Come into the wilderness a place of promise and hope

FROM THE ARCHIVES…

Note: From 1999-2003 Stan Hirsch facilitated the Sunday Morning Forum. He collected a wealth of information. To my delight he archived the material. In the weeks to come we’ll mine this archived material for Supplemental information on our work in the Year B Lectionary. Since space is not restricted, I may add to the original material from time to time. I encourage you to follow the links when given. Come back often, go exploring, keep learning. ~dan

Mark 1:9-13

Quote . . .Lent is a season of great hope, a season of movement into the loving embrace of our Father.

Lent is a time when we are put in mind that we live today in the Kingdom of God, as we shed the distractions in order to see the reality of God’s presence with us. But Lent also is the season that is most usually symbolized by the word “wilderness.” Wilderness always comes across as an unpleasant place, but it is a very frequent setting in Scripture…

The good news about Lent and the wilderness is that it is a time for formation and reformation. It is a time when we can be formed as a people of God and it is a time when we can be renewed in our commitment to Christ…

We are reminded too in the Gospel today that Jesus was not driven into the wilderness by Satan, he was driven there by the Holy Spirit. And at the end we are told that angels ministered to him. The wilderness is not a bad place. It is a place of great promise and hope. It is a place for stripping away of all the old dependencies that tear us down and coming to grips with total reliance on God—a God who loves us and wants for us freedom and prosperity, a God of plenty, a God of love. The route through the wilderness leads us from an unsatisfying life to a life of abundance. But if you are like me, you would just as soon avoid the wilderness because leaving the familiar, leaving the known, leaving the predictable, for unpleasant thoughts, wrestling with what we fear is an altogether inadequate faith to guide us through. We want to avoid the wilderness because it means we have to struggle with hard choices. Choices of temptation. It would be so much easier if we were simply animals of instinct and did not have to make choices. But if we were, we would never be able to embrace each other in love. Nor would we be able to embrace our God with love.

…The wilderness is a place of movement to good. When we go there in the Lenten season, we face the demons of insecurity and time pressures. We face our own demons of hypertension and self-doubt. We also know that we are moving towards Easter, the resurrection and the presence with God. [1]


[1] February 21, 1999, Lent — A Season of Hope, The Rev. Dr. Robert G. Certain

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Teaching with humor

FROM THE ARCHIVES…

Note: From 1999-2003 Stan Hirsch facilitated the Sunday Morning Forum. He collected a wealth of information. To my delight he archived the material. In the weeks to come we’ll mine this archived material for Supplemental information on our work in the Year B Lectionary. Since space is not restricted, I may add to the original material from time to time. I encourage you to follow the links when given. Come back often, go exploring, keep learning. ~dan

Jonah is unique among the prophetic books. No kidding.

Quote . . .Jonah is unique among the prophetic books. Jonah himself is never called a prophet in the text. The book contains no collections of oracles in verse against Israel and foreign nations but presents a prose narrative about the prophet himself. Instead of portraying a prophet who is an obedient servant of the LORD, calling people to repentance, it features a recalcitrant prophet who tries to flee from God and his mission and sulks when his hearers repent.

The principal figure of this deceptively simple story is presumably based on an obscure Galilean prophet from Gath‐hepher who counseled Jeroboam II (788–747 BCE) in a successful conflict with the Syrians (2 Kings 14.25 ). The author of the book of Jonah apparently drew upon legends that had collected about this prophet and put them to new use in a brief story that contains elements of folktale, fable, satire, and allegory. The two parts of the story, chs 1–2 and 3–4 , are united by their central character (Jonah), a similar plot (the ironical conversion of foreigners to faith in the LORD), and an identical theme (the breadth of God’s saving love). The influence of Jeremiah and Second Isaiah in the text suggests that the author probably lived in the postexilic period. Although the linguistic evidence is indecisive, a date in the fifth or fourth century BCE is plausible.

The book of Jonah is also uncharacteristic, when compared to other writings in the prophetic tradition, in its use of humor to make its points. Humorous qualities, such as exaggerated behavior (running away from God, 1.3 ); inappropriate actions (sleeping through a violent storm, 1.5 ); outlandish situations (offering a prayer of thanksgiving from inside a fish’s belly, 2.1 ); ludicrous commands (animals must fast and wear sackcloth, 3.7–8 ); and emotions either contrary to expectation (anger at mercy, 4.1–2 ) or out of proportion (being angry enough to die because a plant has withered, 4.9 ) appear throughout the story. But all of these qualities serve to underline the book’s themes. (Pointer added by dan)

Repentance and deliverance are the dominant themes in the story of Jonah, reflected in its use in the New Testament (Mt 12.38–41; Lk 11.29–32 ) and as the afternoon Prophetic Bible reading on the Jewish holy day of Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement). With skill and finesse this little book calls Israel to repentance and reminds it of God’s extravagant mercy and forgiveness (Ex 34.6; Joel 2.13 ). In spirit, therefore, the book justifies its place in the Book of the Twelve Prophets. 

Coogan, Michael D. . “Jonah.” In The New Oxford Annotated Bible. Oxford Biblical Studies Online, accessed (anew) 23 Jan 2012

 Image: From the internet–http://travelerstrails.com

3 nuggets to enrich your reading of Mark’s Gospel. Are they golden?

FROM THE ARCHIVES…

Note: From 1999-2003 Stan Hirsch facilitated the Sunday Morning Forum. He collected a wealth of information. To my delight he archived the material. In the weeks to come we’ll mine this archived material for Supplemental information on our work in the Year B Lectionary. Since space is not restricted, I may add to the original material from time to time. I encourage you to follow the links when given. Come back often, go exploring, keep learning. ~dan

Nugget 1. Rend, rent, rending … consider this:

“…‘O that you would rend the heavens and come down!’ These words of Isaiah 64:1 may have influenced Mark’s choice of language here: Jesus ‘saw the heavens rent open’ (1:10). This a very graphic way of doing christology. In Jesus there is a meeting of the God sphere and the human sphere…”

“First Thoughts on Year B Gospel Passages in the Lectionary: The Baptism of Jesus,”  by William Loader, Murdoch University, Uniting Church in Australia, 1999. http://wwwstaff.murdoch.edu.au/~loader/MkBaptism.htm (Checked 7 Jan 2012)

Nugget 2. A literary device used by the author of Mark?
“The Heavenly Veil Torn: Mark’s Cosmic ‘Inclusio’ ”

Mark did indeed imagine a link between the tearing of the heavens and the tearing of the temple veil– since we can now see that in fact in both cases the heavens were torn–and that he intentionally inserted the motif of the “tearing of the heavenly veil” at both the precise beginning and at the precise end of the earthly career of Jesus, in order to create a powerful and intriguing symbolic inclusio…”

by David Ulansey. [Originally published in Journal of Biblical Literature 110:1 (Spring 1991) pp. 123-25] http://www.well.com/user/davidu/veil.html (Updated 7 Jan 2012)

Nugget 3. One answer (disputed, we’re Episcopalians after all) to the question of the authorship of the Gospel according to Mark (the Gospel account of Year B in the Revised Common Lectionary)

Note: Eusebius wrote c. 320-330 CE. Scholars writing today have to take into account this work from our church history. Agreeing or disagreeing, they must account for this testimony of Eusebius (who is quoting the Presbyter John and Papias and more on that in a later post).

Quote . . .Papias gives also in his own work other accounts of the words of the Lord on the authority of Aristion who was mentioned above, and traditions as handed down by the presbyter John; to which we refer those who are fond of learning. …

“This also the presbyter said: Mark having become the interpreter of Peter, wrote down accurately, though not in order, whatsoever he remembered of the things said or done by Christ. For he neither heard the Lord nor followed him, but afterward, as I said, he followed Peter, who adapted his teaching to the needs of his hearers, but with no intention of giving a connected account of the Lord’s discourses, so that Mark committed no error while he thus wrote some things as he remembered them. For he was careful of one thing, not to omit any of the things which he had heard, and not to state any of them falsely.” These things are related by Papias concerning Mark.

The Church History of Eusebius. Fourth Century Book III Chapter XXXIX nn 14-15. The Writings of Papias. http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf201.iii.viii.xxxix.html (Updated 7 Jan 2012)

 Image: From the internet–http://travelerstrails.com
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