New Series: “Mark: Twelve Short Stories About Jesus
read this - i only have about five poems i’ve ever read and this is one of them. a) i should read more poems. b) the rest of the poems out there should be this good. c) and then i would read more of them.
Starting Sunday, June 23rd The Mount will begin a new series from the Gospel of Mark. A year ago we spent all of 2012 studying John; we were thorough, complete and always brought everything back to the main narrative.
As a departure, our focus in Mark will be entirely different. Each week we will study a short section of Christ’s life from Mark, but we’ll treat it as a short story. We’ll mine each section for truth and transformation, but will avoid connecting it to the main narrative. This should be a good fit since so many of us are in and out during the summer.
While our focus will be to take sections as short stories, we will do a few things to connect the pieces into the whole. On Sunday, June 23rd after Johnny leads worship we will all sit together and read the whole Gospel of Mark. Sixteen different readers will each take a chunk and we’ll all follow along. Many of us have never just sat and read an entire Gospel in one sitting so we want to start the series by doing that. Don’t worry, it only takes about 45 minutes! The other thing we’ll do each week during our series is to read a short poem by Barry Hannah before the sermon. Give it a read today and see what you think…Hope you can join us on the 23rd.
“Do not think so much.
Unprepared, move out to the world and testify.
The words will come. Serve.
From now on service is kingly.
There are no more kings.
Serve. Help. Love. Others as thyself.
This is impossible but do it.
You have seen enough. You have seen it all,
The miracles, the walk on water, Father speaking from a bright cloud.
You were not there but the centurion was,
Through the last hour.
The women, faithful, down the hill, waiting and watching.
“Truly this was the Son of God,” told the centurion.
To all near the cross. Not you, craven.
The temple did not fall but its veil was rent
Top to bottom. Enough. You do not need the whole catastrophe,
For it has already taken place.
God is not in the temple anymore.
You cowards, keep running, but now you are mine,
My brothers and sisters.
Tell them. Help. Love. Service.
My good cowards, weaklings, doubters,
How I love you,
Whom I serve, and will see in Galilee.”
- Barry Hannah, 1999
Lord, make me an
instrument of your peace!
where there is hatred,
let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
o Divine Master,
grant that i may not
so much seek to be consoled
as to console;
to be understood
as to understand;
to be loved
as to love;
for it is in giving
that we receive;
it is in pardoning
that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying
that we are born to eternal life.
when you start with ‘no’ it’s very hard, almost impossible to get back to ‘yes.’ contemplation is teaching, learning how to begin with ‘yes.’
text outside of context breeds fundamentalism…
either God is in all things or you lose the ability to see God in everything, including yourself.
The contemplation of which I speak is a religious and transcendent gift. It is not something we can attain alone, by intellectual effort, by perfecting our natural powers. It is not a kind of self-hypnosis, resulting from concentration on our own inner spiritual being…It is the gift of God, who, in his mercy, completes the hidden and mysterious work of creation in us by enlightening our minds and hearts, by awakening in us the awareness that we are words spoken in His One Word [Jesus], and that Creating Spirit dwells in us, and we in Him.
Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation
if church isn’t helping you transform your woundedness, it’s junk religion. the cauldron of the church is a place to transform pain.
Jesus is the icon of what God is doing everywhere…
if he is your lord and savior, why are you looking for salvation in money?…if Jesus is our savior, why is most of life preoccupied with a job promotion, with getting a second home and then a retirement home? if Jesus is our savior, why are we so militaristic and preoccupied with making more and more bombs? Jesus isn’t our savior.
father richard rohr, job and the mystery of suffering
we have to face our fears and doubts from page one. an awful lot of religion is an excuse for not facing our fears and doubts. true religion is not denial but transformation.
father richard rohr, job and the mystery of suffering
watch out for people who try to dazzle you with big words and intellectual double-talk. they want to drag you off into endless arguments that never amount to anything. they spread their ideas through the empty traditions of human beings and the empty superstitions of spirit beings. but that’s not the way of Christ. everything of God gets expressed in him, so you can see and hear him clearly. you don’t need a telescope, a microscope, or a horoscope to realize the fullness of Christ, and the emptiness of the universe without him. when you come to him, that fullness comes together for you, too.
when human creativity is defective and falls short of God’s intention, as with environmental pollution that lays waste to ecosystems or exploitative use of resources like clear-cut logging, it neither honors what has come before nor creates fruitful space for creatures, humans and otherwise, who will come later.
andy crouch, culture making
My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore I will trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.
Thomas Merton’s prayer for guidance. (via utahgrace)
a week with a guru
i spent all of last week in albuquerque with father richard rohr, a franciscan priest who has spent his life helping people learn the old mystic ways of following Jesus. this of course scares most of american christianity since he’s not interested in building bigger building with fancier light shows for church.
our small class of ten would spend the day with richard at the center for action and contemplation. we’d start the day with 20 minutes of contemplative prayer, then he’d teach until lunch. after lunch we’d do mindless zen chores like planting vegetables and picking up garbage; again, just clearing space in our brains to let God in. he’d teach some more and then we’d end the day with another 20-minute sit.
at 70-years old, richard tends to bounce around topics a bit so i’m clueless as to how to frame the entire week of class. that said, here are a few gems that i think are worth sharing. i took 40-pages of notes and will likely spend the next few months re-chewing on everything he presented.
- “you cannot see what you are not told to see.”
- “the american mind is not known for subtlety.”
- “without the critique of self, all religion is self-referential.”
- “Jesus never apologized for being Jewish; he never apologized for critiquing it either. Jesus is a critique on religion.”
- “Jesus is the icon of what God is doing everywhere.”
- “when you start with ‘no,’ it’s very hard, almost impossible to get back to ‘yes.’ if we only think of ourselves as a pile of shit with snow on it, it’s really hard to do much with that.”
- “this is an exercise in assured failure.” (speaking on contemplative prayer)
- “almost all thinking is obsessive compulsive. we keep thinking the same damn things over and over!”
- “if you do not transform your pain, you will transmit it. the cauldron of the church is a place to transform pain. If church isn’t helping you transform your woundedness, it’s junk religion.”
- “text [the bible] outside of context breeds fundamentalism.”
- “either God is in all things or you lose the ability to see God in anything, including yourself.”
- “instead of asking the questions we got too focused on giving the answers.” (speaking of american christianity)
- “God can love whoever God wants! but we like to make the rules!”
- “knowing must be balanced by unknowing.”
- “a christian is someone who’s met one!”
- “break your dependency on effectiveness and efficiency.”
- “you never look radical enough when you’re teaching contemplation!”
- “the irony of history is just so stupid!”
- “we’d better honor this larger mystery we’re a part of. God wasn’t just waiting around for luther to translate the bible into german for millions of years.”
- “to put action and contemplation together: that is what is means to be holy.”
we do not think ourselves into a new way of living, but we live ourselves into a new way of thinking.