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  • Writer's pictureRev. Kim Taylor

Pastor's Ponderings: Meandering through Mark 8:31-33 bible study (March 18, 2024)

March 18, 2024:  Monday Bible Study on the Gospel of Mark 8:31-33

Peace and Grace are yours today in Jesus Christ! 

I don't know about you, but the end of March feels like it is crunch time for the schedule of worship, Palm Sunday, Holy Week with Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, caring for decorating the church on Holy Saturday, getting the Parish Hall ready for Easter Breakfast with no water in the kitchen due to water service lines needing to be replaced (bathrooms are fine), and then the power and glory of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ on the very next day, Easter Sunday.  I am hoping that you are finding enough time to care for those you love, and thinking carefully about how you will celebrate the Greatest Gift of God for all of our lives.  We will be at church for breakfast, the bell choir will play, soloists will be with us to sing, the Gospel Music Group will help lead some of the hymns, and our favorite hymns will be sung, and the Easter Gospel will be read filled with all of the wonder and love that God has always planned for us to receive in our relationship with Him.  Pray for healing for those you know who are in rough health circumstances, including Kandice, Jeff, and Pastor Dave, all of whom are having a really difficult journey in their lives right now with difficult to treat cancer.  Cherish the opportunities that you have on Easter to be together with family and friends, taking the Easter message of hope into your homes.

a mobile phone, earbuds, a bible, and a cup of coffee for an Online bible study
Online Bible Study

Our reading for today is brief, but it tells us right away that Jesus has reached the point in His ministry when He knows that the disciples need to be prepared for what is coming quickly.  This time with His disciples contradicts everything that they and the whole of the Jewish community think about who the Messiah must be, a person of great military power, who can defeat every earthly enemy of Israel and her people, and who will lift Jerusalem to a place of great authority over the kings of the earth.  Instead, Jesus tells the disciples that He will be summarily rejected by those who are currently in power in Israel, and that, He will instead of being worshiped and celebrated, be murdered by those He has come to save, and here comes the most difficult thing during this time of teaching the disciples, Peter, who Jesus knows will become the head of the Church on earth, the rock, instead approaches Jesus like the deceiver and tempter, saying that Jesus must not go to fulfill God's call on His life.  These words are coming to Jesus by His friend!  Christ has plainly told the direction that His life must now take, time and time again to the disciples.  The response of Jesus to Peter seems harsh.  However, it also indicates to us that Jesus may well have been struggling with the path upon which he must walk.  The tempter can make no more terrible attack than through the voice of one who loves Jesus.  I know that this is a reality in life, because Melody and I have experienced this very issue in the voice of a member of my family as we announced at Thanksgiving Dinner that we would be moving from Michigan to Arizona to take the Call of the Gospel at American Ev. Lutheran Church.  At the table we were told how selfish we were to leave our extended family behind, and though you might think that it came from my parents, it was my younger brother and his wife that challenged our decision.  Note please.  We lived in Ann Arbor, MI for six years, during which time my brother and his wife never visited our home, though they drove past every year on their way to Florida for vacation, so I still have never come to terms with their motive in objecting to our following the Lord's Call on our lives, but it was painful and difficult.  We left the dinner, drove out of town to the community where I had been a choir director at our church for nine years, and got a hotel for the night.  We went back to see my parents the next day to say goodbye.  We had been a big part of my brother's marriage, traveling from Des Moines, Iowa to Grand Rapids, MI to co officiate with the parish pastor, we visited their home, sent gifts for their children, but in all of that their voices will never be forgotten on that day at dinner, and I even attended their daughter's wedding and sang at the meal later after our move.  I wished that at the time of their confrontation I had been able to respond, but we were in shock.  I am certain that Jesus must have had some real heaviness on His own heart after Peter, out of what he thought was love for Jesus, desiring only to keep Him safe and keep Him near, did not offer words that said to Christ, you have my love and support on your journey into the danger of Jerusalem.  If words of encouragement, support, and love had been what was said on that Thanksgiving, today I would have a much better relationship with my brother.  The call to serve the Gospel at American was not easily made, it meant uprooting the family, moving to a place far away from our families, a place of uncertainty and trusting in the Lord to be with us in all that would be so new.  You know the rest of the story of our now thirty-three-year ministry in your midst, but there is no doubt that the tempter was really present on that Thanksgiving Day in my parents’ home.  You and I are filled with joy every day because Jesus rejected the temptation to step away from God's plan for His life.  In my heart I know that joy too, it comes from the centering of the people of God in the love of Christ, and His Gospel Truth, at American every day!

In Christ's love, Pastor Kim

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