Where Your Treasure Is – Br. James Koester

Mark 10:17-31

One of the amazing things I find about Scripture is that the human emotions which underlie so much of life are so evident throughout its pages. It’s not hard to imagine the fear and confusion of Mary as she encounters the angel at the Annunciation, because it’s right there in the pages of Luke. We don’t need to dream up the pride of Peter as the Lord tries to wash his feet at the Last Supper, because it’s right there in John. We don’t need to read into the text the care of the centurion for his sick servant, because it’s right there in Matthew. And today we don’t need to wonder about the rich young man because it is right there in Mark:

When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions.[1]

All of us know something of shock, so we have some hint as to how the young man felt when told to sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.[2] All of us know something about attachment to things, that when something is lost, or broken, or goes missing, we know the grief that it causes. It doesn’t take much for me to dredge up the sadness, and loss, and frustration I still feel over one broken Christmas present from nearly 60 years ago, to know in part the grief the rich young man felt as he turned away from Jesus, in order to return to his precious possessions. It doesn’t take much to imagine this young man. Read More

Healing Cuts – Br. Luke Ditewig

Br. Luke DitewigAmos 5:6-7, 10-15
Hebrews 4:12-16
Mark 10:17-31

When I was a pastoral intern in Nebraska, we gave a Bible to each third grader on a particular Sunday. The Bible is a good gift; it’s a source of hope, love, encouragement, inspiration, and life. I told the congregation: pay attention. We are giving children a knife. As we heard this morning from the letter to the Hebrews: “the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow.”

Scripture is sharper than a sword. Like a scalpel, it cuts through what is diseased and damaged, cuts through lies and confusion, cuts through the stories we tell ourselves to reveal the truth. The stories of scripture surprise, disturb, confound and with good intention cut. We and our children need help and practice to listen, to receive powerful, sharp, healing words of life.

Consider today’s gospel text. “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” What must I do? I can do it, earn it, achieve it, succeed and be safe. Just tell me what to do. Read More

Camels, Needles and Such – Br. Mark Brown

Br. Mark Brown

Mark 10:17-31

This is one of those gospel passages that may hit us right between the eyes before we have time to duck.  It’s guaranteed to make everybody squirm in their seats, at least a little, with at least a vague sense of inadequacy. We know that camels can’t go through eyes of needles.  But then there’s that “for God all things are possible”, which adds a note of ambiguity to the whole thing.  It sounds as if it might indeed be possible, with God, for a whole caravan of camels to ride through the eye of a needle.  So did we get hit by a piercing arrow, or a bean bag?

Jesus’ teachings are often couched in ambiguity and exaggeration and seem designed to get us to puzzle it out.  He sends us off scratching our heads, giving us the freedom to arrive at conclusions as best we can. Read More