Wednesday, February 13, 2008

A Day in the Life: Healing & Teaching

Wednesday, February 13, 2008 -- Week of 1 Lent
(Absalom Jones, Priest, 1818)

Today's Readings for the Daily Office (Book of Common Prayer, p. 953)
Psalms 119:49-72 (morning) 49 [53](evening)
Genesis 37:25-36
1 Corinthians 2:1-13
Mark 1:29-45

I'm glad to return to Morning Reflections. I've been under the weather for the better part of a week.

In Mark's Gospel today we see a snapshot of a day in the ministry of Jesus. It begins on Saturday, the Sabbath, when Jesus and the disciples attend worship and teaching at the synagogue in Capernaum. They come to Peter's home, where Peter's mother is ill. Jesus heals her and she serves them. (The Greek word for serve, "diakonein," is the root of our term "deacon.") When the Sabbath ends at sundown Jesus begins his work.

The ministry of Jesus is characterized by healing and teaching. His power is particularly manifest in the casting out of demons. People who are broken or suffering, people who have lost their center or their congruity -- find that in his presence they experience wholeness and health, meaning, congruity and centeredness.

In the morning, Jesus withdraws for his own intimate prayer with God. He is renewed in his centeredness upon God. He continues to move from place to place, even though there are more people who need his healing in Capernaum. He goes to the neighboring towns, he says, "so that I may proclaim the message there also." Healing and teaching.

The center of the teaching-message that he proclaims is the Kingdom of God, the near and inbreaking reign of God. It is a message that is threatening to the established authorities. It is threatening to the religious authorities because Jesus teaches that there is no external mediator between God and us. The gifts of blessing, forgiveness and divine presence are ours without need of recourse to the Temple or priests or other authorities. The Kingdom of God is among you. His message is threatening to the political authorities because it imagines the world as it would be if God were Emperor, not Caesar. He teaches of a society, culture and economy motivated by the virtues of compassion, love, generosity and equality, a society that overturns all of the power and authority of the established orders. It is the kind of thing that can get somebody condemned and killed.

Teaching and healing. Word and sacrament. Religious/political discourse and hands-on service to the needs of others. Walking the talk.

That is the calling that we are invited to enter into as the church, the community of Jesus. We are to continue to teach his message of forgiveness and freedom. And we are to continue to reach out in concrete and real ways to respond to the brokenness and need of our neighbors. Talking is not enough. Doing good without challenging the power and principalities is not enough.

In our reading from Paul's second letter to the Corinthians, we hear him speak of the spirit that empowers his ministry of healing and teaching. He has embraced the cross. He has died into Christ's death and been raised in a new life in the Spirit. This new life makes him bold to do and to teach. His orientation is no longer toward "a wisdom of this age or the rulers of this age, who are doomed to perish," but God's wisdom. God's very Spirit is now present in and through him -- motivating him to follow in the way Jesus has shown: to heal and bring wholeness and congruity to all human brokenness, and to proclaim a new Kingdom ruled by the virtues of compassion, love, generosity and equality.

That is our calling today.



Audio podcast: Listen to an audio podcast of the most recent Morning Reflections from today and the past week. Click the following link: Morning Reflection Podcasts

About Morning Reflections
Morning Reflections is a brief thought about the scripture readings from the Daily Office of Morning and Evening Prayer according to the practice found in the Book of Common Prayer of the Episcopal Church.

Morning Prayer begins on p. 80 of the Book of Common Prayer.
Evening Prayer begins on p. 117

An online resource for praying the Daily Office is found at
Another form of the office from Phyllis Tickle's "Divine Hours" is available on our partner web site at this location --

The Mission of St. Paul's Episcopal Church
is to explore and celebrate
God's infinite grace, acceptance, and love.

Visit our web site at

Our Rule of Life
We aspire to...
worship weekly
pray daily
learn constantly
serve joyfully
live generously.

Lowell Grisham, Rector
St. Paul's Episcopal Church
Fayetteville, Arkansas


At 9:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What do you think, please, of Obadiah Shoher's interpretation of the story? (here: ) He takes the text literally to prove that the brothers played a practical joke on Yosef rather than intended to murder him or sell him into slavery. His argument seems fairly strong to me, but I'd like to hear other opinions.

At 7:28 AM, Blogger Lowell said...

That's a very interesting take.

At first blush, it seems awfully contrived and complicated to me compared to what I think is the more conventional interpretation.

Scholars who study the documentary hypothesis have a pretty compelling explanation for the inconsistency in details. They see this as one of the stories that has been collected from both the Yahwist (the southern kingdom epic tradition) and the Elohist (the Northern kingdom epic tradition).

One version (the Yahwist) has Joseph rescued by Judah, the other by Ruben. One version remembers his being sold to the Midianites, the other to the Ishmaelites.

Rather than making editing decisions about these revered texts, the redactors often retained both memories, even when they conflicted with one another. That strikes me as a profound act of respect -- the editors being more concerned with preserving their traditions than with making them consistent, despite the complications that enjoins.

Makes sense to me.



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