21-24 They went to Capernaum; and when the sabbath came, he entered the synagogue and taught. They were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. Just then there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit, and he cried out, "What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God."
25-26 But Jesus rebuked him, saying, "Be silent, and come out of him!" And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him.
27-28 They were all amazed, and they kept on asking one another, "What is this? A new teaching--with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him." At once his fame began to spread throughout the surrounding region of Galilee.
When I read the word “authority” in this week’s text I thought about Angie’s sharing at our CCS open house last week. Many amazing community leaders honored our opening with words of encouragement. However, no one spoke with more authority on the power of safe space, case managers, peers and mentors than Angie. She spoke as one who had been considered broken, unclean and excluded. As one now accepted, loved and in the process of transform.
I know many leaders, teachers and coaches who thrive when the conditions are right. Those friend and family relationships that seem good in health and plenty. People who feel safe and comfortable when others look, think and act like they do.
Jesus does not find himself in these conditions. He is a religious teacher of an oppressed people. His message seems to be attracting the sick and impoverished. His friends and family wish he would be more quiet, normal, and less disruptive.
Following Jesus has lead me out of the classroom, Church sanctuary and baseball field. Recently I have found myself in the often unpredictable city hall, neighborhood meeting and sidewalk conversation. The message I have to share seems to resonate more with the unclean, unhoused, and marginalized.
I have been observing the incredible authority of those at Church at the Park who have lived experience on the streets. Those who know what it feels like to like to move from excluded to accepted. Those who have known brokenness and healing.
May we recognize real authority when we see and hear it. May we also be the kind of people who can see that there are none called “unclean” who cannot be made clean through love and acceptance.
Outward Mindset Application
Identify someone about whom you know little. Find a way to be curious about their life this week.
Pathways toward Centeredness
Asceticism (Loving God through removing comforts):
Identify a favorite unhealthy food item. When you experience a craving for it, see if you can replace it with a healthier item this week. Can you replace it for longer than a week?
Questions for Reflection
Who have you experienced to speak with “authority from below?” How can you celebrate and encourage that person this week?
“Liturgy” refers to the habits and practices humans use to form community around shared values and meaning. At Church at the Park, we desire to be a community of practice, becoming people who see the world through the eyes of the marginalized, making meaning through the lens of pain and suffering, and committing ourselves to non-violence in a wounded world. This weekly email is intended to provide pathways of practice for becoming the type of people who embody these values.
Many of our reflections on each week's text come from other sources. If you're interested in reading more of what inspires us, here our our two favorite reflections.
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