January 10, 2024
Wednesday Morning Bible Study on the Gospel of Mark 6:1-6
Good morning and may Christ's blessings, grace, and peace be with you today, and always.
Today is kind of a busy day for us, our three oldest in high school all have SLCs today. (Student Led Conferences) This is when they present their own progress in the form of a presentation with art work and graphics to support their presentation. I don't know about you, but in high school I would have been blown away by having to do this with my parents, fellow students, and teachers present for this kind of conference. I only began having to do this when I was working on my Master of Divinity Degree at the Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago. It all becomes much more normal when I am writing my Bible Studies or preparing the message for Sunday morning. Please remember that this Saturday we will be showing a movie which was very well received at 2PM. The movie is free, and so are the snacks. We will show it on the large screen in the sanctuary. If you have questions about its name, please know that by agreement we cannot publicly advertise the title. There are posters and the movie name on the announcement boards at church. This movie is appropriate for all ages, but perhaps mostly for adults living as a member of a Christian community. Please be sure to join us. Doors will be open at 1:45PM. Please pray today for David who is receiving heavy doses of radiation treatment for critical lung cancer, and for John who is very ill with the flu or RSV. This week I have stayed away from the office because of the cost of heating the space to bearable temps with this very cold weather. This way, the parish administrator and I are hoping to help keep heating costs down for this cold spell. I have been picking music out getting ready for the season after Epiphany and practicing on my home piano. I am also preparing for that special Sunday School class on January 21st as an opportunity for discussion about how it is that the larger ELCA, and our congregation have come to welcome such a diverse group of people into membership, when in previous decades the Church was not prepared to do so. Coffee and pastries will be provided for this learning opportunity. That is 9AM on the 21st of January.
THIS IS SOME IMPORTANT NEWS! The Rev. Kurt Fangmeier was called as pastor to Sierra Lutheran Church, Sierra Vista, AZ, this past Sunday. I will share installation date and time with you as it becomes available. Kurt was a member of American before heading off to seminary at LSTC in Chicago where he received his Master of Divinity degree, and subsequent ordination to the ministry of the ELCA.
Now on to our Bible Study for this morning. We continue in Mark 6:1-6. As I said on Monday, it becomes clear right away that Jesus departs from his raising of the Ruler of the Synagogue's daughter, and heads back to Nazareth. There are a number of revealing facts here in this passage. Let's take a look at them.
1. Jesus is received with amazement for His knowledge and teaching, yet we discover that here in his hometown, there are nearly immediate questions about how it is that he has come to know so much, after all he is only the son of Mary, and here for the first time, we find that Joseph is, in all likelihood, already deceased. So evidently Jesus has become the one who supports the family and his mother by the vocation of carpentry. BUT Jesus is no run of the mill carpenter, he is one who we would call a master carpenter, hence the word tekton used to describe him. Perhaps this contributed to the fact that people had trouble seeing him in any other role in Nazareth. So, they were unable to allow for this "new-found" knowledge that Jesus had brought to the community with him, and they were amazed, but perplexed, and ultimately came to disbelieve Christ's mighty gifts to preach and heal. The saying of this passage is really true, and it is why pastors rarely go back to their home congregations, or to places in which they are well known, because their lives have become different through their calling to serve the Gospel of Jesus Christ. "A prophet is not without honor, except in their hometown". For these people it was all too easy for them to know that Jesus could create a fine piece of wooden furniture, but his hands, which healed so many in other places, could not bring the LORD' healing for the sick. I had several opportunities to respond to the call committee at my home church in Michigan, but I would be mostly remembered as the child who got his head stuck between the balcony rails when he was little. I suppose by now, everyone who knew about that would be gone, but is it really worth the risk to take that call, and worry that some might never hear the Good News of God's Grace in Jesus Christ, because of that railing event? Jesus was faced with the same reality, so teaching in the Synagogue, and moving through the community, He discovered that he was being derided and shunned by the community and family where He had grown up.
2. Another thing that we have here in Mark is the naming of the brothers of Jesus, and we discover that not only does he have brothers, but he also has sisters, still living in Nazareth with whom people were very familiar. Now there are many questions in scholarship about who exactly these named men, and the women really are. Some say that they were just a part of the disciples’ crew, but like many others, I think that we would be naive to think that there were no other children between Mary and Joseph. Here it sounds like there were five men, and a number of women. It is not surprising, is it, when we later find that Mary and the family pick up the family business, and move it to Galilee, which was the major area of Jesus ministry so that they might be near to the oldest son. And we know that in the early church, there is a James, who is known as Jesus’ brother, who is one of its leaders. It really does seem obvious that Mary and Joseph had parented a very large family in their years together. Your next question should be about Mary's status according to the Catholic Church as the perpetual virgin. I think that is a conversation that we must undertake at another time.
I believe that we should take pity on the people of Nazareth. They were blinded by their fore knowledge of this master carpenter in their community. Like so many of us, they were unprepared for the in-breaking of God's Grace into their midst. They lost out in a massive way. They lost out in their deafness to God's Truth for their lives because they could not get out of their limited world understanding, or of their religious entrapment. Here God was giving them the chance to do something new which would transform their lives, to receive His healing through the hands of His Son. Don't you wonder how it was that only the shepherds and the wise men were the ones to see that spectacular comet which was God-sent to reveal His newly revealed Grace in all of its fullness in the child of Bethlehem. Where was everyone else? I guess it would be like not seeing the beautiful rainbows that are often in the summer thunderstorm sky. Our lives are just so busy that we don't even look up at this most amazing sight, even when it is right in front of us. And what about God's continuing miracles in our lives, from healings, to revelations, to amazing transformations? Do we take the time to listen and look? Or, like me, are you one who looks to the sky every time it rains, so that you too can be one of the few who gets to see this miracle of God's creation? I give thanks every day for the many times that the healing of Christ has broken into my life. Like you, my heart needs to be healed by Christ's love more frequently than I care to admit. For me it happens in hymn and music, or in the prayers of our congregation's members, or in the speaking of the sermon, even when I am the one giving it, or in the seasons of the Church Year and all of the parament vibrant colors which surround them, in the fullness of God's creation, and in the times that people become Holy for being exactly who God created them to be! I am fortunate that this is all a part of my life, but going home to be the presence of Christ? That just does not work very well.
Joy in Christ, congratulations Pastor Kurt. You have our love and support!
In Christ's love, Pastor Kim