I canvassed for a candidate the other day—not really the candidate that I want to win, but certainly one who is not repugnant to me. For those of you who haven’t canvassed lately, it’s really easy, with a map of addresses to stop by, ask if they’re going to vote, make sure they have a plan, and ask if they have any questions about the candidate.

I didn’t canvass in my collar, and I didn’t ever reveal my job. I hardly even spoke, actually, because I feel weird about that line of separation between church and state. I mostly just accompanied a friend while he knocked on doors.

I’m not used to feeling that vulnerable.

And although I often feel exposed with my collar, I felt naked without it here. I was just an ordinary voter, voting in an important election, but my singular vote probably isn’t worth much. It’s like I lost power while walking about.

The disciples’ conversation with Jesus in this Sunday’s text might have felt naked when they talked with Jesus about the throne. Would he or wouldn’t he take them with him when Jesus assented to the throne? Would he still remember them when he finally got famous?

Would the candidate remember me, knocking on doors?

It’s hard to shed my own sense of self-importance and my need for affirmation.

I imagine the disciples felt the same in our text for this Sunday. Here they were, close friends with the future king.

Jesus asks, “What do you want me to do for you?”

They want Jesus’s favor in the future. But Jesus surprises them, once again, with his. His leadership would not be like the leadership they expected and they would neither like the cup or the baptism that Jesus would face.

And if they wanted to great, they would have to serve, to be slaves, the lowest of the low…

Jesus asks the same question of Bartimaeus, “What would you have me to do for you?”

But dear Blind Bartimaeus answered differently, “Let me see again.”

Ched Myers, et al, in “Say to This Mountain” that “Moral courage has its source in the capacity to perceive through the eyes of God’s love, to feel for the other and the self with divine compassion, and to know divine grief and wrath over injustice. We all have rare moments of seeing clearly, moments when we know profoundly that every human being, and indeed, every living thing is sacred.”

And isn’t that the good disciple? The one who asks for vision, and then “followed him on the way.”

As we look to the election, to the year ahead, to the types of power available to us (and the kind not), let us as not long for places of position, but instead, for perception of compassion, to see clearly that all are sacred.

What will you preach this Sunday?

  • Will you consider the types of power available today and show a path away from it?
  • What would it mean to “lose my life” like Jesus was talking about? What would you be willing to lose your life to?
  • Are there ways that you’re regaining your sight through your walk with Jesus?

Rev. Lia Scholl is not-that-kind-of-Baptist preacher and pastor in Winston-Salem, North Carolina (U.S.) and is the author of I Heart Sex Workers (Chalice Press, 2013).

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2 thoughts on “Narrative Lectionary: Pursuing Power (Mark 14:32-52)

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