Month: March 2012

A Lenten Journal: A Pursuit of the Doctrine of Christ (Sixth Saturday)

“If anyone says to you, ‘What are you doing?’ say, ‘The Master needs it and will send it back here at once.'”  Mark 11:3

Jesus was only borrowing the donkey.  He would return it before nightfall.  All of those who followed Jesus to Jerusalem praised him loudly.  “Blessed in the coming kingdom of David our father!”  But, there would be no restoration of Davidic-Solomonic Israel.  Jesus was going to Jerusalem to die.  The crowds declared a human parentage and earthly nation.  How sadly shortsighted.  The purpose of the savior was not to maintain such earthly standards.  He would soon return that borrowed donkey.

Flowing on Rocks (© John Gresham)

The Gospel of salvation means more than “family values” or “God Bless America.”  We can shout these things all we wish.  But we are overlooking one main point.  Christ did not come to save anyone because of heritage nor nationality.  He died to rise again to save whomever would deny himself, take up his cross and follow him.  Jesus returned the donkey.  Had he kept it, he would be a thief.  If we keep Jesus on these donkeys, we are making him into a criminal.  He took care of the animal.  But, gave it back.  Let us act in ways to nurture our households and communities.  We should obey just laws and be good citizens.  But Christ has a greater purpose than riding on borrowed donkeys.

Your Brother in Christ,

Cyprian Bluemood

Order of Saint-Simon of Cyrene

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A Lenten Journal: A Pursuit of the Doctrine of Christ (Sixth Friday)

“Call him here.”  Mark 10:49

Out of that great crowd, Bartimaeus received his sight.  A couple of things strike me about this text.  Firstly, is the mercy Jesus has for the man.  Others scold Bartimaeus for crying out to him.  “How would he know Jesus since he has never heard his voice and certainly hadn’t seen him before?”  “Bartimaeus is blind, but at least he gets a few coins begging on side of the road.”  “He should be quiet and accept his lot in life.”  Jesus listened past the critics and heard the faith of a man who wants restoration.  The will of God cannot be dictated by nay-sayers who wish to keep the status quo.  The mercy of our Lord looks past such callousness with great compassion.

New River State Park (© John Gresham/Virginia State Parks)

Also, Bartimaeus calls out in hope when hope makes no sense.  How would Jesus hear his voice over the crowd?  Why should such an important man pay him any attention?  People gave money to beggars on the side of the road.  So, why should he want to change his lot?  Bartimaeus had a real need that could only be solved by real faith.  A faith that goes beyond obstacles and opposition.  A faith that only ask for the root need.  He didn’t ask for wealth nor a wife.  Bartimaeus only asked for pity and his sight.

Let us have faith in a God who is able to restore us.  To bring us to a condition to live abundantly.  We have obstacles that would prevent us from this gift.  We have opponents that say we ought to be content with where we are.  But, let us have the faith that overcomes these.  If we do, some in the crowd will speak to us in a different tone.  “Courage.  Get up; he is calling you.”  Indeed, the compassion of Christ knows no boundaries and hears past those who try to set them.

Yours in Christ,

Brother Cyprian Bluemood

Order of Saint-Simon of Cyrene

A Lenten Journal: A Pursuit of the Doctrine of Christ (Sixth Thursday)

“For the son of man himself came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.   Mark 10:45

Poor James and John.  They had followed Jesus so closely and were among the first disciples called and they still didn’t get the point.  They had a “Kodak moment” of Jesus as he was transfigured with Moses and Elijah and still didn’t get the picture.  Jesus once again spoke of the passion and they had the shameless nerve to ask for positions of power.

Feeding at the Splash (© John Gresham)

There can be no true authority without humble, sacrificial service.  Again, our Lord talks of the brutal ordeal he must go through.  He is not going to Jerusalem to be coronated or inaugurated.  He is going there to give his life as a ransom for many.  As a result of this sacrifice, after three days he will rise again.  Positions of authority is not something we are not things we are to pursue in this world nor the world to come.  God will decide who fills seats according to his will.  Our responsibility is to be servants to one another.  If we fail to make ourselves slaves to others, our seats will not save us and we make a mockery of the Savior whom we proclaim.

And the fact that he calls himself the “Son of man” should give us a clue as to how we should see ourselves.  We who are pastors or other church leaders ought be examples of humility and service to our communities.  We ought to feel a bit embarrassed when people call us “father” or “reverend.”

Yours in Christ,

Brother Cyprian Bluemood

Order of Saint-Simon of Cyrene

A Lenten Journal: A Pursuit of the Doctrine of Christ (Sixth Wednesday)

“Many who are first will be last, and the last, first.”  Mark 10:31

I often believe that too many of my fellow preachers have slipped into stupid.  We have developed a culture of opulence seekers who constantly chase after the best seats, finest attire, most luxurious surroundings and we excuse this sad and pathetic pursuit as “seeking God’s favor.”  I can’t help but to wonder if we have paid any attention to the lives of the disciples and, more so, the one who taught them.

These men were not blessed by gaining anything of earthly material value.  Not Matthew, who may have been the wealthiest among them as a tax collector.  Not even the lowliest of the fishermen.  When Jesus said, “Follow Me,”  the pursuit of wealth and status for these men was thrown completely out of the window.  They all crashed in friends and relatives homes, ate whatever they could afford and made it stretch for thousands of unexpected guest, and had to borrow a donkey to go to Jerusalem.  Their lifestyle has little or nothing to do with Steve Harvey suits, chauffeur driven Bentleys, nor a fine hotel room at the conference (complete with cable TV to watch porno movies).  We have no right to criticize a secular world bent on greed when we who proclaim to be spiritual seek to wallow in status and wealth.

Dawn on the Pier (© John Gresham)

We are truly blessed and highly favored when we leave the things of this world behind.  If you mark your blessings and favor according to the stuff you get in this world, what does that say about what you will gain in the world to come?  Indeed, what does that say about your discipleship?  The disciples are to gain as much as a hundred times over for the earthly gain they had left behind.  The rich young man gained nothing as he was too attached to what he had to give it all up to become a disciple.

Every minister need not take a vow of poverty and live in a monastery.   But, we must reject the pursuit of opulence and be content with living simply.  Let us only take what is necessary for the journey.  For the reward God has for us in the eternal is greater than any “blessing” or “favor” we may receive in the temporal.

Your Brother in Christ

Cyprian Bluemood

Order of Saint-Simon of Cyrene

A Lenten Journal: A Pursuit of the Doctrine of Christ (Fifth Tuesday)

Jesus looked steadily at him and he was filled with love for him and he said, “You need to do one thing more.  Go and sell what you own and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come follow me.”    Mark 10:21

Here is evidence of how the lack of human ego can bring us closer to God and each other.  No doubt, our Lord gives a command to this rich young man to sell all he has in exchange for heavenly treasure as the prerequisite for discipleship.  But please take note, Jesus does not give the command out of spite with a wrath-filled warning if he is disobedient.  Jesus looked steadily at him and he was filled with love for him.

Eagle with Fish (© John Gresham)

Why is there no economic justice in the world?  Ego.  Those who demand more from the rich too often do so out of malice instead of mercy.  The rich and those who identify with them feel this malice and resist the wishes of the poor and their advocates.  Of course, the man is too full of his great wealth to obey and follow the far greater Christ.  But, Jesus is able to make the request because the spirit he makes it with.

Seekers of economic justice should do so out of love for the rich as well as the poor, especially since entry into the kingdom of God is far more difficult for the wealthy.  And if they fail to listen to the Lord, let us not be distracted by our lack of this world’s fine possessions.  If we are generous, our little can become more than enough as we build up our wealth in the world to come.

“I feed the poor, I am called a saint.  I ask why the poor have no food, I am called a communist.”  Archbishop Dom Helder Camara  http://www.xaviermissionaries.org/M_Life/NL_Archives/99-N_Lett/BR_Helder_Camara.htm

Your Brother in Christ

Cyprian Bluemood

Order of Saint-Simon of Cyrene

A Lenten Journal: A Pursuit of the Doctrine of Christ (Fifth Monday)

“But, from the beginning of creation ‘he made male and female.'”    Mark 10:6

We have drifted from the original purpose.  Relationships between male and female have become a disturbed pursuit of pleasure rather than a loving expression of commitment.  In the time of Moses, divorce was as simple as a written piece of paper ending the marriage.  Today, we have a culture that doesn’t bother with the institution.  We just agree to “hook up” for a night or two for mutual enjoyment.

The source for this malady is a hardness of heart.  It is the spiritual heart that only beats for its self and seeks its own pleasure.  This heart readily rejects what no longer pleases it.  Such a heart cannot fully commit to the God-given relationship where intimacy is to be freely expressed.  If it cannot be faithful to this tangible gift, it cannot be faithful to the God that gave it.

Celebrate Love (© John Gresham)

Let us pray for tender hearts that allow us to be intimate with our spouses.  Not simply sexual.  Who has not seen dogs having intercourse?  Intimacy is where the two bodies and souls yield completely to one another so that they become one.  One who can yield to a spouse can yield to the will of God.

Your Brother in Christ

Cyprian Bluemood

Order of Saint-Simon of Cyrene

 

Ego is the Enemy of the Soul

 

I think we have seen too much fear and hatred recently.  In Afghanistan, Florida, and Kansas City people have died because of these things.  The disciples were no different.  Jesus shows us a better way.

Douthat Reflection (© John Gresham/Virginia DCR)

 

WHERE GROWN-UPS LACK GREATNESS

Mark 9:30-37

1.  introduction

  •  Twelve grown men gave up their livelihoods and lifestyles to follow Jesus.  This was noble and honorable
  • Their egos won’t let them be satisfied with being a part of the inner circle.  They discuss who is the inner of the inner circle

2.  Propositional Statement

  • We must adopt the characteristics of small children to truly serve Jesus and one another.

3.  Relevent Question

  • Why is the character of a small child superior to that of an adult in being a disciple?

4.  Points:

A).  Inquisitive

– grown-ups are often too fearful to ask God about the things they don’t understand (v.32)

– little kids are full of and never stop asking questions

B).  Trusting

– grown-ups resist the will of God when we find it upsetting (8:32)

– little kids trust those who love them

C).  Hopeful

– grown-ups can be timid about the will of God (10:32)

– little kids follow those who love them expecting something good at the end

5.  Conclusion

There can be no love and service as long as we are ignorant and  fearful.   Therefore, let us not stop being curious and joyful.

 

 

A Lenten Journal: A Pursuit of the Doctrine of Christ (Fifth Saturday)

“… Have salt in yourselves and be at peace with one another.”    Mark 9:49

If the truth is being taught, does it matter who is the teacher?  Isn’t falsehood a far greater problem than honest teachers who aren’t part of our clique?  And why be concerned about the good someone else is doing when one must seek good for themselves?  Again, the disciples were concerned about their petty positions of greatness.  Jesus is far more concerned about the purity of their message.

Great Blue Heron (© John Gresham)

We must be disciplined to avoid the things and situations that lead us into temptation.  Yes, the Holy Spirit does lead us to a place of testing from time to time.  Angels are there to minister to us when we are there.  But, when we put ourselves in such places and times, we leave ourselves without an aide except for sincere repentance.  God forgives.  But, we are not to put him to the test.  If others see us testing God with our undisciplined lifestyles and are led astray by it, we are no better than the willing deceivers who seek whomever they can destroy.

Salt is the character of the Spirit that prevents rotting and prepares for healing.  Fire is used to test and separate pure precious metal from dross.  If we careful to spend time seeking self purification rather than trying to silence brothers and sisters who are doing a good work, the good of the Gospel can be seen by all.  Seen because of direct evidence of good works and miracles.  Seen because of indirect evidence of Godly lifestyles.

Your Brother in Christ,

Cyprian Bluemood

Monastic Order of Saint-Simon of Cyrene

A Lenten Journal: A Pursuit of the Doctrine of Christ (Fifth Friday)

… “What were you arguing about on the road?”   Mark 9:33

Isn’t it funny when children are proven to be more mature than adults?  Please consider the text.  When Jesus teaches them about his coming Passion, the grown men are too scared to ask about what they don’t understand.  They are fearful to make a sincere inquiry of the one whose mercy and power exceeded that of anything they have ever experienced.  Instead, these who are ignorant and fearful debate among themselves.  This only maintains the state of ignorance and fear.  Service cannot be born in such  a condition.

Children know that they don’t know.  They also know that grown-ups seem to know everything.  Thus, they ask questions.  Sometimes it seems they ask too many questions or do so out of playfulness.  But, almost always, they do so realizing their significantly lower position.  The loving adult answers the child appropriately and trust grows.   Where there is trust, there is faithful service.

Baptism (© John Gresham)

Perhaps this is why we use boastful words and deadly weapons on each other in the name of religion.  We are to scared to humbly ask the God we profess to believe in the things we don’t understand.  Out of fear, we would rather try to make our case above others when none of us have a leg to stand on.  We do a disservice to God as we are unwilling to serve each other.  Small wonder we have atheism in the world.

Let’s stop being grown-ups and revert to spiritual childhood.  Never stop asking questions of God and our elder, knowledgeable saints.  Even in light-hearted moments, they who love us will reveal truth.  Truth makes us free to serve God and one another.

Yours in Christ,

Brother Cyprian Bluemood

Order of Saint-Simon of Cyrene

A Lenten Journal: A Pursuit of the Doctrine of Christ (Fifth Thursday)

… “I have faith.  Help my lack of faith!”   Mark 9:24

The boy’s father is so much like most of us today.  Our distress seems incurable.  Our ailments are traumatic and have lasted for years.  The best representatives of God fail us.  Thus, when we are in his presence, we don’t expect much.  We believe in Christ.  But, we have been accustomed not to expect much.  Marriages fail, addicts relapse, friendships remain broken, goals are unfulfilled, and hope is dashed to pieces because we have been accustomed not to expect much.

Cleat on the Creek (© John Gresham)

Jesus gives rebuke and retort with restoration in this case.  He bemoans faithlessness.  Not just the father, disciples, and scribes.  The entire generation is criticized for lack of faith.  A blind man believed with no doubt.  So did a lame man who may or may not have been seeking a physical healing.  Yes, Jesus was merciful and healed the son.  But, mercy should not be taken for granted.  We must come to the presence of God believing in him for who he is and that he is able.

Along with faith, let us also be dedicated to the power granted to us through prayer and fasting.  A disciple must be disciplined to grow in communion with God and be disattached from the things of this world.  Faith alone may be enough for some peace in mind.  But, without strong communion with God and disattatchment from the world, adverse spirits will confound us.

Yours in Christ,

Brother Cyprian Bluemood

Order of Saint-Simon of Cyrene