Cleaning the Temple

Third Sunday in Lent, Year B
Scripture: John 2:13-22

Events teach. Often the learning comes after the event. Jesus teaches with elements that have immediate impact as well as lingering meaning. And they usually land well outside the expected. So, with Passover looming, Jesus goes into the busy temple and proceeds to clean house. “Take these things out of here!” he demands of the money changers, the animal merchants – even those who sold doves. Then he announces: “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” A temple that took 46 years to build? Could he mean the temple God has been building since the beginning of time? What “things” need to be removed from our own personal temples?

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Believe the Good News

First Sunday in Lent, Year B
Scripture: Mark 1:9-15

Succinct! Mark wastes no words: Jesus’ vita as he presents himself for ministry – in 6 lines! Baptized, his call affirmed by God, ministry temptations faced, Jesus is ready to begin. Mark does not see the need to list the temptations, only that the angels were with Jesus as he did his discernment. Jesus emerges and announces his ministry: the time has come. The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe: our creed in a nutshell.

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Temptation and Prayer

First Sunday in Lent, Year B
Scripture: Mark 1:9-15 

Jesus is Baptized, the Spirit descends on him “like a dove,” and he hears the affirmation: “You are my Son, loved, and pleasing to me.” It appears that he is affirmed and ready for ministry. Yet, immediately the Spirit drives Jesus into the wilderness where he must spend 40 days taming the temptations that come with power. Only then is Jesus equipped to proclaim the good news. And so we too are invited to notice the temptations that are pulling us off course, diverting our energy, and impeding our ability to proclaim the good news.

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Take Up Your Cross

Second Sunday in Lent, Year B
Scripture: Mark 8:31-38

Just prior to our reading today, Jesus asks his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” And they offer the various responses that they have heard from others. “But who do YOU say that I am?” asks Jesus. Who are you following? Today, Jesus once again teaches those around him who he is, therefore, what is ahead for the Son of God and what that means for the followers of Jesus.

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Epiphanies

Last Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B
Scripture: Mark 9:2-10

Jesus’ status as Messiah is confirmed by the divine testimony that he is God’s beloved Son (9:7) and is anticipated by the shining white garments of Jesus. The three that see the transfiguration are also those who witnessed the healing of Jairus’s daughter (5:37) and will witness his agony in Gathsemane (14:33). Although this group of disciples have seen the healing and the transfiguration, they do not seem to demonstrate exceptional insight or fidelity.

The transfiguration story is a form of an epiphany, a sudden manifestation of the divine and when humans see or witness an epiphany, they generally have an ah-ha moment, followed by confusion (now what) or fear (what does this mean?) Peter (once again) demonstrates that he doesn’t “get it” and Jesus once again has to explain his death and resurrection.

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I Do Choose

Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B
Scripture: Mark 1:40-45

The rhythm extends to include proclaiming the new while honoring the tradition. Good News does not eliminate the nurturing liturgies already in place. A leper comes to Jesus, humbly and almost apologetically. The leper is confident Jesus has the ability to heal him, and he is pretty sure he is not worthy of this healing. Jesus proceeds to dispatch the illness that has made this man not only ill, but outcast. Jesus does not measuring worthiness, but he does honor the tradition. “Go,” he tells the man. Go to the priest, make the offering, and also, keep all this to yourself.” But of course, the man is unable to keep this good news to himself, and Jesus would henceforth be mobbed whenever he came to town.

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Prayer and Action

Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B
Scripture: Mark 1:29-39

A rhythm is surfacing. Out to teach or to heal – then in to pray and listen. Jesus goes to Simon’s house after the first teaching in the synagogue to find Simon’s mother-in-law ill. He takes her by the hand and helps her up. Right back into the kitchen she goes to cook supper. By evening, the whole town was crowding around – many in need of healing, and most were healed. Jesus gets a little rest and then long before dawn goes inward – to a lonely place to pray. We see the balance in which he lives.

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Who is this Jesus?

Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B
Scripture: Mark 1:21-28

Who is this man? He now has a little band of raw recruits – eager to serve yet largely clueless. Does Jesus send them off to school? No. He shows them. He models the behavior that will form disciples. He teaches with authority. He is right where they are – not way over their heads. He heals when he notices it is needed. Who he is speaks powerfully: as one with authority.

Note: Episcopal Migration Ministries has written special lesson plans for the first four weeks of Epiphany. They can be found here.

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Follow Me

Third Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B
Scripture: Mark 1:14-20

Jesus is putting together his team. He seems to understand that people learn best when they can see – in action – what is being taught. So Jesus takes these men with him when he teaches and when he heals. And most importantly, they are there with Jesus, day by day, as he gently reveals who he is. In today’s passage, Simon and Andrew leap out of their fishing boats to follow this man who has told them he will make them fishers of men. James and John are next. Jesus is demonstrating the fellowship he invites us to accept.

Note: Episcopal Migration Ministries has written special lesson plans for the first four weeks of Epiphany. They can be found here.

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Come and See

Second Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B
Scripture: John 1:43-51

Jesus has begun to put together his team. In this passage, Philip hears Jesus say, “Come with me.” And he does. As it is dawning on Philip who this Jesus really is, he goes and finds his slightly skeptical friend, Nathanael, to tell him that they have found the one they had heard about. Nathanael remains dubious—how could anything good come out of Nazareth? Philip, confident that Nathanael will see what he has seen, insists, “Come with me.” Jesus sees Nathanael as he really is and calls him forth. Nathanael knows, now, that Jesus is the “Son of God.”

Note: Episcopal Migration Ministries wrote special lesson plans for the first four weeks of Epiphany. They can be found here.

Download the Lesson Plans for the Second Sunday after the Epiphany.

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