Posts Tagged ‘New Testament studies’

Sunday Morning Richness

July 10, 2022
Coffee and thinking before reading, always
Reading from the Greek Testament

Come away by yourselves to a lonely place, and rest awhile.

Mark 6:31 (Jesus advising his disciples after they had finished a lengthy preaching and healing tour)

Morning colors are always amazing here
My 1st Colorado watercolor sketch
The start of my second watercolor sketch
A portion of my morning journal

At 10:13 tonight, I finally pause in the darkness of the Colorado night, sitting outside on the Brookie cabin deck, enjoying the 62-degree temperatures and the cup of hot tea Sandi just brewed and brought out to me. The south fork of the Rio Grande is filling the night with its own conversation, and the soothing sounds of the stream remind me that I’ll be sleeping soon.

While making coffee this morning, I began translating the 6th chapter of Mark’s Gospel from my Greek Testament. The text came alive, and I found myself scribbling several pages of personal observations concerning his effect on the synagogue audience as he spoke in his hometown of Nazareth on the Sabbath. They were astounded. The 1st chapter of Mark records the same audience reaction in Capernaum, noting that he spoke with authority and not as the scribes. The Nazareth audience was astonished for different reasons: they knew his family, his roots. And the wisdom with which he spoke far transcended what his townspeople had heard before. I have been intrigued with Mark’s Gospel since the 1970’s, and since I began reading Harvey Cox’s When Jesus Came to Harvard, I have been translating this Gospel with fresh eyes, avoiding the stacks of notes taken during seminary and pastoral days. What intrigues me about Mark’s Gospel is that he frequently registers the audience astonishment, but never tells us what Jesus actually said.

I have opened this blog post with the passage above where Jesus invited his disciples to retire to a “lonely place” after they had returned from a preaching tour, exuberant with their success, but no doubt tired. The Synoptic Gospels have always fascinated me with the rhythms of Jesus three-and-a-half year itinerant ministry from town to town. He frequently withdrew from the public into a solitary place to re-charge, to re-calibrate, to re-center. The Greek word translated “lonely place” is the work often translated “wilderness.” The word was used of John the Baptist’s domain in the trans-Jordanian region where he dwelt in isolation. The wilderness motif has engaged me ever since my studies in the Gospels along with Henry David Thoreau’s book Walden. Throughout my professional life and now even in retirement, I still periodically withdraw “to the wilderness” to re-focus what I am doing in my own life. These two weeks we’ve set aside to spend in Colorado are part of that plan. I love my life and everything I do. But I also love those opportunities to break away from the weekly cycle and go to a solitary place, hide the calendar, and do what I wish.

As to the pictures posted above, I have attempted two watercolor sketches from the view of this Brookie cabin deck, looking down toward the stream of the south fork of the Rio Grande. The first is just a rough, quick sketch; the second I may try to develop into a more serious painting tomorrow, we’ll see how I feel about it when I look on it with fresh eyes.

The final picture is of the journal I began this morning on the deck over a cup of coffee. Since it is Sunday, I had this urge to translate from my Greek Testament, and I pasted a photo of Karl Barth in my journal, as he still inspires much of my work these days. I took that picture after dark, so the lighting is rather strained.

Thanks for staying up with me. I hope to have more to share tomorrow.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.