February 2, 2003

Mark 1:21-28

Then they entered Capernaum. When the Sabbath arrived, Jesus lost no time in getting to the meeting place. He spent the day there teaching. They were surprised at his teaching - so forthright, so confident - not quibbling and quoting like the religion scholars.

Suddenly, while still in the meeting place, he was interrupted by a man who was deeply disturbed and yelling out, "What business do you have here with us, Jesus? Nazarene! I know what you're up to! You're the Holy One of God, and you've come to destroy us!

Jesus shut him up: "Quiet! Get out of him!" The afflicting spirit threw the man into spasms, protesting loudly - and got out.

Everyone there was incredulous, buzzing with curiosity. "What's going on here? A new teaching that does what it says? He shuts up defiling, demonic spirits and sends them packing!" News of this traveled fast and was soon all over Galilee.

[The Message]


1. I am always impressed with clowns who mimic performances. In some sense they need to be as adroit as the best of the performers in order to expand our sense of the quality of the performance. It is not that the clown does it the same as the performer but that there is a confidence to take the beginning spot and twist it into a piece of amazing joy.

So often in religion we get caught with simply doing the rote work and never get to applying it willy-nilly. Remember the best teacher you ever had. Mine never stuck to the book but found ways to bring the material to life so it took on a life of its own.

Quoting is fine, in its place, but being able to teach beyond the quote, now there is a piece of work worth doing.

2. And isn't it your experience that when you sense you are doing your finest work along comes someone to cast a pall over it. Behind the dismissal of your work is a fear that someone can't just keep doing the same old same-old. Creativity brings out the nags.

Sometimes all we can do is quietly proceed trusting to the judgment of the ages to come. Sometimes we can silence the quibblers. Sometimes the afflicters hold sway for a moment.

Never doubt though that the work of progress does destroy the settled past. Those who hold to that past are right to be worried.

3. So how does this clownish teaching that moves us forward do its work? It is really pretty simple. It doesn't fool itself by saying more than it knows. It simply does what it says and says what it does.

When we can really get our words to match life and vice versa, we find ourselves empowered and empowering. This is encouragement to stray from the formulas that are always covering up some flaw in insight. This is encouragement to be real rather than to be religious.

When this happens it is news worthy.