Sunday, April 09, 2017

Scripture Flipped:
Forward Day by Day, March 2017

Daily readings for March 2017 in Forward Day by Day were notable for how the author flipped  scripture to find new angles on familiar passages.  The author is Mike Marsh, rector of Saint Philip's Episcopal Church in Uvalde, Texas.  Here's a digest of the most striking examples, which I mean to preserve for examples of good faith and good writing.

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (Mt. 6.21).  In the a season of giving up things we treasure, Marsh flips that idea: "Let us approach Lent as treasure hunters, discovering what we truly value, where we actually spend our time and energy, and what occupies our thoughts and worries.  Let us name our treasures, and find our hearts."

The Lord has chosen you... to be his people, his treasured possession (Dt. 7.6). Marsh flips the previous day's message to look at God's treasure: us. "If God's heart is set on you, I too must give you my heart.  If God has chosen you, how could I ever justify or defend rejecting you?"

When Jesus turned and saw them following he said to them, "What are you looking for?" They said to him, "Rabbi..., where are you staying?" (Jn 1.38)  Marsh writes, "I have probably answered this question from Jesus a thousand different ways.... I know that if I don't let the question live within me, I tend to become stuck, settled in place and asleep to the beauty and mystery of life." He adds that his answers in youth were "more concrete and definable," but now, the question keeps him, and us, "awake and open."

The tempter came and said to him, "If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread."  (Mt 4.3) Marsh suggests that temptation serves a good purpose.  Whatever tempts us also tells us about "what's going on inside of us."  He asks, "What if temptation can be our teacher or a diagnosis?"

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not be in want. (Ps 23.1)  "Wants often have the power to narrow our vision and limit our freedom."  It's not that God gives us what we want, but that what we want keeps us from seeing what God gives us!

Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house? (Luke 2.49). It seems to be a story of precocious tween-age Jesus, but Marsh observes, "Ultimately, growing up is about running away to our Father's house."  Marsh challenges his reader: "Are you different today than you were a year ago, three years, ago, thirty years ago? No doubt you've aged, but have you grown?"

Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I am a virgin?"  (Lk 1.34) Marsh takes off from a non-Biblical tradition that Mary was among the maids who sewed the veil that separated the people from the Holy of Holies in the temple.  "Often, our veils are the lives we have created for ourselves -- what we see is what we get." But, "Nothing is impossible with God."

The Jews disputed among themselves, saying, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" (Jn 6.52) Marsh says there's a short answer - love. The longer answers have divided churches.  "When I think of the short answer, however, I begin to list people who have fed and nourished my life with their flesh and blood -- through real, incarnate lives of presence, generosity, forgiveness, strength, courage, guidance, and love. Sometimes these people challenged me.. and at other times they encouraged me by showing me more than what I could see for myself."  These people "have enlarged my life."  Forward recommends that we make a list of those who have fed and nourished us with their flesh and blood.  In the margins of this, Marsh's last meditation, I wrote, "This is the best!"

No comments: