10:35–45 and Job 38:1–7 (34–41)

Preference Requested for James and John

in Martin Luther:

Biblia, die Ganze Heilige Schrift Alten und Neuen Testaments, / 

verteutschet durch Doctor Martin Luther . . .

 

 

Hebrews 5:1–10

 

Obedience to Whom?

 

Obedience is not a word

We’re apt to throw around with praise,

Unless some Christian, misinformed,

Thinks women still should spend their days

In service to their married man.

They use, as Christian “evidence,”

A view in scripture that proclaims,

To God, our Lord’s obedience.

 

Good grief! This text says he obeyed,

But thus, we’re called to do the same—

Obey the one who gave his all,

And follow he whom we proclaim!

Obedience to love’s the rule,

Not to authority, or man;

This is the news that pastors ought

To preach as gospel—and God’s plan.

 

Scott L. Barton

 

Every high priest chosen from among mortals is put in charge of things pertaining to God on their behalf, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He is able to deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is subject to weakness; and because of this he must offer sacrifice for his own sins as well as for those of the people. And one does not presume to take this honor, but takes it only when called by God, just as Aaron was. So also Christ did not glorify himself in becoming a high priest, but was appointed by the one who said to him, “You are my Son, today I have begotten you”; as he says also in another place, “You are a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek.” In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to the one who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered; and having been made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him, having been designated by God a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek. 

 

+  +  +

 

Mark 10:35–45 and Job 38:1–7 (34–41)

 

 

Perception Turned Right on Its Head

 

They thought, perhaps, that they might sit,

One on the left, one on the right,

Which would the best positions be

To serve him, in that long, good night.

But he reminded them he lived

To serve—as well, when he was dead,

Which made them scratch their heads, while their

Perception turned right on its head!

 

It wasn't his to grant, which meant

He couldn't even start to say

Just what some life beyond could be,

That he, to them, might then portray.

It's like our cat, who looks to me

And must think that I know it all;

He doesn't have a clue about

The things by which I am in thrall.

 

Thus Job, when daring to complain,

Out from the whirlwind heard the voice

Of one who understood it all,

And, in the end, made Job rejoice:

The point's to know that you are loved,

It doesn’t matter one bit how,

Or what might happen up ahead;

Just shout for joy. For love. Right now.

 

Scott L. Barton

 

James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came forward to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” And he said to them, “What is it you want me to do for you?” And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” They replied, “We are able.” Then Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink; and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized; but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.”
When the ten heard this, they began to be angry with James and John. So Jesus called them and said to them, “You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”

 

* * *
Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind:
“Who is this that darkens counsel
by words without knowledge?
Gird up your loins like a man,
I will question you, and you shall declare to me.
“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell me, if you have understanding.
Who determined its measurements—surely you know!
Or who stretched the line upon it?
On what were its bases sunk,
or who laid its cornerstone
when the morning stars sang together
and all the heavenly beings shouted for joy?

 

Monday, October 4, 2021

Twenty-Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time/ Proper 23 (B), October 10, 2021—Hebrews 4:12–16 and Mark 10:17–31


Hebrews 4:12–16 


 

Hold Fast (A Lesson for the Pastor)

 

One cannot find a better line

Before the church confession time:

“Since, then, we have a great high priest . . .”

[And read to] “. . . help in time of need.”

 

Fear not to use the scriptures more,

Not just in “lessons;” but restore

The sense, that more than that day’s crowd,

We worship with a witness cloud.

 

Your creativity that day

Cannot compare to the array

Of ways, time-tested, that express

How words, so old, still richly bless.

 

Remember that the gathering

Needs less pastoral blathering,

And more the church’s history

For bringing folk to Mystery.

 

And if this sounds curmudgeony,

Since I’m retired and fancy-free,

Perhaps I wish I could do o’er

The times I fear I must have bored.

 

Scott L. Barton

 

 

Indeed, the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And before him no creature is hidden, but all are naked and laid bare to the eyes of the one to whom we must render an account.

 

Since, then, we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

 

+  +  +

 

Mark 10:17–31

 

Present Tense, or Eternal Now

 

The man ran up, and then knelt down

before the Lord could next leave town;

He asked with some anxiety,

while demonstrating piety,

just what he had to do to get

the big brass ring, through legal writ.

How would the LORD grant such a thing

to this child, so aspiring?

To which the son, who knew the ways

His father worked, then next amazed

the man, who walked away in grief

since offered grace gave no relief.

 

Why grace, you ask, since such a thing

proposed by Jesus seemed to sting?

Just this: That we might realize

eternal life is not some prize

which Jesus by and by suggests

should be his followers' big quest.

The more you have, more you perceive

you have to do, and not receive.

Not camel nor the rich go through,

but love is what threads through to you;

Thus, be not tense, or worry how,

but trust, and live eternally, now.

 

Scott L. Barton 

 

As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; You shall not defraud; Honor your father and mother.’” He said to him, “Teacher, I have kept all these since my youth.” Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions. 

 

Then Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” And the disciples were perplexed at these words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” They were greatly astounded and said to one another, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible.”

 

Peter began to say to him, “Look, we have left everything and followed you.” Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields, for my sake and for the sake of the good news, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this age—houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.”

 

 

A Picture I Can't See

(A poem inspired by a conversation with the Rev. Sarah Buteux, as we were discussing, after a mass shooting at Umpqua Community College in 2015, the idea espoused by some in Roseburg, Oregon, that more people need to carry concealed weapons.)

 

I do not think they understand

Propensities the good guys have

To carry evil in our hearts

So sometimes, even we can't save.

If good guys carried guns, they say,

The bad guys couldn't kill as much;

But don't we think we all are good?

And sometimes, can't we all be touched

By what could crawl up from the depths

And do us in—and others, too?

No one is good, but God alone,

Said Jesus then, to me, to you.

 

Or put it this way: if the good

Alone be armed, then that leaves One;

The One who is all good in love

Who'd be the One to hold the gun!

Is that what God is all about?

Would this God kill for you or me?

Pull out his gun from cloak, concealed . . .

 

This is a picture I can't see.

 

Instead of taking life into

God's hands, God goes and lays down laws

Whose purpose is to help us through,

When we, from what is right, withdraw;

A country's laws, as well, seek to

Prevent the harm some might commit

(Including us, none "Good!") that thus

Society and lives not split.

 

Meanwhile, God goes and lays down life,

A giving that we can't control,

So we might follow in his way,

And value each and every soul.

 

Scott L. Barton

  

As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone . . . ."

 

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Twenty-Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time/Proper 22 (B), October 3, 2021—Hebrews 1:1–4, 2:5–12; Mark 10:2–16

 Hebrews 1:1–4, 2:5–12


 

Remember!

 

I like how the author remarks he remembers

That somebody, somewhere, said humans are rendered

Just lower than angels, since God is so mindful

Of those whom God cares for—a fact that’s delightful!

 

I think there’s a argument here for the present,

That Psalm 8, to memorize, really is pleasant,

And serves to remind you, whenever you wonder 

If anyone cares when the world’s weight you’re under.

 

And Christ who knew suff’ring, injustice and dying,

Despite what I see as a lifetime of trying,

A brother who actually cheers on your giving,

Reminds us all still, by his love are we living.

 

Scott L. Barton

 

Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom he also created the worlds. He is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being, and he sustains all things by his powerful word. When he had made purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.

 

Now God did not subject the coming world, about which we are speaking, to angels. But someone has testified somewhere,

“What are human beings that you are mindful of them,

or mortals, that you care for them?

You have made them for a little while lower than the angels;

you have crowned them with glory and honor,

subjecting all things under their feet.”

Now in subjecting all things to them, God left nothing outside their control. As it is, we do not yet see everything in subjection to them, but we do see Jesus, who for a little while was made lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.

 

It was fitting that God, for whom and through whom all things exist, in bringing many children to glory, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For the one who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one Father. For this reason Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters, saying,

“I will proclaim your name to my brothers and sisters,

in the midst of the congregation I will praise you.”

 

+  +  +

 

Mark 10:2–16 


Jesus welcomes the children

Vie de Jesus Mafa (Cameroon, 1973)

 

 

I Never Liked to Preach This Text

 

I never liked to preach this text,

What with divorcées in the fold,

Perhaps cast out by their home church—

Which marriage two would not extol—

They came for grace, not for a word

Of judgment on what had to be;

What's past, is past, we said; and who

Were we to judge such returnees?

 

There was a time when our church, too,

Frowned on divorce as that day's sin,

Espec'ally for the clergy, who

Were barred from past'ring church, therein.

What changed? The word of God? Or what

Our Lord said plainly to those men?

(I use that word deliberately,

Since they were wondering for their ken.)

 

"Can we divorce, like Moses said,"

—they asked to set him up—"or not?"

To which he noted such a rule

Protected women from their lot;

Then his disciples wanted more

In terms of what was wrong and right;

I now believe his twinkling eye

Caused them their wagging tongues to bite.

 

For though he says adultery

Comes when divorced man marries wife,

He said it's true the other way,

Which must have caused a lot of strife.

"What woman could divorce a man?"

That such a thing could never be

Thus prompted them to turn away

From rules, so they might better see—

 

The children!—so they'd reassess

The nature of their need for law;

Except ye be as one of these,

You'll lose capacity for awe!

Try not to say who can or can't

Find love anew (or in some form

back then unknown), so you'll be blessed,

And each day's joy will be your norm.

 

Scott L. Barton

 

Speaking of preaching this text, the Rev. Sarah Buteux preached an absolutely wonderful one, "Outside the Box," at First Churches, Northampton, on October 4, 2015, in which she addressed marriage, the Pope, Kim Davis, and the thing we all need, and need to hear, the gospel. You can find it here: http://firstchurches.org/outside-the-box-a-sermon-by-rev-sarah-buteux/

 

 

Some Pharisees came, and to test him they asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” He answered them, “What did Moses command you?” They said, “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her.” But Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote this commandment for you. But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

 

Then in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter. He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”

 

People were bringing little children to him in order that he might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them. But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.” And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them.

 


Sunday, September 19, 2021

Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time/ Proper 21 (B), September 26, 2021—Esther 7:1–6, 9–10, 9:20–22; Mark 9:38–50

 Esther 7:1–6, 9–10, 9:20–22


Rembrandt: Ahasuerus and Haman at the Feast of Esther

Pushkin Museum, Moscow (1660)

 

Inside Job

 

Funny how sometimes

Someone on the inside

Can make a difference.

Can stand up to tyranny.

Can be publicly brave.

Can risk her own life.

Can expose resident evil.

Can save her people.

 

Oh, Esther, wherefore art thou?

 

Scott L. Barton

 

So the king and Haman went in to feast with Queen Esther. On the second day, as they were drinking wine, the king again said to Esther, “What is your petition, Queen Esther? It shall be granted you. And what is your request? Even to the half of my kingdom, it shall be fulfilled.” Then Queen Esther answered, “If I have won your favor, O king, and if it pleases the king, let my life be given me—that is my petition—and the lives of my people—that is my request. For we have been sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be killed, and to be annihilated. If we had been sold merely as slaves, men and women, I would have held my peace; but no enemy can compensate for this damage to the king.” Then King Ahasuerus said to Queen Esther, “Who is he, and where is he, who has presumed to do this?” Esther said, “A foe and enemy, this wicked Haman!” Then Haman was terrified before the king and the queen. Then Harbona, one of the eunuchs in attendance on the king, said, “Look, the very gallows that Haman has prepared for Mordecai, whose word saved the king, stands at Haman’s house, fifty cubits high.” And the king said, “Hang him on that.” So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. Then the anger of the king abated.

 

Mordecai recorded these things, and sent letters to all the Jews who were in all the provinces of King Ahasuerus, both near and far, enjoining them that they should keep the fourteenth day of the month Adar and also the fifteenth day of the same month, year by year, as the days on which the Jews gained relief from their enemies, and as the month that had been turned for them from sorrow into gladness and from mourning into a holiday; that they should make them days of feasting and gladness, days for sending gifts of food to one another and presents to the poor.

 

+  +  +

 

Mark 9:38–50

 Tasty

 

He says that I should be at peace,

and look to my own salt;

That is, my flavor should increase,

and be less apt to fault

the faith of others doing good,

as if their recipe

is somehow poison, and not food

that helps some child to see

that she is loved by God no less

than any I might feed;

Remember, that it's God who blesses—

Let none this love impede.

 

Scott L. Barton

 

John said to him, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.” But Jesus said, “Do not stop him; for no one who does a deed of power in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. Whoever is not against us is for us. For truly I tell you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ will by no means lose the reward.

 

“If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea. If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than to have two hands and to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame than to have two feet and to be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and to be thrown into hell, where their worm never dies, and the fire is never quenched.

 

“For everyone will be salted with fire. Salt is good; but if salt has lost its saltiness, how can you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.”

 

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time/ Proper 20 (B), September 19, 2021—Proverbs 31:10–31; Mark 9:30–37

Proverbs 31:10–31

 

Pittsburgh artist J. Howard Miller

Westinghouse Electric Corporation “We Can Do It!” campaign, 1942

 

 

The Ideal Woman

 

It's almost as if the ideal woman

Is one who doesn't need a man—

At least, per this text, which ought to be preached on:

So girls and boys will see God's plan.

 

She's called to be useful, as she decides it,

To think and act in many spheres,

To care for her fam'ly, diligent, steady,

Her strength and kindness calm all fears.

 

She doesn't neglect the poor and the needy,

With cheer and confidence she acts,

Her husband's approval's not what she's after,

In serving all, she nothing lacks.

 

The fear of the LORD is not about cow'ring

'fore God, nor a woman nor man;

Instead, it's big news: All people have value!

—Which we can show our whole lifespan.

 

Scott L. Barton 

 

A capable wife who can find?

She is far more precious than jewels.

The heart of her husband trusts in her,

and he will have no lack of gain.

She does him good, and not harm,

all the days of her life.

She seeks wool and flax,

and works with willing hands.

She is like the ships of the merchant,

she brings her food from far away.

She rises while it is still night

and provides food for her household

and tasks for her servant-girls.

She considers a field and buys it;

with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.

She girds herself with strength,

and makes her arms strong.

She perceives that her merchandise is profitable.

Her lamp does not go out at night.

She puts her hands to the distaff,

and her hands hold the spindle.

She opens her hand to the poor,

and reaches out her hands to the needy.

She is not afraid for her household when it snows,

for all her household are clothed in crimson.

She makes herself coverings;

her clothing is fine linen and purple.

Her husband is known in the city gates,

taking his seat among the elders of the land.

She makes linen garments and sells them;

she supplies the merchant with sashes.

Strength and dignity are her clothing,

and she laughs at the time to come.

She opens her mouth with wisdom,

and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.

She looks well to the ways of her household,

and does not eat the bread of idleness.

Her children rise up and call her happy;

her husband too, and he praises her:

“Many women have done excellently,

but you surpass them all.”

Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,

but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

Give her a share in the fruit of her hands,

and let her works praise her in the city gates.

 

+  +  +

Mark 9:30–37

 

                                     Thomas Sully: Suffer the Little Children (1850)

                                National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

 

What Is the Mark of Greatness When You Die?

 

What is the mark of greatness when you die?

Is how you've lived the way to death deny?

When Jesus broached predictions of his death,

Then his disciples almost held their breaths,

While wond'ring, if they, too, should be done in,

What might be said of them by kith and kin?

So Jesus took upon his lap a child,

And said, "Just live with trust like this."

And smiled.

 

Scott L. Barton

 

They went on from there and passed through Galilee. He did not want anyone to know it; for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, “The Son of Man is to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and three days after being killed, he will rise again.” But they did not understand what he was saying and were afraid to ask him.

 

Then they came to Capernaum; and when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the way?” But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another who was the greatest. He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.” Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.”

Monday, September 6, 2021

Twenty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time/ Proper 19 (B), September 12, 2021—Proverbs 1:20–33 and Mark 8:27–38


 

Proverbs 1:20–33 

 

Keep It Real

 

Look at it this way: 

You'd like life to be simple, right?

Work hard, keep your nose clean,

Provide for those you love, keep up the house.

Then comes an inconvenient truth:

People begging on the medians downtown.

It happens every time.

What do you do? Why are they there?

Why do they keep showing up?

Am I my brother's keeper?

 

I finally realized that Proverbs' "Wisdom"

Is no obscure, esoteric thing.

She is in the person with the hand-lettered sign.

She knows life is not simple, 

She stretches out her hand and begs me to see.

This is where the Biblical God is.

Without her (yes, it's complicated)

I'll have no concept of the true God

When disaster overtakes me.

Without her, I'll be kept in the dark.

 

Funny how we love to spiritualize,

But the Bible keeps it real.

 

Scott L. Barton

 

Wisdom cries out in the street;
in the squares she raises her voice.
At the busiest corner she cries out;
at the entrance of the city gates she speaks:
“How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple?
How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing
and fools hate knowledge?
Give heed to my reproof;
I will pour out my thoughts to you;
I will make my words known to you.
Because I have called and you refused,
have stretched out my hand and no one heeded,
and because you have ignored all my counsel
and would have none of my reproof,
I also will laugh at your calamity;
I will mock when panic strikes you,
when panic strikes you like a storm,
and your calamity comes like a whirlwind,
when distress and anguish come upon you.
Then they will call upon me, but I will not answer;
they will seek me diligently, but will not find me.
Because they hated knowledge
and did not choose the fear of the Lord,
would have none of my counsel,
and despised all my reproof,
therefore they shall eat the fruit of their way
and be sated with their own devices.
For waywardness kills the simple,
and the complacency of fools destroys them;
but those who listen to me will be secure
and will live at ease, without dread of disaster.”

 

+  +  +

 

Mark 8:27–38

Marc Chagall: White Crucifixion (1938)

Art Institute of Chicago

 

I Am Not Sure I Want to Hear

 

I am not sure I want to hear

This word about a cross so dear

To Jesus' very heart and soul

He says that it should be my goal.

He says, behind him I should get,

Which means to follow him; and yet

I have too much to do, to give

My life, as if it's true he lives.

 

How can it be, when life's so brief,

And filled with heartache, pain and grief,

The Lord would still invite me where

He goes? I wish he'd not compare

His life to how I'd rather keep

All things, including those who sleep.

And yet, if I can lose my grip,

Perhaps his life might me equip.

 

Who do I say this Jesus is?

Can I by love show I am his?

 

Scott L. Barton

 

Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” And they answered him, “John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.” He asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Messiah.” And he sternly ordered them not to tell anyone about him.

 

Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.”

 

He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”