Good morning all!
Today’s scripture: MARK 11:27-33
27Again they came to Jerusalem. As he was walking in the temple, the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders came to him 28and said, “By what authority are you doing these things? Who gave you this authority to do them?” 29Jesus said to them, “I will ask you one question; answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things. 30Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin? Answer me.” 31They argued with one another, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ 32But shall we say, ‘Of human origin’?” – they were afraid of the crowd, for all regarded John as truly a prophet. 33So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.”
It’s Holy Tuesday and we are starting to really delve into the end of the story. Jesus enters Jerusalem and his first stop? The temple! As he makes his way there there are all sorts of challenges and Mark is sure to highlight this incident with the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders. They question his authority. It seems as though there are these obstacles along the way. Of course, Jesus handles it all beautifully but what would we do with these obstacles during holy week?
I was visiting a member of the congregation on Sunday to deliver communion to her. She is 98 years old and really fun to visit. She has a sense of humor like no other and is quick to respond. Her son and daughter in law were there as well. We chatted and chatted. We talked quite a bit about obstacles that get in her way to prevent her from getting to church. She talked about how it is hard to get moving in the morning, about maneuvering her walker, and all of the old people around her (and she’s 98!) but the biggest obstacle for her was that she really couldn’t stand a tall person sitting in front of her. Plus she wasn’t sure how many people she would know anymore. I assured her that we could find a space without a tall person in front of her if she was willing to switch pews (hard to get over, I know). Her reply? “Well, I guess you have the authority to say that.” Now, not that I am comparing Jesus’ situation to my own but it did seem like an interesting thing to say when trying to get to the church.
So what happened next? How did we move on? This woman then realized something was awry (I won’t give away her secret of what was going on) but it struck our funny bones and we started giggling. She with her face twisted in delight and I with my laugh out loud. Her son started laughing and her daughter in law began to chuckle and before we knew it we were all laughing so hard we were crying! She looked up and said, “you know, I haven’t laughed in days!” It was a holy moment. We laughed some more and talked about God much more in our laughter.
Jesus didn’t burst into laughter but he did handle the situation with a sense of maneuvering, through the question back, and wanted to move on from the blockage. He was brilliant in turning the conversation around and I think perhaps the audience at the time would have thought this story to be subversive and maybe even a little bit funny when he turned the tables about authority.
What are your challenges in getting to holy space this week? What is standing in the way and testing your patience? Is it another authority or the tall person in front of you? Is it a situation that you just can’t get around or is it your own busyness?
Prayer: O God, you have sent us into Jerusalem to seek you. Help us to remove what might be standing in our way so that we might be standing on holy ground ready to face whatever is to come. Amen.