This evening’s passage from the book of Acts takes us to a small crowd of believers, about 120. Not thousands of people from Palm Sunday, not the angry mob from Good Friday. The believers are meeting to take care of business together. Some time has passed since their last meeting. Some folks have left the cause; some folks have passed away. Peter stands up among them and recounts Judas, and the void he has left behind. I imagine some folks are still shocked, completely surprised by Judas’s actions. Why was Jesus crucified? Was that part of his plan all along? Why Judas? Why our friend? These questions didn’t get answered for the apostles, and we’re still wrestling with them today.
Tunnel vision. Flop sweat. Ears ringing. That strange sickly feeling of “I don’t know what I am doing.” This evening’s passage from Acts 4 takes me straight to that moment; do you know the one? When the floor drops out from you, your stomach lurches, and the creeping realization that you’re stuck oozes its way across your body. I’ve had a few of these moments in my life. There have been swims in the ocean where the riptide is so strong I don’t feel I have the strength to get back. Auditions so disastrous I feel like I could never show my face again. We’re not even going to talk about my experience taking the SAT -- Stuckness, and panic. Phew, shake it off with me.
I woke up to head out for my morning run. It was brisk, a bit cloudy. Completely dark. The breeze kept things moving. It all felt straightforward at first, but it was hard to see through the misty darkness. Usually I enjoy running in a light drizzle, my joints complain less. My brain still whines though. “Wahhhh!” By the end of the first mile I was damp, still waiting for the sleep to fall from my eyes. Just starting to wake up.
The Gospel of Mark gives us the briefest introduction to Jesus. “At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan.” So. So we know Jesus exists, we know Jesus was baptized, we know John the Baptist did the baptizing. The writer or writers of the book of Mark do not seem to be concerned with backstory, but they LOVE to lay out the events in this narrative. Let’s look together for something else to chew on here, a little deeper.
Less of me, more of you.
Less of me, more of you.
This mantra was the spiritual cornerstone of my young life. The prayer language I used as a Christ-obsessed teenager was somewhere between self-loathing and humble. As I hoped for Jesus’ transformation in the world, my inadequacy revealed itself around the fringes of the prayer. This language spoke to the strength and hope of Christ, but denied my presence entirely; it denied my body. As we allow wisdom of the text to speak to us today, may we also remember and honor those who feel stifled and smothered by these words, those who cannot live up to standards of the capital B Bible. Sometimes the Reign of Christ feels like it’s meant for someone else. Like a letter was mailed to the wrong person.