Saturday, October 13, 2012

When Roads Diverge, Where Will The Chosen One Lead?

Our texts this week are Mark 10:17-31 with a nod to Job 23:1-9, 16-17, which can be read here.

The Bible has a habit of leaving stories unfinished--all sorts of tales of encounters with Jesus that just beg for a sequel.  So, when I write curriculum for youth, one of my favorite things to do is to let the youth imaginatively finish the story beyond what the scriptural text gives us.  For instance, this week I wrote a lesson encouraging youth to finish the story of Nicodemus after his encounter with Jesus in John 3 where he is told he needs to be born anew (we get hints of the trajectory of his story in John 7:50-51 and John 19:39, but only glimpses!). But what might Nicodemus have told his friends and family--or his fellow Pharisees--about Jesus when he went back home after their encounter. How did he act differently, if at all? How did he interpret what Jesus told him? How did his life change? What encounters might Nicodemus have had with others in the days, weeks, months, and years after his nighttime meeting with Jesus?

You could ask questions like these about several stories--how might the wounded man's life had been changed after he was helped towards healing by his enemy, the "Good Samaritan" in Luke 10?  You could ask it about Job in today's Old Testament text--though we have 19 more chapters in his book to learn about his story, still, how was he different after these losses and the ensuing encounters with his friends and, most of all, with God?

And perhaps this exercise could work best with today's Gospel lesson--the story of the man who is called elsewhere in the Gospels "the rich young ruler."  After Jesus speaks hard words into the man's life, all we are told is that "he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions." So...when he went away, where did he go? What did he do? When he got back to his house and saw his possessions, did he hold them close? Weep over them and then reluctantly let them be pried from his fingers? Toss them all out on the front lawn and have a giant, free yard sale? Just burn the house down so he didn't have to deal with it all? And then...what? Did he just go back to work? Or, like the disciples, did he end up leaving his vocation and livelihood behind and take up the new one of following Jesus?

How do you imagine the story ends? Which diverging road through the yellow wood does this man choose, and where does it lead?

No comments: