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  • Writer's pictureRev. Kim Taylor

Pastor's Ponderings: Meandering through Mark 9:43-48 bible study (May 13, 2024)

May 13, 2024:  Monday Morning Bible Study on the Gospel of Mark 9:43-48

Dear Ones in Christ, 

Thank you so much for being patient today. I got into my cardiologist appointment, and now am headed tomorrow mid-day for a wound clinic 2-hour appointment, blood work next week, and an echo cardiogram in a couple of weeks. I will be adding a new BP med tomorrow, and the ultimate goal is to ween me off of the clonidine which has to be done very slowly. We'll see.

I will get right to the text for today which continues some of the language of condemnation by Christ, including warnings for Jews who do not seek to keep God's law. The place of destruction is just outside of the Jerusalem wall. It is a canyon where King Ahaz had instituted the sacrifice of children by burning. This was one of the requirements of that particular heathen worship, and certainly reflects for us one of the worst times of Israel falling away from God's guides for living. So, by the time of King Josiah, he designated the area, known earlier as the valley of Hinnom, as an unclean place where no man could ever make his son or daughter pass through it. Because of all of this the name Gehenna was commonly used and came to be a symbol of hell. So, in this passage we have an example of the failure of people to keep the law, and the subsequent place which they would inherit in the future. (The Torah names the location as Gehenna) The inference here is that one could go to their death with all of their body's members, and still end up burning for eternity in Gehenna. But then there was the fundamental truth that was of such value that it would be better to lose parts of one's body in order to attain this great truth whose value was so great that any sacrifice would be worth it. Attaining such a truth, The Kingdom of God, was worth whatever it would take in the physical life, and in the spiritual life as a Sacrifice. We hear these great truths in the Lord's Prayer. The two petitions are<"Thy Kingdom Come” Thy Will be done". It was a normal way for the Jewish community to lay parallels alongside one another, and begin with one thought, which is then emphasized by the second. The Kingdom of God is the place where God's Truth is carried out both on earth, and in Heaven. This part of the passage certainly overshadows the other part where Gehenna is the punishment for eternity. It may indeed require us to sacrifice things that are important to us if we are hoping to attain the Kingdom. With Christ and the Spirit's everyday guidance, we find the courage and the strength to make changes, to turn our failures to accept God's way for our lives.

That may mean sacrificial giving to church, or the wider church. We recently received a letter from the ELCA asking for contributions while there is matching money. Though it is not easy for our family right now, we will give a gift for this wider church program. Or, how about driving with a sense of peace and calm while those crazies around us endanger every driver, or choosing to drive in accordance with the speed laws and not running red light like so many people do, and it means that you may well be late for where you are going, or speaking with God's loving kindness, grace, and love even when it feels like a different responses would feel better!  We must remember that Christ changes our relationship with God unlike the Jews of Mark's day. We have been saved by Christ's sacrifice on our behalf. But sacrificing is still a way, perhaps the best way to say thank you to God for his love and forgiveness.

Tomorrow, at least right now, you should be getting your Mark study first thing in the morning.

God bless you all, With Christ's Love, Pastor Kim

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