Sunday, December 31, 2006

On the Road with Jesus

Then they came to Capernaum; and when he was in the house he asked them, "What were you arguing about on the road?" But they were silent, for on the way they had discussed with one another who was the greatest. - Mark 9:33-34

Two weeks ago it was my turn to choose the scripture passage for lectio divina at my monthly Benedictine Cell meeting. Looking for inspiration, I checked the Byzantine lectionary and found the Gospel readings for the week were mostly from Mark 9, and I settled on vv. 30-37. After the Transfiguration, as Jesus and his disciples were walking through Galilee to Capernaum, he told them of his upcoming death and resurrection, but they did not understand and were afraid to ask what he meant. The subsequent verses, quoted above, suggest they might not have been paying close attention because their thoughts were focused elsewhere.

This reminds me of too much on-line religious discussion. We are supposedly all following Jesus, but we waste our time and efforts in arguments that often boil down to questions of who is the greatest.

This is not, of course, to invalidate all argument! Sometimes disagreements must be clarified, and sometimes errors must be corrected. But arguments in the service of our own egos typically edify no one, least of all we who offer them. "If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all."

At the Benedictine Cell meeting, before I read the passage from Mark to begin the group lectio, my friends spontaneously interrupted the order of the meeting to begin peppering me with questions about my upcoming move from Anglicanism to Orthodoxy. It reminded me that even the friends who have accompanied me on the road with Jesus for several years have questions about this step I am preparing to take - and those who know me less well probably have even more questions. By the conclusion of lectio, I had resolved to start this blog and committed myself to doing so. But I also resolved not to let it become just another forum for arguing about who is the greatest.

I do not intend for this blog to be just an apologia for my becoming Orthodox, but that subject will probably dominate my first several entries. As I exhaust that topic, the subject matter of my posts will broaden to encompass more of my wide-ranging interests. I anticipate that a majority of my posts will remain broadly within the realm of religion and spirituality, but I might also stray into the areas of culture, history, science, and music, among other things.

If there is a single theme that runs through all of my thought, it is the Incarnation - specifically the perfect union of the two natures, divine and human, in the person of Jesus Christ, as defined by the Council of Chalcedon. This is my touchstone, and I hope it will always be implicit (when it is not explicit) in what I post here.

It is appropriate that this initial post will appear in the midst of Christmas season, as we celebrate Christ's nativity, and on the eve of the new year, a time for new beginnings.


James said...

Well, I also recall your curiosity and knowledge of the beliefs and polity of the "Two Seeds in the Spirit Holliness Baptist Church" [if memory serves, which it often does not] the two natures beggining here has a frivolous flip side as well, much as your choice in patron Saint.

Wonderful blog...I'd start one too if I didn't have these little souls called children I have to encourage toward salvation!

Roland said...

Ah, yes, the Two-Seed-in-the-Spirit Predestinarian Baptists! They're the ones who believe so strongly in predestination that they oppose evangelism, on the grounds that it amounts to an attempt to thwart the will of God by trying to save those he has already damned. According to Wikipedia ( they were down to just four congregations in 2003 - two in Texas and one each in your home state and mine.

I wouldn't mind trading life situations with you, but, since God has seen fit to keep me celibate for now, I need to take advantage of the opportunities that creates.