Pastor's Ponderings: Meandering through Mark 3:31-35 Bible Study (October 23, 2022)
With cooling temps and a chance for a bit of rain, may the Love of God and the Grace of Jesus Christ fill your life today.
I hope that I am not the only one who, from time to time, has a rough start to the day. Getting up this AM and getting the boys off to school went smoothly as it usually does. However that is where things began to become more frustrating for me. I pulled into the gas pump at Costco to fill up my car, reached in my pocket for my card wallet, only to discover that it was still in the dresser where I keep it at night. That meant an extra trip home, about 12 miles one way, to get that wallet, it also holds my driver's license. With that extra trip under my belt, I headed into the office at Church to be with you via internet this morning. I pushed the button on the computer to get things started, and nothing happened, after 5 minutes, I tried again, only to see a quick opening screen disappear to be replaced with a micro soft blue startup screen. It worked for 15 more minutes, and then finally settled on a beautiful opening scene of some place in the world. Yikes! It took almost a half hour to get on line this AM. I used the time to review the next two week's anthem pieces on the piano. I seem to have finally processed through my virus in about a week. It was not covid! Instead it was a light fever, sinus, cough, sneezes, aches and pains, especially behind my eyes and in my forehead. Here at church we are collecting money for the CROP program which provides food and advocacy in the emergency outreach to distribute food and change food desert realities in our community, state, and nation. It is a non denominational outreach, and also available in the community with a walk in a couple of weeks to raise even more money. In Advent we will work to bring in enough money to purchase a herd of goats through the ELCA's Global Barn Yard. In years past we have done chicks (700 of them), single goats, pigs, and a cow. This is a great way to celebrate the greatest gift of God, the Child of Bethlehem, God's only begotten son. The reason that we all have a truly merry Christmas.
Today in our passage from the Gospel of Mark we are faced with what feels like an awkward passage about how Jesus responded to His own family. Though His family really does attempt to reign Him in a bit from His 24/7 ministry of preaching, teaching, and healing. In the face of His family seeking Him out, His response is that those who believe in Him are His Brothers, Sisters, and Mother. Please note that He does not say that His own family does not believe in Him, and in fact, they are present around him through His ministry, and will support the Jerusalem Mission after Christ's death and Resurrection. But family means far more than being related to someone by genetic connection. I think that the more common phrase is "by blood". We do this because every one of us knows that we grow as close to other people than our family because of factors that connect us. For our family, those folks are all a part of the faith community where we worship at American Lutheran. So what brings us together?
The true sense of family comes from sharing in common experiences. When I was growing up, I was very close to my cousins. One family only lived about five blocks away, another at the end of our block. We played together, went to the same church, sat close to each other at worship, celebrated family at picnics and mutual visits to one another's homes, went to the same high school, and more. Today that relationship has become less significant. I saw some of them at my parent's funerals, and today, I am really only close to my father's sister's, daughter who lives in Georgia. She is a compassionate, loving, child of faith in Christ through her Lutheran Congregation. Those family ties are difficult to maintain when we live all over the country, and have busy lives of our own to live. However, today, our family has grown especially close to, as close and closer than we were to our families, with people in our congregation. I hope that you have those very same experience blessings in the church you are at. Our shared experience is the Resurrection of the Savior and the forgiveness of sins which Jesus brings to our lives. We all get that gift when we come to belief in the Savior. We also share the Spirit's gift of faith in common. It draws us to the Savior, His Word for our lives, and the joy we know in His Love.
Another way in which the true sense of family comes into our lives is through our common interest. We want to know the Love of Christ in our lives and the lives of those around us. We moved peanut butter and bread to the Episcopalian food pantry this last week on Thursday. The two families who are doing this holy work are both interested in the well being of people, and issues that happen in life when people have few food resources. We also know that the Love of Christ is on it's best display when it is being offered out of our of hearts filled with compassion, and like you we, all have an interest in learning and growing in our understanding of God's Grace through His Word where we focus on Christ's command to Love God above all things, and to love our neighbor like we love ourselves, striving to not allow worldly judgement to cloud and hide the power of God's Pure Love for everyone.
Here is one that may shock us. In our modern culture we usually don't like the word obedience. But a real sense of family and connection comes into our lives when we share a common obedience. (to Christ's love) Think about how diverse the group of people that Jesus called together were. Yet they grew connected through their obedience to the Master and teacher who they loved. Congregations are filled with very different people, and yet, in our obedience to Christ's sacrifice and Love we are bound together with an unfailing bond.
We are bound together when we share with others in a common goal. For the disciples it was knowing that they would be sharing a common goal of carrying the Word of God forward in the absence of the Master. Their bonds held in the most difficult of times. For you and me, and those with whom we have grown close, our bond is unbreakable even through the death of loved ones, or tragedies of injury or illness. We know that our common goal is to Love the Lord, and to Love each other, always open to welcoming those who come into our midst.
Take the time to think about these four ways in which you are bound to those around you. If you are feeling alone, I think that you know that place where the warmth of Christ will be showered over your life, come to the Church. By the way, not every church is good at doing this well. We are simultaneously Saints and sinners.
With love for you in Jesus Christ, Pastor Kim Taylor