Pastor's Ponderings: Meandering through Mark 2:23-28 bible study (September 19, 2023)
Updated: Oct 4
Good morning to you all and may the Blessings of the Holy One of God surround today and always.
I had my record number of 100+ days wrong yesterday. The record was set in 2020 with 109 100+ days. At 79 days this year we are off that pace quite a bit. Today please keep families in your prayers. We all know the stress of living with inflation, and then getting hit with increases in insurances, taxes, mortgages, GAS, and groceries. This all creates quite a load of stress on our families. Teens getting close to becoming independent adults are faced with rents and costs that most full-time minimum pay jobs cannot support. Emotionally overwhelming circumstances in the lives of families and their members mean that family energies are used up faster than they might ever have expected, and the resulting stress can quickly be the cause of disharmony for Moms, Dads, and children. It's tough right now, so let’s continue our prayers for all the families of our churches, communities, and country. Please know that you can request a prayer by our prayer chain. You can call 520-623-3661, the church office, and leave a message if no one is able to get to the phone, or you may text Prayer Request to 520-237-6442.
Today we have one of the most significant passages about Jesus in our bible study of Mark, His Word for God's children, and the right place of the religious community. Of course, Jesus is in hot water with the rules and laws of the Scribes with regards to the Sabbath and what may or may not be done according to the religious authorities. Jesus and His Disciples strip corn from the stalks to eat when they are hungry, but this is the Sabbath for the Jews, and accusations are ready to be offered to this upstart Galilean itinerant preacher, teacher, and healer. Instead of being in awe of Christ and all that he is doing in the midst of the people, the "religiously righteous" are, instead, prepared to condemn Jesus for allowing this kind of behavior to take place. We must remember that there were literally 1000s of petty rules established, and in particular there were four forbidden activities.
a person was not to reap.
there was to be no winnowing.
no threshing of grain.
no preparation of food.
All were considered labor and were strictly forbidden by Jewish Sabbath Law. At this point, the leaders would be able to label Jesus and His Disciples as law breakers. Such a label could mean devastating consequences for a person in business, or for a community leader. However, Jesus replies citing the story of David in I Samuel 21:1-6 when he and his men ate the bread from in front of the Holy of Holies on the Sabbath. That bread belonged to the priests. It is in this interaction that Jesus sets a new precedent which overcomes the rules of the Temple, or Priests, or even divine law, when human need is present, it overrides any other rule established for "Good Order". Human need will always take priority! Like any person, I love to have time after a relaxed dinner to crash, yet my family has chosen to serve human need, along with another parish family. We take a very generous supply of bread from Beyond Bread on Campbell Ave, at closing time, to the food pantry and meal program at one of our full communion partners, Grace St. Paul Episcopal Church, where they distribute the bread in food boxes, and also use it for their lunch program for the hungry of our community. We also have a family that brings Pow Wow food to the congregation on Sunday mornings during the Autumn and Winter. Since we have a number of lower income families, it provides for them and anyone else who is in need. We have been collecting peanut butter for a month now to send on over to the pantry with the bread on one Thursday evening. For Jesus, it is the place of the heart in how we seek to live the truth of this passage that is so important in our faith journeys.
The truths of this passage are as follows:
a. Religion does not consist of rules and regulations. Rather, with a heart for the Savior, we must not only seek fulfillment in our own relationship with Christ, but we must in religion be ready to love, forgive, and serve others. This is the truth of who we are as God's children in Jesus Christ.
b. The priority claim of any person is to meet the needs of others. Without this priority we must question whether or not we truly understand Christ's call on our lives and His gift of Faith in our life journeys. Is our religious belief genuine if we are not living in this way? All we need to do to understand is to model our faith journey on the life of our Lord.
c. In the Church the priority must be for all sacred things to be used for the benefit of those who are in need. We need to take note in this passage that Jesus never dismisses us from this kind of living for any reason. That should not surprise us when we consider Christ's devotion to the people of His nation and beyond. In fact, we should not be shocked by this claim of Christ, after all, his whole being was given for you and for me.
There is a legend of a fourth wise man who was late for the journey to bring his gifts to the newborn King, Jesus. He plans to give some of the most valuable gifts of jewels and a pearl of the greatest value. However, in his hurry to catch up to the other wise men he encounters a traveler who is ill, and for this man he comes across he takes the time from his journey to bring this man back to health and pays the bill for his care with a world-class sapphire, with just enough left to pay for his own camels and guide across the desert. He finally arrives too late, for Mary and Joseph and the new King had already departed Bethlehem for Egypt when they were given a vision of the danger that Jesus was in from Herod. Artaban arrived in time to see the soldiers murdering the children and chose to pay another of his treasures to keep a child safe from the soldier's swords. This time it was his gift of a great ruby sacrificed for a stranger's child. After this, Artaban wondered for thirty years looking for the King to give Him his final gift, a priceless pearl. But as he was preparing to set out to go to the crucifixion where he had been told the King would be, a young girl ran to him telling Artaban that because of her father's debt she was to be captured and sold as a slave. This time it was the great priceless pearl which would buy the girl her freedom. Artaban grieved the loss of his last great treasure, and in the earthquake of the Crucifixion of Jesus, Artaban is fatally struck by a roof tile, the girl he helped to set free holds him. As he neared his death, he heard a quiet voice speaking to him, "Truly I say to you, as you have done this for the least of mine, you have done it to me." How much we should have the same heart of compassion and giving when we are faced with the human victims of this broken world. I want the Lord to know the loving kindness for others which has been a really important part of my life, not because I am so good, but because the Lord who loves me has given me everything that I could ever hope to know, the gifts of Life with God, God's forgiveness, and best of all, Salvation!
Finally, we must know in our heart of hearts that the Love of Christ, and our own sacrifices of thanksgiving for all that Christ has done for us is what will always be the priority.
In Christ's love, Pastor Kim