Posted by: Melissa Bane Sevier | March 18, 2015

Do we ever find what we’re looking for?

Lent is an interesting season. While we work through the scripture stories we are given, we find ourselves looking for something, hoping to find an answer to…what? Our own questions? The problems of modern existence? Everything?

Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, ‘Sir, we wish to see Jesus.’ Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. Jesus answered them, ‘The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor. [from John 12]

A few Greeks (Gentiles) who were heading to Passover were looking for Jesus. Did they find what they were seeking?

It’s hard to say.

First of all, we don’t know what it is they hoped to find. I’ll bet they didn’t exactly know either. Maybe they were just curious about stories they’d heard. Maybe these God-fearing Gentiles were gathering all the learning they could from every promising rabbi. Maybe they had a spiritual longing that had yet to be filled.

The message from Jesus was likely not what they expected. He spoke of glory and cross.

We don’t know what happened to those seekers. I’d like to believe they went away with something new to think about. Glory and cross. Glory was easy to hear—who wouldn’t be attracted to that?

But the cross? Suffering isn’t an attractive concept, but it’s certainly a real one. And it’s a common theme in many lectionary texts during Lent. No human life exists without it. While it is certainly not the pathway to glory and is also not something to be sought, it just is. Suffering doesn’t prevent glory, but maybe it helps us to appreciate glory when we see it. As horrible as it is when we or someone we care about suffers, that very trouble highlights anything beautiful that comes along. Precious conversations and memories, taking nothing for granted, calm in the middle of the storm.

This winter has been a hard one in my neck of the woods. Record cold. Record snows. Perhaps even record whining on Facebook. But the bitterness of the winter (and especially an incredibly cold and snowy first week of March) has made recent spring-like days seem even more glorious. This weekend at my house we’ll be cleaning the asparagus bed of all last year’s dead stalks and dressing it with mulch. From bitterness comes hope that glory will spring up soon.

Did the ones who sought Jesus find what they were looking for? Hard to say. Maybe what they heard was that bitterness and hope walk together on the road to the cross.

© Melissa Bane Sevier, 2015

Posted by: Melissa Bane Sevier | March 12, 2015

Snakes on a plain

When I was a new third grade teacher I kept a file box of “emergency ideas.” An emergency, in this case, was an extra five or ten minutes to fill after the math lesson was completed, say, and before the class was scheduled to go to the library. Any teacher knows that five minutes of unstructured time in a third grade classroom is deadly. My “emergency ideas” included things like an oral math game that could be shortened or extended as necessary, the title of a picture book that could be read to the class in just a few minutes, a writing prompt. When I was discussing this with one of my fellow teachers she said, “Ask them if they’ve ever seen a snake. Every third grader has a snake story.” I doubted her, but she was right. Ask any third grade class if anyone has seen a snake, and every hand will shoot up into the air—even the hand of the kid who never participates in any class discussion.
The people of Israel have a fabulous, though quite odd, snake story.

From Mount Hor they set out by the way to the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom; but the people became impatient on the way. The people spoke against God and against Moses, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we detest this miserable food.” Then the LORD sent poisonous serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many Israelites died. The people came to Moses and said, “We have sinned by speaking against the LORD and against you; pray to the LORD to take away the serpents from us.” So Moses prayed for the people. And the LORD said to Moses, “Make a poisonous serpent, and set it on a pole; and everyone who is bitten shall look at it and live.” So Moses made a serpent of bronze, and put it upon a pole; and whenever a serpent bit someone, that person would look at the serpent of bronze and live.  [From Numbers 21]

This snake story sounds more like magic than like faith, like something done by a shaman instead of by the monotheist who received the Law.
The people have been released from slavery—woohoo! They are on their way to the promised land, but they learn what all of us do: wherever we go, there we are. We don’t leave the bad parts of our selves behind. So, they start complaining about the food. They get impatient. And hateful. And snarky.

God sends a plague of snakes. Poisonous snakes. That gets their attention. When they cry out for help, the plague of snakes isn’t removed, but they are told to look at the bronze serpent and they will be healed of the poison.
It’s a terribly odd story, but it does capture the imagination. It captured Jesus’ imagination, and he used the bronze snake as a symbol of himself lifted up on the cross.

Just what is this wild story about?

Snakes, in ancient cultures, were nearly always the symbol of evil. Think Genesis. So when snakes overrun the camp, we might imagine it as symbolic of the evil that had entered into the camp already. What plays out in this story is the tangible metaphor—snakes—of the poisonous thoughts and attitudes of the people.

For although they thought they could get along without God out there, they’d already forgotten what God had done for them.

We may try to put evil behind us. We move to a quiet town in Kentucky, put our kids in safe schools, drive past horse farms on the way to work. But we cannot escape conflict, disorder, illness and death because they live wherever we are.

Snakes are a reminder that there are things we should be afraid of—our own behavior, for example—but we blithely ignore them. God’s punishment to the people in the desert was to show them what it’s really like to be confronted with our selves, with the evil within and the evil without. Most of the time those things are in check, but here’s what it’s like when they’re not: it’s like a plague of snakes.

Snakes suggest to the Israelites that there is still an unpredictability to life; that survival hangs in the balance between life and death; that God is the source of our help and strength.

God so loved the world.

We cannot on our own banish the snakes of our own bad behavior, the serpents of evil around us, the poison of our own words, shortcomings, failings. We lift our hearts to see the love of God who does for us what we cannot accomplish for ourselves.

© Melissa Bane Sevier, 2015

Posted by: Melissa Bane Sevier | February 26, 2015

Bearing the cross of compassion

Mark 8:31-38 Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.” He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life?

Maybe this is the very hardest of Jesus’ teachings. Not because it is difficult to understand what he’s saying, but because it’s impossible to understand why he’s saying it.

“Taking up the cross” means taking on suffering. But why? Who on earth would want to do that?

Well, certainly not Peter. He surely doesn’t want Jesus to do it. “Come on, Lord. You’re upsetting the crowds. Nobody wants to join up with a rabbi who’s going to suffer and die. They want peace. They are looking for happiness, security. They are looking for God, for heaven’s sake. Not suffering. And certainly not death.”

Jesus tells Peter to stop it. Not only is he saying something theologically wrong, it is Satanic—tempting. Because nobody, not even Jesus, wants to suffer. It’s against every ounce of self-preservation we have.

And so Jesus calls together the whole crowd and here’s what he says: if you want to follow me, you have to suffer.

WHATTTT???? Seriously? He did not say that.

I think I’m on Peter’s side with this one. Sorry, Jesus, but nobody, nobody, wants suffering to be part of the spirituality package.

But, here’s the thing: suffering just, well, it just is. We can’t avoid it. It comes to all of us, in different forms. It is simply part of life, so don’t go around preaching some weak gospel that says we can—by our faith—get rid of it. That’s not divine. It’s a Satanic gospel. Because it sounds like good news, but it isn’t.

Suffering just is. If we try to deny its existence for us or to someone else, if we say “it’s not that bad,” or “you’ll get over it soon,” or “just have faith,” we are not honoring the depth of painful experience, we’re not paying attention to our own inner selves but are covering up something very important. We are closing ourselves off to God, rather than allowing ourselves and others to cry out to God from the depth of experience.

If we think we are beyond the fear of death, then what do we have to share with God’s world? We will have tried to save our lives, but will have lost our souls in the process. Only a soulless religion thinks nothing bad will happen. A soulful religion has arms big enough to encompass suffering.

Our lives are significant. They are significant not because we have succeeded in avoiding suffering, or have told ourselves that pain doesn’t matter.

Our lives are significant partly because suffering matters so very much.

Jesus believed it matters. He stands with the suffering in the most significant of ways. Not to make them feel better. To make them not feel alone.

And we stand with each other. We are better at this once our own hearts have been broken. Not that we have the answer after that, but we tread a little differently afterwards. We see a little differently. Our own hurt, if we let it, eventually can allow us to open our hearts to the hurts of others.

So, yes, the crosses that we bear weigh us down. But Jesus invites us to follow him in his cross-bearing. Toward the future. Away from denial. Into the path where cross-bearing is acknowledged, maybe even welcomed, and the pain is lessened by all the company we have around us.

We raise our questions and our pain to God, where they hang in the air. God holds them gently, and weeps. As hard as it is to look at suffering, God refuses to turn away.

This is the true gospel.

© Melissa Bane Sevier, 2015

Posted by: Melissa Bane Sevier | February 18, 2015

Lenten transformation

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.’ And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness for forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him. Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.’ [from Mark 1]

Every religion has ways of talking about transformation: repentance, conversion, being illuminated. We all feel the stirrings within us of the need for change, but it is so hard to do.

In Mark’s simple way, we hear in a few short verses how Jesus came from obscurity, was baptized, spent time alone with God in the wilderness, and, when John’s ministry was over, emerged to start his own.

Lent is our wilderness time. If we are hoping to turn our hearts toward God this Lenten season, we must start with transformation. The need, the desire.

Honestly, I think that’s what people are after when they set out to lose 20 pounds by giving up sweets during Lent. It’s the idea of being transformed into some better version of ourselves. We want to be thinner, nicer, more humble, more spiritual.

Jesus talked about repentance, which means to turn. To stop what we’re doing and do something different, or do the same thing in a different way. It requires change.

We get into habits, even spiritual habits, that become rote. Change is good for the mind, good for the soul. Doing something different during Lent can make us rethink, re-establish, who we are with God, who we are with others, who we are within ourselves.

We never stop developing. Yes, it gets harder to change old habits when they’ve been ingrained in us for decades. But that certainly doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Habits like not looking for God’s presence in the world, no longer hearing the rustling of the Spirit, sleepwalking through life.

Transformation may be huge. But it may also be small, incremental. I would never be so bold as to tell you what type of change or transformation you should attempt, but here are a few thoughts: 1) One minute of silence each morning. 2) One page of reading something deep and important. 3) Opening and ending the day in the presence of God. 4) Giving thanks throughout the day. 4) Writing one sentence or a paragraph in a journal—just thoughts and hopes, or fears, or emotions—positive or negative. Honestly, God cares about all of it.

Here we are, every morning, with the opportunity to make that day a new one.

How will you be transformed?

© Melissa Bane Sevier, 2015

Posted by: Melissa Bane Sevier | February 10, 2015

Learning when to be quiet

Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus. Then Peter said to Jesus, ‘Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.’ He did not know what to say, for they were terrified. Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!’ Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them any more, but only Jesus.
As they were coming down the mountain, he ordered them to tell no one about what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead. So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what this rising from the dead could mean. [from Mark 9]

If a strong extrovert is one who speaks in order to clarify his thinking, then that is what Peter was. I can hardly judge him, because we all do this from time to time: we say something and realize even as the words are coming out of our mouths that the idea we’re forming isn’t quite what we’d hoped.

Many scholars have long believed that the writer of this particular gospel got much of his information from Peter, which makes the stories that feature him even more interesting. Peter’s not reluctant to have said to his interviewer: “I was scared out of my mind, but I thought somebody had to say something, so I told him we could build some shrines or something. Even while I was saying it, I knew it sounded stupid. Jesus was kind enough not to comment…”

As I said, I think we all can relate. We talk too soon and too much, when sometimes we just need to let the silence stand a little longer. We’re afraid, like Peter, or we’re anxious or rushed or impatient or even uncaring.

When someone wants to discuss a concern, we should offer an ear rather than jumping in with advice. When there’s a conflict, taking sides early on without lots of listening can short-circuit the process or contribute to driving the parties farther apart. When someone disagrees with us, instead of forming our arguments while they are speaking, we ought to hear carefully both what they are saying and imagine what may deeper values lie behind the issues in both the other’s perspective and ours.

Maybe Peter and the others learned something. Once he stopped talking, they had an incredible spiritual experience, certainly not one he’d planned in the constructing-of-shrines scenario. On the way down the mountain Jesus told them not to tell anyone what they’d seen—not yet. And “they kept the matter to themselves” even though they had many unresolved questions.

We don’t have to have all the answers. When we are still, we make ourselves open to new experiences, to learning from others, to input from the Spirit.

We just need to close our mouths and open our hearts and minds.

© Melissa Bane Sevier, 2015

Posted by: Melissa Bane Sevier | February 3, 2015

To be able to walk

This time of year is rough on lots of people. In Kentucky we’ve had a lot less snow and ice than in some other places.  Even so, the grayness and short days often have a wearing effect. Some suffer from seasonal affective disorder, which leads to depression.

Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the faint,
and strengthens the powerless.
Even youths will faint and be weary,
and the young will fall exhausted;
but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength,
they shall mount up with wings like eagles,
they shall run and not be weary,
they shall walk and not faint. [from Isaiah 40]

Our writer was of course speaking to a people in exile, who’d spent a lot of years away from home. They were tired. Tired of the distance, the longing, the not knowing if they’ll ever get back, of feeling powerless.

He speaks to us, too. We get tired. Exhausted, even. Lonely. Faint, the poet says. And what is the word we’re to hear?

When I studied biblical languages, I learned that triplets(three-line sequences) in Hebrew poetry, like the one at the end of this chapter, grew in emphasis from the first to the third. In other words, the last line is more important to the author than the middle, and the middle is more important than the first. In this case, that seems counterintuitive to me.

If he were thinking/writing/preaching the way I would, the poet would have said, “They shall walk and not faint, they shall run and not be weary, they shall mount up with wings like eagles.” But his order is just the opposite of what I’d expect.

Surely, I would say, flying like an eagle should be the pinnacle moment of this poem, not walking without falling down.

Here’s what I have grown to love in this poem: Sometimes, no matter how much we long to soar like an eagle, all we can do is barely manage to put one foot in front of the other, over and over and over again. Maybe that is the pinnacle. That the very best thing is simply to be able to walk, in faith and with strength, because God accompanies us.

© Melissa Bane Sevier, 2015

Posted by: Melissa Bane Sevier | January 26, 2015

Teaching, the Jesus way

They went to Capernaum; and when the sabbath came, he entered the synagogue and taught. They were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. Just then there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit, and he cried out, ‘What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.’ But Jesus rebuked him, saying, ‘Be silent, and come out of him!’ And the unclean spirit, throwing him into convulsions and crying with a loud voice, came out of him. They were all amazed, and they kept on asking one another, ‘What is this? A new teaching—with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.’ At once his fame began to spread throughout the surrounding region of Galilee. [Mark 1:21-28]

Jesus is teaching, and a man bursts into the synagogue, tormented by some mental health issue. A demon, it was called in those days.

Jesus turns and heals him, just as he will heal so many others of disease or disability.

Then he turns back to his teaching.

I’ll bet people listen a little more closely after that.

Jesus was called many things, but what about “teacher?”

When you are a teacher, you are given a tremendous amount of authority. But that’s not just the power to control. It’s the power to form, to connect, to inspire.

A good teacher notices more than just the material and the students’ questions. He notices who is sick. She pays attention to the ones who come to class hungry. He asks questions if a student appears to have been abused or neglected.

We seek out those in bondage to demons, and make it our life’s work to help cast them out.

Jesus showed us that stopping and paying attention to their needs doesn’t dilute the message of the gospel. It is the message of the gospel.

© Melissa Bane Sevier, 2015

Posted by: Melissa Bane Sevier | January 20, 2015

Armchair travelers

Want a life of travel? Excitement? Challenge? Seeing new places and meeting new people? Then follow Jesus.
I’ve always wondered if that isn’t the assumed message heard by the fishermen whom Jesus called on the shores of the Sea of Galilee:

As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea–for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.” And immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets. Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him. [Mark 1:16-20]

Likely, these guys knew Jesus already, had been drawn in by his teaching, and now he was offering them a life on the road. Leave the boats and see places they’d never been? Of course! Why not? And off they went, leaving their towns, their livelihood, their families behind. I’ve read that Jewish rabbis of the time typically didn’t seek followers; their followers sought them. Someone looking to study with a rabbi would do a little research, ask some questions, and then seek the rabbi with whom he wanted to study. Usually, this type of study would mean reflection, contemplation, studying the Torah and other writings.
Maybe the four disciples we read about here recognized something different about Jesus’ invitation. “Follow” suggests going someplace.

“Fishing for people” implies that the interactions they’ll have will involve more than a small group of students.
Travel, people, and excitement. They found all these things while following Jesus, but probably not in the way they expected. Sometimes they had to glean fields or depend on strangers for food. They’d get kicked out of places; they’d find themselves in increasing danger.
Even the teaching, we’ll read later on, wasn’t what they’d expected. Instead of just reflecting on faith ideas, they would experience their traditional beliefs and practices challenged. They’d find themselves at a banquet seated next to rich businessmen, or serving the poor on a hillside. Jesus told them that the types of people they’d been taught not to like were often the types God seems to favor.
But what about those who were left behind? What about Zebedee and the hired workers? What about all the others who heard Jesus but weren’t called to this life on the road?
What about us?
We may need to remind ourselves of this obvious fact: not everyone is called to leave the boats and nets, to leave family and place. The vast majority of us are called to stay where we are as we serve God.
But at the same time, the calling of Jesus all through the gospels is to get out of our comfort zone, to recognize that while we are to keep on fishing right where we are, we must do it consciously. We bring in as many aspects as possible of life “on the road with Jesus” to the everyday.
We pay attention to the outcast, the sick, the poor among us. We challenge the status quo. We seek justice and equality. We live kindly among our friends and family and among strangers. We allow our own faith and assumptions to be upended by new ideas and new experiences. We tread lightly on the earth.
Can we do all this from home? You bet.
But we do it best when we allow ourselves to journey with Jesus, even if we don’t leave town.

© Melissa Bane Sevier, 2015

Posted by: Melissa Bane Sevier | January 14, 2015

Ignore?

When a call comes up on my cell phone, I have two choices. I can tap “answer” and speak to the caller, or I can choose “ignore” and let it go to voicemail. If I am in a meeting or otherwise engaged, I sometimes have to hit “ignore,” then I check later to see if there’s a message.

I was reminded of this as we embark on a series of call stories—two of them this week. The one about the boy Samuel is intriguing, to say the least.

Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the Lord under Eli. The word of the Lord was rare in those days; visions were not widespread.

At that time Eli, whose eyesight had begun to grow dim so that he could not see, was lying down in his room; the lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the Lord, where the ark of God was. Then the Lord called, ‘Samuel! Samuel!’* and he said, ‘Here I am!’ and ran to Eli, and said, ‘Here I am, for you called me.’ But he said, ‘I did not call; lie down again.’ So he went and lay down. The Lord called again, ‘Samuel!’ Samuel got up and went to Eli, and said, ‘Here I am, for you called me.’ But he said, ‘I did not call, my son; lie down again.’ Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, and the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him. The Lord called Samuel again, a third time. And he got up and went to Eli, and said, ‘Here I am, for you called me.’ Then Eli perceived that the Lord was calling the boy. Therefore Eli said to Samuel, ‘Go, lie down; and if he calls you, you shall say, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.” So Samuel went and lay down in his place. Now the Lord came and stood there, calling as before, ‘Samuel! Samuel!’ And Samuel said, ‘Speak, for your servant is listening.’ [1st Samuel 3:1-10]

Samuel was young, living away from home and the familiar, a student/protégé. Lonely? Anxious? Bewildered? Certainly, he wasn’t used to listening for the voice of God. It doesn’t seem as though our writer would have us believe that Samuel was intentionally ignoring the call, only that his lack of experience kept him from recognizing it when it came to him. It took Eli’s wisdom—and time—to convince them both that something was at work.

And it makes me wonder: when have I missed something important? Not a cell phone call, but something deeper. When have I chosen to ignore instead of answering? When should I have done something but have been inactive? When should I have spoken up but have been silent?

The voice is all around us. In a news story about hungry children in our state, or about people who have inadequate health care. In a new piece of information about domestic violence. In a phone call from a friend or acquaintance or relative that signals a need. In a conversation about a class or group of people who are treated unfairly.

We can’t answer every need with an all-out response; there isn’t enough time or energy. But some needs will call out to us more than others because each one of us has different “receptors.”

Eli’s wisdom was to keep listening with an open heart and mind, and see what happens.

© Melissa Bane Sevier, 2015

Posted by: Melissa Bane Sevier | January 7, 2015

Life off the grid

John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. He proclaimed, “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.” [Mark 1:4-11]
Just when we thought we were done with John the Baptist after having him appear two of our four Sundays in Advent, we have to see him again.
What a strange character. Living in the wilderness, odd clothing, odd diet. Of course he must eat honey; how else is one able to choke down locusts?
I have seen a number of articles lately about people who live “off the grid,” which apparently can mean different things. Mostly, it seems to mean people who are not connected to a community-based power source. Perhaps they have a generator or solar power—or maybe no electric power at all. They may have heat from a wood or coal stove. Their drinking water may come from streams or they may carry it home in bottles. They may or may not have a gasoline or diesel powered vehicle.
In the developing world, people often live off the grid because of circumstances beyond their control, not by choice. And, in John’s time, obviously, there was no grid.
Even so, John’s manner of living was so ascetic as to invite comment by the authors of both Matthew and Mark.
What interests me is that this man whose lifestyle seemed strange to his contemporaries, was the person who recognized Jesus as the one sent from God.
Could it be that when we take some time to separate from our usual “grid,” we are better able to pay attention to the spiritual, and to how the spiritual is integrated into other parts of our living?
A day off from work or caregiving, turning off the television to have a conversation, a walk in the neighborhood, playing a game with your child instead of doing the dishes, spending a few minutes simply to watch the wind play in the grass… Anything that disrupts our usual way of being “plugged in” to life at a fast pace can create some space for the holy, and increase our sensitivity to things that aren’t necessarily tangible.
Life moves so fast, and like being in a car driving down the interstate, we don’t get to pay attention to the important things we’re passing by. Maybe January will be a time when you can slow down, disconnect from whatever “grid” is keeping you from experiencing holy moments. Maybe you, like John, will be prepared to recognize the movement of God in the ordinary people and events around you.

copyright Melissa Bane Sevier

copyright Melissa Bane Sevier

© Melissa Bane Sevier, 2015

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