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“that they might be with him and that he might send them out…”

This Sunday, we continue to follow Mark’s narrative of Jesus’ ministry (Mark 3:7-21).  Fresh off the heals of Jesus’ surprising encounters with the Pharisees and the crowds where he gives a fresh vision of the Sabbath, wineskins, and what it means to be in the presence of Christ (in short: the feasting and celebration that belongs to a wedding!), we find a bit of a summary of what’s been happening.

Crowds. 

Impure Spirits. 

Different levels of recognition. 

And a sort of expansion and contraction. 

By that I mean, the withdrawing of Jesus before the crowding around him; the gathering of his disciples before the sending of them to preach and drive out demons.  This might seem exhausting.  We know what it’s like to be busy, over-extended, scattered.

But it is Jesus, who brings us together.  That brings us to Himself, in order to send us back out to involve others in this dynamic life with God.  It is Jesus who also has the discipline to retreat to a quiet place, to narrow everything down to communion with his Father, before re-igniting His hectic life of being “for” others.

This retreat and mission, contraction and expansion, receiving and giving, reminds me of something that Paul leads with in his Second Letter to the Corinthians (2 Cor 1:3-5):

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.  For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.

As we gather this Sunday, I invite you to come to the Fount, the source of comfort, refreshment, forgiveness, and life-abundance, that you may share in these gifts, be recharged, and be (as John Jay mentions) re-membered for the purpose of offering that the power, love, friendship, and resurrection-hope to others who are hurting in our families, communities, and world.  I pray that we all might find time and space to be with Him, that He might then send us out.