Transcript of the post’s recording:
Welcome back to If Necessary Use Words! This is a place for praying with images. I’m Jon Shematek, a Deacon in the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland.
Every Monday, we’ll look at a portion of the Gospel assigned for the upcoming Sunday, and reflect together using a form of Visio Divina, in which we combine scriptural text, images and reflection. I hope this will engage you in thought, conversation or next Sunday’s sermon.
Today we explore the Gospel of Mark, Chapter 10: 13 – 16, assigned for the Twentieth Sunday After Pentecost, Year B, which this year falls on October 7.
First Listen or Read Carefully: “People were bringing little children to him in order that he might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them. But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.” And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them.” (NRSV)
Now Look: at this image of a woman and a small child on a beach. Notice the fading rays of sun illuminating the scene. The light as it plays on the gentle waves, the sand, and the couple. Imagine the sounds as the waves come in, the gulls crying out in the early evening. Next, dive more deeply into the central characters, noting their posture. What are they doing? What do they say to one another? What is the nature of their relationship?[Time for Your Personal Reflection]
Now Reflect: In our country (the United States) we think of ourselves as being independent, and pride ourselves on that characteristic. The value we place on being independent starts early in life. We smile when a small child says, “no, I can do this myself.” And do you recall the thrill, the excitement and pleasure of gaining independence when you received your driver’s license? Independence is something that separates childhood from adulthood.
We know that children depend on others for the necessities of life. As small children we trust others; we have no choice…someone will feed us, house us, clothe us, and will be there for us when we are sick or frightened. At least for most of us that was true. But that is not so for most of us adults. We are independent, right? Yet the truth is that as adults we do have to trust others…doctors, airplane pilots, fire fighters, grocery stores to provide fresh, safe food. And in our personal adult relationships we do need to trust friends, co-workers, partners or spouses, perhaps advisors and counselors. Take a moment to name someone on whom you are dependent, someone in whom you have absolute trust.
In these troubled times, trust seems to be evaporating. And for good reason. Many people distrust persons in authority…government officials, clergy. And for good reason.
Think of a time in your own life when that trust has been disappointed: perhaps by some of those same individuals or groups, perhaps by others in positions of authority, those who have hurt us. In a portion of today’s Gospel lesson, Jesus demonstrates that there is always One on whom we can depend, and, like a small child, acknowledge our dependence on, and our trust in. The Divine One whose characteristic is the steadfast love that is shown on nearly every page of the bible. The truth is that God is always there for us and exquisitely approachable, when others let us down or failed us, when we are overcome by grief, when we are fearful or sick or lonely. We can depend on the Holy One to be there right beside us. Always and everywhere.[Time for Your Personal Reflection]
Now Act: This isn’t easy. Allow yourself to be dependent on whatever Divinity you may believe in. Approach the Holy One, as does a child, acknowledging your dependence and trust. Experience the Presence of the Spirit in your life. Then, as God’s representative today on earth, as Christ’s ambassador, pray for others to do so as well.
But there’s more…look around and become aware of another who is dependent on you, or should be…a person with whom you are in relationship, a stranger who is poor, lonely, alienated…or a victim of violence, degradation or persecution. Recall Jesus’ words to the disciples…and be with that person, bringing the presence of the Christ, being the presence of Christ. As a source of healing and hope. Today…this is your opportunity to be a blessing to someone. Who is that person who needs you?[Time for Your Personal Reflection]
This is Jon Shematek. Thanks so much for participating in If Necessary Use Words. A place for praying with images. Please leave a comment on this post with any personal insights, reflections, or concerns, so that others may benefit from your thoughts.[Song: “Ambient Sonata” / Album: Ambient Sonata / Artist: Dee Yan-Key] [Image: “Evening on the Beach” Photographer: Jon Shematek]