So about those disciples who walk through the fields “to pluck heads of grain” on the sabbath, leaving Jesus to endure the rebuke of the religious authorities. We can infer from scripture that Jesus was an observant Jew, educated and versed in the traditions and customs of the faith. And while the core group of apostles was coming together, I suspect that other excited, curious, and hopeful people who didn’t know all the rules also followed Jesus.
My church in New York City does a lot of “urban ministry,” which means people show up at Sunday worship who first connected through the food pantry, tutoring program, our theater, or even our homeless shelter. This phenomenon is common with congregations in larger cities in the United States and even more prevalent at most churches in the Global South, the “majority” world. Holy Communion is not the first meal folks eat at church; they’ve already dined in the soup kitchen. Suppose a man walked into your church on Sunday morning wearing ragged clothing and pushing a shopping cart of belongings up the aisle. Something motivated that person, something drew him to your sanctuary. Maybe the same thing that motivated those grain-plucking field walkers; maybe the same guy, Jesus of Nazareth. If that happens, here’s your to-do list: goodwill, kindness, and, above all, patience.
Years ago, I produced a video about the then-new Common Cathedral movement. The street minister, a priest, told me many of her congregants on the Boston Common preferred outdoor worship and only reluctantly went inside because “buildings have assumptions.” Let’s not be like those buildings.
Creator God, inspire us with a spirit of welcome to the new thing you’re always doing, even when—especially when—it may feel uncomfortable to us. Amen.
The call of Samuel and the intimate language of the psalmist this week reflect God’s knowledge of and care for each individual. God sees each one of us, no matter where we are in life and no matter how far we might feel from God. Paul seeks to encourage the Corinthians with this same truth. Believers may be afflicted, perplexed, persecuted, beaten down, even killed; but they are never defeated. The power of a personal God flows through them, even if this is not evident to the eyes of the world. We likewise should be personally caring toward those around us. Jesus models this in Mark, demonstrating that showing mercy is more important than following even religious regulations, for mercy is the heart of God.
• Read 1 Samuel 3:1-20. When has a young person in your life or that of someone you know had to face the devastating consequences of a single bad decision? How did that affect your actions and behaviors?
• Read Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18. When have you experienced that life has no guarantees? How did you sense God’s presence in that time?
• Read 2 Corinthians 4:5-12. How do you attempt to be open to seeing Christ in everyone you meet?
• Read Mark 2:23–3:6. When do you, like Jesus, try to be proximate to persons in need? How has that changed your life?
Responda publicando una oración.