Celebrity Gossip

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Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 5; 147:1-11, Genesis 37:25-36, 1 Corinthians 2:1-13, Mark 1:29-45


The fastest form of communication known to humankind may be … gossip. The most mundane fact becomes interesting if someone tries to keep it a secret. Celebrities and publicists take advantage of this quirk of human nature all the time by “leaking” information to stoke curiosity about a project or event that otherwise might have garnered little notice. Both giving and receiving such information produce a thrill of being part of an inner circle.

So why would Jesus – with his incisive understanding of human nature – bother to tell a man he had healed of leprosy to “say nothing to anyone?”

Maybe it was because he knew that the wrong kind of fame would attract the attention of his enemies sooner rather than later. Even for Jesus, fame was a difficult beast to tame. Like many modern “superstars,” he quickly became a victim of his own success. He wanted to control the spread of his message, but the more famous he became, the less he was able to travel and teach freely, or to find solitude to renew himself. Eventually he stayed put while the crowds came to him.

If the healed man is any indication, it seems that while God invites us to cooperate with “the plan,” its eventual success doesn’t hinge on our individual compliance. Our disregard may even be turned to an advantage. Jay Bakker, son of controversial televangelists Jim and Tammy Bakker, abandoned the church and turned to substance abuse as a reaction to scandals plaguing his family. Surely substance abuse is not part of God’s plan for anyone, but his experiences equipped him to co-found Revolution Church, a successful ministry reaching many people neglected or feared by more traditional churches.

It can be comforting to believe everything happens for a reason. Could it be even more comforting to believe that, no matter why something happens, even if it initially seems to go against the plan, God can turn it toward his purpose? From loose-lipped lepers to prodigal sons, we can all be instruments of the divine will. Who are you going to let in on the secret?

Comfort: You can be part of God’s plan, but it won’t be derailed when you are.

Challenge: Be sure information you pass along is true and necessary.

Prayer: Loving God, please help me to discern your will, and to trust you when I can’t. Amen.

Discussion: When have you seen seeming disaster turned around for good?

Join the discussion! If you enjoyed this post, feel free to join an extended discussion as part of the C+C Facebook group. You’ll be notified of new posts through FB, and have the opportunity to share your thoughts with some lovely people. Or feel free to comment here on WordPress, or even re-blog – the more the merrier!

Burying the Body

 

Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):

Psalms 143; 147:12-20; Judges 4:4-23; Acts 1:15-26; Matthew 27:55-66


Jesus was dead. His disciples, not understanding he would return, were scattered and gutted because their revolution had ended in crucifixion. The Messiah had been killed by enemies among the occupier and the occupied. The evidence of failure was his own lifeless body, hanging on a cross as the Sabbath drew near.

“What now?” they whispered. “What do we do now?”

Joseph of Arimathea and the Marys knew the simple yet devastating answer: bury the body.

Life can go so drastically wrong that we literally don’t know what to do. At these times, the best thing is often to attend to the practical. When life smashes our expectations beyond recovery, the loss can be too overwhelming to process all at once. When this is true, the momentum of responsibilities like a job, cooking dinner, and showering can keep us moving like a bicycle that will topple if it stops. Such distractions help us swallow grief in bite-sized chunks rather than a choking whole. Though we don’t want to turn these responsibilities into a form of denial, engaging in them can help us throttle the grieving process to a manageable pace. Funeral arrangements, for instance, while not routine, serve an important psychological purpose of engaging the grieving parties in activity. They draw us back into the decisions and actions of the living. While it is inevitable that we will have moments when breaking down is the right and necessary thing to do, we need a purpose to rise back up.

Short of clinical issues like depression, we all have the capacity to move on. Parents who care for children with severe disabilities are often asked, “How do you do it?” When the disability is unexpected, a parent may, in a sense, have to bury the body of hopes once held for that child. The future may hold resurrection, or an altered set of expectations, or further disappointment; in any case, these parents pull the extraordinary from the ordinary. Like Joseph and the Marys, they know the enormous healing power of being able to honestly say, “We did what we had to.”

Comfort:  In our greatest losses, God grieves with us.

Challenge: Make a list of the tasks you perform each day. Turn this into a litany of thanks: “God, thank you for the opportunity to …”

Prayer: Merciful and loving God, give me the strength to do what needs doing. Amen.

Discussion: Have you ever been immobilized by grief? What got you moving again?

Join the discussion! If you enjoyed this post, feel free to join an extended discussion as part of the C+C Facebook group. You’ll be notified of new posts through FB, and have the opportunity to share your thoughts with some lovely people. Or feel free to comment here on WordPress, or even re-blog – the more the merrier!