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Friday, September 28, 2018

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As a former English teacher, I love literary devices such as personification, metaphors and similes. These devices can communicate beautiful images and connections to familiar items to help us better understand a point being made. The Bible is full of literary devices. Jesus often uses them in his teaching. However, sometimes these devices become stumbling blocks to our understanding of Jesus' point.

The bulk of this week's gospel reading is a fine example. Jesus uses common agricultural images--losing a hand, a foot or an eye--to help people understand what is at stake if people do not believe in him. These images worked well in Jesus' time and for portions of our world today. Yet, we may wonder how Jesus' examples might be updated to best connect with our neighbors, for them to know and understand Jesus' teachings. How can we clearly communicate the life-giving power of Jesus?

Lord, who made the Word into flesh, your words and promises stand the test of time. As we continue to preach, teach and witness, may we find the words and examples to best connect with your followers, just as Jesus did so long ago. Amen.

René L. Mehlberg, '18
Pastor, Trinity Lutheran Church, Laporte, Minn.

Mark 9:38-50 (NRSV)

38 John said to him, "Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us."
39 But Jesus said, "Do not stop him; for no one who does a deed of power in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me.
40 Whoever is not against us is for us.
41 For truly I tell you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ will by no means lose the reward.
42 "If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea.
43 If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than to have two hands and to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire.
44*
45 And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame than to have two feet and to be thrown into hell.
46*
47 And if your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and to be thrown into hell,
48 where their worm never dies, and the fire is never quenched.
49 "For everyone will be salted with fire.
50 Salt is good; but if salt has lost its saltiness, how can you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another."

*Verses 44 and 46, which are identical to verse 48, are lacking in the best ancient manuscripts. (NRSV footnote)


This God Pause daily devotion is brought to you by the alumni of Luther Seminary.