Did you all hear me take a long, deep, cleansing breath earlier this week? I am so excited that we are back in Mark – with plain language – unclean spirits & crowds who get who Jesus is – scribes and disciples who can’t even seem to buy a clue… it’s good to be back on track again. Today’s gospel is Classic Mark – a story within a story – all pointing us to who Jesus is and how we are to be.
Today in the inner story, we get a lesson about the Unforgivable Sin – insulting the Holy Spirit. This one always worries me a bit – how about you? Here’s the deal – if we are worried about it, we are not doing it. Resisting the Spirit, refusing to repent, regarding God with contempt or rebellion, refusing forgiveness = that’s what Jesus is talking about. The scribes were refusing to believe in who Jesus was and instead insisted on attributing his divinity to a demonic association.
In the outer story, we get a lesson on family. This reading is troubling to some people because it seems as though Jesus is being disrespectful to his family of origin, especially his mom – which would be breaking a commandment. However, there is no evidence that Jesus’ real family was actually there. This translation says mother and brothers, but it was probably cousins or extended family members. Since Jesus later answers specifically about mother and brothers, the translators carried that into the story. This reading is also comforting to some people because Jesus gives us permission to shed the unhealthiness that some of us might find in our families of origin and surround ourselves with healthy, loving, new families. Jesus expands what “family” means. He then goes onto to equate those who do God’s will as family.
This is where we get the language of Church Family. In some ways this could be very unhealthy – just as all families can be very unhealthy. In an ideal church, this can be very healthy. It becomes a way for us all to care more deeply about each other – more than co-workers or acquaintances. We can invest time and energy getting to know and care about each other. We have the privilege of having the hard conversations and higher expectations of each other. This is church at its best and healthiest – doing God’s will together: feeding people, housing people, helping people – inside and outside of these walls. Today, the first volunteers for the Habitat for Humanity fundraiser will begin volunteering and we will do that for an entire eight days. Next week, we will feed 60 or so of God’s Beloveds who will stay at Faith Mission for the night. We are living into doing God’s will and being a healthy family.
I have placed an empty piece of paper in your bulletin. One of our family members needs help. You all know Luke. He is struggling with addiction. His parents are going to leave directly from here to go visit him today. I want his church family to send him notes of encouragement. Before the service is over, we will bless those notes and his parents as they leave on the journey – taking our notes and best wishes for his health with them.
God as Parent to us all, bless this your family. Amen.
The audio will be on the PodBean Player on the right sidebar.