Text: Isaiah 53:4-12
The Great Isaiah Scroll from Qumran, showing all of Isaiah 53.
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Surely he has borne our infirmities and carried our diseases; yet we accounted him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the punishment that made us whole, and by his bruises we are healed.
I’ve always struggled with the mythology of the suffering servant, the story told here in Isaiah and claimed by the Christian tradition as a foretelling of Jesus’ role in human history. So I ask, if religious faith serves, at least in part, as an expression of psychological truth, how does this myth of the suffering servant function in the modern world and in our own lives?
What really happens when you or I take on the sins and suffering of others on their behalf? How does such suffering manifest itself in us physically, emotionally, and spiritually? What happens to those we’ve “saved”? Describe the healing that does (or doesn’t) take place? What movement toward wholeness do we initiate—for ourselves, for the other, for the world? What does such vicarious atonement do to our relationships with those we’ve saved? To our relationships with other loved ones? To a relationship with ourselves? To our relationship with God? Does being a servant require suffering? Is suffering a form of serving? And, if so, who does it really serve?
– Kathie Collins
“Between the Lines” is excerpted from BibleWorkbench, a weekly resource for engaging the biblical story in a new way published by the Educational Center in Charlotte, NC. For details and subscription information, see About BibleWorkbench.
The Educational Center invites you to a series of three fall evenings of poetry with BibleWorkbench Associate Editor and Writer Kathie Collins.
Join Kathie Collins for a “depth” exploration of some favorite poems. We’ll read, discuss, and experience one poem each evening, focusing on how the work lives as a part of both our outer and inner worlds. Rather than learning what critics have to teach us about the poem, we will instead listen for what soul—that creative force that flows through the poem, through us, and through the world—is saying.
There is no charge for this wonderful opportunity but seating is very limited and reservations are a necessity. To reserve your space please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tuesdays: October 2, November 13, and December 4
6:30 to 8:00 PM at the Center
1801 E. 5th Street, Suite 210, Charlotte, NC
Text: John 10:11-18
Wolf in Kolmården Zoo (Sweden). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away—and the wolf snatches them and scatters them.
Make a list of all the sheep—loved ones, responsibilities, institutions, ideas, dreams— you are charged with shepherding. Which of these sheep truly belong to your flock? Which have been hired into your hand by others? Who are the masters that assign these foreign sheep into your care? Why do they need or want your help? What is the pay they offer in exchange? What branding or other demarcation enables you to separate your sheep from theirs? When the wolves come at night, as they always do, which sheep do you sacrifice? For which sheep are you willing to lay down your own life? What strategies, if any, do you use to make that determination? Continue reading
Text: Acts 4:32-35
There was not a needy person among them, for as many as owned lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold. They laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.
Security spikes protect a gated community in the East End of London. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The questions asked in the Exploring the Patterns portion of today’s lesson in BibleWorkbench ask us to explore our attitudes toward money and the concrete relationship between economics and the Kingdom of God—an essential exercise that I dare say most of us would rather skip. Christianity means very little if these issues of economic justice are ignored. There are other layers of meaning in the text, however. And I invite you to also look at the non-material patterns of selling, spending, saving, and sharing that exist in your relationships with others and self. Continue reading
Text: Mark 15:1-39 (40-47)
And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.
A Father's Grief
(Photo credit: RobandSheila)
Richard Swanson reminds us in Provoking the Gospel of Mark that in Jewish tradition the tearing of a garment is a ritual expression of mourning, and that the rending of the Temple curtain in Mark’s passion narrative might thus be understood as God’s expression of mourning. “Mourning,” writes Swanson, “is the ritual activity human beings engage in when they are reminded that their hopes and their love cannot turn back death.” Continue reading
Text: 2 Kings 5:1-14 
Now the Arameans on one of their raids had taken a young girl captive from the land of Israel, and she served Naaman’s wife.She said to her mistress, “If only my lord were with the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.”
Image via Wikipedia
What might be the relationship between the Israelite slave girl and Naaman that she is concerned with his healing? Is it mere altruism or compassion on the girl’s part? Pity? Pride in her heritage? Might she benefit from his healing in some way? Have hopes for release from her bondage? Is she simply being naïve—identifying with her oppressor? Continue reading