This week’s eNewsletter feature
was written by Jim Teague
FPCE director of communications.
It probably says something not too healthy about me that I take great comfort in how often the disciples say, do, or forget to do something in the presence of Jesus that results in him doing the 1st-century equivalent a face palm before slowly and gently (usually) guiding them back in line with his plans and his purposes. Seriously, there are some verses or even entire chapters of the Gospels which really feel like they could use a laugh track.
Imagine, for instance, the blank stares they gave Jesus when he told them to feed the crowds rather than sending them away to get their own meals… twice. Can’t you see them collecting all the leftovers and looking back at Jesus with sheepish looks as if to say, “Why didn’t we think of that?”
Or when they were unable to heal the boy possessed by a spirit in Mark 9. Three chapters earlier, Jesus had sent them out and they had been able to “…cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.” This time, however, nothing they had tried had worked. Jesus seems, in fact, genuinely perturbed, though I like to think his words are said with a wry smile and a shake of his head.
“He answered them, ‘You faithless generation, how much longer must I be among you? How much longer must I put up with you? Bring him to me.’ ” It is only later that he explains to them it would take prayer and fasting to take authority over such a demon.
To be sure, the reason I take such comfort is I can totally relate to the disciples. And how many times Jesus forgives them for their fundamental human density.
I seem to pinball back and forth, moment to moment, from what I think is rock-solid faith to truly laughable spiritual confusion. It’s only when I take the time to stop, focus, worship, read or listen to scripture that I seem to find my way back to the truth—the same one I have learned time and time again—and the wisdom I have been looking for.
Often I can laugh at myself when I fail and trust that Jesus is laughing, too. There are times, though, when my failings aren’t so laughable to me, and I can only fall on my face and pray that God is the same gracious, compassionate, loving and forgiving savior I have always put my trust in.
On Sunday, Senior Pastor Ray Hylton will be continuing the teaching series “A Place at the Table” by drawing from Mark 10:13-16 for his message entitled “Let the Children Come.”
Verse 10 reads: “People were bringing little children to him in order that he might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them.”
Jesus, it says “was indignant.” No laugh track there.
In Mark 9, Jesus had put down their squabbling about who would be the greatest among them by saying “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.”
A chapter later, he had to remind his disciples that the faith of a child… and childlike faith… is of great value.
I must be reminded of that, too. It is easy for me to want to be seen as a mature Christian, widely experienced and well-versed (pun intended) in my Biblical knowledge.
The great thing about having a place at God’s table is that we get to learn and re-learn (as often is we need to) from one who loves us like a child–because we ARE his child.
This Sunday is a very full day at First Pres. We will have both our Adult Education classes going, a full slate of Youth/Children’s Faith Formation activities, the first of our Life Together membership class sessions, and a discussion session about proposed changes to our Bylaws.
It’s a day you don’t want to miss!
May God’s face shine upon you this week!
FPCE director of communications