Mark 9:38-50 Who is for us?

We see a Muslim sheltering a refugee,
a Hindu healing the sick,
spiritual but not religious folks
willing to stand against immigration bans,
against demonizing
of people from other countries,
atheists who practice civil disobedience
for the sake of creation care

and young people
walking out of their high schools today,
to keep guns out of the hands
of those who should not have them,
including math teachers and soccer coaches.

And Jesus says, Do not stop them.
Whoever is not against us
is for us. Whoever gives a cup of water
to a child of God is holy.

But whoever puts a stumbling block,
bump stock, semi-automatic
in front of children,
and psychologists, concert goers,
church folks and queer clubbers,
woe to them.

As for the rest of you –
if it is your money or prestige,
your politics or busyness,
that keeps you from acting –
cut it off.

What if —
you get a little salt of the earth

in your life.

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Mark 9: 2-29 Transfiguration … or Where it really happens

The insiders grab pitons and crampons,
some spiritual version of gear,
and start to climb,
but the boys back at base camp

see only a flash of pyrotechnics,
faintly hear a man with no sense of rhythm
playing a tambourine –
is he even related to Miriam?
and a baritone mumbling away at
swing low sweet chariot,

but the voice their hearts
are aching for …
the wind just blows away,

while they greet
an endless rumpled multitude of needers
“your healing is important to us,
please stay in the line…”

and then there’s the boy
with the pushy Dad, and, triage or no,
trying with all their hearts,
and, yes, with all their prayers,
they still can do nothing.

But then Jesus is back in the valley.
and Jude and Thad, Tom, Matt, Nate, Andy,
and the other saints of the left-out,

are suddenly pretty sure
they have just witnessed a brighter shine,
and heard a parent’s tears and love

more tender than anything
that could happen on a mountain.

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Mark 8: 31-38; Mark 9: 30-32; Mark 10:32-34 The Bad News – What Following Jesus Isn’t — A Riff On Mark 8:34 by Stephen Price

My Lenten walk through the gospel of Mark is almost only my words but this poem by Stephen Price spoke to me deeply, and I am grateful for his permission to put it here as I reflect on the Bad New of uncomfortable secrets, unwanted warning and the unpleasant charge to pick up a cross.

What following Jesus isn’t

It isn’t about attending church,
Or dropping money in the offering plate
It’s about walking away from everything
Selling all you have to buy a pearl.
It’s about being so overcome with being healed
That nothing else matters;
Not family, or friends, or money, or job
Or even your own life.

It’s about hanging a syringe with an execution cocktail,
the one they really haven’t experimented with how much pain it causes after it paralyzes you,
around your neck on an unbreakable chain, so it’s always there.
Or dangling the lynching rope
permanently around your neck,

knowing that sooner or later they’ll come for you in the night, torches in hand,
Or maybe with warrant and SWAT teams,
causes standing up to the injustice of the Powers That Be
only ends one way.
It’s about having a passion to die for,
And that passion is for being like Him.
Jesus says, “take up your cross,”
and suddenly, as they say, the shit has gotten real.

Do you really want that?

Do I really want that?

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Sunday guest post(s) — Larry Trent and Todd Jenkins

Two stories for Lent. For me, both about self-recognition which is, in part, what is precious about this season. The first is written by Larry Trent last week at the beginning of a visit to Mexico to study (make even more perfect) his Spanish.

This morning after a quick breakfast, I sat in the plaza with the rest of my coffee ( terrible coffee). I saw a man going from person to person asking for, I assumed, money. No one gave him anything. He came towards me. I said good morning to him. His face lit up. I invited him to sit down. We chatted for a few minutes. His name is Jose. He is from Cortez, Honduras. He left there 2 years ago going to USA. He tried to cross in Texas, was picked up by Border Patrol, spent time in detention and was deported.
He says things are so horrible in Honduras that he decided to come to Mexico to live. Never was clear how he ended up in Querétaro. What I do know is that life is not easy in Mexico for Central Americans.
I bought him some tacos and coffee at a stand across from the plaza. He sat on the bench beside me and ate them.
He caught me watching him and asked, “what?” I tried to explain to him that I was seeing and recognizing Jesus as he broke bread. He couldn’t understand what I was talking about. He just smiled.
The thing is I’m not sure he needed to understand. I was the one who needed to see Jesus.

PS: I did give him 20 pesos as I hurried off to my first day of class. And, I do realize I can’t take care of all of Mexico.

This poem is written by Todd Jenkins whose poetic blog Tuesday’s Muse is one of my personal blessings. Follow him here.


I grew up mostly with
a staunchly convinced
intellectual faith
until the day an inability
to wrap my brain around
the death of my mother
cracked my hard head
into fragments.

My heart caught all the pieces,
as they tumbled down,
and tenderly held them
until they could be reassembled.

Now, I spend my days sharing
stories of crumbled dreams
that have been resurrected
into pictures of hope;
images we never
could have fathomed
with our solidified minds
and plans alone.

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

Todd always posts a photograph with his blog this one is by Lee Lindsey McKinney.

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Prayer because of the deaths in Yountville, California

My father “walked the perimeter”of our backyard with a gun when I was a child.
He was honored with medals, and given an education, but healing was slow —
mostly veteran to veteran or recovery group meetings.
From those memories I pray …

For holy places,
sanctuaries like Pathway House
that care for those
with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder,
I give the deepest thanks.

For those who work in them,
caring, listening,
strategizing daily tasks,
nurturing wellbeing
out of a center in brokenness,
and especially today
for the hope-giving lives of
Christine Loeber, Jennifer Golick,
and Jennifer Gonzales,
I give the deepest thanks.

For every veteran who seeks help,
for employers of veterans,
trainers of psychiatric service dogs,
families who learn
completely new patterns of living,
for counselors, psychologists,
social workers, nursing staff,
who embrace a life
of simple daily courage,
I give deepest thanks.

For the friends and families
of Jennifer, Christine and Jennifer,
in mourning today,
and for the friends, family,
and country of Albert Wong,
with tears and questions in their hearts
I pray for comfort and for grace. Amen

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Mark 8: 27-30 Flip Flops

Famously cited
as the emotional and theological center of Mark’s gospel –
comes Simon Peter’s response
to Jesus asking who they thought he was.

You are the Messiah.

It is stark here.
The other gospel writers made more of it,
and the church shaped itself
by some of those distinctions.

But then immediately following
this breathtaking expression of faith
comes his denial
of Jesus prediction of his rejection,
his suffering and his death.

Get behind me Satan.

I love this passage because it is absolute proof
when Jesus asks me to follow,
there are no requirements for hiking gear.

It’s all right to come in flip flops.


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A new treatment plan Mark 8: 22-26

For those whose cancer has mutated
and it no longer responds
to the oral chemo that has been shrinking tumors,
for those whose long-trusted medications
for a mental diagnosis
are no longer working or are creating
terrible side effects,
and for all of us who need –
not just a second opinion but
a second chance, a new treatment plan,
Mark tells this story.

A person who had blindness
asked to be touched,
and Jesus touched them but
their eyesight was only partially improved.
“I see people, but like trees walking.”
Jesus touched them again —
it was, after all, what had been asked.
Then the person looked intently,
and saw everything clearly.

We do not know whether
that healing
was all about corneas and retinas,
or something else,
but we do know that Jesus kept trying –
touching and touching,
until it was enough.

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