Stages of Christian Development
Greetings, Christ Church! As I write, it is sunny and warm outside, but as you read, it’s likely snowy and cold. Perhaps a Sunday preview will help. While I have no Super Bowl predictions, I do know one thing – Sunday morning’s passage will once again be from Mark 1. The preachers will be focusing in on the three vignettes in verses 29-39. First, Jesus heals Simon’s mother-in-law, then floods of folks come to Jesus seeking healing, and finally his disciples find Jesus alone praying and Jesus (almost before they can scold him for disappearing) summons them to nearby villages where his message could have further reach. Each story is fascinating on its own, but together these little stories mirror the entire Christian experience.
As an undergrad, I remember studying Erik Erikson’s stages of development: theoretically, the various psychosocial phases we pass through to become “self-actualized” adults. They almost mirror the various junctures in Christian life and maturity. Mark 1:29-39 gives a snapshot of these stages of Christian development: a person is RAISED, a community is GATHERED, and a people are SENT.
Highlighting that first stage, “A person is raised,” I am reminded of the 1964 Italian film, The Gospel According to St. Matthew. Different Gospel, yes, nevertheless, both contain scenes of people in desperate need of “being raised” or healed. There is a scene in the aforementioned film where people practically pile on top of Jesus, hoarding healing. There was no thought of calling or personal development as they clamored—they would not dare dream of it. They just wanted relief from pain, disfigurement, or sickness. Yet Jesus came for much more than relief from ailments. He came that we might have life and have it the full. He delivers us that we might lead others into his Way of Life. While there is a collect with a phrase familiar perhaps to some of you: “…we have no power in ourselves to help ourselves” (and this is quite true), in receiving this help, Jesus renews us and makes us people empowered by the Spirit of God.
Join us this Sunday to learn more about being a people who are raised, gathered and sent!
With love in Christ,