Archive for July, 2006

Transfiguration

Monday, July 31st, 2006

Exodus 34:29-35

Psalm 99

2 Peter 1:13-21

Luke 9:28-36

In Mark’s Gospel, the account of the transfiguration follows culminates a section that follows on the feeding of the 4000. Mark arranges a big chunk of the first half of his gospel (before the transfiguration and turn to Jerusalem) around the device of sea crossing/3 miracles/instruction/feeding. The sea crossings and feedings are reminiscent of Moses, while the healings are reminiscent of Elijah/Elisha. Mark is using material from one or several early groups organized around a wide open table fellowship. People like the woman with the flow of blood, Jairus’ daughter, the man with the legion, the Syro-Phoenician woman’s daughter and the deaf man are crossing dangerous social boundaries to discover themselves miraculously fed in a new wilderness. They are the new Israel, formed by Moses and re-formed by Elijah/Elisha to include the unclean, and some of these groups (perhaps formed after Jesus’ resurrection — cf. that he is not in the boat with the disciples the second time across the sea, but appears as a ghost) include even Gentiles.

Mark uses this traditional material (see Burton Mack, A Myth of Innocence), but wants to claim for his own community the right to succeed these groups. (more…)

Here we go.

Friday, July 28th, 2006

So, I’ve finally caved to the pressure of our web-servant (not really) to start a blog. My intention is to use this space to reflect on the propers assigned for the coming Sunday as a way of sermon preparation. Once in each week’s postings, I’ll include a link to the Lectionary Page (once I get that part of it figured out).

This week’s Gospel is the crossing of the sea (walking on the sea) recorded in Mark’s Gospel (Chapter 6). It is a rich pericope. Most troubling, we are told that Jesus “intends to pass them [the struggling disciples] by.” I understand this section of Mark’s Gospel — end of chapter 4 through chapter 8 — to be organized around a set of miracles recorded twice (Paul Achtmeier is responsible for this discovery): Sea Crossing/3 Healings, instruction/Feeding in the Wilderness. The sea crossing and feeding in the wilderness suggest Moses, while the healings suggest Elijah and Elisha (raising widow’s sons = raising Jairus’ daughter, healing the Syro-Phoenician woman’s daughter).

In the first instance of sea crossing, Jesus is in the boat with the disciples. Those healed (the man with the Legion — destroying Rome’s army as a herd of pigs plunges into the sea! – Jairus’ daughter and the woman with the flow of blood) are all Judeans, returned to table fellowship by being healed (Jesus even tells those with Jairus’ daughter to give her something to eat). The feeding of the 5000 plus women and children in the wilderness signals a new Israel being formed by Jesus made up of all the undesirables who have to make a dangerous crossing to arrive in this new community.

In this week’s reading Jesus is not in the boat with the disciples. When they see him walking on the sea, they think they are seeing a ghost. This suggests a post-resurrection appearance. In the healings between the walking on the water and the feeding of the 4000, Jesus heals the daughter of the Syro-Phoenician woman, a Gentile, after an argument about dogs and bread. The storm at sea is possibly an early church fight about table fellowship with Gentiles, and even (the resurrected) Jesus takes convincing. When he comes to them, he intends to pass them by. If we spend all our time arguing, because we don’t understand about the loaves and our hearts are hardened, Jesus will pass us by.

What does this say to us as Israel and Hezbollah go at it hammer and tongs? What does it say to us as the Anglican Communion turns on itself with talons bared? What is it about the loaves that we don’t get? Tune in Sunday.