Sunday, March 22, 2015

Daily Devotion for the Fifth Sunday in Lent 2015

Daily Devotion for Lent

Fifth Sunday in Lent, March 22, 2015

Mark 11:27-33 (NRSV)

Authority is important.  How do we formally give authority to people in positions of power?

We usually have installation services that recognize them as deserving of the authority we give.

The consecration of Bishop Asbury in the Methodist Episcopal Church
was not recognized at the time by the Church of England as valid.
Those present, however, did see God's authority given to him.
When I was ordained an elder, Bishop Blake laid his hands upon me along with two elders in our conference that served as my mentors: Dr. Mouzon Biggs, Jr. and Dr. John Rusco.  After my ordination, the churches in our denomination recognized my status and now allow me to Baptize and preside over Holy Communion at my discretion.

In Jesus' day, to be recognized as a Rabbi, there were similar rites of passage that would have been conferred upon him.  Other established rabbis would have transferred their authority to Jesus.

Some have said that this occurs at the baptism of Jesus by John.  John being one rabbi and the second source coming directly from God through a heavenly voice.

So if the Pharisees recognize John's authority, they will be forced to recognize Jesus as a rabbi.  If they don't, they risk the wrath of the crowd and so they remain noncommittal. Jesus seems content to leave them baffled although the reader has the inside information.

So how does this short passage and conversation profit us today?

I believe we have to ask ourselves what kind of authority we are granting Jesus.  As we have seen people following or not following to various degrees throughout Mark's Gospel, we are coming to the point where we find ourselves either committing or not.

When Christians are baptized, we believe that God is calling each of us to some kind of ministry in our lives - whether we decide to become ordained or to serve as lay people. What reservations do you need to set aside in order to live into your own calling from Jesus Christ today?

Prayer by Colbert Cartwright:

God of the faithful in every time,
today you have called us into your church
to be one body in Jesus Christ.
You have bestowed upon us the gifts we need for your service.
Grant that we may willingly take our part;
that we may support one another;
and that we may seek the greatest gift, which is love.
Knead us together in one loaf
with all your people throughout the world,
through your Spirit of unity. Amen.

Prayer by Colbert Cartwright from Chalice Worship.

Picture, "The Ordination of Bishop Asbury" by Thomas Coke Ruckle, painter; A. Gilchrist Campbell, engraver [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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