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Which Way The Wind Blows

Lectionaries are funny things— weird, abstruse little lists of biblical passages by number, sort of like tide tables or bus schedules. Today’s Lectionary passages (for 3-9-2018, the week of the third Sunday in Lent) are: Psalm 88; Genesis 47:1-26; 1 Corinthians 9:16-27; and Mark 6:47-56

About a month ago I posted a reflection in response to Abbess Jane’s Lectionary Musings blog on the same passage from Corinthians as the one listed for today in the Daily Office Readings Lectionary (BCP). That was supposed to be the reading for the 6th Sunday of Epiphany, according to +Jane, but I just can’t find it anywhere. I looked up Epiphany 6 in both the Daily Office Lectionary and the Revised Common Lectionary—not there. It’s not the reading from the Lindisfarne Community’s A Way of Living Lectionary for either Year 1 or 2 either. Oh well.

I was never the sort of autist who is fascinated by such things as bus schedules. I am much more inclined to be enthralled by maps. I wonder if I could make a Lectionary Map? I could mark off all the dead ends, dangerous fords, waystations and inns, tracts of unmapped forest or swampland, pits of despair, hinterlands crawling with bandits, and mountain passes blocked with snow for three seasons out of four. It would be fun to come up with squiggly cartographic symbols for such things as ‘well-worn topics’, ‘questionable translations’, and ‘difficult passages’. It would have to be a strange sort of three-dimensional map, with occasional whimsically-bordered side-bars containing the kind of peculiar four-dimensional anomaly which just can’t be made to fit on the main map. Perhaps there could be pop-up dioramas that spring upward as the map is unfolded— a lion spitting out pieces of lamb, face-to-face with a distraught shepherd; the mount of the Transfiguration with special mica-flake glitter; or the Annunciation depicting the angel Gabriel in the role of the local midwife with her hands on her hips, confronting a stubborn Mary whose chin and lower lip are sticking out. The possibilities are endless, but I’m afraid I don’t have the artistic skill to bring such a thing into being. It might be possible to describe that sort of map according to how it unfolds in my imagination, but such a description would certainly not do justice to the full-blown imagery that just this moment burst into being in my head. To be accurate, such a map would have to include sounds and smells as well, so I have to ask— was petrichor the harbinger of the flood? Did Noah come out on a gray morning of occasional raindrops, and know by the smell in the air that it was time to board the Ark? Did the fire from heaven make a savage tearing sound as it ripped the air apart on the way down to the altar? Was there a turning, slow-motion grinding sound as the limestone blocks toppled from the walls of Jericho? Even if there was, how could a map know? As far as maps go, I had a notion that although making a map of a lectionary is not practical, maybe it’s possible to tentatively chart some of the subliminal currents running metaphorically under and through the Biblical texts.

Mark 6:47-56 (my paraphrase from Mounce Greek Reverse Interlinear)

47 When evening came, the boat was out on the sea, and he was alone on the land. 48 He saw them afflicted as they were rowing by a contrary wind. Around the time of the fourth watch of the night he came toward them, walking on the sea. He meant to disregard them, but when they saw him walking on the sea they thought he was an apparition and they screamed, for all of them saw him and were terrified.

The context has to come from the previous verses. This was after the ‘feeding of the five thousand’ which happened right after Jesus got the news about John the Baptist being beheaded. He had been trying to find a place where he and his followers could be alone and rest, but the paparazzi saw them trying to slip off, figured out where they were going, and got there first. Jesus felt kindness for the crowds because he thought they were like sheep without a shepherd, and so he began to teach them a lot. As soon as the crowd was fed, Jesus sent his disciples on ahead in the boat, and he slipped away from the crowd and went off by himself to pray.

(I was particularly struck by an alternative translation of the ‘contrary wind’ (anemos) in which the meaning is ‘a wind of shifting doctrine’. [From Strong’s Greek Dictionary])

Bad news and good news—

sometimes you can’t tell ‘em apart.

I only wanted peace and quiet, but I got ambushed

into sitting on that hard rock on the hillside for hours, talking—

talking way too much, to people who weren’t listening.

And then there’s you, trying to tell me all my wisdom

won’t be enough to feed so many hungry hearts.

I’m fed up with you; you can choke on all my broken leftovers.

I’ve never been a complicated man, but you—

you don’t want simple, you want a dog and pony show.

By the way, you should know your boat is useless:

it leaks, the sail’s torn, and the oarlocks squeak,

but you go right ahead and climb aboard— I’m sick of you!

Shred your hands rowing against your own shifty winds;

That’s a gale you gusted into life, nobody else.

Will you ever stop wishing for everything?

Don’t turn your nose up at the leavings, that’s all I can say.

I was going to leave you alone to learn the hard way,

but I’m a sucker when people scream for help.

Now can you tell which way the wind blows?

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