A New Way of Thinking and Being

"Why do the disciples of John and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples don't fast?"

The question arose out of observation and then admonition. The contrast is between adhering to the old norms and expectations of what had been taught and prescribed in religious tradition and watching Jesus seemingly break those norms or rules of behavior.

This had to have been confusing. Who was this person who kept breaking the rules and teaching a new way of understanding the kingdom of God?

Jesus was an agent of change, of transformation, from the old into the new--walking and working in this tension--bringing a new way of being and thinking in the midst of the old perceptions of the kingdom of God. Jesus' teaching could not be confined, it didn't fit, within the old norms and traditions.

Breaking away from the old can be hard to understand and can be disorienting. We often respond in fearful and controlling ways in these challenges. But, we are not left alone in the tension of change and invitation into new ways; we are invited to walk and work with Jesus, to recognize his presence with us

Mark 2:18-22 NLT
Once when John's disciples and the Pharisees were fasting, some people came to Jesus and asked, "Why don't your disciples fast like John's disciples and the Pharisees do?"

Jesus replied, "Do wedding guests fast while celebrating with the groom? Of course not. They can't fast while the groom is with them. But someday the groom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast.

"Besides, who would patch old clothing with new cloth? For the new patch would shrink and rip away from the old cloth, leaving an even bigger tear than before.

"And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. For the wine would burst the wineskins, and the wine and the skins would both be lost. New wine calls for new wineskins."

For Reflection and Prayer:
Was there a word, phrase or image which stood out to you as you listened to the text? Dwell on it. Bring it into your prayer with Jesus.

What do you notice when you are aware of being in the presence of Jesus, the bridegroom? What is that like for you?

What helps you make room for Christ's presence in your everyday, ordinary life?

How do you like to celebrate Christ's presence with you? With others?

Change is Possible

When people are real about how difficult it is to change themselves, no matter how hard they try, it can be helpful to remember that God is the agent and power behind any lasting change in us.

Pay attention. Watch closely. How is the Trinity bringing about a Kingdom life in you?

As a community, we will pray through the book of Mark in 2014 and notice how Jesus interacts with his Father, with the Holy Spirit, and with others. We will watch how he transforms hopeless, helpless, brokenhearted, sick, hungry and imprisoned people and situations. He is willing to form an utterly new and radical Kingdom life within us. Let's join him.

Mark 1:1-8 The Message
The good news of Jesus Christ—the Message!—begins here, following to the letter the scroll of the prophet Isaiah.

Watch closely: I’m sending my preacher ahead of you;
He’ll make the road smooth for you.
Thunder in the desert!
Prepare for God’s arrival!
Make the road smooth and straight!
4-6 John the Baptizer appeared in the wild, preaching a baptism of life-change that leads to forgiveness of sins. People thronged to him from Judea and Jerusalem and, as they confessed their sins, were baptized by him in the Jordan River into a changed life. John wore a camel-hair habit, tied at the waist with a leather belt. He ate locusts and wild field honey.
7-8 As he preached he said, “The real action comes next: The star in this drama, to whom I’m a mere stagehand, will change your life. I’m baptizing you here in the river, turning your old life in for a kingdom life. His baptism—a holy baptism by the Holy Spirit—will change you from the inside out.”

For Reflection and Prayer:
Lord, what are you pointing at for me in this passage?
How is my heart being spoken to at this moment?
Where might this word intersect with my life right now?
What change do I long for God’s Spirit to work in me?

God: Working through All, Present in All

As we mature in our relationship with God there are marked changes in how we live. We can notice a growing humility and disciplined desire for God, a steady movement forward, giving of oneself in acts of love, becoming quick to forgive. The Holy Spirit, the agent of these changes, fosters unity and oneness, instead of dissension and fragmentation.

Pay attention to this divine action, always at work and present in all. What the enemy of our soul wants to steal, kill and destroy, Christ has taken back, restored, healed and made new. Open your heart to receive what Christ is handing out that is for you!

Ephesians 4:1-13 The Message

To Be Mature
In light of all this, here's what I (Paul) want you to do. While I'm locked up here, a prisoner for the Master, I want you to get out there and walk--better yet, run!--on the road God called you to travel. I don't want any of you sitting around on your hands. I don't want anyone strolling off, down some path that goes nowhere. And mark that you do this with humility and discipline--not in fits and starts, but steadily, pouring yourselves out for each other in acts of love, alert at noticing differences and quick at mending fences.

You were all called to travel on the same road and in the same direction, so stay together, both outwardly and inwardly. You have one Master, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who rules over all, works through all, and is present in all. Everything you are and think and do is permeated with Oneness. But that doesn't mean you should all look and speak and act the same. Out of the generosity of Christ, each of us is given his own gift. The text for this is,

He climbed the high mountain,
He captured the enemy and seized the booty,
He handed it all out in gifts to the people.

  • What phrase or word spoke to you as you listened/read?

  • What does this tell us about God?

  • What does it mean to you to be one with God and one with all creation?

  • How do you hear God speaking to your life in this text?