Thursday, 17 September 2015
Mk9v1-2 'As they looked on, a change came over Jesus.' It was Jesus who was first transfigured, not the disciples. We strive so desperately to take hold of our own transformation, but it has to start with seeing Jesus transformed. Seeing Jesus changed, different, anew. The transfiguration mountain top is like the point at which the curtain ripped, a glimpse of John's second sight: Rev1v13-18. This is the point of meditating on Christ himself. This is the purpose of meditating on Christ himself, to see him a fraction more clearly, more as he really is. Transfigure mine eyes, oh Lord.
Mk9v3-4 When Jesus was transfigured, his appearance changed, his clothes changed. We have considered elsewhere the reverse entropy of Jesus pouring contagious light into the system, so, what of clothes as conduits? This question would draw us up and beyond Mt6v25 or 1Pt3v3's idol-limitation or KMC's ethical emphasis on injustice-limitation toward a transfigurational understanding of the clothes we wear. Clothing in the bible is onticological (Bryant), spooky, basically. The bleeding woman touches Jesus' cloak Lk8v44 and the sick are cured by Paul's handkerchief Ac19v12.. This is the Catholocism your mother warned you about. Currently reading Hans van der Laan who considers architecture to be liturgical insofar as it transfigures ordinary material. The Christian life of culture-making relentlessly is to transform the ordinary as water-to-wine, we anticipate the coming wedding, and so seek to dress the world accordingly Mt22v11, (like MJ in the Billie Jean video).
Mk9v5-6 The connection between being afraid and not knowing what to say. In all the ways I find I don't have the vocabulary, in all the ways I say stupid things, things I regret. In all the feeling of the truth of things but stumbling to articulate it, leading to the unpoetic, to frustration & argument. Because I am afraid. 1Jn4v18. Help my unbelief.
Mk9v7-8 Talking clouds and the meteorological paternity test. We too are children of light (Jn12v36 you have the light, 1Th5v5 the light has you). Light. God is Light. A point source, an energy, a wave, a particle, a spectrum, a speed, a mere metaphor? God chooses to reveal himself as a light bright cloud. Why? Consider the way a cloud's droplets crystalise light's infinite extension into a momentarily bodied presence. Consider the luminous precipitate, the diffuse substantial, fluorescent suspension. Put from your mind mechanically ventilated church sanctuaries and ponder the fascination which Diller&Scofidio's Blur goo.gl/ehfZDu holds, or Gormley's Blind Light goo.gl/Djxf8w .. James Turrell speak thus "I'm interested in the revelation of light itself and that it has thingness." God is Light. From Light you were begotten and are beloved.
Mk9v9-10 'What does this rising from death mean?' It means Rm6v5 'for since we have become one with Christ in dying as he did, in the same way we shall be one with him by being raised to life as he was.' v8 'Since we died with Christ, we believe we will also live with him.' Col2v12-13 'You were spiritually dead...& God has brought you to life with Christ.' Col3v1 'You have been raised to life with Christ!' It means through our union we participate in death & resurrection over & over again, freely. So know the fruit of your union with Christ: Every morning is a resurrection, every breath is a second chance.
Mk9v11-12 Elijah comes. Would you know it if you saw it? Three connected misapprehensions keep the disciples in the Scribe's dark. 1. Form. Wrongly venerating Elijah as an Old Greybeard historic character ~ literal, specific, limited, pluperfect (woe to that Mt23v29-31), as if prophecy was. Prophecy is. Elijah comes. 2. Function. Wrongly considering Elijah's sufficient Elijian role as completely completing moral reform and political overthrow. A whitewashed and rosy-tinted account of the good-enough prophet will disqualify John-the-Baptist, and we would-be-way-preparers, as not-Elijian-enough. 3. Messianic prerequisites. Wrongly limiting that the Messiah only comes to an already perfected people, that the Saviour comes only when there is nothing more to save us from. Elijah comes and Jesus comes. We participate prophetically in preparing the way and pointing the way, imperfectly, incompletely but supernaturally and substantially.
Mk9v13-14 'Elijah has been', & other things we're apt to miss. Apt to miss that the rhythms hold the one who is silent, apt to try to reinvent church & community when Jesus is already doing it on the doorstep? Apt to think that The Way must look different to engaging the ones in front of us? I don't quite know what to pray for the next season, but perhaps for eyes, ears & humility enough to recognise the declaration that God is already making.
Mk9v15-16 Mark juxtaposes an intensity of Jesus presence v3-8 with the fraught scene of his absence. Commentators differ on Jesus manifesting a Mosesface afterglow or not, but into the darkness downstairs he strikes a contrast. So: amazed crowd. Actually amazed. When was the last time I was amazed by grace, surprised by joy, faced by Jesus, disturbed by the gospel. It's rare that I let myself be affrighted, with lip stiff and eyes-righted, status quo's up-tighted, everything's alright-alrighted, better to live lukewarm than fight heat? Not so the incautious disciples. Jesus had left them alone and the sparks fly? Sparks fly. Why? asks Jesus in v16. When I can keep my fellowship undisputeacious by exercising low expectations, indeed exorcising no expectations. Mellow, risk averse and caveated. Is this the right response?
Mk9v17-18 'Could not'. The little words that betray my incompetence, my limits, my failure. To know I should be able to do better, to know what's expected, what would fit the circumstance, or what would glorify God...& to experience oneself as incapable of bringing it into fullness. Here I am. Would Jesus meet me, cut me open to heal me and help me to be a new kind of human, a different kind of capable. Surrender, leading to a new dimension.
Mk9v19-20 Talking about my generation. Gen X, Gen Y, boomers, millenials: convenient herd caricatures by pseudo-anthropologist ad agencies? Reductive, yet there is currency in tailoring remedies to a current diagnosis and in speaking healing in the lingua franca of a contemporary zeitgeist, but even more, over against individualistic renderings of being, ponder corporate sin, collective responsibility, intergenerationality, ubuntu and ways that the We goes awry. The bible considers that iniquity's repurcussions endure generationally Ex20v5, that asmuch as humanity has a timeless sin-nature, there is also a contextual sin-nurture, a specific schooling in this moment's iteration of human rebellion. How would one paint the sum of our generation? Dt32v5 crooked and twisted? Dt32v20 perverse? Faithless facebookers adrift on a wayward web? Into such a hegemon Jesus comes, patiently impatient. Into culture to call a counterculture. To restore a covenant that endures to a thousand generations.
Mk9v21-22 'From childhood': the temporal site of the core of all our brokenesses. A simple prayer this morning, bringing the child that I was, we were, you were, before Jesus. May he grant us increasing understanding of the way the child was hurt & numbed, so that he can heal us fully, so that he can take us by the hand & help us up.
Mk9v23-24 If you can keep your head.. Can lah? Jez we can. In contrast to Salena Godden's Can't and Ludwig van Bebothered. Can you? Faith comes in cans but where do the cans come from? Faith is a sense of the possible substantiated. Faith risks, reasonably but, reasoning with premises that not everyone holds, reasoning from precedents that not everyone deems plausible, reasoning by means improbable to ends impossible. Faith triumphs over unbelief and pushes ajar those doors we had thought it prudent to keep closed. Faith speculates and projects boldly, exceeding necessity, pragmatism or just desserts to a more-than. Immeasurably more than. Eph3v20
Mk9v25-26 After crying & convulsing terribly. There's been a bit of that. I am convinced that this has been Jesus, throwing up all the death all the unclean, all the muteness and the deafness, splaying it out, so that he can put me to death, so that he can raise me to life. Thanks be to the Christ, who does not leave me as I am. Help us to see the resurrection that all the crying & convulsing is for: it doesn't end here.
Mk9v27-28 "Why could we not cast the demon out?" v29 Only by prayer. That is, logically iff prayer. There exist some maladies for which prayer is the exclusive, necessary, sufficient cure. By contrast, the mechanistised medicalised disposition of modernity magnanimously might view supplication as supplimentary, euphemised to complementary therapy. But there is a paradigm difference between saying of a given condition: 'if you pray, healing might happen' to 'only-if you pray might healing happen'. Jesus claims there are some such maladies. How would you pray if you had only prayer? How would you pray if housing injustice was such an only-by-prayer demon? How would you pray for Islam, for L, T, B, P ... I want to learn to pray only-by-prayer prayers of frank unselfconscious undeserved desperate dependence.
Mk9v29-30 Pray. In tongues & questions & liturgy. In silence & breathing & strangled wailing sobs & with the muscles of your limbs & the forced out-loud prayers for friends and strangers. In petitions & swearing & poems & songs: they can all take on their own holiness. Pray. Rowan Williams says prayer is like sunbathing: it happens to you rather than you to it. But you do have to find the source of Light & put yourself under it. You do have to take your clothes off and expose yourself. And you do have to be prepared for it to take longer than you want it to.
Mk9v31 The Son of Man is delivered. What is delivery? Deliverance.co.uk, deliveroo.co.uk, consider Justin Welby's woes goo.gl/0pT4JX .. amazon prime-now (in 1 hour!), addison lee ('delivers people too').. Delivery trafficks the objectified from the powerful to the acquisitive. It shouldn't happen to people, least of all the Son of Man. But Jesus incarnated, carnal, like a piece of meat to be handled and traded, he made himself transactable, and his use of the present tense, 'is delivered' suggests the auction is already in process. In this he means no reproach, he paid the postage, his gift to you is himself.
Mk9v32 Understand? Jesus' meat-by-mail concept, suffering-servant concept, Jesus' resurrection schema ~ these are not facts among equal facts. These are disruptive premises. If you permit them in your understanding, everything else must be reordered around them. Do I understand? What is interesting is that the disciples believe without understanding, they follow without fully comprehending. Just as the father in the earlier verse prayed without believing, while the disciples tried to exorcise without praying.. There is grace for all of this.
Mk9v33-34 'What were you discussing on the way?', a bit like the Bible's very first question, the Gen3v9 'where are you?' in the Garden of Eden. God asks, not because God doesn't know the answer, but because we need to hear the question. What question does God ask you today? At which question do you stay silent, like the disciples here? From which question do you hide, as Adam & Eve? Which question threatens to expose your shameful places? God asks.
Mk9v35-36 Put a child in the midst of them. As Peterpan for a previous generation, MonstersInc offers a prescient parable perfectly executed to describe the tacit terror that industry has of children's unabstractable innocence youtu.be/z7PUWdrLQR8 Contemporary labour has frayed intergenerationality, alienating the non-adult to suburban enclaves, setting up a chasm between a trivialised infancy and an enbattled adulthood. While youth may be venerated as far as it is fashionably nubile, marketable, pesterpowerable, monetisable, cutely cooptable, cosmetically simulatable, but children as children are marginalised. Like contraband breastfeeding, so safeguarding risks totalising prohibitions problematising the presence of conspicuous vulnerability. Put a child in the midst of them. Dare to raise a child in the city.
Mk9v37 as I sat in the Abbey yesterday I felt God say that this whole season is a preparation for being a mother well, which is, I guess, receiving a child in the name of Christ rather than the name of Sarah, moving from child-as-anxious-repository-of-my-own-need, used to try to meet my own lack, to child-as-their-own-christ-bearing-glory, to be loved out of the overflow of my own belovedness, for their sake. To receive a child as such is to receive God.
Mk9v38 Christ's truth & love is everywhere. Where is your opportunity for truth & love for, with & from a non-Christian today?
Mk9v39-40 Jesus is calling all cliques to a brand with no style guide. With Sunday Assembly on my mind, such is a broadchurch but we're broader, let's push things forward.. All are welcome at this inclusive church, a holy catholic and apostolic club magnetically aggressively and sacrificially existing for the benefit of its non-members. And yet. This is not a mandate for laissez-faire ecumania. Note three things that Jesus presumes of this leftfield applicant to the tribe in question here: 1. 'doing mighty works' 2. 'in Jesus name' 3. 'speaking of Jesus'. Qualification for membership would seem to bear on active supernatural participation, explicitly invoking Jesus qua Jesus' power, so then to make known Jesus qua Jesus' glorious person. Am I?
Mk9v41-42 The Christ-cosmos is much deeper, more interconnected & more magic than I know. At any moment I am apt to be ignorant of what lies behind the other's gift or gesture, neither how a turn of phrase, a silence or a forgetfulness can shape a person's worldview. How quick to presume, & so how quick to do violence. The Christian life of living in union with Christ must be a life of always asking Him what's going on, asking for a glimpse - of what of what the cup of water means, of the meaning the little one absorbs through my body language. Oh, holy spirit, light up my imagination to see more Your Real in the small interactions with our fellows. Praying esp for H & B this morn, God bless then & keep them, & lead us into right midwiving of their faith. For all those we have, do, & will mother & father, grant us a bigger understanding of the spiritual forces at work. Amen.
Mk9v43-44 Serious, like 127 Hours serious. So visceral is this image of savage self-surgery it is apt to obscure the worldview Jesus is lampooning. While it is true that Jesus' hyperbole functions at the level: sin-is-grave, like amputation-is-grave;~ I would argue he is being more targeted than that: sin-involves-detachment, precisely like amputation-involves-detachment. "If your body causes you to sin.." is only utterable if your you is alienated from your body. Canet's Little White Lies, a many layered meditation on a community of total dishonesty and disengenuity, includes the encouragement to adultery by one character with the expression 'your body will thank you for it..' A whole world of sin follows from the duplicity of the dichotomy of body+soul. There are manifold other ways I achieve a form of cyborg sinlessness, compartmentalising sin-causes: my genes caused me to sin, my upbringing caused me to sin, some secondary or circumstantial scapegoat is surely to blame for the mess I have made with my depraved heart and corrupted will. Cut it out, Phil.
Mk9v45-46 In a different way don't we have repentance-as-detachment too? Not as the compartmentalising of sin, but the turning away of repentance? Louis Newman on repentance: goo.gl/Maq8uQ is a helpful articulation of the work of turning, through the eyes of a Jewish ethicist and recovering addict. We have much to learn on cutting out sin from the communal confessions of both Yom Kippur and the 12 step programme: owning our own sin, and believing that transformation is possible, though painful (like an amputation). Steps1-3 remind us of the conditions of this work though: admitting our weakness, faith in God, surrender of our whole self. Here are the conditions which transform self-mutilation into holiness. The recognition that God is working to sanctify us already, and we choose to play, or not. God's first work: 'You will tread our iniquities under foot. You cast our sins into the depths of the sea.' Mc7v19
Mk9v47-48 An eye for an eyefull: wandering, avaricious, lusting. I'm a visual thinker trapped with eyes pinned open in a visual age where image is everything and everything is porn. Jesus, the holistic criminologist, tries the lusty for thought-crime or pre-crime offences, Mt5v28. So Job, knowing his frailty, covenants with his eyes, Jb31v1 - (does that even work?) Lear's Gloucester considers it best that he lost his sight: "I have no way, and therefore want no eyes; I stumbled when I saw." Obi Wan trains Luke to duel lasers with an opaque blast visor down ~ your eyes deceive, stretch out with your feelings.. But this is not what is in view here. Jesus is calling all patched pirates to the pearly gates, who have lost stereoscopy for the sake of the Kingdom. Christians look different.
Mk9v49-50 Is this Mark's version of Mt5v13? There is no 'you are the salt' here, & perhaps this is helpful for re-reading Matt. For Mark, salt is God, not me. Salt is the fire of the moment of standing before God, as the Is66 quote indicates, like finally making it to The Zone in Stalker only to find yourself devastatingly laid bare. Salt cannot be made salty again because there is no substitute, no complex of E numbers which can be added to that which is not salt to make it salt. Not because things cannot be redeemed, but because they cannot be redeemed without God, and God is the saltiness that you're looking for. This way of thinking about salt pictures the self-defeating striving for saltiness without salt, for redemption without God...they are the same thing. If you find true salt, you'll find the spirit brooding nearby. So have salt in yourselves. Stand alone and naked before the fire of God. Only when you allow God to speak devastating truths to you about yourself can you live in peace with one another, as per this chapter's final exhortation.