Scripture & Sermon
I have been very blessed to be here at Windsor Park United. One of the things I like best is that Sharon challenges me to think in new ways. Today is one of those days, so we will be doing something different, at least for me. Alex will do the reading and the meditation will be interspersed into the reading. There are weeks during the lectionary cycle, the cycle of scripture readings for each week, that everything seems to all make sense and for me today is one of those days.
Mark 3: 20-35
Jesus came home and, as usual, a crowd gathered—so many making demands on him that there wasn’t even time to eat. His friends heard what was going on and went to rescue him, by force if necessary. They suspected he was getting carried away with himself.
How many of us here today have felt that our lives have been chaotic at one time or another? Who do we turn to when that happens? We all have very busy lives and sometimes the church is like that as well, when there just seems to be so much going on. Today is one of those days. You might notice that the colours in the sanctuary have changed today because today we begin the Season After Pentecost, which is centered on the day to day life of Christians and is symbolized by the colour green; the colour of life and growth. Today we also have our annual congregational picnic and it is also the celebration of the 87th anniversary of the United Church of Canada and we are in the midst of some future planning sessions. A lot going on yet, they all deal with our ideas around church, what church is and what it could or should be.
The religion scholars from Jerusalem came down spreading rumors that he was working black magic, using devil tricks to impress them with spiritual power. Jesus confronted their slander with a story: “Does it make sense to send a devil to catch a devil, to use Satan to get rid of Satan? A constantly squabbling family disintegrates. If Satan were fighting Satan, there soon wouldn’t be any Satan left. Do you think it’s possible in broad daylight to enter the house of an awake, able-bodied man, and walk off with his possessions unless you tie him up first? Tie him up, though, and you can clean him out. “Listen to this carefully. I’m warning you. There’s nothing done or said that can’t be forgiven. But if you persist in your slanders against God’s Holy Spirit, you are repudiating the very One who forgives, sawing off the branch on which you’re sitting, severing by your own perversity all connection with the One who forgives.” He gave this warning because they were accusing him of being in league with Evil.
Just then his mother and brothers showed up.
The scribes in the reading today, are accusing Jesus of being in league with the devil and Jesus responds that a house divided against itself can’t stand. How many times in life do we struggle against ourselves, against those we should be standing with? Just then Jesus’ mother and brothers show up. Last weekend Douglas, my partner, and I took part in the 25th anniversary of Pride. While we were walking in the parade someone came up to ask how they would find me at the festival that we were attending at The Forks after the parade. I told them to look for the large red and white Canada umbrella because that would be Douglas’ family; his parents, aunts, cousins, brothers and their families. This person responded and said; “so look for the encampment then!” I laughed.
Monday, I posted on Facebook about the parade and festival and thanked Douglas’ family for their support every year. Within a minute one of his aunts responded on Facebook with the following comment; “Douglas’ family, are we not your family as well?” She was right…
Standing outside, they relayed a message that they wanted a word with him. He was surrounded by the crowd when he was given the message, “Your mother and brothers and sisters are outside looking for you.” Jesus responded, “Who do you think are my mother and brothers?”
Who do we consider to be family? Once again who do we turn to when we need help? In ancient times family had a different meaning than it does for many today. Many of us see our families as consisting of ourselves, parents, siblings, children, if we have grandchildren and sometimes special aunts, uncles or cousins. In biblical times families consisted of many, many people, aunts, great aunts, all first cousins, second cousins were all considered part of the family, as well as those other people that one had made a covenant with. Families getting together could really be considered an encampment as there were so many people gathered together in one place.
Looking around, taking in everyone seated around him, he said, “Right here, right in front of you—my mother and my brothers. Obedience is thicker than blood. The person who obeys God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”
In the reading today we hear about Jesus’s family coming and asking to speak with him. Jesus looks around and says; ““Who do you think are my mother and brothers?” Jesus sees that his family consists of all who obey God’s will. The Interpreters Dictionary of the Bible says this about the concept of family;
“So meaningful was the biblical experience of the family that its use was extended to make it apply to the Hebrew tribes, to the nations of Israel and Judah, to foreign nations, and to Israel viewed as a covenant community under God. It was applied to the Christian people as well.
This idea of family greatly impacted the beginning of the church as most churches were began in a person’s house and therefore would include all members of the family, probably including any slaves that happened to be working for the family. These house churches shared much together they prayed together, sang together, read scripture together and shared the Lord’s Supper.
What is church to us? How do we live out the idea that all who follow God are part of our family or family of faith? As a newcomer to WPUC I will admit that in many ways I have been welcomed into this family of faith, but how else do we live this out.
There are many in this community who widen our view of family and church, they work tirelessly for the benefit of others. They bring to us here concerns and initiatives that allow us all to live out an inclusive family in God. Who here volunteers outside the church? Where do you volunteer? Why do you do this? Every Sunday we pray for those we may not know, as their names are included in our Pastoral Prayer and we join together with all in our community in communal concern.
When people who have come into this community, even newly arrived, have been faced with tragedy, this community has come together in support and strength to help each other, and those families, get through these times.
We are blessed with a community of faith who in many ways live out this inclusive faith on a daily basis. Many communities of faith believe that there only concerns are those within the four walls of the building, but Jesus challenges us to do more to include all as our mothers and brothers. We are challenged to do more and to be more and in many ways this community has risen to the challenge, but we have more to do.
Today as we join together in fun and fellowship, let us remember those words of Jesus; ““Who do you think are my mother and brothers?” Looking around, taking in everyone seated around him, he said, “Right here, right in front of you—my mother and my brothers. Obedience is thicker than blood. The person who obeys God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.””, that we are called to see all those around us as members of our family of faith and as we continue to welcome others into our family of faith we grow in community, we grow in family and we grow in church.