IN PERSON WORSHIP RESUMES
Saturday and Sunday we gather in person to Worship at Good Shepherd. Saturday at 4:45 PM and Sunday at 10:00 AM in person worship is available to all. If you are vaccinated, you do not have to wear a mask. If you are not vaccinated, we ask that you wear a mask to protect yourself and others. If you have a compromised immune system, please protect yourself as we cannot guarantee that Covid 19 is not present in the community. As vaccination rates increase, we will be able to gather with fewer restrictions. Vaccination is the key to every one’s health and gathering.
We have finished with the HOLY DAYS of the Christian year (Christmas, Easter & Pentecost) and enter into the long season of ORDINARY TIME. We have been reading and studying scriptures which pertain to these significant events. Now we will settle into reading the Gospel of Mark for most of the summer. Each week I will offer a devotion on the coming weekends Gospel Lesson to help you prepare for worship. We will begin with Mark 3:20-35, the text for June 6.
The context is that Jesus is beginning his ministry and has called and appointed the twelve Apostles. Jesus has been healing many and gaining notoriety, followers and foes. We see all these groups interacting with Jesus in these verses. Read the text:
Jesus Accused by His Family and by Teachers of the Law
20 Then Jesus entered a house, and again a crowd gathered, so that he and his disciples were not even able to eat. 21 When his family[a] heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.”
22 And the teachers of the law who came down from Jerusalem said, “He is possessed by Beelzebul! By the prince of demons he is driving out demons.”
23 So Jesus called them over to him and began to speak to them in parables: “How can Satan drive out Satan? 24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25 If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. 26 And if Satan opposes himself and is divided, he cannot stand; his end has come. 27 In fact, no one can enter a strong man’s house without first tying him up. Then he can plunder the strong man’s house. 28 Truly I tell you, people can be forgiven all their sins and every slander they utter, 29 but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; they are guilty of an eternal sin.”
30 He said this because they were saying, “He has an impure spirit.”
31 Then Jesus’ mother and brothers arrived. Standing outside, they sent someone in to call him.
32 A crowd was sitting around him, and they told him, “Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you.”
33 “Who are my mother and my brothers?” he asked.
34 Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 35 Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.” Mark 3:20-35 NIV
What a huge misunderstanding of Jesus everyone has in this scripture. The Apostles have been appointed, but they have no idea to what or by whom. They are happy to sit and eat with Jesus and bask in Jesus’ marvelous works of healing and service. People are crushing in upon them for Jesus’ attention. His family is upset and fears that Jesus is “out of his mind.” After all he is the oldest son and has responsibilities for the care of his mother and the family business. Ministry was never the plan – carpentry is the family business. The religious leaders have already noticed that Jesus is healing and teaching with great authority and is attracting crowds. Since they have not authorized this activity and he isn’t someone that they have selected or recognized they are concerned. Their authority and influence are at stake. Misunderstandings from many directions are flying at Jesus. (Did you catch the line Abraham Lincoln quoted during the Civil War?)
The crowd, the Apostles, Jesus’ family and the Pharisees all assume that they know who Jesus is and what he is supposed to do. Granted we are early in the Gospel, but they are impatient, they don’t wait to see, they think they already know who Jesus is. Jesus does try to help them all understand better who he is and is not. The answer though, is at the close of the verses.
First, Jesus calls them all closer – the Pharisees and his family are specifically invited. Everyone else gets to overhear the conversations. Second, Jesus asks them a question to cause them to recognize their assumptions and to ask them to realize the source of their misunderstanding is themselves. Third, he then offers steps to clear up the misunderstands. Sit down and listen to each other. Especially listen to Jesus. Fourth, reflect on what you are doing and what you are seeking. “35 Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.” To understand Jesus – SEEK and DO GOD’S WILL.
Many refer to this as HOLINESS. James C. Howell from Servants, Misfits and Martyrs writes;
Holiness only appears to be abnormal. The truth is, holiness is normal; to be anything else is to be abnormal. Being a saint is simply being the person God made me to be. Saints at the end of the day are not really strange or odd or misfits. They are simply real, or normal. They actually are what we are made to be, what we can be.
A Guide to Prayer for All Who Seek God, Job and Shawchuck, Upper Room Books Nashville 2003, pg.245.
What do we do when misunderstandings come from many directions? To clear misunderstandings come closer and listen. Recognize that existing assumptions can lead to misunderstanding. Own assumptions and try to look past them. Listen to others. Reflect upon what is being said, what is being done, and what is the goal. For the Christian disciple the goal is to always SEEK and DO God’s WILL. That is holiness. That is being what we were intended to be. Pastor Tom