mental wanderings

"And he went throughout Galilee, proclaiming the message in their synagogues and casting out demons." - Mark 1:39

This morning I called my good friend who happens to also be a rabbinical student. Like usual, we had a great conversation. We met last year during a summer chaplaincy training program and felt a nearly immediate bond. In some ways it was as if we were the same person, yet formed by different religious traditions. She is the identical twin I never had.

In our conversation I realized an area in my life where I have in a way "compromised" my Christian faith. On several recent occasions when I've introduced myself to friends of friends or new neighbors I have only identified myself as a graduate student rather than as a seminary student. I mentioned this in passing during the morning call and my friend kindly called me out on it. I excused myself by saying that people don't expect a rabbi to proselytize while they expect a pastor to try to convert them. The excuse didn't work.

Then later this afternoon I was at the hair stylist and I was asked about my work. I shared that I was a seminary student. After visiting for a while about favorite television shows, the hair stylist started asking me questions about my faith and then I asked her about her church background, which lead into a lengthy, but meaningful spiritual conversation about what it means to be a Christian and a follower of Christ. I had no intention of "proselytizing," but the natural consequence of my sharing my "work" was a conversation about Jesus.

Everyone has their story about their religious experience. For some, it may be drawn from the mythical stories of vampires and witches that inundate our fictional narrative culture. For others it is their childhood experience attending church with a parent, grandparent, or friend. No matter the experience, there seems to be an emotional and mental connection that reaches deep into the core of our being. We all have a spirituality. Many of us, whether religious or not, want to connect with others at a spiritual level. And there is something powerful about the name of Jesus. Jesus' name elicits strong emotions from people. Jesus' name draws out curiosity. Strangely though, the strong emotions and curiosity that Jesus' name draws is often more positive than negative and when it is negative the negativity is more often directed towards those who claim to be followers of Jesus Christ, not towards Jesus Christ himself. (or perhaps in being directed towards Christ's followers, they are really being indirectly directed towards him?)

Thus, I come to this verse in Mark and I ask "What was Jesus preaching in the synagogue?" and at the same time realize that Jesus did not hide from or cover up his "business" or calling. Interestingly also, he did not just preach among the marginalized of society and on the outskirts, but he also preached in the synagogue! What was the business he was doing in the synagogue? Did they really let him in the synagogue? What was he saying in the synagogue? What was his message when he first began to preach? What did Jesus say?

In verse 14 and 15 of the same chapter it says that Jesus' message in Galilee was "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news."

and this is where my mind wanders off in a million different directions... The kingdom of God has come near... repent... believe... the good news... the kingdom of God has come near...


ks said…
I often envy pastors and people like that because people who are seeking are more likely to open up to them than to some random girl like me. Seminary student is a nice title.
The part about Jesus' name drawing people or sending them away reminded me of what the pastor said on Sunday. False teachers will usually not acknowledge Jesus the Lord Christ--they'll use one or the other. Lord, being God, Christ being the savior of the world. Interesting to think about.

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