As given by Deacon Otto Anderson
Proper 5 Year B, June 10, 2018
Genesis 3:8-15; Psalm 130; 2 Corinthians 4:13-5:1; Mark 3:20-35
Stitch (paraphrase): You are my family With God’s help, I found this family It’s little
and it’s a bit broken but still good yea, still good. Lilo & Stitch, Disney
With school out, Jamie, the grand kids and I have several trips planned. The first is to
Wilmington, Delaware to see my sister and her wife and then down the coast to VA
Beach to see my daughter. Our second trip will be to Hocking Hills where we will meet
up with my in-laws from my first marriage, with my daughter, again, and possibly my son
and his girlfriend. At the end of August, we will be heading to Syracuse NY to my
niece’s wedding; a third opportunity to reconnect with family and friends.
Our readings today all relate to family and to connecting… to each other and to God
In Genesis, God the creator is in the garden walking, I imagine God was looking at,
experiencing, the various parts of creation, just as we look at our flower beds or our
vegetables to see what’s emerging from the earth, what’s in bloom, what’s ready for
harvesting, and what’s gone to seed. In this walk, God notices something is not right,
something has changed…this intimate family found in the Garden has lost something, it
has lost connection. HE calls to Eve and Adam “Where are you?” …. Humanity, with a
little encouragement from the serpent, has decided to put itself and its own interests
before God….we know what follows.
In our Epistle, Paul continues to work with the church at Corinth. He is dealing with
three levels of connectivity. The first is personal; his own up and down relationship with
the church community. Paul considered Corinth his crown jewel. But, the crown jewel
has a little tarnish. Second is the community’s relationship with each other and the
world. Again, there have been some ups and downs. Finally, is their relationship with
God, which is what todays reading focuses on.
In today’s reading, Paul is looking forward to the day of Judgement when the
Corinthians will be presented to God. The good and the bad things that have happened,
Paul’s praising and chastising the community are all focused on the day when things of
this earth, things temporary, like tents, will give way to things built to last forever. They
will live in heavenly buildings not earthly tents. Paul assures the church that our short
time of affliction on this earth prepares us for eternal glory. He reminds the church that
by grace, more and more people, will experience that eternal Glory of God that they
have found. Jesus has secured for all of us a place.
But, that is only possible if we connect ourselves to the heavenly things not to the
earthly things. If we listen to God … not ourselves.
Our Gospel has a lot to things going on… family concerns about Jesus’ mental health,
authorities claiming he is possessed by demons, houses divided, blasphemy against the
Holy Spirt and even the question of what defines a family.
Jesus’ mother, brothers, and sisters, and the legal scholars in Jerusalem had heard
about what Jesus was doing…healing all sorts of maladies, driving out evil spirits, and,
even, healing on the Sabbath.
Drawing a large following, Jesus was becoming a concern/an embarrassment to his
relatives. And, after healing the man with the shriveled hand at the Synagogue on
the Sabbath, he had set the Pharisees and Herodians in motion to conspire to kill him.
The scribes, legal scholars based in Jerusalem, were doing their part by watching,
reporting and accusing Jesus of being possessed by Beel-ze-bul, the lord of the flies.
In Mark’s Gospel, both groups were unable to understand who Jesus really was. The
authorities concluded he was possessed by Satan. His family assumed he has lost his
sanity. In Jesus’ time, these diagnoses were roughly equivalent to each other. Neither
his family nor the authorities could see him as God’s agent, not as the “lord of the flies”
but as the Lord of the Sabbath.
As Jesus announced God’s kingdom, many could not wrap their minds around his
message. Even close relatives and religious insiders were bewildered by what he said,
which threatened to disrupt so many aspects of human society. To threaten their
Maybe, Jesus’ relatives were dismayed that the first-born son wasn’t home supporting
his family but was travelling all around Galilee as a self-appointed prophet. Or, maybe
they wanted him, as Messiah, to have bigger and better ambitions, such as promising a
revolution against the Roman occupiers, instead of preaching and healing the sick.
Mark’s Gospel does not explain; it merely sets the stage for his family to arrive and to
try to seize Jesus.
Jesus, first, addresses the concerns of the scribes when he asks “How can Satan cast
out Satan? How can evil defeat evil? If family members feud, if a country fights over
issues of race, sexuality, religion, wealth, guns or healthcare, if you divide a house or,
dare I say a church community, what happens? Those things as diminished. They will
not last. WE cannot last if these issues continue to hang over our heads. Abraham
Lincoln recognized that and used Mark’s words when he spoke about maintaining a
country half slave and half free.
The reality is: evil will never defeat itself; only the power of love will defeat evil. It is…
is was… and it will be Jesus’ power of love that drives out the demons; only love
drives evil out.
WE cannot be bound up by evil if we allow Jesus’ power of love, if we let the comforter,
the Holy Spirt into our lives. It is only when we reject love, we reject the comforter, we
reject the Holy Spirit…that evil binds us up.
Who are our brothers and sisters? Who shares such a close connection? Jesus looks
around and calls his followers “his mother”, “his brothers”, “his sisters” because they
have heard him, they have heard God and are doing their best to put God’s will before
earthly interests. Jesus recognizes a different type of family, connected, not by blood,
but by the Holy Spirit.
The Good news is that same God, who walked in the garden at the beginning, and who
called to Adam and Eve, calls to us and wants us to be connected, to be…family.
The same God who opened the eyes Saul of Tarsus to become Paul the Apostle, calls
us to open our eyes and our hearts to the love of Jesus Christ.
The same God invites us into a house that cannot be divided. Love holds that house
together. Even when its’ occupants are a bit broken.