January 29, 2024
Monday morning Bible Study on the Gospel of Mark 6:30-34 & 6:35-44
Good morning to my dear friends in Jesus Christ. May His presence in your life today make a positive difference for you and everyone who you meet.
Yesterday, we held our annual meeting of the congregation to conduct business, choose a Gospel Ministry Budget, and elect our Church Council. Installation of Church Council members will be next Sunday on Gospel Music Sunday. Please remember that there is no Sunday School Hour due to rehearsal for the singers, and that after service we will celebrate our first Sunday carry-in dinner to the theme of your favorite food to serve to your valentine. I am looking forward to seeing what you all will be bringing. I think that I will put together some really good brownies. O yes, Thanks to everyone who brought brunch type food for the congregational meeting yesterday too. It was a wonderful buffet.
Please continue to keep Kandice and Lisa Kartchner in your prayers as Kandice now seeks to find a different approach to the treatment of her cancer. Also pray for my daughter-in-law's father Jeff, who has been diagnosed with an aggressive and hard to treat cancer.
Today we will look at two passages from Mark 6. The first is about the return of the disciples from their journeys to carry the Gospel and the Healing of Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit out to a larger community of people. Mark keeps it brief, but we know from his writing that the outreach really was successful. They return worn thin from all that they were doing, and we discover in a few later lines why that is. Jesus attempts to take them to a quiet place for a break and some rest. You and I would probably see this as a time of de-briefing. But people are so desperate to have access to Christ, that His movements are being watched by the large numbers of people who want to hear His teaching and experience His healing miracles firsthand. After all, today we would be after a person who was able to cure our aches and pains, and illnesses in the same miraculous way. In fact, we chase after many of those "miracle" cures, hoping that they are true. People do not change very much when it comes to their desire for that more abundant health. And it would seem that people were really quite tired of hearing the judgement and endless rules for that appropriate life before God, while Jesus came bringing the promise of fulfillment of the Decalogue, and with it, the powerful Holy Grace of God which He shared abundantly with anyone who came to him. The mobs of people who came to Christ for help were never disappointed. Jesus, as we see here, was, and is, always ready to be available with compassion for all of us, no matter who we are. All too often, the Church, has historically set about limiting who is acceptable to be a part of the community of believers, but we never see that from Christ! All of the outcasts of his time were welcome at His Feast of Life every day. As we move on today to the next passage in Mark 6, we discover that the size of this crowd that went to meet Jesus on the shore of Galilee was massive, 5000 men, and then women and children too. We can guess that the number for this group must have been close to 10,000 altogether. They came for the very same reason that we also come to church. They sought guidance from God. The One True One who people had been taught was a mean wrath-filled God, ready to never offer His loving kindness, but instead to reign down death and destruction on His created children. If that is the message of the worship community which you attend, then they are nowhere close to preaching and teaching the true Christ and His Abounding Grace for all people. Christ's teaching is clear. Love God above all else and love your neighbor as you love yourself. Jesus came to teach the how of what seems so simple yet is so difficult for anyone to master. NO One has done it yet! That's why we must include faith in the Savior of all of creation. Only through His merit can we be right with the Father.
And just when we might think that Jesus will respond like we would, He turns to welcome them offering His Compassion and Love for each and every life that comes to Him. That welcome is one of the hardest things that we have to do, when we are busy deciding whether or not someone deserves the love we have to give in Christ's Name. We continue to need Jesus' guidance in our lives today too. It is just one of the reasons why it is so important for us to be in church and part of the faith community. Not one of us has arrived yet as the one who perfectly conveys the Love of the Lord for the lives of all people.
We are familiar with what happens to all of these people after they have followed Christ and His Disciples along the shore of Galilee. With so many people present to receive Christ's personal attention, the day of Jesus' caring ministry grows late into the afternoon, and few, if any, of these people were really prepared to be as long as this day has gone. They were away from their homes, and access to food, But the disciples had prepared enough for themselves according to Mark. In another Gospel the food is with a child in the crowd. Jesus tells the disciples that they are to take care of feeding all of the gathered people with the small amount of bread and the salted fish that they have with them. They indicate that it would take the income of six months to have enough money to buy the bread and fish that would be required to feed the gathered community. Jesus tells the disciples to get the people to sit down on the patches of green grass in groups of 50 and 100. The word to describe this is the same word used for how a garden is organized in neat rows. The fact that there was green grass is an indication that it was likely that this miracle occurred in the spring, perhaps in April. Christ blesses this small amount of food, and it becomes the presence of a meal for everyone who is gathered. In the Name of Christ, what may seem humanly small and insignificant truly becomes much for the work of the Gospel. We see it time and again in the church. Christ provides for the faithful and their work on His behalf, and it is not usually out of abundance, but out of what would seem to be less than necessary. Over my 33 years as your pastor, I have seen many times when it seemed like there would not be enough resources to continue, but low and behold what is needed will be made available. I vividly remember at seminary (residential 4-year-long theological graduate school) we would be down to no milk, mixing carnation dry powdered milk, and the bread was running low, and we knew that we would be out of food in a couple of days. And then, miracle of miracles, a gift would appear from an unexpected source. Just enough to buy groceries for a while longer. When we went to graduate school with our Jeremiah age 3, and our Rachel as less than 1, we committed to giving a tithe of all our work money and any other resources for the work of the church. Our offerings went to Reformation Lutheran in Pullman on Chicago's far east side, and to 1st Lutheran in Harvey, Ill, our teaching parishes, and then later to our internship site, St. John's Des Moines, IA, and when we returned to school to finish one semester of classes for me, we had no money to pay owed rent, and I was not going to be allowed to finish or be ordained. God had a different plan in mind for us, and the faith of a SE Michigan church who said that they would pay our final bills at seminary! This was Christ's miracle of generosity for our very lives and for my ordination to serve the Gospel under call to our first call setting. The rest you know. Though raising a family of 8 children, 3 who are our biological children, and adopting 5 children who were considered unadoptable, I can tell you of time after time when Christ intervened with His Grace. We have received grace upon grace through all of the children. I think that our blessing has been the greater of theirs and ours. And I won't even get into the 8 grandchildren, and the others who are just like our own children who we so dearly love. The power of Christ's Love for each of us is more amazing than we can ever fully know. The final note about this passage is that there is enough left in abundance for the disciples, 12 baskets. This has always been our experience with grace and the provision of Christ, and I hope that you know this in your life as well.
Thank you for allowing me to guide you through this portion of Mark.
In Christ's Love and Grace, Pastor Kim