Monday, 12 January 2015
texting mark six
Mk6v1-2 Jesus back in Detroit facing 'the why, the who, what, when, the where and the how..' thas the just The Way I am, Zoolander back amongst the Muggles, the orchestral conductor returning to his Swedish village in As It Is In Heaven ~ so misunderstood. These quick fire questions sit as a trope: the hostile hometown murmuring rhetorical questions, an impatient context restless for another type of hero, resistant to the mundane ways God works, despising the Kingdom breaking into familiarity. Jealous, stiff-necked and embittered parochialism, leveling mediocrity and policing the inertia of the status quo, nimbyists vexed by change. I am guilty of this blindness. Mark 4 and 5 were storms brewing, now superstardom's close to postmortem, and it only grows harder.
Mk6v3-4 Family. I'm sat looking at an icon of mother Mary & baby Jesus. We like to celebrate that Jesus entering our embodied contingent existence, but how often to we think about how Jesus was affected by his family? If he lived as one of us he had a developmental story, he was shaped by separation anxiety from the mother & the entrance of the father & sibling rivalry & adolescent processing. Mary and Joseph's idiosyncrasies giving the formation of his psychology. Do we resist this picture of Jesus? Don't we prefer to think of him as a super-person? A raging core of molten divinity just hidden behind a disguise of flesh? But if he really Ph2v7 became human, poured himself out, then he did not spare himself any part of this contigent life, there was no part of this person which humanity didn't touch. For Jesus too found the people who knew him from birth the hardest people. As Will van der Hart's observation that a family Christmas brings out the tension between what we used to be & what we are now. So too the Christ incarnate. He knows your complicated nameless fears & angers all tangled in a mess of things that have taught you thought itself. He knows. What might we learn from Jesus' dealings with this tension? There's not much material to go on here, but we can note that this primary rejection by family did not stop him in knowledge, vision, practice or flourishing of his ministry, vocation, travel, etc. He knew his deeper identity, a knowledge available to all of us as children of God. Lk2v49.
Mk6v5-6 "their unbelief" There is more than a contempt-for-the-familiar going on, more than a failure to notice the slob-like-one-of-us God, more than Nathan Coley provoking with There Will Be No Miracles Here. Nazareth bears out an active and Dogvilleian grace-aversion. Unfaith self-fulfils, ungrace wills its own blindness with ungiftably clenched fists. We don't have because we don't ask Jm2v2. We don't ask because we..? "Jesus marveled" Have you ever marveled at modern architecture's poverty, facades starving in the midst of plenty, tirelessly underadorned cityscapes of relentless banality, burbs on burbs of walking wounded ranks of utterly un-mighty works. We don't have because we..? The gift economy is a terror of encounter and obligation, I cannot repay healing, so conservatively I stick to my pride, comforted only by those things I can abstract and exploit.
more than permission
He looks us in the eyes
and we go out side-by-side
with you, oh, you oh.
to be Abraham's tent,
by Christ, to the Other
let's go to another
Mk6v9-10 "Tunics" Are you covered? As Rich Young Men we are apt to problematise a dichotomy of extremes to deflect an uncomfortable call to frugality. Diplomatic answers to how-much-is-enough play a prudently pastoral 'don't-catch-cold' sensibility of generous minima against the triply tunicked strawmen and richkidsofinstagram 'Thank God I am not like one of those..' - and so we moot some middle-ground middle-of-the-road middle-class median of supposedly moderate means. The single tunic is pretty singular, a no collatoral (Mt5v40), no-Plan-B mode of attire, not really a sliding scale, not really a mixer tap allowing for lukewarmth (Rv3v15). "Sandals", not boots note. Tread lightly. How lightly? The key, I think, is conspicuous speed. That is, if inventoried, would your wardrobe declare that Time-Is-Short? Charity, social impact, and broad concern for justice are too easily excused time-based measures of urgent efficacy. The necessarily messy work on the complex matter of the sacred task of the clear communication of an infinite gospel to eternal souls is to too often excused a rigorous audit of over-tunicking or unsuitable footwear. "Abide there" Though you must be brief, be deep. Dwell thoroughly. Short-term mission is a state of mind - dear tourists, don't settle for less than abiding.
Mk6v11-12 'shake off the dust', briskly and unemotionally: don't let the rejection linger. As St Porphyrios' meditation for the day 'The humble person is conscious of her inner state, & however unsightly it is, she does not lose her personality...She knows & is grieved by the fact, but she does not despair & does not annihilate herself...She accepts to be criticised & rebuked by others without getting angry & defending herself. She does not lose her equilibrium. The opposite happens with the egotist, the person who has a sense of inferiority.' So...'shake it off'...as in Matthew this verse strikes me most powerfully as to do with how I deal with rejection well - any rejection, as well as rejection-for-the-sake-of-Jesus. In both cases, to cling to the dust of rejection stops me going forth for the One, the Christ. I must decrease, He must increase.
Mk6v13-14 Scene changes emphasise what's being juxtaposed. Back at evil HQ rumours of yesterday's news trickles up. And the fumbling superstitious overlords are a step behind the cool. Too little too late chasing the wrong one now there a dozen decoy miraclists, holy mischief makers, irresistible revolutionaries.. "many..many" all in a day's work - that's the oil business we want to be in.
Mk6v15-16 The Herodian paranoia that JTB has risen from death is surely his v20 recognition of the holy coupled with his refusal of it. All anxiety is akrasia, all guilt is refusal of the good, all neurosis is the denial of God.
Mk6v17-18 The Christian definition of marriage is likely to be politically difficult, and popularly unfashionable. They are prophetic and at risk that take a high view of marriage's peculiar and total demand. As we individually and collectively become more powerful, as Herod, as HenryVIII, that which is megalomanic in each of us resists the untamperable undiluteable constitution of monogamous obligation. The bigger-than-me-ness of marriage's commitment is terrifying, ugly even, without supernatural assistance. So, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, and other subtle celebrations of adultery, function as palliatives to the conscience by frantically branding as heroic the foresaking the wife of your youth. Because nothing challenges our emperor mentality so intimately and completely as marriage. As long as the idol of self reigns, marriage cannot be held in honour, and the repercussions are a nihilism tending towards murder.
The nuptial bond - the closest that the earthly may come to knowing the glory of unity with the Father. All rent asunder by sacrifices made at the alter to the self. Have there ever been so many heathens professing faith in a system they will not subscribe to? Or will they forever turn their backs in disillusionment on marital bliss simply because commitment inherently comes with a personal cost?
Builds on exactly what Tim Keller says in his book.
Mk6v19-20 'greatly disturbed'. One of my favourites: goo.gl/aUZ8Ro // 'I'm in all kinds of trouble now...The kind where there's too many meanings on the edges of sight, because he might be there.'.. 'I'm in all kinds of danger...' // I've been hiding, like Herod. He knows it, the niggle of the storm in the pit of being, it's there, the light that came into the world, jn3v19, which was greatly disturbing, we loved it not, we preferred the darkness. Much safer in the dark, much less troubling. Don't want to look at it, don't want to me looked at. The light has a voice - gen3v9 - 'where are you?'. Don't want to respond, because, you know, if I do... 'I'm in very grave danger of a change of heart.'
Mk6v21-22 Herod brings the women and the cars and the cards out. v21 How do you party like its your birthday? v22 And are you careless what you wish for? v21 This is ugly hospitality: the rich and the famous, easily reciprocated and essentially self-serving and self-promoting ~ the opposite of Lk14v13's gift economy, the open-handed, open-ended, opening of your home to the powerless just because. v22 This exploitation of hospitality is vulnerable to exploitation itself, and Herodias' weaponised strip-tease is a lesson in how to play people who please people. There is a relationship between hospitality and a household's right resilience - your guest list is a litmus of your fragility.
Mk6v23-24 Money, Sex & Power, a trinity of potential strongholds which lead the heart into abuse, exploitation, damage, lostness. A moment to remember to pray, perhaps, for God's mercy amongst the vast evil that is the sexual exploitation of children. Potential resources: goo.gl/FW9zZf or with Rm8v26 groanings that cannot be uttered.
Mk6v25-26 "the head of.." John had said that 'He must increase, I must decrease..' Jn3v30 - so we have here the finally abridged John, curtailed and cut short in his prime. How am I going to decrease? What caveats have I put on John's prayer in my life? Standard stuff Rm8v35-6. .. v26 "exceedingly sorry.." Vain regrets and worldly sorrow. As we considered when we visited this episode in Mt14 goo.gl/zIDRqf any Wildean reading that attempts subtly to transfer culpability to Herodias and her daughter comes from that darkly powerful pull to save ourselves and hope that it is enough to feel sorry. It is not. God changed Saul. Change from an angry, bitter, religiouse, duplicitous, violent life built on power, porn and procrastination is possible. Change is possible in Christ. 2Cor7v10 Godly sorrow leaves no regret.
Mk6v27-28 Mothers & daughters. What have you given, what have you taken? What expectations, events & dead things have you internalised, normalised, desensitized? There are many things to grieve in this passage. But. Behold, Jn11v25 the resurrection & the life, for all kinds of death.
Mk6v29-30 Again, the Markan immediate-juxtaposition of death and lifeliness: no sooner than John's narrative is tidied away in a tomb, and on stage are twelve new ones eager to speak of the spirit-empowered mischief they've been up to. 'Jesus, look what I done, look at the things..' Mark reinforces the theme of emergent Christianity as an infectious plague of resilient indefatigable Jesusfreaks, a Holy Hydra reheaded, we are a superbug multiplying with new antimicrobial resistance.
Mk6v31-32 Jesus on quality time, datenight with his bride, becomes a mandate for basic self-care. Food. Quiet. Rest. Retreat. I've been a million miles from believing Jesus wants quiet time with me, a world away from believing I'm Ex19v5 divinely treasured. This has to be the place, doesn't it? The blamelessness the belovedness - this has to be the place from which action flows, decisions are made, the unexpected is faced. This must be the place.
Mk6v33-34 I have known my sheepliness of late, unfettered, grazing, oblivious being-hapless and undershepherded. Scamper I to the other side, that his goodness, like a fetter, might bind my wandering heart to He.
Mk6v35-36 I have been telling Jesus a lot recently that there are people I want to send away. Sometimes he says yes, but sometimes he says no.
Mk6v37 "You give them something to eat.." Imperative. Anji Barker at the Axis of Oval gathering last night answered a social-action-vs-evangelism question with a fresh emphasis. We are commanded to love our neighbour, commanded to care for the orphan and widow, commanded. It is possible to overthink this basic obedience, and why do we overthink it? Because social action at a scale commensurate with observable human need is impossible, so we defer to programs, we defer to committees, we defer to over-thought bad theology, we defer to a dichotomised understanding of conversion-as-intangible & service-as-auxilliary ~ all to procrastinate facing obedience-qua-miracle-predicated-obedience.
Mk6v38 "How many loaves..?" The inventory before the miracle, holy accountancy. Like Ex4v2's 'What is in your hand..?' That's enough. Use that. Ec9v10 with all your might. But first, how many loaves ~ the Christian's narrative (daily) always begins in the red, staring at deficit on the balance sheet, counting up the short fall of the housing crisis, numbering up a not-enough. And then (v42)
Mk6v39-40 today I recognise that even sitting down to eat is extremely vulnerable. It's harder to be on your guard when sat down. Harder to protect yourself from all sides. I'd rather eat on the run, eat alone in the kitchen standing up, ready to flinch, to fight. If compassion breaks bread together, the vulnerability & exposure is its precondition. Help me not to forget.
Mk6v41-42 My recent study of coffee shops (goo.gl/RNJ8aA - more suggestions welcome!) has given me to meditate on provision and the multitude, pragmatically and parabolically. Parabolically "Jesus looked up.." Life is about something, points to something, is a pointing up and a pointing back: the God of Exodus revealed himself as the feeder in the wilderness, the same God is still such, reveal him as such. Pick your symbol, anchor your enterprise, gear your pragmatics towards the display of an attribute of God. Prayer is a pointing-to which re-symbol-ises abased language, and few gifts have been more comprehensively flattened in their poetry than food, commodified and abstracted by supermarkets. I believe in abundance, help my unbelief.
Mk6v43-44 Taken by itself v43 strikes me for the first time as a little picture of the way God relates to us. This picture of all the "broken bits of bread" gathered up & put into a basket. Not just that we Mt15v27 eat the crumbs from God's table, but we are the crumbs, sometimes. I feel it. I am a little piece of broken bread, too hard or too dry or too crumbly or spoiled in some way. A bit broken. But gathered up into a containing environment, a safe place, bread beloved. Saved for something. What did they do with the leftovers? Bread & butter pudding & fish sauce? Redeemed, from glory to glory.
Mk6v45-46 We were reading Eph6v18 last night, and Tony lead us in a recommitting to pray so: all prayers at all times with all perseverance for all the saints. But how? See Jesus' example of being intentional in prayer, really intentional. He's a prayer ninja, organising solitude by decoys and misdirection, disciples off in a getaway vehicle, he's devising conditions for prayerful prayer. Pray so, to the temporary neglect of your dependents, pray. Make a plan, make a place, make a time, to pray often, pray alone, and pray long which may well mean you pray at night and pray outside.
Mk6v47-48 Jesus feels quite Other to me as I read these verses. I don't know what He's thinking. He's out there with the other members of the Trinity, dancing on the sea, a wonderful and terrifying sight to behold, and I'm not sure where I fit in or how to approach. He sees them straining at the boat, he sees me - what does he think of me? Will he pass me by? I should remember the awe and uncertainty in the face of Christ always, yes, whilst remembering always Eph3v19
Mk6v49-50 Ghosts. Credulous disciples raving hysterical? Here is a rehearsal for the resurrection, that glitch in the life-death-continuum. Here is a preview of the many strange zombie permutations that are released into imaginative possibility by addling the boundaries of the living. The disciples are rightly discombobulated, rightly afraid. Afraid as we might be, if, through the fog of knowing, we discern a figure of power-without-personality, an abstract and invulnerable superhumanity.. And so it is that many people visualise God. But, "Take heart; it is I.." the it-is-I is all important. God is there and is not silent, and is not impersonal, and is not uncaring. It is I. Jesus speaks and invites the I-Thou.
Mk6v51-52 He got into the boat. The maker inside the trademark. The transcendent in the immanent, the infinite in the finite, the more in the less, like a skyscraper inside a matchbox. The Cosmic Christ enters through a mysterious wormhole at the centre of the universe, and the winds cease.
Mk6v53-54 Arrived, moored and was recognised goo.gl/M60Sft , unlike Jack Sparrow, some reputation precedes him .. Not much in these verses. "Gennesaret" is not where they had intended to land. When you are blown off course, Christ is yet with you, Christ is yet powerful to heal, the geography of the calling of his ministry is everywhere that he is, and he is where you are, he is your calling, his is your ministry everywhere you find yourself, savvy? "The people" are painted as a mass moved by rumour, a collective defined by need, responsive "immediately" and locked on to this one, this nexus of leaking heaven, Jesus, the crack in the continuum, the glimpse of the light of the possible in a closed loop reality. How are you recognised?
Mk6v55-56 In Jesus, at the touching point of life and death, life overcomes death. When left to itself, sickness will rob health, decay will claim vitality, the unclean will infect the clean, evil will overcome good. But in Jesus, this force changes direction. When God stands at the intersection of good & evil, life & death, clean & unclean - life wins. Life overcomes, as the rule. So full of trinitarian life that even the hem of his cloak sparkles with life, life that leaps across the threshold, speaking death to death. Dirk Jongkind goo.gl/4sI4cq suggests this is the reason that God was able to hold the knowledge of good and evil, but that humans are not - God always overcomes evil by nature, human beings are overcome by evil by nature. & You are indwelt by Christ, & so you are a secret agent of this reverse entropy. Christ in you stands at the threshold of any sickness, any culture of death, and evil that you touch today. Christ in you: Jn16v33