The first resplendent and holy, flourishing over waters, trees with fulsome fruit, witherless leaves, psaltery furrowing the land, a covenant of light and mist; no want; creation swelling, begetting in the shadow of white-clifted wings.
In the second, sin sprouted rocks and spurs; acorns detonate like grenades; mandrakes scream bloodroots and tribulation; serpents untangle from dead boughs, sunlight shriveled up everywhere.
The third the garden within tending memories of rockroses, fallen pomegranates and sallow sunsets; olive trees weeping in the wilderness blood-seared thorns and stargazer lilies pressed into a crown; God calling us back to paradise.
I have just one person left on earth who’s been My friend through grade school, high school, church, and sports, The pastor says. Meanwhile the winter rain Explodes on the metal roof like handgun shots,
And it’s hard to hear the man go on: Thing is, He’s lost his memory. There comes a catch In his throat, a thing that no one here has witnessed Through all his ministry. Here’s the trouble, he adds,
I’m left alone with the things we knew together. Silence ensues, save for a few quiet coughs, And rustlings of the worship programs’ paper. Then the preacher seems to change his theme right off,
Speaking of Mary, and how she must have suffered When her son referred to his apostolic peers As family, not to her or his brothers, Not to Joseph—as if he forgot the years
Spent in their household, as if he kept no thought Of ties that bind. The congregants are old. They try to listen, but their minds go wandering off To things like the pounding rain outside, so cold
And ugly and loud. The storm, so out of season, So wintry, still improbably recalls The milder months, which vanished in a moment, And which they summon vaguely, if at all.
It's the unforgivable sin, according to the gospel reading from Mark two Sundays ago.
I remember reading the gospel at the early service that day, out on the lawn, and when I got to this part, I saw one man near the front row raise his eyebrows. I'm not sure if he raised his eyebrows at the part about "blaspheming the Holy Spirit" or about "the unforgivable sin," or if it was a combination of the two. But my immediate thought was, "I should have preached about this. People are going to wonder about it."
The psalm appointed for Sunday, despite my reservations expressed on Monday, is quite a piece of liturgical theology. If you look it up in your handy-dandy study Bible (rather than the BCP), you’ll find that it is given both a title and a style heading.
In Jesus’ day—as in ours--redefining the family is a provocative act with far-reaching social, political, moral and spiritual implications. If we were to isolate Jesus in Mark 3 from the moments in the other gospels in which Jesus interacts with his family, we might conclude this story with George Aichele’s sharply worded assertion, “Mark’s Jesus is no supporter of family values!”