Love of God

mother

The Pas Proper / Ordinary 10 – Pentecost + 3 – Trinity + 2
Year B
10 June 2018

1 Samuel 8:4-20, 11:14-15
Psalm 138 pg 895
2 Corinthians 4:13-5:1
Mark 3:20-35

Gracious God,
give us such a vision of your purpose
and such an assurance of your love and power
that we may ever hold fast to the hope
we have in Jesus Christ our Lord;
who lives and reigns with you
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
__________________________________

Today’s gospel is a good one for us to hear, today.

After all, how often do we look at someone doing something we consider to be out of the ordinary, strange, different, and want to react in the same way we see those around Jesus reacting, today?

Now, we can start with the realization that we know that Jesus stands out from the crowd. He is different than what the people have come to recognize as religious leadership of the day. Like having a doctor suddenly and unexpectedly join you, at your kitchen table, for morning coffee, instead of having to make an appointment and go to see them in sterile office surroundings, wherever those may be found.

So, Jesus mannerisms, leadership style, adherence to tradition and the law are all different than what the people have come to accept, to acknowledge, to live with.

He’s different than what people have come to expect of a travelling or itinerant minister, a healer, a prophet. He’s different than what people have been told to expect of the Messiah, the Christ.

And we can see this from the beginning. “Then Jesus entered a house, and again a crowd gathered, so that he and his disciples were not even able to eat.” (Mk 3:20)

People are just looking to him, to his message. They just want to be close to him, to hear every word, every teaching, every tidbit of wisdom that comes from God.

They want to see those who are healed. They want to see their reactions, to see how the love of God transforms their lives.

They want to see and be those who are welcomed to sit close to Jesus and to learn from the Messiah, himself. They want to be as close to the love of God as they can.

At the same time, in todays passage from 1 Samuel the people are looking for a leader to follow, after Samuel. “5 They said to him, “You are old, and your sons do not follow your ways; now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have.”” (1 Sam 8:5)

And although it may not seem like, it, these two passages are related to each other.

In the passage from 1 Samuel, the people are looking for continuity. They’re looking for assurance, for a leader they feel they can depend on, and in such a search, they’re looking at how their national neighbours are ruled, led, and governed.

They’re looking at where they think the grass is greener, just because someone is using a different fertilizer and a different variety of grass seed.

“6 But when they said, “Give us a king to lead us,” this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the Lord. 7 And the Lord told him: “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king.” (1 Sam 8:6-7)

God goes on to point out that this is a repeated pattern ever since t he people came out of Egypt – always looking where the grass is greener, instead of how to love the freedom and the life that God gave them through the leadership of the prophets.

So, from that day, and through Jesus time, God’s words, Samuel’s prophesy has come to pass, and Israel has been under good leadership, and not so good leadership. Its been under absolutely horrible leadership which led to capture and exile. It’s led to lives and generations that have been enslaved to other nations as well as subjected to foreign rule such as the Babylonian, Persian, and Roman Empires.

In the gospel, then, those who clamour to be close to Jesus sense, feel, and are responding to the love of God that they are able to sense through Jesus every word, every action, to the point that rumours reach his family to say that he’s lost his mind, and the teachers of the law make even worse accusations.

“22 And the teachers of the law who came down from Jerusalem said, “He is possessed by Beelzebul! By the prince of demons he is driving out demons.”” (Mk 3:22)

The people are responding to the love and relationship with God that their ancestors, in Samuels time, took for granted, and discarded for the model of imperial leadership, of a divinely appointed king. Its like when our children demand with the words ‘I want’, when they want what another child has, or what is advertised on tv.

But what is it we’re truly looking at, what are we truly looking for?

I remember the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” staring James Stewart, released in 1946. It’s the story of a man who sees fulfillment of his life away from his home town, yet never manages to achieve that particular dream of travel and adventure. Instead he works hard in his community to uphold and uplift all around him.

At one point in the movie, the dad, played by Stewart, is having a bad day, and his son makes an ill-timed remark about the neighbours’ new car.

So, having God’s full attention is too much work, for the Israelite people, too little feeling of national security, or maybe its just that it looks like the neighbours are living a better life than they are. “19 But the people refused to listen to Samuel. “No!” they said. “We want a king over us. 20 Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles.”” (1 Sam 8:19-20)

But when we get to Jesus day, so many generations later, the people are flocking to the love of God, the love that they have missed, since Saul was anointed king, at the peoples’ bequest, although they might not recognize that missed emotion until they experience it in Jesus teachings, healings, actions amongst them.

And, this is where we find ourselves, today. We want God to be active in our lives, yet, we also want someone to tell us what to do.

We want, but we don’t fully know what it is we are desiring.

We want peace, we want good lives, we want our families to grow up safe, and strong, and healthy, and knowledgeable in the ways of home, yet also the world.

We want to believe in God, to honour culture and our community, and the list goes on of what it is we desire for our lives, and the lives of our families.

Unfortunately, like the Israelites, we see too much time is needed to invest to get this kind of a result.

So, we, following the directions of the teachers of the law, sit there and we wait for someone to come along, like Santa Claus, to fulfill our list of wants.

But there is an alternative. There is Jesus and the love of God, giving us the ability to be out there, finding ways to demonstrate to our families, our communities, that we’re ready to pitch in and help make these lists a reality, all the while discovering more about ourselves than we’ve previously imagined.

The teachers of the law, that we see in today’s gospel, are happy with the status quo. They don’t want to find the love of God realized in Jesus’ actions or teachings. They like the arms length position of God where human intervention and distinction describes both humanities defaults to God, and God’s conditions for love and absolution to humanity.

They’ve found power in being this intermediary, and Jesus love for all of humanity threatens that base of power.

After all, if we are able to access the love and teachings of God, then that erodes their sense of self importance and power in and for the community.

So, they accuse, they tear at, they go to Jesus’ family and tell them that he’s lost his mind and needs them to take him home and make him lie down until this feeling passes.

Jesus tells us “7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Mt 7:7-8)

Today we see Jesus sitting with his disciples, and all of those who are gathered around, to the point where the teachers of the law. The teachers of the law are afraid for their jobs, are looking to find any way at all that they can imagine discrediting Jesus, casting doubts on his methods, on his sanity, on his authority to do what he is currently doing.

“23 So Jesus called them over to him and began to speak to them in parables: “How can Satan drive out Satan? 24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25 If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. 26 And if Satan opposes himself and is divided, he cannot stand; his end has come.” (Mk 3:23-26)

Where is the asking? The seeking? The knocking?

Each one of us has the ability to seek, to ask, to knock, knowing that we are loved by God so much that Jesus is here, amongst us, rubbing elbows with each one of us, to the point where “a crowd gathered, so that he and his disciples were not even able to eat.” (Mk 3:20b)

Jesus wants to be with us. Jesus wants to be in our lives, in our hearts, in our every action as we seek to teach our children, and our grandchildren the love of God for their lives, as well.

In the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life”, for as much as Jimmy Stewarts character sought to live his dreams of being anywhere but where he is, in the end, he is richer than the man who sought to economically control everything and everyone. Stewart’s character was richer because he upheld, he supported, he encouraged, and he drew people together in the love of God, in the way that we do when we work with the Holy Spirit.

Each one of us, although we may have bigger dreams than we know what to do with, has the ability to do the same. We are able to love and be loved, by God, by those in our lives who are friends and family.

We are able to look at the world around us and honour God’s creation. We’re able to see how God wishes us to live loving God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength, loving our neighbour, and loving ourselves.

We able to sit there and listen to the banter between those who wish to control every aspect of our lives, and those who wish us to live in the love of God, listening for the will of God in and for our lives, every day.

We, then have the choice, in our lives, today. We are able to continue to erect walls between our hearts and God’s grace, or we are able to carry those lessons into the world as Jesus tells us, today: “34 Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, … 35 Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”” (Mk 3:34-35)

Amen.

About pastorrebeccagraham

A Lutheran minister serving an Anglican parish in Northern Ontario.
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