Paying Attention to the Sacred
Tim: Lately I’ve been thinking about how easily Mark’s writer commands our attention. He (or she—I love that we’ll never know who wrote this text) gets us so wrapped up in what’s happening we don’t really notice when the story shifts.
Shea: So true. The last section of our study is a great example. Jesus comes down from the Mount of Transfiguration, travels through Galilee, walks south through Judea and ends up in Jericho. When this week’s study opens, he’s within shouting distance of Jerusalem. Now ask me what’s so odd about this.
Tim: I’m game. Tell me.
Shea: Seen any scribes and Pharisees lately? In the early days, up in the northern provinces, it felt like Jesus couldn’t do anything without drawing their criticism. Now he’s down in their ‘hood and they’re nowhere to be found.
Tim: I never thought about that! That might cause the disciples to think they’re out of harm’s way. Taking Jesus’s enemies offstage for a while surely adds to the suspense. We know something’s brewing. Then, when Jesus goes into Jerusalem, it’s clear he’s intent on getting his adversaries’ attention. He’s pushing all the right buttons at the right time.
Shea: And time is really the key here. No other Gospel pays so much attention to time. Mark’s writer is highly attuned to days and seasons and even hours.
Tim: Which is a very Jewish idea.
Shea: Time is sacred in Judaism, because it signifies many things that cannot ever be forgotten.
Tim: Such as?
Shea: Life is a journey through time and the collective memory of the community is bound to time. That makes every moment a gift and every day is a treasure. The Sabbath and the Holy Days place specific demands that unite everyone in time. So here we have Jesus riding into town—staging a very peculiar, highly effective mockery of Roman power—at a very particular moment in the life of nation, when Jerusalem is overrun with visitors and imperial bigwigs. After that, all bets are off.
Tim: This time is going to be different, very different.
Shea: Better believe it. By the time this week is over, nothing will be the same. In the meantime, the text calls us to think more deeply about time, to account for our time, to understand what time really is and what it means. As Christians, we remember this part of the gospel as “Holy Week.” But I think we might want to be a little more attentive to how Mark uses this narrative to turn our attention to time. There’s something there for us, I think.
Join us this Thursday at L!VE Café, 163 S. Oak Park Avenue in Oak Park. Doors open at 7:00p, the study begins at 7:30p. If you can’t be with us in person, join us via Facebook Live.
We need your help!
As we think about the future of Gather, please let us know what gifts you bring and would like to share with the community. There are many roles that have to come together to make Gather happen every week. This includes setup, technical support, worship, managing handouts and information, coordinating drinks, and teardown. We need your help. Please let us know what type of service you’d be interested in!
Watch God Work,
Tim & Shea
Summer is the perfect time for a “walking tour” of Mark’s Gospel. The oldest and shortest of the Gospels, Mark is full of amazing details that capture the life and ministry of Jesus in fascinating ways. Mark’s Jesus is a man on a mission without much patience for folks who can’t keep up. He says exactly what’s on his mind. And the writer tells the Jesus story in an action-packed style overflowing with mysterious touches. Why is there no Christmas chapter? Why is Jesus so tough on the disciples? Why can’t they see who he really is? Why are the women afraid to tell the news of the Risen Christ? And what’s up with that naked man in Gethsemane (among other peculiarities)?
Join us every Thursday from June 7-August 30, as we spend the summer touring Mark’s Gospel. It will be a trip well worth taking!
As we prepare to become a vibrant worshipping community, we invite you to enjoy a Spotify playlist that captures the kind of worship we hope to embrace. Give it a spin while you’re driving. Make it your workout jam. Add it to your devotional time. Most of all, feel yourself becoming part of a sacred village of believers who love their God and one another!
Check out the Gather Worship Playlist here.