June 10, 2012 [Green]- Second Sunday after Pentecost
Outreach Service at Chenango Valley Home & Apartments, Norwich
Scripture Lesson: 1 Samuel 8:4-20 (11:14-15)
4 So all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah. 5 They said to him, “You are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways; now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have.”
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. 8 As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you. 9 Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will do.”
10 Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking him for a king. 11 He said, “This is what the king who will reign over you will do: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots. 12 Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and others to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. 13 He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. 14 He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants. 15 He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants. 16 Your menservants and maidservants and the best of your cattle and donkeys he will take for his own use. 17 He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves. 18 When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, and the Lord will not answer you in that day. ”
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.”
14 Then Samuel said to the people, “Come, let us go to Gilgal and there reaffirm the kingship. ” 15 So all the people went to Gilgal and confirmed Saul as king in the presence of the Lord. There they sacrificed fellowship offerings before the Lord, and Saul and all the Israelites held a great celebration.
Epistle Lesson: 2 Corinthians 4:13-5:1
13 It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” With that same spirit of faith we also believe and therefore speak, 14 because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in his presence. 15 All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.
16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
Our Heavenly Dwelling
5 Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.
Gospel Lesson: Mark 3:20-35
Jesus Accused of Being Possessed by Demons
20 Then Jesus entered a house, and again a crowd gathered, so that he and his disciples were not even able to eat. 21 When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.”
22 And the teachers of the law who came down from Jerusalem said, “He is possessed by Beelzebub! By the prince of demons he is driving out demons.”
23 So Jesus called them and spoke 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. 27 In fact, no one can enter a strong man’s house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man. Then he can rob his house. 28 I tell you the truth, all the sins and blasphemies of men will be forgiven them. 29 But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; he is guilty of an eternal sin.”
30 He said this because they were saying, “He has an evil spirit.”
Jesus’ Mother and Brothers
31 Then Jesus’ mother and brothers arrived. Standing outside, they sent someone in to call him. 32 A crowd was sitting around him, and they told him, “Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you.”
33 “Who are my mother and my brothers?” he asked.
34 Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 35 Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”
A New Family, A New Life
In the Scripture lesson today, the Israelites went to Samuel, who was then their leader, and basically told him he was getting too old to lead them and since his sons were not following in his way, they wanted a new leader in the form of a king. Samuel was naturally upset by this and took his concerns to God. God reassured Samuel that he was not the one being rejected as the leader, but God himself was being rejected as the true King.
How many times have we looked to the world for guidance, just as the Israelites were, instead of looking where we should? To God alone. And just as he often does, God gave them what they asked for, and let them face the consequences. Even though he warned them through Samuel of what their request would bring upon them, they still insisted on having a king appointed over them. God gave them Saul, which in the end, I am sure, is not the result they had wished for. Saul ended up not following the Lord our God and bringing much hardship upon Israel.
Many times when we insist on going our own way, or following the ways of the world, we find ourselves in places we may not have intended to be. But, our God is a kind and loving God and will always welcome us back into his family if we repent and sincerely ask for forgiveness.
As we are told in today’s Psalter: “Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life; you stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes, with your right hand you save me.” Sometimes God is saving us from ourselves, often we are our own worst enemies. We are blessed that God is so forgiving and loving.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16). And as we heard in today’s Epistle lesson, just as God raised Jesus from the dead, he will also raise us from the dead. Imagine that. God has taken death from a place of fear, to a place of promise. 1 Corinthians 15:54 says it so well: “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” And back to the Epistle lesson, we are told: Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
We are not only being promised a new life after death, but we are promised a new life with our Lord and Savior for eternity. Even though we may be outwardly wasting away, we are becoming new people on the inside. As we learn and rely on God’s word more and more, we become a new person. We will have a new life, and a new family.
For those who, for whatever reason, did not grow up in a loving family, the thought of a new family might be very attractive. As we see in today’s Gospel lesson, Jesus’ family was not always supportive either. When they heard that he was preaching so much that he did not even take time to eat, they became concerned that he may have “gone off the deep end” as a result of his evangelical teaching to great crowds. So they “went to take charge of him, for they said, ‘He is out of his mind.’.”
Indeed, those who opposed Jesus took that opportunity to accuse him of being possessed by the devil. But, as usual, Jesus took that as a teaching moment and told them that Satan would never undermine himself, so if Jesus was trying to rid the world of demons, how then could the greatest demon of all be directing him to do so? As he put it: “How can Satan drive out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. And if Satan opposes himself and is divided, he cannot stand; his end has come.”
When Jesus’ family arrived where he was teaching, they sent word to him that they were there and were concerned. When Jesus was told that his mother and brothers were there, he asked: “Who are my mother and my brothers?” Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.
On the surface, this may seem like Jesus was rejecting his mother and brothers as his family, but instead, he was expanding his family to include all who follow the words of his true father: God.
As I said, those who did not grow up in a loving family can take heart that there is one true parent who will always love them. Whether you think of God as Father, Mother, or a Supreme Being of no specific gender, we can all think of him as our Loving Parent. And just as any loving parent does, God has set rules and guidelines and expectations for our behavior. But unlike earthly parents, who often joke that they don’t possess a “Parents’ Manual,” God does: it’s called the Bible, his Holy Word.
Our job here on earth is to follow that Word, to study that Word, to live that Word, so that when our days are done, we will be able to meet God face to face and give a good accounting of ourselves.
When we die, as it says in our Epistle lesson today: Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. As we are told in the 21st chapter of Revelation: And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!”
Even those who did grow up in a loving family can take heart, as they know that their loving earthly family will be standing right beside them with their new heavenly family. At last we will all be in our new home, with our new family, and with our one true Loving Parent. Let us pray:
Heavenly Father, thank you for promising us a new home and a new family with you as our Loving Parent. Thank you for the gift of your precious son, Jesus Christ, who gave his life so that we might live. Thank you for giving us the blueprint by which to live our lives: your Holy Word. Thank you for bringing us together today so that we could sing your praises and speak your truths and hear your direction for our lives. Thank you for taking the fear out of death, for promising that something better is to come; that death is not an ending, but a door to a better world where you have given us a new house not built by human hands. When our earthly tent has been folded, thank you for the reassurance that something better is waiting for us. Thank you for your steadfast love, patience, and forgiveness of your lowly children. Please be with those in need today, those who may be hurting, or grieving, or searching for something greater than themselves. Hold us all in your loving arms. Help us to feel your strength and your concern. Bring us, fresh and anew, into your loving family. These things we pray in Jesus’ name, Amen.