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Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings

Greetings from the Heartland!

Today as many of us will be with family members, the words from Mark's Gospel seem most appropriate. How does the gospel read in our hometowns, among our kin? When I was ordained in the PC(USA), I planned an ordination service that I knew would be very unfamiliar and kind of confusing for my family who are Assemblies of God, Non-denominiational, and Roman Catholic. My parents didn't know a single hymn that was sung that day, but they were very good sports about it.

It seems that the larger issues of this passage are authority, power, and validation of ministry. When Jesus himself is mocked in his hometown by those who know him best, "Isn't that Joseph and Mary's boy?" He turns around and sends out the twelve, stripped down, with only each other to depend on.

Is Jesus speaking to the isolation that many of us clergy feel, as if we are out there naked and abandoned, trying to spread the gospel, heal, comfort, and teach with nothing but our wits alone? How will this translate to the pew?

I'm glad it is only Tuesday, and that I have the drive back to Snow Belt to wrestle with these issues! What are you wrestling this week?


  1. Once again, I'm going off-lectionary to Acts 17 where Paul preaches at the Areopagus. I'm going to focus on Paul's courage to make such outrageous claims on the steps of the area's top place of worship...perhaps what UCC president John Thomas would call 'evangelical courage.' And actually, whether he'd call it that or not, that's exactly what it is. How often do we defer to psychology when comforting a friend, or to economics when considering an important change to our church building, or to politics when taking sides on a hot-button issue? It's like the hope that is within us, the source of those same outrageous claims that Paul makes, suddenly evaporates in favor of something safer or more foolproof. It's easier or more sensible to cite practicality instead of 'because God wants us to.'

  2. I think Jesus' prickly relationships with his own family and hometown crowd resonates with many of us.

    I also love Mark's line about Jesus being able to do nothing except cure a few sick people. Yeah; don't you hate days when all you can do is heal aa few sick people!

  3. jeff i love that text, i use it everytime i go to teach on new age outreach... and wouldn't it be cool if we could just heal a few sick people today!!!

  4. I am preaching this week from the Mark text. It will the be first time I've preached since Nov 2004.

    I am dealing with entire Mark text even though one of the commentaries says it is better to split it up.

    Know how Jesus is rejected? I am working with the disciples feelings in this case. The One they followed, in whom they had placed all their faith, has been rejected by the ones who should have accepted Him. I see the sending out of the 12 as a way for the disciples to feel less helpless because it was certainly easy for them to feel as if there was nothing else to do. I think in Mark's theology the message of doing the task that Jesus has left us will be an appropriate take on the Gospel lesson.

  5. I am thinking about authority and leadership. I mean, look at how Paul sells his credentials! Yeah I had a wonderful mystical experience but my weakness is more important.

    I an age of personality cults it is worth being reminded that Paul claims he is not in it for himself or through his own giftedness.

  6. With the interruption of the holiday,and many interruptions at work Monday, I have just not been able to put together my thoughts on this passage. I had been thinking of the price of being popular or unpopular. Then I thought about "Young whipper snapper who does he think he is."
    And with where I have been going with my preaching for this congregation, I will surely emphasize the sending out of the laity, multiplying our work, not just the leader or preacher doing it all.

    This is what Will Willimon says in a sermon of his at Duke Chapel; "Among his own people, in his hometown, Jesus encounters rejection and conflict. Mark suggests that they rejected him because they thought of him as an unimpressive “hometown boy.” Interestingly, we are given no content of his teaching here, only a report that encounter with Jesus provoked fierce resistance, even among those who were closest to him.
    Mark links this story of rejection with the sending out of the disciples as if to say that the crisis which Jesus provoked will also afflict those who follow Jesus as Jesus gives his disciples instruction on how to handle inevitable conflict.
    From this text I gain a simple, straightforward, but sometimes overlooked insight: Jesus provoked controversy; his followers also provoke controversy. Something about Jesus, something in his teaching or in his person, turned away more people than he attracted." He goes on to develop his sermon from that premise. You can find it under the sermon archives at Duke Chapel. 7/6/1997 - On Not Meeting People’s Needs at Church

  7. Willimon's comment is making me think about the self-esteem of churches. My church is facing closing in a few weeks (hopefully more in my blog as I work this all out), mostly because of how they view themselves. I had a conversation with a good pastor friend about her church's self-esteem. Could it be that the town couldn't believe that someone from their town could "make good?" Could they subconsciously not want him to? I am SO unsure about how that might preach, but I do think they are grumbling because "how dare he start doing all those things, he's just like us, from Nazareth?"

    Just beginning to think about it as there is a meeting to vote to close or not this Sunday and I will be preaching before it. Argh!

  8. I'm on this week too, and I'm thinking about the Mark reading, and our unwillingness to see the holy in the ordinary and everyday. How often do we ignore signs of God at work among us because the manifestation of the Spirit seems too... pedestrian? I think sometimes we get caught up in the traps of ambition, competition, and extravagance. Not sure exactly where thats going to go yet... but hey, its only Wednesday!

  9. I think there might be something in this: Jesus was acting as a prophet, but his people in Nazareth saw him in the role of teacher and thus, could not "hear" him. I struggle with this with my own family. I'm the only church-goer in my family of origin. Faith and God are viewed as a crutch for those with weak minds and who need extra assistance in life. My parents cannot "hear" me because they still hear the child that I was, not the woman I've become when it comes to certain issues. I think this is in part what Jesus meant when He said, "Prophets are not without honor, except in their hometown, and among their own kin, and in their own house.” People hear what you were, not who you've become.

  10. I am in the very beginning stages of thinking about this but I am considering this Mark text as well as the OT lectionary text from 2 Samuel where David is annointed. I might go in the direction of the burdens of leadership - whether we are placed on a pedestal or in a ditch - how do we remain consistent with our Gospel message?

    I dunno... as I said we are in the very early stages of brain percolations here.


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