July 19, 2020

Adult Bible Study Online

A current connection to each week's session

The Wisdom of Jesus
Mark 6:1-6

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In college, I discovered Donald Kraybill’s book The Upside-Down Kingdom and learned, for the first time in my faith life, to ask what it meant to follow Jesus into a life of radical, world-shaking love for the poor and oppressed. As a “law-and-order Christian” taught to respect and obey my local and national leaders—essentially to maintain the status quo—I had always understood Jesus as a personal Savior. My faith was a personal commitment, a project for heaven, not for the world. But now, for the first time, I saw Jesus as a Savior invested in the social and political realities. I saw my faith as a call to build justice and peace in the world. And that changed everything.

This is the Jesus Gordon Matties describes in his response to Mark 6. The wisdom of Jesus, according to Matties, is “about letting go, service, being last, taking up the cross, and losing one’s life” (ABS, p. 41). It is a call to “suffering and radical service to the least” (ABS, p. 43).

Recent news has been dominated by COVID-19 maps, press conferences, ad tweets, Supreme Court rulings on financial records, Roger Stone’s commuted sentence, Facebook, the Russian rewards scandal, and sexual harassment in South Korea. The news cycle reserves very little room for mention—let alone deep investigation of the “radical service” to which Jesus calls us. But if we pay attention, we can find it in acts big and small, global and local, even in our backyards.

Recently I found those too-often silenced stories of radical service in a Pulitzer Prize-winning episode of This America Life that tells of humanitarian efforts in unclaimed and unmonitored camps for refugees along the US–Mexico border,[1] a surprising New York Times article spotlighting the last local reporter in my small city of Pottstown, Pennsylvania,[2] and my weekly church newsletter urging me to call my representatives to advocate for a family living locally in sanctuary and to make a donation—toilet paper and laundry soap this month—to our local social services center.

I join Matties in asking you and myself, “How might Jesus be calling [us]”—today, right now—“to a new season of radical service?” (ABS, p. 43).

—Kerry Hasler-Brooks, kerry.hasler.brooks@gmail.com

© 2020

1. Ira Glass, Molly O’Toole, and Emily Green, “The Out Crowd,” This American Life, May 15, 2020. 2. Dan Berry, “The Last Reporter in Town Had One Big Question for His Rich Boss,” New York Times, updated July 11, 2020.

Kerry Hasler-Brooks is a professor of American Literature at Messiah College, Grantham, Pennsylvania. She researches and teaches at the intersections of race, gender, literature, and vocation and has written on diverse American women writers like Harriet Beecher Stowe, Maria Ruiz de Burton, Katherine Anne Porter, Toni Morrison, and Edwidge Danticat. She lives on an organic vegetable farm run by her husband, Nathan; loves to explore in the fields and woods with their two young children; and recently joined the 300-year-old community at Salford Mennonite Church, Harleysville, Pennsylvania, where she is learning to hear and practice anew the call of Jesus to radical peace, love, and welcome.

This article supplements Adult Bible Study, a quarterly Bible curriculum for adults. Adult Bible Study provides in-depth, challenging Bible study from an Anabaptist-Mennonite perspective, written by an intercultural group of pastors, teachers, professors, and leaders across Canada and the United States. Sessions include daily Bible readings, resources for additional study, and free downloadable resources.

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