Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Because we are part of God's family

Pentecost 2B, June 7, 2015
Mark 3:20-35
20and the crowd came together again, so that they could not even eat.21When his family heard it, they went out to restrain Jesus, for people were saying, “He has gone out of his mind.” 22And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, “He has Beelzebul, and by the ruler of the demons he casts out demons.” 23And he called them to him, and spoke to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? 24If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. 26And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but his end has come. 27But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his property without first tying up the strong man; then indeed the house can be plundered.
Image result for divided house cannot stand jesus
28“Truly I tell you, people will be forgiven for their sins and whatever blasphemies they utter; 29but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit can never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”— 30for they had said, “He has an unclean spirit.”
31Then his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside, they sent to him and called him. 32A crowd was sitting around him; and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside, asking for you.” 33And he replied, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” 34And looking at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 35Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”
Image result for multi-generational family
This week I was chatting with a neighbor about her family. She was marveling that she is now the last of her siblings to be alive, and also currently the matriarch of several generations.  She reflected that her family values: “Never think you’re better than anyone else. Always treat people how you want to be treated. Keep on doing the right thing no matter what anyone else says or does.” She watched her father instilling those values in her siblings as a child, and now she sees great-grandchildren living those same values out, even as the circumstances have changed, and even though it hasn’t always been easy over the years. Although that great -great-grandfather died decades ago his enduring legacy of humility and kindness has led to stronger community relationships and a tradition of service.

In the case of that family, the values they live by have been a blessing for them and for the community around them. But it’s not always that way. Not every family is willing to stay strong in the face of adversity. Think of the situation we heard in the gospel. Jesus was out preaching and teaching, healing and casting out demons.  In verse 21, Mark tells us, ‘When his family heard it, they went out to restrain Jesus, for people were saying, “He has gone out of his mind.”’

And what was Jesus doing that made people think he had gone out of his mind? He was taking a new role in the community, re-ordering the hierarchy, restoring outcasts to their place in the community, and nullifying the rules that kept people on the outside. People were saying, “Isn’t he a carpenter’s son? Who does he think he is to be preaching with authority?” Here was one of their own who seemed to be stepping out of his place.

Jesus had stepped out of his place.  And his family came to put him back into it. I wonder what they feared?

Image result for god's familyWhen I went to visit Dylan's family to prepare for today’s baptism, we talked in depth about the commitments that his mom and dad made today.  Baptizing their child means not only covering him with God’s blessing, but also acknowledging that he is part of two families- the family into which he was born, and God’s family, into which he was baptized this morning. Being part of God’s family brings an element of the unknown into Dylan’s life, and requires faith on his parent’s part, as they entrust Dylan into God’s keeping.
When we take the baptismal covenant seriously and live by it, our lives may be turned upside down, and we may find ourselves stepping out of family traditions and into new roles in our community. When we bring our children to the waters of baptism, we promise that we will nurture them in faith so that our children may learn to trust God, proclaim Christ through word and deed, care for others and the world God made, and work for justice and peace. As part of Jesus’ family, his brothers and sisters, we have family values that we share the word of God’s love, that we heal and restore community, that we work for justice, and we do so without considering the cost.
Image result for telling parents enlisted
Image result for greenpeace volunteerAs part of his baptismal life, it could be that someday Dylan might come home at 18 and tell his parents that he has enlisted in the military to protect the vulnerable and to restore peace. Or alternatively, his faith might call him to become a Greenpeace protestor or a Peace Corps volunteer.  Either way, today, Dylan's parents have promised to support him in whatever God has called him to do.

Jesus claims us as brothers and sisters, redefining kinship to include all of us who do the will of God. The will of God defies our understanding or our definition, and following it may take us into unexpected places and on unimaginable adventures. We may be called to love our enemies, serve the poor and criminal, care for the vulnerable, give away our riches, or even take up our cross and follow Jesus. If there is one thing that is certain, it is that we can never predict where the Spirit will lead us.

Author Annie Dillard may have put it best. She writes, “It is madness to wear ladies’ straw hats and velvet hats to church; we should all be wearing crash helmets. Ushers should issue life preservers and signal flares; they should lash us to our pews. For the sleeping god may wake someday and take offense, or the waking god may draw us out to where we can never return.”
Whatever crazy or unexpected things might happen in this life of faith, we, as brothers and sisters in Christ, are here to support one another and to live out the legacy that Christ gives to us- to love one another, to forgive sins and work for justice and peace, and to proclaim the good news of God’s love. Amen.

No comments: