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Monday, March 2, 2015

Today’s Reading | Mark 3:7–19a

Jesus departed with his disciples to the sea, and a great multitude from Galilee followed him; hearing all that he was doing, they came to him in great numbers from Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea, beyond the Jordan, and the region around Tyre and Sidon. He told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, so that they would not crush him; for he had cured many, so that all who had diseases pressed upon him to touch him. Whenever the unclean spirits saw him, they fell down before him and shouted, “You are the Son of God!” But he sternly ordered them not to make him known.

He went up the mountain and called to him those whom he wanted, and they came to him. And he appointed twelve, whom he also named apostles, to be with him, and to be sent out to proclaim the message, and to have authority to cast out demons. So he appointed the twelve: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter); James son of Zebedee and John the brother of James (to whom he gave the name Boanerges, that is, Sons of Thunder); and Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him. (NRSV)

Reflection
As one who has read scripture out loud for much of my life, I have a distinctly uneasy feeling when I turn to a biblical text and see not one, but two lists of names. Inevitably, there are some challenging pronunciations stemming from the original Hebrew or Greek (Boanerges?). Perhaps the best strategy is to decide how to say a name and read it confidently and quickly.

Beyond any uneasiness, though, the names of places and people signify the character of Jesus’ gospel. It is a message intended for an ever-expanding population, not just for one limited geographic area. Further, his teaching and healing are for particular persons, not general categories of humanity. Thus when Jesus appointed his twelve apostles, he named them: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter), James and John (Boarneges, the Sons of Thunder), and the other nine.

What immediately comes to my mind are baptismal and new member moments in worship. Infants, as well as adults, are named and claimed as beloved children of God. No one is a statistic. We are all sisters and brothers in Christ.

The list of the twelve names makes another key point. Ministry is a team sport. Even Jesus needed friends in faith to work alongside him (though they could be well-intended obstacles too). God calls all of us into the service of neighbors and the Holy One. Our loving God lures us into life together.
 
Prayer
Welcoming God, keep me from limiting your ever-expanding outreach to your beloved children. Help me glimpse Christ at work in particular people each and every day. Strengthen our team spirit in your service, through the grace of Christ our Lord. Amen

Written by Jeff Doane, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church

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