By Ken Asel
A Reading from the Gospel of Mark 4:21-34
21 He said to them, “Is a lamp brought in to be put under the bushel basket, or under the bed, and not on the lampstand? 22For there is nothing hidden, except to be disclosed; nor is anything secret, except to come to light. 23Let anyone with ears to hear listen!” 24And he said to them, “Pay attention to what you hear; the measure you give will be the measure you get, and still more will be given you. 25For to those who have, more will be given; and from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away.”
26 He also said, “The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, 27and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how. 28The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. 29But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come.”
30 He also said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it? 31It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; 32yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.”
33 With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it; 34he did not speak to them except in parables, but he explained everything in private to his disciples.
“Is a lamp brought in to be put under the bushel basket, or under the bed, and not on the lampstand?”
On November 20, 1983, more than 100 million viewers tuned in to ABC for the initial broadcast of The Day After, about a fictional war between NATO and the Warsaw Pact. In the film, Eastern nations blockade Berlin. Escalation builds until nuclear missiles are launched. Although it is never clear who punches the button first, in the matter of minutes, explosions engulf innocents and combatants alike.
Shortly after the thermonuclear devastation, familiar characters are found wandering aimlessly on a Sunday morning. Towns are in ruins; many people are dead or dying. Communications have completely collapsed. Gradually, some individuals gravitate into a severely damaged ruin, a church. A poster at the doorway reads “Catholic and Episcopal Churches have merged.” They enter to pray.
In a later scene we meet Dr. Russell Oakes, struggling to find his family and treating the wounded along the way. Exhausted and aware he is dying from radiation, he manages at last to come home, but his family is not there. Bewildered, he stumbles and falls. Quietly an unknown man approaches, washes the doctor’s wounds and gives him something to eat, remaining with the physician until he dies.
All too often ecumenical discussions can become wrongly fixated. Orthodox doctrine is important, but so is orthopraxis. Do all of God’s gifts belong to any one church or theological commission? Ultimately aren’t prayer, the sacraments, and acts of service, the possession of the whole Church? Have they not already been bestowed upon us by our heavenly Father? Let us place the lamp we are given on its stand, and encourage other Christians to do the same, lest our light become invisible when it’s needed most.
(The Reverend) J. Kenneth Asel, D.Min. is a retired priest from the Diocese of Wyoming. Devvie & he have been married 30 years and reside in the Texas Hill Country.
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Daily Devotional Cycle of Prayer
Today we pray for:
The Diocese of Akoko (Nigeria)
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, New Orelans, La.