Mark reading for 9/23

The scriptures listed below are closely related in content and represent a series of discussions that occurred at different times and in different places between Jesus and His disciples.

Gospel reading for Sunday, 9/17– Mark 8:31-9:1

Gospel reading for Sunday, 9/23 — Mark 9:30-50

Gospel reading for Sunday,10/21 — Mark 10:32-45

Each discussion begins with a few verses about Jesus’ expected Passion.  In Mark 8, which was in last week’s liturgy, the group was on the road to Caesarea Philippi when Jesus told about His coming suffering and death.  This concept of a defeated Christ gave rise to a rebuke from Peter, and the scene ends with Christ’s famous command, “Get behind me, Satan!”  The second discussion was about Jesus’ suffering and death and is from Mark 9.  It appears in this Sunday’s liturgy  and occurs during the group’s travel through Galilee.  (See the full scripture on this blog’s menu item “Liturgical Readings and Slideshow”.) The third discussion, from Mark 10, which we’ll read in church on October 21, was held on the road into Jerusalem.

Interestingly, on each occurrence of these Passion conversations, Mark dedicates only a few verses to the event that changed the course of human history, while spending the  many verses that follow recording His lessons on discipleship, how we should spend our time in human history.

Joe’s Sermon, July 29, 2018


Now to Him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever.

The Epistle today is at the end of a prayer in Paul’s letter to the church in Ephesus. Paul is speaking of the indwelling of God’s Spirit in all of us and how that Spirit can lead us to greater things than we can ask or imagine.

So often when we think of God we think of God as transcendent–out there or up there.  Paul is calling us to remember that God is also within us.  And that His Spirit is there to guide us and lead us in life.

Too often we feel God is distant from us.  Maybe we have pushed God out there because we fear His closeness and intimacy.

The truth that Paul is telling us is that God is ever present with us and that God loves us and wants to guide us and help us have fulfilling lives.

We often dwell on God as being a parent figure and we are God’s rebellious adolescents.  We relate to God as a judge rather than a lover of us.  That image of God is also why we relate to God as “out there.”

We cannot escape God’s presence if we recall that God is within each of us — in every one God has created.  Remember we are created in God’s image and God’s image is a God of love.

Jesus came into this world to help us understand how near to us God’s Spirit is.  Jesus is God incarnate — in the flesh.

Once we realize God is in us there is no limit to what we can do and be.  As Paul says:  Watch “Him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly more than all we can ask or imagine.”

This is why we need to get to know the power of God within us.  It means taking the time to become intimate with God ourselves.  God is our friend, not our parent.  God wants what is best for us.

Dag Hammershjold former leader of the UN once said — “Choose your limitations and surely enough they will be your limitations.”

We seem to live this way rather than realize the power of God to lead us to greater things than we can ask or imagine.

Let us heed what Paul’s is trying to tell us today.

The Sam Scheib Family Remembers



Dr. Rochelle Gail Scheib, MD

 Medical Oncologist specializing in breast cancer at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard University 1987 -present 

Medical specialist in HIV for the Department of Public Health of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts 1987-2017 advocating for underserved populations with  HIV and Aids

Sam Scheib was born in 1923 in Przemslany, Poland located in southeastern Poland. This is now the Ukraine formerly part of the Union of Soviet SocialistRepublics. Prior to World War II, Przemslany’s population was composed of 60 percent Jews which included my father, Sam Scheib, and his family. His family included his father Joseph, his mother Hinda, his older sister Ann and younger brother Meyer.  My father’s family were primarily farmers. 

 In September,1939 Hitler’s Germany Continue reading “The Sam Scheib Family Remembers”

Hellenist Jewish Christians & Palestinian Jewish Christians

In biblical times from 1200 BCE, the Holy Land was often called Palestine.  This geography, comprised of the ancient kingdoms of Israel and Judah, was controlled at various times by the Egyptian, Assyrian, Persian, and Roman empires.  The Ottomans controlled it after Rome, but it was finally taken by the Arabs in CE 634.     — from

Beginning with Acts 6:1, Luke makes reference to Palestinian Jewish Christians.  These religious people lived in Palestine, that is, the regions occupied by Israel and Judah during Old Testament times.  Obviously, they were Jews who had converted to Christianity during the time of the writer Luke, i.e. the first century AD.

Luke draws our attention away from the Palestinian Jewish Christians to give us a glimpse of another group of Jewish Christians–the Hellenistic Jewish Christians, who were responsible for breaking across the borders of Judaism and proclaiming the gospel to the Gentiles.  Luke’s book of the Acts of the Apostles is all about proclaiming the gospel to the Gentiles.

Prominent among this liberal wing in the church was Stephen who, because of his views, became the first Christian martyr.


Hellenistic | ˌheləˈnistik |adjective       relating to Greek history, language, and culture from the death of Alexander the Great to the defeat of Cleopatra and Mark Antony by Octavian in 31 bc. During this period Greek culture flourished, spreading through the Mediterranean and into the Near East and Asia and centering on Alexandria in Egypt and Pergamum in Turkey.                            –from New Oxford American Dictionary


In Acts chapter 6, the Hellenistic Jewish members of the Christian community were murmuring because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution.

To understand why these widows were discriminated against, it is essential for us to know the situation that pertained between the Palestinian and Hellenistic Jews.  The Jews who lived in the land of Palestine viewed with suspicion their kinsmen who lived outside the land.  There was a difference in language.  A large number of the Jews who lived outside Palestine adopted Greek as their language, while those in Palestine spoke Aramaic.  Many of the customs which were observed by Palestinian Jews were considered not important by the Hellenists.  Since the Jews outside the land would associate freely with the Gentiles, their brothers in Palestine had deep feelings of resentment against them because they suspected that the Hellenists had compromised their religious principles for financial gain.


Aramaic | ˌerəˈmāik |  noun     a Semitic language, a Syrian dialect of which was used as a lingua franca in the Near East from the 6th century BC. It gradually replaced Hebrew as the language of the Jews in those areas and was itself supplanted by Arabic in the 7th century AD.


When these two groups of Jews were thrown together in the church, it is evident from what occurred in chapter 6 that the Palestinian Jewish Christians had not suppressed their prejudices.  They resorted to discrimination against the widows of the Hellenists, and a crisis ensued.

The Jews had a great reputation for their welfare work with the poor and the widows.  When the Jews became followers of Christ, they continued the practice to which they were accustomed so that by the time of the Pastoral epistles, the widows were a recognized group in the church.

No one could be quite so destitute as a widow, and to be discriminated against by a prejudiced group made her plight worse.  In order to remedy the situation, the twelve apostles summoned the body of the disciples.

Chapter 6 reports that the apostles did not consider it appropriate to give up their preaching mission to serve tables.  Tables may have two meanings.  they could be dining tables which were used for the common meal of the Christians or tables which were set up to dole out money.  The latter was probably meant here.  The apostles felt strongly that they should not take up their time with the administration of funds for social service.  Consequently, they advised the congregation to select seven men to take care of this emergency situation.

The seven selected by the congregation all had Greek names, so we assume that they represented the Hellenistic Jewish Christian community.  One way to assure the Hellenistic widows of daily support was to choose representatives who would be on their side.

—Commentary on the text of Acts 6 and the explanation of the discrimination against the Hellenist widows is from Broadman Bible Commentary


The document linked below is an attempt to outline a brief history of the city of Samaria,
which was built in the 9th century BCE and survived to the Byzantine era, hundreds of years after Christ.   The Samaritan sect, which traces its origin back to the northern Israelite form of the Mosaic religion, still exists in small numbers at the city of  Nablus and accepts only the Pentateuch as Scripture.  ( In ancient times, Samaria was also the central region of ancient Palestine, known as the West Bank. SamariaWest Bank    Contemporary Map of Samaria/West Bank from

What does BCE stand for?

This question was posed at the Wednesday night Soup Supper on February 28.

When used in conjunction with dates, BCE means “Before Common Era” and CE means “Common Era.” “Common Era” is an alternative name for the traditional calendar era “Anno Domini” (“in the Year of Our Lord”), abbreviated AD. BCE is an alternative name for the traditional calendar era “Before Christ,” abbreviated BC.

Example: The dates AD 2001 and 2001 CE are equivalent. The dates 457 BC and 457 BCE are equivalent. Per style guide convention, AD traditionally precedes the year, whereas BC, BCE, and CE always follow the year.