Mark 2:18-28 focus 2:18-22 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
The Question about Fasting
Now John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting; and people came and said to him, “Why do John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” Jesus said to them, “The wedding guests cannot fast while the bridegroom is with them, can they? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast on that day.
“No one sews a piece of un shrunk cloth on an old cloak; otherwise, the patch pulls away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear is made. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost, and so are the skins; but one puts new wine into fresh wineskins.”
Pronouncement about the Sabbath
One sabbath he was going through the grain fields; and as they made their way his disciples began to pluck heads of grain. The Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the sabbath?” And he said to them, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need of food? He entered the house of God, when Abiathar was high priest, and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and he gave some to his companions.” Then he said to them, “The sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the sabbath; so the Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath.”
A Discipleship Lesson – Tradition vs Change
After reading the scripture in Mark 2:18-22, I reflected on my first experience with the sacred practice of Fasting. Do you recall your first experience? What meaning does it hold for you? The church I grew up in did not practice the tradition of placing the Ash Mark on foreheads, nor did they encourage fasting. A few years ago, I attended my first Ash Wednesday evening service at FUMCWP. It was a beautiful and meaningful experience, moderated by Pastor Gary Rideout. Since that time, I have been looking for examples to help me to understand its importance to my Faith Walk. In today’s reading–V.19–20 there is an example where Jesus used challenges He faced from traditional religious leaders on its practice, as a teachable moment for the Disciples. He understood what was in store for them after He left. He wanted to prepare them to become teachers who could build the Kingdom. For me, a key context for all His teaching to the disciples can be traced back to words he spoke during the Sermon on the Mount–The Beatitudes: Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them, but to fulfill them. Mathew 5:17
Jesus understood the tactic of the Pharisees was to find ways to maintain their power by dividing and conquering–causing doubt and dissent between Jesus and the Disciples. When they thought Christ was in error, they spoke to the Disciples. When they thought the Disciples in error, they spoke to Christ. This is the issue revealed in Verse 18 of today’s scripture. Christ was called out for ignoring the traditional Form of fasting by violating the Letter of the law–the dates, times, places, etc. He chose to respond by refocusing His answer on fulfilling the Spirit of the law–discovering the Love of God.
In verse 19, Christ models a way to teach others to rethink their traditions for fasting by describing the role of a bridegroom at a wedding celebration, a scene that many of us can fondly recall. For me, it is a memory of a few years ago, when our youngest son married the love of his life in a sacred ceremony to seal a life-long commitment. This vow was consummated, by a minister, outside under the Fall canopy of the Aspens, by a crystal stream, at the foot of the majestic Colorado Rocky Mountains. A large gathering of family and friends, many from FUMCWP, were in attendance to witness and experience a joyful celebration of the beginning of a new life for the bride and groom. In the example that Christ uses, He is the bridegroom. To symbolize the spirit of the sacred occasion, all are dressed in new clothes, the celebrants are served new wine in new skins and the Bridegroom remains with them to share the joy. Christ used these powerful, inspirational images to let His antagonists understand He was not advocating an end to fasting. He knew that the sacred practice had lost its original meaning by only focusing on the ritual of right Form. Time after time, Christ used these challenges to tradition to refocus on their essential meaning–their essence. He understood that authentic Fasting could enable humbling ourselves to a point where we realize we need something more for our lives than water, food, and shelter. His message was consistent with His mission to bring the Kingdom of God to earth. It will be accomplished by teaching us to meet our need to establish a communion with, and dependence on God. For this season of Lent, I am refocusing on the power of the ancient tradition of fasting. I want it to help me become aware of my need to hunger for the word and meaning of God. My prayer is to engender another new beginning for my life, one that will help me experience the joy of knowing and sharing, as a Disciple, the love of God.
~Dr. Michael Korminicki
Mark 3:1-19 focus on 3:13-19 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
Again he entered the synagogue, and a man was there who had a withered hand. They watched him to see whether he would cure him on the sabbath, so that they might accuse him. And he said to the man who had the withered hand, “Come forward.” Then he said to them, “Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the sabbath, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent. He looked around at them with anger; he was grieved at their hardness of heart and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored.The Pharisees went out and immediately conspired with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him.
A Multitude at the Seaside
Jesus departed with his disciples to the sea, and a great multitude from Galilee followed him; hearing all that he was doing, they came to him in great numbers from Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea, beyond the Jordan, and the region around Tyre and Sidon. He told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, so that they would not crush him; for he had cured many, so that all who had diseases pressed upon him to touch him. Whenever the unclean spirits saw him, they fell down before him and shouted, “You are the Son of God!” But he sternly ordered them not to make him known.
He went up the mountain and called to him those whom he wanted, and they came to him. And he appointed twelve, whom he also named apostles, to be with him, and to be sent out to proclaim the message, and to have authority to cast out demons. So he appointed the twelve: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter); James son of Zebedee and John the brother of James (to whom he gave the name Boanerges, that is, Sons of Thunder); and Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.
This passage says that Jesus went up on a mountainside to call those whom he wanted to be his followers, his disciples. Seemingly from this perspective, he saw the multitudes from which he could choose his followers. Jesus ventures beyond his own circle of family members and friends and reaches out to those who are harassed and helpless, those yearning for hope and a better day. Jesus didn’t see people by their place in society, he saw each as a person and had compassion for them.
~Rev. Gary Rideout
Mark 3:20-35 focus on 3:20-30 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
Then he went home; and the crowd came together again, so that they could not even eat. When his family heard it, they went out to restrain him, for people were saying, “He has gone out of his mind.” And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, “He has Beelzebul, and by the ruler of the demons he casts out demons.” And he called them to him, and spoke to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but his end has come. But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his property without first tying up the strong man; then indeed the house can be plundered. “Truly I tell you, people will be forgiven for their sins and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit can never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”— for they had said, “He has an unclean spirit.”
Then his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside, they sent to him and called him. A crowd was sitting around him; and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside, asking for you.” And he replied, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”
O Jesus, Holy Spirit, let your image be so strongly in my heart this day, that I may recognize You in the midst of this chaotic world. Amen
~Rev. Robbi Walker
Mark 4:1-20 focus on 4:1-9 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
The Parable of the Sower
Again he began to teach beside the sea. Such a very large crowd gathered around him that he got into a boat on the sea and sat there, while the whole crowd was beside the sea on the land. He began to teach them many things in parables, and in his teaching he said to them: “Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and it sprang up quickly, since it had no depth of soil. And when the sun rose, it was scorched; and since it had no root, it withered away. Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain. Other seed fell into good soil and brought forth grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.” And he said, “Let anyone with ears to hear listen!”
And he said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? Then how will you understand all the parables? The sower sows the word.These are the ones on the path where the word is sown: when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word that is sown in them. And these are the ones sown on rocky ground: when they hear the word, they immediately receive it with joy. But they have no root, and endure only for a while; then, when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away. And others are those sown among the thorns: these are the ones who hear the word, but the cares of the world, and the lure of wealth, and the desire for other things come in and choke the word, and it yields nothing. And these are the ones sown on the good soil: they hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.”
Imagine you are standing on the boat looking over Jesus’s shoulder. You see the massive and diverse crowd of people who have gathered from far and near. Some have come in desperate need of healing; others are there to oppose and challenge him. As Jesus speaks, this parable comes to life. He is the Sower, generously spreading the seed, the Word of God, to all who are open to hearing and receiving it. The message Jesus brings cannot be confined to the temple and is not only for the religious elite, much to their dismay.
How does reflecting on this passage from Jesus’s perspective encourage you to share the Word of God more freely? Is it possible your approach has been overly narrow- have you ever tried too hard to predetermine where the “good soil” is before sowing any seeds?
Mark 4:21-41 focus on 4:35-41 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
He said to them, “Is a lamp brought in to be put under the bushel basket, or under the bed, and not on the lampstand? For there is nothing hidden, except to be disclosed; nor is anything secret, except to come to light. Let anyone with ears to hear listen!” And he said to them, “Pay attention to what you hear; the measure you give will be the measure you get, and still more will be given you. For to those who have, more will be given; and from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away.”
He also said, “The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how. The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come.”
He also said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it? It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.”
With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it; he did not speak to them except in parables, but he explained everything in private to his disciples.
On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”
I often wrestle with the feeling that I have to have everything all figured out, particularly in matters of faith. Mark reminds us in this passage that Jesus often does not give easy answers. Jesus shares a series of parables that were not fully grasped by his audience, and Jesus is fine with that. Jesus seems to be more comfortable with mystery than we tend to be.Immediately following this teaching, Jesus heads out with the disciples in a boat and get caught in a storm. Despite learning at the feet of Jesus, and seeing him preform miracles for others, once they have to put this faith into practice in the face of their storm they freak out. Jesus can handle our questions, and our fear in the storms of life, we need only to return to the one with power to quiet the storm.
(Additional readings for Saturday, March 16- Mark 31-38)
*The Scriptural passages are selected from the Lectionary on Mark, Year B. As a result some of the passages will be out of the normal order they are usually read.
Promiseland Toy Box Video
Serving During Lent
- #LunchBag – 10:00am-12:00pm
Working with Stacey Marini and her volunteer team, we will assemble 200-300 bagged lunches and deliver to the homeless in downtown Orlando. This is a great event for family members of all ages, truly acting as the hands & feet of Christ in serving others.
- Open House – 10:00am-2:00pm
Take a tour of our campus to see the new home for TCA.
- Free Lunch Food! – 11:00am-2:00pm