Revised Common Lectionary Reflection, Third Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 5, Year B
June 10, 2018
Lessons: Genesis 3:8-15; Psalm 130; 2 Corinthians 4:13-5:1; Mark 3:20-35
Theme: God’s faithful and generous people seek unity in Christ’s Body, even when they do not agree on all things.
Key Scripture: If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. –Mark 3:24-25
Few people would dispute the reality that we live in a divided country right now. What makes the divisions between us even worse, however, is the inability to listen to one another and seek understanding in a spirit of mutual respect. It would seem from this week’s gospel lesson that little has changed about human nature.
People are in a tizzy about Jesus and his ministry. The crowds are swarming him, so much so that Jesus cannot even enjoy a meal. They want more of this radical rabbi who looks at the world and religion so very differently. The religious leaders show up, and recognizing the power that Jesus wields they proclaim him to be possessed by demons. How can this teacher’s actions be of God when he stands in clear opposition to their carefully ordered and scholarly faith?
Meanwhile, Jesus’ family shows up with the intent to put the kibosh on his teaching; they sense the danger in his behavior and want to keep him safe. I wonder if they were also worried about the family name in this situation. Would the radical and so-called crazy nature of his teachings bring dishonor on his father’s house? Can’t they just spirit him away, and let all the fuss pass by?
Jesus is having none of it. He goes head to head with his adversaries and refutes their claims of his being possessed by demons. He lets the religious leaders know that sins are being forgiven, but also that their inability to see God at work in new ways through Jesus may actually prevent their own forgiveness and participation in the reign of God unfolding before their very eyes. I’m sure that pronouncement went over like a lead balloon!
This isn’t the end of the story; in fact, in the last four verses of our Lectionary lesson (3:33-35), Jesus totally redraws the lines and blows up traditional family values and structures by redefining what it means to be family. Blood kin suddenly becomes less important than how one believes and conducts one’s life. It’s all about who does God’s will; these are the ones, Jesus says, who are his brothers and sisters.
Sure, that’s all well and good, but what does it have to do with us today? Why absolutely everything, of course! We can be, just like the religious leaders, pretty good at excluding people because they don’t fit our description of how proper Christians look and act. We, too, just as easily become set in our ways and cling too tightly to our precious traditions and points of view. And, Jesus is still moving in and around us, blowing things up and redrawing the lines to include those on the margins. We should not be surprised by the ones who respond to Jesus’ radical call to discipleship. We should not be alarmed when leadership roles go to new people, to those who want to do some things differently.
To be good stewards of the faith, we have to draw those margins bigger too. As Jesus’ sisters and brothers, we must do God’s will as Jesus illustrates and teaches it. This means we may be called crazy, others may seek to silence us, and we might need to take some difficult stances. No one said this walk was going to be an easy one!
Yes, the only way to bridge the divide is to make space by drawing the circle wider to include others. The road less traveled and the sometimes difficult call to discipleship means that we take the lead in including people with other viewpoints and sometimes difficult behaviors. They, too, belong to God. As the apostle Paul reminds us, “So we do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day” (2 Cor. 4:16). Truly, a divided house cannot stand. Let us work for reconciliation and peace no matter how difficult and tedious that work becomes.
There is much to lament in our world, and we desire change. Often it comes so slowly—if we can see it at all. Using Psalm 130 this week, allow some time for lament and for waiting on God. Craft space in the prayers for silence and invite worshipers to listen for the still mall voice of God.
How might we find common ground with those with whom we disagree? How can we establish guidelines that will encourage civil conversation and active listening? What will it take for youth to commit to pray for their “enemies” and create safe place to difficult discussions? Invite the youth to work on guidelines for productive discussion and to ponder ways to create safe space.
There are consequences to our actions. Today share with the children the story from Genesis, wherein the woman does exactly the one thing God has told the first humans to NOT do. The consequences are severe and have long-lasting and far-reaching effects. Invite the children to talk about an instance where they made a bad decision that resulted in some consequences. How did it feel?
Remind the children that they are dearly loved by God, and even when they make mistakes, God will be there for them. All they have to do is call on God’s holy name. The Holy Spirit, God’s amazing gift, is always with them—in good times and in bad ones.
Finish with a simple prayer for good decision making and for faithfulness in the midst of challenges.
Weekly Stewardship Bulletin Insert
Good stewards of God’s amazing good news are always drawing the circle wider to include others. How can you draw a wider circle this week and include someone with whom you disagree? It’s all about relationship in God’s big family!
Stewardship at Home
So We Do Not Lose Heart…
This week spend some time thinking about and talking about families. We have birth families, families brought together by marriage, blended families, adopted families, and, of course, the family of God in our worshiping community.
One writer says that “baptismal waters are stronger than blood,” meaning that our bond in Christ is even stronger than our bonds to our extended families of origin.
How does your faith family function? What role(s) do you have in it? How do you serve in ministry and mission?
How well do you know others with whom you worship and serve? This week consider one person you can get to know better. Invite them for tea or coffee. Have a potluck dinner and invite another family or two to join you. As you deepen the spiritual relationships within Christ’s Body, all ministry and mission is strengthened.
Here’s a look back at our 2012 Lectionary Reflection: http://www.stewardshipoflife.org/2012/06/one-big-hopeful-family/
Here’s a look back at our 2015 Lectionary Reflection: http://www.stewardshipoflife.org/2015/06/theres-no-place-like-home/
Photos: Quim Gil, Johnny Silvercloud, and Torbakhopper, Creative Commons usage license. Thanks!
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