Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Find Your Lonely Place

A Midrash on Mark 1:21-39

Jesus has had a busy Sunday. What was supposed to be a day of rest had him teaching in church, confronting old ways of interpreting scripture, challenging dogma, and bringing fresh spiritual insights to the congregation he was visiting.

The congregation thought he had a lot of chutzpah to teach as if he knew what he was talking about, because he wasn’t trained or ordained or in any way approved by the powers that be. Who is this guy anyway? He’s too sure of himself, too cocky. How dare he speak with such authority?

And then the embarrassment of the congregation shows up—that guy with the unclean spirit, called unclean because his weirdness includes a lack of personal hygiene and social skills, a loss of a place to call home, a loss of family and friends.

This odd-man-out and Jesus speak as if they know each other, and suddenly the man is in his right mind, leaves to get a bath and shows up again in clean clothes. Now who’s the congregation going to have to make fun of or feel superior to or exclude? The congregation again is astonished, “Who is this guy that he can clean up this guy’s act with mere words?” And just as suddenly, Jesus’ fresh teaching and healing touch start trending on social media.

Jesus and his buddies go to the house of Simon’s mother-in-law to crash, but she’s sick. So Jesus takes her by the hand and she feels better and gets up and makes them all matzo kosher pizza. But she’s in for a surprise. Jesus has become such a celebrity that not even the paparazzi can get close. Surrounding her door that evening were people with all sorts of ailments, trials, and tribulations, hoping for a glimpse of Jesus, hoping for his healing touch.

After everyone goes home, Jesus opens his laptop and checks his e-mails and finds thousands of messages. He deletes the ones promising a flat stomach, an improved website, a better sex life. He deletes the ones that promise a cut of an estate and others soliciting financial support for their ministries. (Spam filters of ancient times weren’t so good.) Then he works through the remaining e-mails one by one. Some are critical of him healing the man with the unclean spirit on a Sunday. Others disputed his teaching and orthodoxy.

Still others are complaining about the traffic in the neighborhood where he’s staying. “Can’t you heal these people somewhere else?” they question. But most are just seeking some type of healing for themselves or someone they love, and he sends them his prayers and his love.

It’s past midnight when he turns in. He’s sleeping on the foldout sleeper sofa in the living room, which means he’ll be the last to go to sleep and the first to get up in the morning. He wakes in the middle of the night, thinking about all that he needs to do, all that he intended to do the previous day, and the people who think he’s making a big mistake, perhaps possessed himself.

He thinks about the uncertain, even dangerous political situation, and all the injustice and suffering in the world. And then he considers ways of talking with people, devising parables about the kingdom of God—about a sower with seeds, about a lamp hidden under a bushel basket, about faith as small as a mustard seed. He considers a list of beatitudes for tweeting later, kind of his “to do” list for the day.

Jesus gets up while it’s still dark and in the light of the moon walks to a lonely place, and there he prays. Giving everything up to his Higher Power gives him the rest he has needed all day and all night. His soul rests in God. He’s home being rocked in God’s arms again. He remembers where he came from and where he’s going; he remembers who he is; he remembers that his only calling is to proclaim the reign of God—not to bring it in himself. God will take care of that in God’s own good time. Jesus has finally caught his breath, a breath of Holy Spirit.

Then his cellphone rings—his ringtone is the sound of cathedral bells. (For those who don’t believe Jesus had a cellphone, remember, he calls his disciples earlier in the chapter.) It’s Simon Peter on the phone, “Where are you, Jesus? Everyone’s been looking for you.”

Jesus lets out a big sigh, his prayer time interrupted, and replies, “Yeah, okay, let’s go on to the neighboring towns and rural areas and preach the good news of God’s reign there too, because that’s why I came out.”

You may support this blog ministry by clicking here and scrolling down to the donate link below its description or by mailing to MCC, P.O. Box 50488, Sarasota FL 34232 USA, designating “Progressive Christian Reflections” in the memo area of your check or money order. Thank you!

Copyright © 2016 by Chris R. Glaser. Permission granted for non-profit use with attribution of author and blogsite. Other rights reserved.  


  1. Thanks, Chris. Why is awareness of connection almost as overwhelming as the illusion of not being connected. I guess it could be a matter of what I am accustomed to. Anyway, your words are both comforting and thought provoking.

    1. "The world is too much with us" I quoted in an earlier blog, but we are challenged to be "in the world but not of the world," which I take to mean we need remember our divine origin, by which I mean the divine origin of everyone and everything. Thanks for your observation, Chuck!

  2. Very creative Chris,I preach at a retirement home Sunday, may steal this!!!