Jesus, Mark, and The Guys At The Camp

I read the reflections in Forward Day by Day, a booklet published every three months by the Forward Movement.  Today’s reflection referred to the story of the healing of the paralytic in Mark 2; where four guys break through a roof to get their friend inside so that Jesus can heal him. I’ve heard this story many times, but today I saw it a bit differently after reading the selection from Forward Day by Day.

Jesus is preaching in Capernaum.  The house where he spoke was packed and the people spilled out into the street. “Four people hear that Jesus is in the neighborhood and that he might be able to help their paralyzed friend…They don’t have any proof that Jesus can help, but their love drives them to hope for the impossible and to believe in it enough to take crazy risks for their friend.” (Forward Day by Day, for Thurs. Feb. 18, 2016)

My husband has several good friends that he’s known for decades, and they’ve taken a few crazy risks over the years (although they may deny it).  They’re The Guys At The Camp.  They have each others’ backs, know each others’ histories, and love each other because of (or in spite of) everything they’ve been through over the years.  They do those guy-things that guys do for each other.

Guys at the camp 1

Two of The Guys At The Camp (at the camp).

I can just imagine them in first century Capernaum. One of The Guys can’t walk.  Another has a great idea, because he’s heard about Jesus. His enthusiasm is contagious, and it seems like a good idea. (Is this sounding familiar?)

“Hey Franz, you know Simon the fisherman?”

“Yeah, great boat, man, he took me out in the Sea of Galilee once. You wouldn’t BELIEVE the speckled trout* we caught that day! UN-believable.”

“Well, this Jesus dude healed Simon’s MOTHER IN LAW.”

“REALLY!”

They’re willing to try anything, no matter how crazy, to help their friend, so off they go, bursting with hope and energy.  Nothing is going to stop these men on a mission, except…there’s one problem.

“Big Dave, WHERE did all these PEOPLE come from?!?”

“HOLY ____ how are we gonna get IN there?”

“I have an idea! Look, we can get from THAT roof to THAT roof….”

“STANLEY – WHERE’S THE ROPE?”

“I thought you had it!”

“HEY LOWRY, WE NEED A PRY BAR HERE.”

“GOT IT!”

After some consultation, they get to the roof and start to tear into it.

“Have chain saws been invented yet?”

“Watch it, we gotta fix this when we’re done! We can’t go leaving a big goo-ball mess up here!”

“Are you sure you know what you’re doing?”

Then, they lower their friend with great care.  They don’t give a second thought about anything except getting their friend taken care of.  Jesus sees their faith, their love, and heals the man.

Mark doesn’t say, but I’ll bet there was a lot of hollering, whooping and back-slapping going on, followed by The Guys patching up the roof and then heading out into the streets to tell everyone about the miracle they’d witnessed and maybe having a beer.  There’s nothing shy about These Guys, and when they find a good thing, they talk about it (and since they mostly tell the truth about fishing, people believe them).

Sometimes it takes getting a little crazy for God to let a miracle happen.  Sometimes we don’t get to God in quite the way we imagined, but we get there anyway.  And if you can’t make it by yourself, well, it’s good to have someone who will carry you until God gets you back on your feet.

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*OK, so there are no speckled trout in the Sea of Galilee, which is a freshwater lake.  But I can’t imagine Franz getting excited about catching sardines or a fish called “musht,” which, according to www.bibleplaces.com, were fished there.

Service through song

This morning, the first Sunday of Lent, we will be trying something new at the Episcopal Church of the Epiphany: A plainsong psalm.

Since I’m the one singing the plainsong, I am now thinking yikes, what did I get myself into?

plainsong psalter

Sure, I chant psalms sometimes for myself. I’ve even recorded a couple.  I’m fascinated at how these ancient words, translated into a language that didn’t even exist when they were written, are set to the simplest music.  Plainsong is very…well, plain.  And while I love occasional vocal pyrotechnics as much as the next soprano, there are some things that have no place for them.  (Such as psalms, and the Star Spangled Banner.)

It helps to realize that this isn’t a performance, it’s a service.  While I’ve written before about the give-and-take between audience and performer, this is different.  Anyone involved in the liturgy is involved in an act of service, and that naturally includes the congregation.  Now that I think about it, I’ve attended services in the (distant) past that left me feeling excluded, and it’s probably because they were more of a performance than a service.

The dictionary (Merriam Webster, in this case) gives several definitions of the word service.  One is the work performed by one who serves; help, use, benefit.  Another is a meeting for worship.

How can I serve?  Today, just show up and chant so that the words and tone are clear, the Holy Spirit will take care of the rest.