Mark 4:21

Jesus said to them,  “Is a lamp brought to be put under a basket or under the couch, instead of being put on the lamp-stand?


a lamp is for the shining
a trained eye for noticing
an awakened intuition for aptness

don’t bring no stinking boy
to a man’s game
growled Goliath

light glints off wet stones
measuring river-washed roundness
for a split-second release

one has stymied many
collective hope is lost
sulk Saul

new settings need new light
to chase away familiarity blindness
from settled expectations

a city on a hill is not needed
dream your bedroom enlightenment
jests Jesus


A harvest is never just a harvest. It is a marker ending one cycle. Are there other ways of imaging the process of extending seeds and honoring soil?

Light is one such image. Matthew (5:15) tells this story remarking that a little oil lamp gave light for the whole house. A light that shines within is, then, to be carried wherever we go in the world—a gift for others. Luke (11:33) has this inner light as a sign of hospitality, a welcoming of strangers.

Mark’s approach is to engage the reader through a tradition of two questions anticipating negative responses and a third question to be positively responded to.

“Basket” here is too flammable; a bowl of some sort makes more sense but it will suffocate a flame intentionally brought. “Bed” presumes something off the floor but poses difficulties for the many who sleep on the floor (hopefully with a mat) or are unsheltered for one reason or another (external war or internal jangling) and who sleep rough, without bed or mat.

Seed and soil and lamplight all have tasks to reveal more than their ordinary selves can carry in everyday life. We get so overcome with our worries and desires that we miss these gifts and can only receive them without embracing them. To counter our being lost in everydayness, it is important to have a retreat to the wilderness to be tested again about honoring lamps as prelude to honoring all.

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