In September the ordered world of Proverbs and James is read
against the cross of Marks world. Walter Brueggemann
reminds us of Karl Marxs dictum, "The ruling ideas of
each age have ever been the ideas of its ruling class."
Who benefited by our pious simplistic characterizations of the
Hebrew scriptures as law and the New Testament as grace? How did
reading Proverbs and not the Prophets prepare us so easily to
turn the symbol of the authorities answer to those who
defied them into a symbol of the devotional life that posed no
threat to the authorities? Septembers meditations will
bring a chill to "whatever is, is right."
The Secret Messiah
Job 38:1-7, (34-41); Psalm 104:1-9, 24, 35c; Hebrews 5:1-10;
George Croly, a popular 19th-century English divine, wrote
prolifically during his lifetime, but only one hymn outlives him.
It contains a line pertinent to our reflection on this great
poetic passage of the voice from the whirlwind, the Hebrew
scripture for our meditation this week: "Stoop to my
weakness, mighty as thou art/and make me love thee as I ought to
God answers Jobs questions with questions of Gods
own. The modern mind tends to resist this image of the Almighty
God roaring out of the heavens at Gods pitiful creature and
flees for its religious comfort from the God of the Old Testament
to the sweet and gentle Jesus of the New. Hear, O people of God,
the Lord thy God is one.
And the God of the whirlwind hears and heeds and responds in
the most beautiful poetry.
What more do you want God to do? What do you think God wants
you to do?
Job would understand the responsive psalm. God is the creator
and sustainer of all things, but there is a right way to respond
to this all-powerful God, and woe to those who dont.
The gospel is the story of the disciples amazing
response to Jesus announcement of his forthcoming passion
and Jesus even more amazing description of the way of the
For the third time, Jesus had told them what was going to
happen to him in Jerusalem. In response, the two with Peter, the
inner circle, the ones closest to him, make an audacious request
for place and privileges. They were still very much into old
The messianic secret that runs through MarkJesus
constantly telling his followers not to reveal who he iswas
the effort not to build on the old expectations that would be
aroused by the use of the term "Messiah." The Messiah
was the one who would restore the Davidic kingdom and make the
Jews once more a world power. Jesus is still misunderstood today.
We hear, "My kingdom is not of this world" as a
designation of geography, not of a way of life.
Jesus called the disciples together and patiently explained
what life would be like in the new order, the kingdom he would
bring in. There is little evidence that the churchthe
churchesthat the disciples left behind got it. There is
little evidence that the church today has got it.
VERNA J. DOZIER is an educator and lay theologian in
Washington, D.C. She is the author of The Dream of God: A
Call to Return (Cowley Publications) and The Authority of
the Laity (The Alban Institute).