September 9, 2018: “Be Opened”

Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost

The Gospel writer Mark provides us with not one but two stories of Jesus reaching out in remarkable ways to proclaim God’s glory. Jesus and his disciples have already rankled the powers that be in the Jewish areas and perhaps are seeking a respite from the resultant animosity by traveling into Gentile (non-Jewish) territory.

It is on foreign turf that Jesus and company meet a mother whose daughter has an unclean spirit residing within her. After a brief conversation about children, crumbs, and dogs, Jesus makes God’s glory known by healing the daughter from a distance. God’s glory made known to Gentiles? That’s certainly a first but never a last.

From there, Jesus and the disciples return to the Galilean (Jewish) region and meet a disabled man who is deaf who has a speech impediment—but not for long. Jesus ultimately heals him, and God’s glory again is made manifest.

Both stories are stories of missions—mission to people in foreign lands and mission to those near to us in our communities. In a time in our country when differences are means of divisions, and when Christians struggle with maintaining what we have, we are reminded that God’s glory breaks down boundaries of all kinds.

The two stories end with healings; we don’t know if the lives of woman and her daughter and the formerly disabled man were changed to the point of following Jesus. Only God knows the rest of the stories. We are called to bring God’s glory to people in need, both here and far away, which requires being open to the will of God. Jesus models for us the need to be open to serve others in mission fields where God’s glory can be seen. Be assured that God will provide the rest of the story.

Mary Lou Plummer, retired pastor, Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin