The Smiling Heretic's Blog

Pentecost 11 :: Be careful what you ask for!

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“Friend, who set me to be a judge or arbitrator over you?” 

Right on, Jesus! I’ve heard of people asking Jesus for all sorts of things: healing, help with a nasty boss, patience with teenagers, the week’s lottery numbers, peace in the world. But I’ve never heard of anyone asking Jesus to decide on a family’s inheritance. I mean, really? He’s not some probate judge. 

Luckily, Jesus tells the man who had wanted him to adjudicate a property issue with his brother, that he is not the one to help in such matters, but... he then continues. “Did you hear the one about the foolish farmer?” And Jesus tells of the man whose harvest was so bountiful that he decided to build new barns to hold all the food for himself so he could retire in ease and live out his days in luxury and comfort. However, just as he was getting ready to do this he popped his clogs! [That’s Scottish slang for “kicked the bucket.”] He wasn’t able to enjoy anything. 

Pentecost 10 :: Learning to Pray

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How do you pray? Do you get on your knees and clasp your hands together and entreat God for whatever you need or want? Do you sit quietly in your favorite chair and still yourself before the presence of the Holy One and wait to hear? Do you send out little prayers throughout the day? \[I call these “popcorn” prayers, because they just “pop” into my mind and “pop” out into the world.] Do you spend long periods of time with God in conversation?

I suppose there are just as many different ways to pray as there are sands on the beach or stars in the heavens. Most folk probably pray for all sorts of things and people and conditions. Others don’t pray for anything in particular; just sitting in the silence, waiting for that “still small voice” seems enough for them.

Pentecost 9 :: “Jesus Time"

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“Martha, Martha, Martha!” 

When was the last time you were chastised for wanting help doing your chores? Here is Martha, doing what was expected of her, making her guests at home, probably pre- paring a snack and then a big dinner. She was staying away from the more important gathering in the next room—where the men were. Such an arrangement was only proper in 1st-century Palestine: the men were in one room, listening to the rabbi and the women were out and about making things comfortable for the men. [I’ll offer no comment about how that would work out today, just suffice it to say that it really wasn’t such a good arrangement for Martha the day Jesus decided to bop by!] 

So Martha is doing all the work, and where is Mary, her sis? She’s with the men, listen- ing to the rabbi, sitting at his feet as if she were a disciple. “How dare she be out there and not in here helping me,” Martha might’ve said. “The nerve!” 

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