Tag Archives: Mark

July 19, 2015

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A Touch of Healing

The big news is that the healing Jesus is coming. The people line up along the roadways and fill the marketplace. Everyone wants to get near enough to touch the edge of his cloak.*

Often when I reread a Bible passage I put myself back in that time and place, expecting to see something I overlooked previously in the story or the telling. This time it is easy to spot the regulars who have heard Jesus preach about God’s Kingdom and witnessed astonishing healings. Since printed handouts are centuries away, they personally invite friends, neighbors, and anyone who will listen. The crowd gathers seeking healing for themselves or someone they love.

The brevity of Mark’s report surprises me. He doesn’t waste words listing the ailments of body, mind, and spirit in the crowd. He has faith in Jesus to sort out exactly what is needed. I wonder? Do my prayers get bogged down with symptoms and scary diagnoses in instead of recalling God’s healing power at work? My thoughts fill with action words—cure, knit, mend, treat, create, recreate, restore, forgiveness, change, renewal, transformation, and wholeness.

The big news is the still the same in the 21st century. Geographical access far exceeds a roadside near the Sea of Galilee. The gospels writings of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John appear on the internet as well as in print. Jesus’ cloak now enfolds a community of believers who gather weekly in churches to meet him and share their experiences of God’s healing love. Touchable edges of the garment abound in towns, cities and rural areas of all sizes, everywhere two or three gather in Christ’s name.

*“And wherever he went into villages or cities or farms, they laid the sick in the marketplaces, and begged him that they might touch even the fringe of his cloak; and all who touched it were healed.” Mark 6:56 NRSV

Prayer:
Healing Jesus, Help us wear the cloak of faith boldly so that the sick in body, troubled in mind, or discouraged in spirit are drawn to your presence. Amen

Question:
How will I be healed this week?

Written by Nancy Alice Morton

The Bridge is a collaborative ministry by four Downtown Des Moines churches. The Bridge Meditations are part of the ministry of The Bridge which is working to enrich the lives of those working, living and visiting downtown Des Moines. Programs developed by The Bridge offer spiritual formation and development, professional counseling, holistic health and family support. The Connection Cafe is a Bridge ministry which provides a free mid-day meal five days per week. The Connection Cafe is located at The Cathedral Church of St. Paul (815 High Street) and is supported by many churches and civic organizations in its ministry. For more information, or to volunteer to help with The Bridge, The Connection Cafe or other Downtown Des Moines ministries contact Rob Hoover at 515-771-1481 or by email at theconnectioncafe@hotmail.com
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December 7, 2014

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Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey.
Mark 1:6, NRSV

Strange sartorial choices. Decidedly odd diet. A voice “crying out in the wilderness.”

Though Jesus’ cousin John was clearly someone at the margins of society, apparently his message was compelling enough in that day to gather throngs to the river for baptism.

I imagine that today he would be viewed with suspicion, skepticism and quite possibly malice. If I encountered a smelly, unshaven, raggedy street prophet, I would no doubt cross the street for my own comfort.

Those who don’t look, sound or behave as I do are suspicious. I have an inbred mistrust of The Other. It could be a person on the margins—unwashed, unkempt, unshaven. Or someone of another culture in strange dress. Or possibly someone behaving, worshipping or eating in a manner foreign to me.

I’m not alone in this squinty-eyed view of the world. Read the headlines, listen to broadcasts: Gaza. Ferguson. Syria. Our daily news is testimony to our shameful human behavior.

God is not threatened by differences. It’s we who are.

Prayer:
Lover of all, open our hearts to those whose appearance, behavior or life circumstances differ from our own. Amen

Question:
Can I see beyond differences?

Written by Robin Kline

The Bridge is a collaborative ministry by four Downtown Des Moines churches. The Bridge Meditations are part of the ministry of The Bridge which is working to enrich the lives of those working, living and visiting downtown Des Moines. Programs developed by The Bridge offer spiritual formation and development, professional counseling, holistic health and family support. The Connection Cafe is a Bridge ministry which provides a free mid-day meal five days per week. The Connection Cafe is located next to the YWCA on Grand Avenue and is supported by many churches and civic organizations in its ministry. For more information, or to volunteer to help with The Bridge, The Connection Cafe or other Downtown Des Moines ministries contact Rob Hoover at 515-771-1481 or by email at theconnectioncafe@hotmail.com

November 4, 2012

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“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.”
Mark 12:30 (NAB)

Mind, body and soul. These are the three areas of my life where I constantly seek to be healthy.

My mind seeks Wisdom. The Bible encourages me to pray for Wisdom above all else. Wisdom comes from the Holy Spirit. Hearing the Holy Spirit requires quiet and awareness. Quiet of my voice so I can listen. Awareness to see the signs the Spirit sends.

My body is a temple, according to Jesus, and deserves to be treated as such. Like a temple building, my body needs to be maintained and cared for. Plenty of rest, a healthy diet and exercise are the best ways to keep my body strong.

My heart, or soul, is where mind and body converge. What I think and how I feel are determined by my soul and impact the make up of my inner being. Taking care of mind and body are the building blocks to the health of my soul.

Seeking fitness in these areas of my life are three ways I love the Lord.

Prayer:
Lord, help us to achieve the trinity of health, in mind, body and spirit. Amen

Question:
In what area of my life can I improve my health?

Written by Eric Morse

The Bridge is a collaborative ministry by four Downtown Des Moines churches. The Bridge Meditations are part of the ministry of The Bridge which is working to enrich the lives of those working, living and visiting downtown Des Moines. Programs developed by The Bridge offer spiritual formation and development, professional counseling, holistic health and family support. The Connection Cafe is a Bridge ministry whichprovides a free mid-day meal five days per week. The Connection Cafe is located next to the YWCA on Grand Avenue and is supported by many churches and civic organizations in its ministry. For more information, or to volunteer to help with The Bridge, The Connection Cafe or other Downtown Des Moines ministries contact Rob Hoover at 515-771-1481 or by email at theconnectioncafe@hotmail.com

September 23, 2012

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“But they remained silent. They had been discussing among themselves on the way who was the greatest.”
Mark 9:34 (NAB)

“I am the greatest because I am the best fisherman.”

“No, I am the greatest because I am good with money.”

“You’re both wrong. I am the greatest because Jesus nicknamed me Rock.”

Mark’s Gospel doesn’t give us any details about this argument – how it started, why each man thought he was the best, or whether an agreement was reached.

When Jesus asks what they were talking about, they remain silent. Again, Mark doesn’t tell us why. Did they feel shame? Was it the bitter realization that Jesus is the only one in the traveling party who is truly the greatest?

Who else by word or touch is able to heal the sick, give sight to the blind, calm a storm, turn water to wine, walk on water and drive out demons?

Like the disciples, sometimes I am so wrapped up in myself that I don’t realize Jesus stands right in front of me. Self-centeredness prevents me from doing the work Jesus wants me to do.

“Guys, check your ego,” said Jesus. “Get a new perspective. What makes you great? It’s not who you are, your talents, or what you do. It’s who you serve.”

Prayer:
Lord, help us to see your greatness in those we serve. Amen

Question:
Where might I serve Jesus instead of myself?

Written by Eric Morse

The Bridge is a collaborative ministry by four Downtown Des Moines churches. The Bridge Meditations are part of the ministry of The Bridge which is working to enrich the lives of those working, living and visiting downtown Des Moines. Programs developed by The Bridge offer spiritual formation and development, professional counseling, holistic health and family support. The Connection Cafe is a Bridge ministry whichprovides a free mid-day meal five days per week. The Connection Cafe is located next to the YWCA on Grand Avenue and is supported by many churches and civic organizations in its ministry. For more information, or to volunteer to help with The Bridge, The Connection Cafe or other Downtown Des Moines ministries contact Rob Hoover at 515-771-1481 or by email at theconnectioncafe@hotmail.com

September 16, 2012

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“For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and the sake of the gospel, will save it.”
Mark 8:34 (NRSV)

My college housemates were gathering for a reunion at our alma mater and I was excited to reconnect with these special people.  We would catch up on 40 years of separation and joyfully remember the good old days.

Sharing these travel plans with my spiritual director brought forth unexpected questions.  She asked me if I planned to honor my commitment to the Ignatian Retreat I had agreed to take.  Hadn’t I said I would clear my calendar and pray 1 ½ hours a day?  Was I serious about my intentions?  How important was it to stay the course?

“Rats!” I thought.  “Bummer!”  Yes, I had agreed to the 5-week exercise and had been earnest in my commitment.  What to do…I resolved to pray about this dilemma.  What was important?  What would give me peace?  After meditating on the situation, I decided to stay on retreat and forgo the reunion.

The day I was to have flown to Florida for the gathering of college friends, my daughter called me to tell me she was in excruciating pain, and asked if I would take her to the emergency room.  She underwent an appendectomy as well as emergency surgery later the same day to stop internal bleeding.  I did not leave her side, and was deeply grateful to be of support in the critical situation. By God’s grace, I was exactly where I was supposed to be.

Prayer:
Help us, gracious God, to honor our commitments to you, even when they seem sacrificial. Amen

Question:
Am I seeking personal gain only to lose life’s essence?

Written by Connie Lee Whalen

The Bridge is a collaborative ministry by four Downtown Des Moines churches. The Bridge Meditations are part of the ministry of The Bridge which is working to enrich the lives of those working, living and visiting downtown Des Moines. Programs developed by The Bridge offer spiritual formation and development, professional counseling, holistic health and family support. The Connection Cafe is a Bridge ministry whichprovides a free mid-day meal five days per week. The Connection Cafe is located next to the YWCA on Grand Avenue and is supported by many churches and civic organizations in its ministry. For more information, or to volunteer to help with The Bridge, The Connection Cafe or other Downtown Des Moines ministries contact Rob Hoover at 515-771-1481 or by email at theconnectioncafe@hotmail.com

September 9, 2012

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“They were astounded beyond measure, saying, ‘He has done everything well; he even makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.’”
Mark 7: 37 (NRSV)

This passage reminds me of the difference between wellness and wholeness. Wellness emphasizes the lifestyle changes I make that keep me healthy.  The wholeness Jesus offers changes me physically, mentally and spiritually.

Those who, thanks to Jesus’ touch can now hear, speak, or see, encounter a changed relationship with family and community.  After the celebrating. many things they never thought they could do become possible.

I can diet and exercise while holding a grudge or being tight-fisted and ungrateful.  Or I can flex the spiritual muscles of forgiveness and generosity while welcoming a positive change in an unhealthy situation.

A personal trainer at the gym, however supportive, is not in the forgiveness or generosity business.  God, the creator, healer and transformer is.  Why am I always astounded?

Prayer:
Giver of Wholeness, help us to hear about and see your healing power at work in us so that we can speak enthusiastically to others about it. Amen

Question:
What spiritual muscles do I need to flex today?

Written by Nancy Alice Morton

The Bridge is a collaborative ministry by four Downtown Des Moines churches. The Bridge Meditations are part of the ministry of The Bridge which is working to enrich the lives of those working, living and visiting downtown Des Moines. Programs developed by The Bridge offer spiritual formation and development, professional counseling, holistic health and family support. The Connection Cafe is a Bridge ministry whichprovides a free mid-day meal five days per week. The Connection Cafe is located next to the YWCA on Grand Avenue and is supported by many churches and civic organizations in its ministry. For more information, or to volunteer to help with The Bridge, The Connection Cafe or other Downtown Des Moines ministries contact Rob Hoover at 515-771-1481 or by email at theconnectioncafe@hotmail.com

July 22, 2012

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“And wherever he went, into villages or cities or farms, they laid the sick in the marketplaces, and begged him that they might touch even the fringe of his cloak; and all who touched it were healed.”
Mark 6:56 (NRSV)

Can I indulge you with a Christmas story in July?

When Kirsten was three, her best friend in all the world was Pongo, the spotted star of the 101 Dalmatians movie.

Kirsten’s Pongo was plastic and he used to squeak when she squeezed his tummy.  But his squeak stopped after too many baths and bubbles and whatever else a three year old can squish into a squeaker.

After our busy Christmas season, sleep-in Saturday arrived at last.  Except for tug, tug, tug on my sleeve as I snoozed.

“Where’s Pongo?” the little voice asks.

“Can we find him later?”

Tug, tug.

“Where’s Pongo?”  She’s pulling my hand.  But instead of the random hands-and-knees search I anticipated, Kirsten takes me downstairs to the kitchen, then down again to the basement.

“Where’s Pongo?” Rhetorically.

She stops in front of the shelves where our Christmas ornaments are, the ones I just stacked yesterday on top of the Christmas tree box, which she is pointing to.

“Kirsten, is Pongo with the tree?”

“I don’t know.”

So “we” pulled all the ornaments and knick-knacks out, opened the I Don’t Know box, pulled away a ton of scratchy branches and guess who was playing on the bottom?  Pongo went on a big adventure while I was busy packing decorations.

My spirit has been on all kinds of adventures, too.  I abused it, misplaced it, played games with it.  After a while, a spirit can drift too far away to bring back, even if you know what covers it, even if you know what box you put it in.

When the spirit is out of reach, when it won’t come when called, touch His sleeve. And if you’re at a loss for words, start with a rhetorical admission:  Where’s Pongo?

Prayer:
Guiding Savior, free our spirits from little boxes.  Amen

Question:
If I tugged a sleeve today, what would I say?

Written by Bob Krause

The Bridge is a collaborative ministry by four Downtown Des Moines churches. The Bridge Meditations are part of the ministry of The Bridge which is working to enrich the lives of those working, living and visiting downtown Des Moines. Programs developed by The Bridge offer spiritual formation and development, professional counseling, holistic health and family support. The Connection Cafe is a Bridge ministry which provides a free mid-day meal five days per week. The Connection Cafe is located next to the YWCA on Grand Avenue and is supported by many churches and civic organizations in its ministry. For more information, or to volunteer to help with The Bridge, The Connection Cafe or other Downtown Des Moines ministries contact Rob Hoover at 515-771-1481 or by email at theconnectioncafe@hotmail.com