Lately I’ve been thinking about Mark, mainly because I just contributed a post on Mark for Credo magazine. After writing the post, it occurred to me that what I was seeing in Mark is a huge reason for thanksgiving. As you may have guessed, Mark has nothing to say about turkey and all the trimmings. In fact, although Mark directly mentions giving thanks only a few times, his story of Jesus gives us a profound reason for thanksgiving. In the USA the Thanksgiving holiday is November 28 this year, but Mark’s message gives us something to be thankful for every day of the year. God does not give up on flawed followers of Jesus, and neither should we.
I never tire of listening to Gordon Lightfoot’s song “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.” I’m hooked from the first strum of the Asus2 chord to the ninth time the haunting guitar riff is played as the song fades out. But for me as a believer in and student of the Bible, the most significant part of the song is the question “Does anyone know where the love of God goes when the waves turn the minutes to hours?”
Reformation Day is an opportunity for each of us to reflect on our use of the Bible. It seems clear that Luther’s 95 Theses were prompted by his careful biblical exegesis. Does anyone out there still do that sort of thing?
In a recent sermon my pastor Joel Wayne said “Social media provides the illusion of companionship without the demands of a relationship.” He was making the point that many who are active in social media acknowledge deep loneliness. Joel contrasted this with encountering Jesus as he is presented in the New Testament in a community of faith. I came away wondering whether Pastor Joel’s comment about social media could be applied to what passes for community in many churches. Paul’s teaching in Ephesians about participation with Christ in authentic community speaks truth to this problem.
Jesus called his first disciples from fishing for fish to fishing for people. They abruptly left their livelihood behind to follow him in this radical kingdom adventure. The decision whether or not to follow Jesus remains the most crucial one in all of life. Jesus still fishes for people through his followers today.
Legacy is a word that is overused today, but it is fitting to think of Bethsaida, Capernaum, and Chorazin with this word in mind. Our legacy depends on how we respond to the opportunities God graciously gives us. These three villages had many opportunities to respond to Jesus and his teaching, but they did not. May God grant that learning about their history will lead us to avoid their legacy.