Readings are here
Looking at the reading from 1 Corinthians, Paul talks about becoming all things to all people so that they might hear the gospel. I wonder about that. Does it mean I have to give up all I have learned and believe? Do I become a Republican to reach Republicans, a Democrat to reach Democrats, a racist to reach racists, etc? I can't think that is what Paul is saying - give up your personality - become whatever others are to tell them the gospel? Can't see that happening.
I think it has more to do with not coming in with a prepackaged program for others - thinking I have God all wrapped up for them - instead listening to what they are saying and doing and connecting where the Spirit is moving in our midst. Sort of like going to another country to "help" - but not listening to what the people there dream and hope - then seeing where I can serve rather than "know better" and give them something that is not useful or cannot be sustained. For me it is about doing some deep listening rather than talking all the time. Hard to do for a preacher!
Often when I have read the Mark passage I get stuck on the fact that the first thing Peter's mother-in-law (was the first "pope" married?) does when getting healed is jump up and wait on everyone. Seems like the rest of them might have said - oh, no, I can do that -- you rest up a bit. Perhaps it is a statement about not holding one's healing to oneself - a privatized religion - you and me Jesus - but a statement that once we have come to a certain point - we are to move out into the world doing as Jesus does. The part right after this where they are looking for Jesus to do some more for them is a reminder that we don't have to do it all. We can take time for rest and prayer and renewal before moving on to the next activity.
Perhaps all this is the point of the Collect - set us free to see:
Set us free, O God, from the bondage of our sins, and give us the liberty of that abundant life which you have made known to us in your Son our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Some other bits to ponder from Something to Stand On:
Party, party, party
You hit the ground running,
Ready to go,
Fleeing as an infant refugee
Preaching to your elders before your bar mitzvah
Then out to the desert
Partying before your baptism
A brief interlude, jousting with the devil
And then you hit those streets
And that beach, those villages and towns
Showing folk how to live, not merely exist.
And the buttoned up zipped up killjoys didn’t like it one bit
They’d long forgotten what it was to enjoy themselves
How to celebrate
Even though the history of their culture was one of feast and
Even though the God they worshipped so religiously
Was a God of laughter and lovin’
And now the Son, sent to show the nature of God
Was livin’ it up
Prostitutes, tax collectors, sinners
The shunned and the outcasts
What did you think you were playing at?
Didn’t you know you would ruffle their feathers?
Or didn’t you care?
Too busy living life to the max to care whose sandal shod feet you
And did it do any good?
Did it make any difference?
Certainly not to those religious high heid yins
They sorted you.
Saw you off.
But, as they were dusting off their hands,
Ironing the wrinkles out of their creased smug faces
There was a whole batch of the really holy
The ones you had consecrated by including in the party.
Who were gutted at your sudden departure
But who could never be undesirable again
Because you had taught them how to really party
How to focus on what really matters
You had loved them back to life
And no amount of religious posturing could ever rob them of that love
With you, there’s always an excuse to party
Always an excuse to throw off the rules and get down to it
The real business of life
Which is love
But we have to hit the streets running with you
And party, party, party.
And more on Peter's MIL here.