Jesus’ Family Mark 3:19b-21; 31-35

The thing is that families are aggravating,
and so was Jesus’ family.
They wanted to restrain him,
they wanted not to be embarrassed by him,
they wanted him not to be hurt,
they wanted him to answer their calls
and put them first
when they went out of their way to visit.

Not much has changed.

The thing is that families are chosen,
and LGBTQI people
and survivors of incest
are not the only ones who know
that it’s not biology or who
changed diapers, drove to soccer practice,
but how a parent or sibling
lives and loves that really matters.

Not much has changed.
Both of these are true and yet …

knowing how he lived and died,
Jesus’ final statement may have been,
“Whoever does the will of God is my brother
and sister and mother …
as well as a lot more who try and fail.”

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Children of Syria — Mark 10:13-16 (out of order and not about baptism)

Children are running and crying
in Eastern Ghouta
beneath Bashar al Assad’s
rockets, barrel bombs, mortar fire,
in this last rebel suburb of Damascus.
They are held in arms —
bleeding red
against the agony of parents.

UN Secretary General Guterres
demands an end to “hell on earth,”

and his words echo
Jesus of Nazareth, indignant —
let my children escape –
for they are your truest kin.

Truly, I tell you
whoever targets little children,
and whoever watches impassive
from across the globe
will not enter the kindness of God.

And Jesus calls for them
to be lifted up
healing hands laid on them
and supplies getting through
to care for them.

Do you question my translation?
I forgot
the traditional word,
as translated into vintage English
is “suffer.”

It is what we do not want.
It is happening.
We act as if we are so far away.

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Sabbath Mark 2:23-3:6

On presidents day Jesus was walking
through Washington
and as they made their way,
the teenagers lay down to rest
in front of the White House for three minutes
the same time it took a shooter
to kill seventeen in a Florida high school
with an assault rifle.

Jesus said, “The Sabbath was made
for humankind,
not humankind for the sabbath …”

Actually only Mark remembers
that line. And then Jesus looked at his
teenagers – so proud
that they knew how to find the meaning
under all the covering-up
of lawgivers who are food withholders,
healing withholders,
and most of all death-dealers.

and Jesus said, “On any day …
on any day is it lawful to do good or do harm,
to save life or to kill?”

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Fasting Mark 2: 18-21

Fasting is not
my one-day-at-a-time sobriety,
or what my friends are doing
who have said good-bye
to heroin or gambling,
hello to a plan of eating,
admitted to being powerless over online
pornography or shopping.

Those are a one-day-at-a-time
wedding feasts every single day!

Fasting is taking away
what distracts me from noticing
the world’s many, many hungrys
and the way we make
unrepentant contributions
to tomorrow’s hopelessness.

Needless to mention, I don’t drink
new wine or vintage,
out of wineskins or bottles,

and it has been a long time
since I have patched my clothes,

but I know a parable
when it’s about to burst us open,
with new plans, new ideas, new sharing,
or rip the cheap iron-on patches
right off the easy fix
we want to give others’ troubles.

Porter with a wineskin Tbilisi, George Niko Pirosmani [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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Prayers for Cyclone Gita in Aotearoa / New Zealand

For those on water,
for those who must travel,
for those going in labor with a child
passing from this world,
caring for the ill or the fearful,
for those with memories of winds past,
for those who must go to jobs,
for those who respond to emergencies
because it is their profession,
and for those who simply
watch out for neighbors —

We pray safety,
wisdom in venturing forth,
evacuation packs ready,
peace in crisis, peace in home
and peace in the heart.

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Cutting in Line Mark 2: 12 (also 1: 21-34; 40-5)

They are cutting in line –
you can just hear the murmurs,
under the breath
because being in a waiting room
is when everyone thinks
about how very sick they are,
or their child, friend, parent.

That’s just what they were thinking —
people who heard that Jesus
cured mental illnesses,
those acutely ill,
racked with fever and chills,
even a leper,
a chronic and terminal condition,

and the rest of multitudes –
multitudes needing urgent care.

So a whole city gathered
around the door,
when these four climbed to the roof,
ripped it open,
lowered the mat down.

Be assertive, squeaky wheel.
Don’t wait all day for test results.
Call again.
Call again and again.
Insist on the appointment.
Break the roof.

Jesus looked at the faces
full of faith, pushiness, entitlement,
and spoke of forgiveness.
The authorities objected
to his prescription,
but the one who was healed
just scrambled to get out of the way,
so aware of others waiting,

in the desperate triage of hope.

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Calling, Mark 1: 16-20; 2: 13-17

(I have come to call not the righteous, but sinners. Mark 2:17b)

There is a story about lonely,
unmended nets
stretched on the rocks, left

like a father watching children
set off dirty on the adventure of their lives,
hoping they will cast true
at people fishing.

Next is a farewell dinner at Levi’s house,
after the wayside tax booth,
and another call.
Like most parties –
it’s full of friends, critics,
and someone photographing the food.

Then, as now, Jesus calls followers
who already know they stink.


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