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I remember teaching our oldest to ride a bike. We have a flat stretch in front of our mailbox, but as you get past the house, towards a cul-de-sac, the road slants downhill, so once you get going you can pick up speed, which is a little scary when you’re just getting going. She was on the bike and, even after a few falls, was still a bit more confident than I was. As a parent your job is to help get things moving, and then to run alongside, early on with your hand on the back of the seat, then slowly letting go – sometimes the rider is to notice, sometimes they aren’t, until everyone is stable enough to ride off on their own. It begins with the necessary scrapes and tears, the persistence, then the euphoria…anyone who has helped a child do this knows the feeling…they finally get it, are riding off, and they realize they are doing, the adult back behind them raising their hands in victory! Yes! They did it! They did it!
Here in chapters 9 and 10 Jesus is trying to teach the disciples to ride on their own. They’d been following on dusty roads after they dropped their nets, seen healings, casting out of demons, a young girl restored to life. He walks on water, cures a blind man by the pool at Bethsaida – Jesus spits in his hands and rubs his eyes. “Can you see now?” he asks him with a smile.Read more....
Justin Skeesuck and Patrick Gray have been friends for longer than they can remember. Born in the same hospital two days apart, buddies in the neighborhood in the small eastern Oregon town of Ontario, high school sports, best man in each other’s weddings. They were in a car wreck in high school that was scary, but both seemed to recover well. But over time Justin’s legs began to show signs of weakness, limiting his mobility. They both finished college, got married, began careers and families in different states yet stayed in close touch.
Over time the weakness persisted, then a parade of doctors’ visits and tests and questions and answers and questions, and a diagnosis of a progressive neuromuscular disease similar to ALS that would soon rob him of the use of his arms and legs. Over time he weakened, by March 2012 he had braces on both legs – spent most of his time in a wheelchair but not yet all – couldn’t button his shirt. But he could press the buttons on the remote control, and was flipping channels and came across one of those Rick Steves shows on PBS, on northern Spain. He saw Pamplona and the running of the bulls, then the program shifted to the Camino de Santiago, the Way of Saint James, a nearly 800 km pilgrimage route beginning around the border with France and ending at the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela, where the Apostle James’ bones are said to be buried. This awakened this longing within him, something to do before he became more limited, as he feared life slipping away. But he also knew it was a ridiculous dream.Read more....
Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!
The drama is building. This text is the last event in Mark before Holy Week. Next, as chapter 11 begins, is Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, the day the church calls Palm Sunday. Things have been picking up speed since the Transfiguration back in chapter 9, with a prophecy, a healing, then Christ meditates on his death. Jesus mediates a dispute among the disciples, teaches about divorce, about honoring our relationships, blesses little children, tells the rich young man that in order to follow him he has to sell all he has and give the money to the poor. This man goes away, ‘shocked and grieving,’ Mark says, ‘for he had many possessions.’ Our Executive Presbyter, Ted Churn, is going to preach on this text for us next week. Another teaching section with the disciples, and we’re here…
“Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” he cries out. I wonder if you have too. Maybe not those words, but maybe in response to when the doctor calls back and says to come in, she’s seen something. Maybe because of a job change you weren’t seeking, a relationship come to an end. Maybe it’s simply because you’re tired, weary, and your kid – the one you thought was fine – got in trouble or flunked something or got pulled into something with friends that did not allow for good decision-making. You make a mistake, don’t take the time, fly off the handle in a way that makes you keenly aware of your own brokenness. Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.Read more ....