Pastor’s Ponderings: Meandering through Mark 3:13-19 bible study (October 2, 2023)
Updated: Oct 4
Good morning in the name, and by the power, of our Lord Jesus Christ.
We had great joy in our Gospel Music worship and our guests, along with our carry-in dinner after church service yesterday. I hope that you were able to be with us. Next month, we will celebrate All Saints/Day of the Dead on the first Sunday of the month with a carry-in meal themed as the Mexican Fiesta. Bring a dish to share with that wonderful Mexican flair. That day will also be Gospel Music Sunday and the Blood Pressure Clinic will be available that day. At the beginning of December, we will have our traditional chili Luncheon. We usually have traditional Midwest chili, good spicy hot Mexican style, and if we are lucky, a wonderful chocolate chili made by one of our members. As always, please pray for the Church, and our church too. The Body of Christ carries the power of Christ's Love for all people, and our important work of bringing Christ-like compassion and His Hope for the world, always proclaiming God's Grace in our Savior. Pray too for all who serve our nation, and pray for the people caught in war all over our planet. May the Peace which passes all understanding be in all of our lives.
Today in our bible study passage from Mark, we can also look at the choosing of the twelve disciples in Matthew 10:1-4 and Luke 6:12-16. The Gospel of John contains a brief passage, only describing the call of Peter. (John 1:42). Perhaps by the time that John was written, the identity of the disciples was fixed in the hearts and minds of the people who had come to believe in Jesus, but Peter, also called Cephas, was the key to the new life of the Church which had already begun journeys of faith around Asia Minor, Italy, northern Africa, and more. What John was seeking to do was to clarify and unify the theology which every church and its members should understand as being the truth about Jesus.
Today we see Jesus selecting a group of men, yes, they were seemingly all men at this point, though it is certain that later there were certainly women who were active disciples of the Lord too. I think that the most amazing thing is the diversity with which these men came, and even more amazing is that they dropped their lives, their livelihoods, their zealous feelings about the nature of their nation and their personal religious practices in Judaism. After all, Jesus came undoing generations of practice and legalistically punishing Law for how a person must live to really keep the law and avoid the wrath of God. Instead, He came with the message of God's forgiveness, love, mercy, and true pleasure in the love of His created children, and in their every day love for their neighbors as they loved themselves.
Important for you and me is to see that the earliest part of the Church was accomplished by Christ by calling together a group. Today, whether we are in a house church, a small congregation like American, a big congregation like St. John's, Des Moines, IA, it is the importance our being together sharing our faith journey and lives. That first group would bear some pretty huge responsibilities. Jesus chose these men because of their transformed hearts of faith, even from the outset of their journey with Christ. Only God's Son could see into the future of these disciples lives and, in His omnipotence, trust them with the most important message and work of what would become the Church. We do know that after Christ's death many of the disciples struggled in their outreach to the people of their own Jewish heritage. One split off, and according to tradition and the early churches of India, traveled to that nation to share the Good News with pretty good success. My Nazarene friend from seminary, Abraham Athially, who had grown up in the south of India, understood that the congregation where he worshiped has been created by the ministry of Thomas. Of course, we must not forget the one who came late, and after his own transformation and change of heart when he had his Christ vision on the road to Damascus, Paul. He moved the new church of Jesus around the entire area outside of Israel. In His wisdom, Jesus understood that it would be the diversity of the men that he called which would bring success to the movement of the Truth He proclaimed which would shape the new worship communities.
One of the big mistakes that the European churches made was to have membership that was ethnically pure and homogeneous. It was done to help new communities there, and here in the new nation across the Atlantic feel like they had not left their homes to immigrate thousands of miles to a new home. This seemed to be the same issue that the 12 had in Israel when they kept trying with minimal success to proclaim God's Truth to people so steeped in the habituated worship and legalistic lives that had been led generationally. Today, though, many churches are smaller, our diversity is our strength. Members with a great deal of life experience and gathered wealth, with generous hearts, young families needing the Spirit's presence to make it in this difficult world of inflation and through the roof expenses, to singles and couples, and with great educations, and some folks who struggled to complete GEDs, business owners and laborers, the wise and the foolish, all together to be the Church of Christ, our Savior and Lord. It is exactly in that diversity that the church is able to carry out its singular message of Christ' Love for all people. God needs every one of us to be together for the sake of the work of the Gospel. We do that work not only in worship, but in Christian fellowship too, as we saw in our widely varied Sunday morning gathering to celebrate the Sacrament and to share in the love and bounty of God's creation in our carry-in meal. By the way, as I stated above about the disciples, we bear some very important responsibilities too. We need to speak our faith, and share the love of Christ that fills us, so that others will know by us what a treasure the Love of Christ truly is. I can not say it enough, we are here, because at the very beginning, this diverse group of men committed their lives to Jesus, and over many generations many more people did the very same thing, and now, it is our turn!
Tomorrow we move on to Mark 3:20-27. I will also be offering the beginning day of our study on Ezra in the Old Testament on Thursday morning this week.
Please remember that I will be on vacation from the 6th-13th, except back for worship on Sunday the 8th.
In Christ's Love and calling on all of our lives,
Pastor Kim Taylor