Daily Riches: Crossing Boundaries to Where God Is Revealed (Belden Lane)

“The desert loves to strip bare.” Jerome

“Desert and mountain places, located on the margins of society, are locations of choice in luring God’s people to a deeper understanding of who they are. Yahweh frequently moves to the boundary in order to restore the center, calling a broken people back to justice and compassion. When Ahab brings the worship of Baal into the court of Israel, God sends fire on the mountain to refocus the direction of Israel’s praise (1 Kings 18). At the peripheral place, unsettling and ‘eccentric’ as it may be, the core of a people’s identity is reconceived. Scholars sensitive to the function of place in biblical narrative observe that Jesus, in a similar way, frequently presses the people closest to him into places they find threatening. Jesus is always redefining the nature of ‘center.’ He moves regularly beyond the safety and exclusiveness of the Jewish homeland in Galilee to include Gentiles in outlying regions where his disciples are reluctant to go. He functions repeatedly as a boundary crosser, pushing his disciples to edges they find exceedingly uncomfortable. In Mark 6:45, he uses the harsh language of a sailor in forcing them to cross the Sea of Galilee, raising sail for Gentile Bethsaida. ‘Just shut up and get in the boat,’ he seems to be saying. They don’t want to go, but Jesus insists. He knows that places on the edge, those considered God-forsaken by many, are where his identity as Messiah has to be revealed. Out in the wilds anything can happen. He pushes to the east coast of the Sea of Galilee, to the swine-herding country of the Geraenes to heal the demoniac (Luke 8:26-39). He goes north over the border into Tyre and Sidon to affirm the faith of the Syrophenician woman and cure her daughter (Matt. 15:21-28). He heals in Decapolis, on the far side of the Jordan. He feeds a multitude on the eastern or foreign side of the lake, even as he had done on the western or Jewish side (Mark 8:1-10). Ever dragging his disciples away from the familiarity of home, he declares present the power of the kingdom in the alien landscapes of another land.” Belden Lane

“Immediately after this, Jesus insisted that his disciples
get back into the boat and head across the lake to Bethsaida”
Mark 6:45

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Is your Jesus a “boundary crosser?”
  • Has he been dragging you “away from the familiarity of home?”
  • If not, why not?

Abba, use me as I move out of my comfort zone.

For More: The Solace of Fierce Landscapes by Belden Lane

_________________________________________________

These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and God seeks you. I hope you’ll follow/share my blog. I appreciate your interest! Please leave a question or comment. – Bill

P.S. I’ve been working on a book that would be a collection of 365 daily readings–similar to and based on this blog. I’m looking for a publisher for this complicated project. If you have a contact or advice, please contact me.

Daily Riches: No Outsiders, No “Others” (James Martin and Frederick Buechner)

“The movement of Jesus is always from the outside-in: welcoming, inviting, including. Jesus was always including people, bringing them in from the outside.  As James Alison has noted, for Jesus there was no “other.” All were welcome members of his community. By speaking to ‘outsiders,’ healing those who were not part of the Jewish community, as well as his ‘table fellowship’ with the outcasts, Jesus was embodying God’s hospitality. Jesus’s hospitality was the foundation of later patterns of Christian hospitality. In the Middle Ages, St. Benedict, in his set of rules for his religious order gave his monks the dictum, Hospes venit, Christus venit. ‘The guest comes, Christ comes.’ That is, for the Benedictines all guests were to be welcomed as Christ. In the 17th century, St. Alphonsus Rodríguez, a humble Jesuit brother, worked as a porter, or doorkeeper, at the Jesuit college of Majorca, in Spain. His job was to greet all the students, faculty and visitors who rapped on the great wooden door. The humble Jesuit brother had a wonderful way of reminding himself to be cheerful and hospitable to all visitors, and … welcome them as if they were Jesus himself. Upon hearing someone knocking on the door, he would say, ‘I’m coming, Lord!'” James Martin

“Jesus is apt to come, into the very midst of life at its most real and inescapable moments. Not in a blaze of unearthly light, not in the midst of a sermon, not in the throes of some kind of religious daydream, but … at supper time, or walking along a road. …He never approached from on high, but always in the midst, in the midst of people, in the midst of real life and the questions that real life asks.” Frederick Buechner

  “I was a stranger and you invited me in,”
Jesus in Matthew 25:35

“you are no longer foreigners and strangers….”
Ephesians 2:19

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Who are the “foreigners and strangers” in your life? Do you think of them as treasured and loved by Jesus?
  • Do you have elevated expectations of how Jesus would appear, should he appear to you? Would you expect it to be obvious?
  • In Sunday morning church, do you have the attitude, “The guest comes. Christ comes.”?

Abba, don’t let me forget when I was a stranger. Don’t ever let me forget that feeling.

For More: Between Heaven and Mirth by James Martin

_________________________________________________

These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and he seeks after you. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

“I practice daily what I believe; everything else is religious talk.”