Readings for this Sunday:
1 Samuel 8:4-11, 16-20 | Psalm 138 | 2 Corinthians 4:13-5:1| Mark 3:20-35
I’ve preached this Mark text a number of times in the past, but I had never really noticed before that Jesus goes home. I don’t know about you. I don’t really think about Jesus as one who had a home. But that’s where he is. He’s home—apparently where he grew up. This is reinforced at the end of this section when Jesus’ mother and brothers show up. But this turn doesn’t seem to make home any homier. They think he’s gone too far, and the way Mark tells the story, their attempt to restrain Jesus is perhaps the greatest injury, personal rejection piled onto the charges made against him by the religious authorities from Jerusalem.
Maybe the question isn’t “Can you go home again?” but “Why would you want to?” What a blow this must have been!
Many of us know the complexities of family life. Our hunger for the idea of home is all the greater because those places where we would expect to find home are sometimes the places of our most infrequent encounters. Ask any therapist. We spend our lifetimes working in one way or another to make sense of our family ties, to live out from under them, to allow them to fund our strength and courage and wholeness.
The majority of my pastoral conversations have some element of family in them, and I suspect the ones that don’t are lacking that dynamic only because I’m not paying close enough attention.
Readings from this Sunday: Ezekiel 18:1-4, 25-32 | Psalm 25:1-9 | Philippians 2:1-13 | Matthew 21:23-32
We need to do just a little bit of stage setting for this story in Matthew. This is toward the end of Jesus’ life…and days earlier he rode into town on a donkey, with folks calling him Son of David, then he shows up in their worship space and upsets things quite a bit. He flips over tables, he curses and he brings in the marginalized sick folks and just makes himself right at home. And all of this sets the stage for the big question: “By what authority are you doing these things?”
He certainly didn’t show up quietly or politely…it was impossible to ignore him and all those folks surrounding him, many of whom were blind and lame, so they asked, “Just who the heck do you think you are? “What gives you the authority to do such things?” “You’re not a rabbi.”
Sunday's Readings: Isaiah 56:1, 6-8 | Psalm 67 | Romans 11:1-2a, 29-32 | Matthew 15:10-28
She said “Have mercy on me, Lord” and he didn’t answer. She said, “Lord, help me” and he told her why he didn’t have to.
It’s hard to see Jesus this way isn’t it? And it’s SO tempting to soften his words and try to protect our ears and hearts from what he said. Maybe he didn’t really mean it. We wouldn’t call someone begging for help a dog…so how could Jesus? But there is no sign in this text that Jesus is any friendlier to this woman than his words make it sound. Theologian Sharon Ringe says here is, “an incident in Jesus’ life when even he was caught with his compassion down.”[i] Jesus -- caught with his compassion down? That’s hard to think about.
[i] Gench, p. 21.
A few years ago, a friend and I went to hear the writer Annie Dillard speak at a church on Mercer Island. At the time I knew her name but not much about her. What caught my attention that day was what she said about worship…it’s out of her book Teaching a Stone To Talk.
Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-7 • Romans 5:12-19 • Matthew 4:1-11
When I was a little girl, my mother worked part-time for an accountant that went to our church. His name was Tam Church and Mr. Church was one of those saints of the church that I will always remember. Most of us have met folks like him, the ones that when they speak, you just know that wisdom is being poured forth onto the planet. One day while my mom was working in his office a man came in very upset. As mom would tell the story she could hear him yelling at Mr. Church and using language with him that was not in keeping with what was appropriate. Now bear in mind that my mother to this day has a radar for language that is not appropriate and she can hear it across an entire country, as she reminds me.
Isaiah 35:1-10 • James 5:7-10 • Matthew 11:2-11
I was 27 when we moved to Seattle. Chris and I had left every single person we were related to back in NC. We didn’t know anyone here. But we moved in September and it was gorgeous! North Carolina had been hot and humid when we left and we got here; there were beautiful blue skies and moderate temperatures…best of all there was no humidity. Our apartment had been this chaotic sea of packing boxes and awaiting us here was a brand new house. I could do this! September gave way to a pretty and mostly sunny October but then November and December came. I was used to a lot of sunlight and turning my headlights on to drive in the middle of the afternoon was surprising and it made me a little depressed. I didn’t know anyone here and there were two other people in my family…one was two years old and the other one worked all day. It felt a bit like an exile.
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