Sunday, February 1, 2009


"The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law." Mark 1:22

Since coming to Cambridge, I have had the opportunity to walk the streets, sit in the dining hall, stop in cafes and wander into several libraries. Since I am very familiar to this world and yet unfamiliar to the present occupants, I can be overlooked and free to listen and observe. I overhear many conversations about classes and about teachers. Some students brag about how they have figured a particular professor out, others whine about the load of reading and work they have, and yet another group (the smallest yet) are aware of the profound transformation that is going on within them. They have listened, taken notes and done the dutiful student things but the outcome is not what they expected. They are inspired, electrified about a whole area and about their own life. They have encountered the authentic teacher, the environment of possibility and witnessed a new way of understanding for themselves. They have encounter authority and life will never be the same.

The people in the synagogue at Capernaum were startled by the presence of the authentic teacher in Jesus, the one whose life was the embodiment of the lessons he was teaching. Not like the teachers they had known whose skill and knowledge were complete, here was a rabbi who electrified and inspired them and challenged them to change their whole lives. He embodied the story - he was the story. At this very beginning of his ministry, folks saw a depth of truth and possibility in him and in their own lives. This was even before Jesus freed the man of demons, performing miracles in the temple and healing many in very public places. Something moved in them that responded to the genuine, living article of God's love present in the world.

On this Sunday, may we live like students of Jesus, who are inviting God's transformation in our lives. So many times we act like dutiful students in church communities, finding ways to manage our assignments, figuring out what we need to do to get by. It's all so familiar. Today, I want to live as one of those who in undone by what I read and hear. I want to be inspired and electrified in new ways by the teaching of the authoritative teacher, the one whose life was ransom for us all. I pray that we can all listen to Jesus this day, knowing that his authority and power is grounded in love, love vast and eternal - enough to power and recharge a cold and weakened world.

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