A day in the life: Jesus has authority over all.
I was on my second cup of coffee when the trumpeter swans came in, a dozen huge white birds blowing their horns like a '56 Buick. They proceeded to dance Swan Lake on the stage just off our beach, complete with tip ups and majestic neck curves. When they were finished their performance and were well fed from the weeds in the shallows, they all tucked their heads under their wings and drifted front first into the wind for a good sleep. They looked like dumplings on a stew.
That's when a long-tailed weasel showed up, red-brown with a black tip on his tail, racing across the dandelion patch that passes for our lawn. He dived under our dock like a commando and stuck up his head very cautiously to peek out at the huge swans. His head was flitting and darting from side to side, shifty eyes all over the swans. I haven't a clue what the little imp had in mind with the huge trumpeters but they didn't pay him any mind. Weasels are ferocious hunters but the trumpeters outweighed him 10 to one and they have been known to take out a full-grown labrador retriever in the water.
That was the morning. I left for work and returned later in the afternoon. Linda had been putting up trout so I took the heads and tails down to the lake to see if there was anyone interested in sharing in our repast. I laid out the fish on the dock and headed back up to the house. It didn't take long. Soon a lone adult bald eagle showed up from the island across the lake. It landed on the dock and proceeded to cautiously dine. Then, from out of nowhere, company showed up. First there was one other adult eagle and then an immature eagle. They began a performance of goofy antics competing for the fish. Two would swoop and dive-bomb the one on the dock with the fish, then they would all trade places and the combat aerobatics would go on again. Over and over the routine was repeated. Two crows stood just about a metre and a half away and I think, in the end, they got most of the fish.
Not to be outdone, Gronk the Blue Heron showed up after the eagles and crows had left. He stood on one leg and spear-fished for minnows in the shallows. Silhouetted in the sunset, the heron was a beautiful ending to a wonderful day.
Such is a specimen day, one day in late October at the Webber's cottage on Lac La Hache; a busy day filled with so much wildlife activity. Not all of our days are like this. In fact, very few days are this jam-packed with wildlife. But for me, this specimen day in some way captures the very essence of what it means to live here. That's why I call it a specimen day, an extraordinary sample day that speaks its essence into the everyday. Somehow it sort of says it all in terms of what this blessed place is about.
The Gospel of Mark has such a day in the life of Jesus. In Mark's specimen day, Mark 1:21-34, Jesus begins his ministry in Capernaum on the Sabbath in the synagogue. He is there teaching. His teaching was of a kind that evidenced great authority and amazed everyone. In the midst of this, a man confronts Jesus. He has an unclean spirit. The spirit recognizes the authority of Jesus, the authority even to destroy it. The unclean spirit also recognizes the source of this authority, that Jesus is "the Holy One of God." Jesus demonstrates his authority as the Holy One of God by silencing the spirit and casting it out of the man. The crowd in the synagogue then recognizes that their teacher, the one who "taught with authority," indeed has the authority to command even the unclean spirits. This news about Jesus spreads through Galilee that very morning. Coming out of the synagogue, Jesus, together with James and John, proceeds to Andrew and Simon's house where Simon's mother-in-law is sick with a fever. They speak to Jesus about her. He takes her by the hand, raising her up healed from the fever and she proceeds to serve them. This demonstration of Jesus' authority over illness attracts a crowd. As the sun goes down and the Sabbath is over, the whole city is gathered with all the sick and demon possessed. Jesus heals many of those who are ill and casts out many demons whom he will not allow to speak because they know who he is and they know his authority.
That's quite a day, a specimen day. And like all specimen days, those extraordinary special days that capture the very essence of things, for Mark and his telling of the story of Jesus, this specimen day says it all. Jesus is the Holy One of God with all authority over all things. Jesus is Lord of all. In a very real sense, the rest of the Gospel of Mark right up to and including the resurrection is an illustration of this one powerful truth.
When I think about Mark's specimen day and what it says about the very essence of Jesus, I am brought to my knees with amazement for what it says to the everyday of my life with him. Jesus is Lord of all. Jesus has authority over all. There is nothing in my life as it has been, as it is or as it will be that is not under the authority of Jesus. I can face it all with the confidence that every single ordinary day is under the authority of the Holy One of God. And I can fall backwards with my life into the arms of the one who rules from a cross, who holds my life in his nail-scarred hands and has the authority of the one raised from the grave so that even death has no power to defeat me.
Rev. David Webber is a minister of the Cariboo, B.C., house church ministry and the author of several books.