Here's a simple question: “Who has the authority in your life?”
I want you to imagine that I have a bull horn or a huge megaphone in my hands. It is the kind used to encourage a football crowd. Now imagine we are at a place like a school, a library, or a church and you hold up a book to read. But every time you say a word, I scream and shout in the bull horn. What is your reaction?
In our scripture from the Gospel of Mark, just as Jesus speaks, he is interrupted again and again by a man who is yelling. The man eventually asks, “…who are you? Are you here to destroy us?” Then this man says, “I know who you are, the Holy One of God.”
How does Jesus respond? He tells the man, “Be silent.”
I have a quick activity for your household to try! I invite you to have everyone pause at the same time and be silent. Turn off the TV, put down phones, devices, food, or whatever you are doing at that moment that keeps you from experiencing the fullness of the gift of silence. Maybe it is attitude, fear, anger, disappointment, or another feeling that you just need to put on pause for a moment to listen. The challenge is to quiet your household down and one person counts to 10. Then ask everyone "How did that feel?" Try it a second time. Ask the same question. Or another question could be: "How many things did you have to turn off or quiet down so that you could listen for all of 10 seconds together with each other and with God? How much noise do we have going on around us?"
I was in a meeting somewhere and an individual said, “Our decisions, how we live in our lives today, is creating a story of history for generations to come.” I wish I could remember who said that, but I’m adding that I wonder what generations yet to come will say about our willingness to create, to listen, to be merciful, to be kind, and to be graceful. Our history of grace could say that we were willing to proclaim that God has authority in our lives and we shout out, “We love all our neighbors.”
While I was preparing this message, I was looking at the tree stumps in my back yard and the orange plastic snow fence that holds up my deck on the backside of my house ever since the August 2020 storm. What I see is loss, absence, and disappointment. When I pause and listen to God, when I join God’s mission of healing and welcome joy in what could be, I hear the message, "Katie, plant some new trees." Planting a tree is not meant to re-create, reopen, nor will it reclaim the land AS IT WAS. The land has forever been changed. We listen and pause while giving thanks for the gift of land as it once was. We plant trees together as we respond to the gift of grace now for generations to come. We are part of a God-sized story of hope that will grow and grow.
Honestly, I want to work for Jesus. I want to be part of the solution in the here and now. Here are some challenges that everyone in your household can try today!
SMILE, especially behind your mask! Your eyes can’t smile unless your whole face smiles.
STOP if you cannot say something on social media that is God-honoring, trustworthy, or merciful. Reconsider how you respond to things that raise your dander!
PRAY and be silent so that we can listen to the call to be compassionate and merciful.
SURROUND yourself with people who are willing to be real, who are willing to create, build, and grow, and who dare to change in order that more people will experience the love of God.
SHARE the message of a God-sized hope that God has, is, and will forever love us, God’s people.