Exodus 17:1-7 † Psalm 95 † Romans 5:1-11 † John 4:5-42
So last week we met Nicodemus. He was the Pharisee who snuck out in the middle of the night, face hidden, phone off to ask Jesus his questions. He had a lot to lose, after all. He was a man among men. A community leader. A member of a club that had stacked the deck for themselves. So he had to come at night.
Sometimes it is like that for us too. Some of the questions that we want to ask, people around us don’t want to hear. Questions about deep things, questions that show our flaws and our doubts aren’t always welcome at the gym or around the dinner table at the retirement home. Vulnerability doesn’t play well in corridors of power that have a lot to protect.
The problem is, even in our churches we sometimes get the message that some questions are out of bounds, that you have to be a certain thing, think a certain way in order to show yourself in the light of day.
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.
St. Andrew Sermons