Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
We are continuing our Sermon Series “On the Mend” with the subject of “Healing Division”. We will be using Mark 9:38-50 for our scripture. Here is what I said about this passage two weeks ago:
Mark 9:38-50 – At the beginning of this reading, John complains that there is another person, not one of the disciples, who is casting out demons using Jesus’ name. Jesus says to leave that person alone. Anyone who does something good using Jesus’ name will no longer be able to speak against Jesus. He also says, “Those who are not against us are for us.” He goes on to say that no one should cause a child (referring back to 9:37) to stumble. Please note that the passage from 42 to 48 has some interesting translations. The words “stumbling block” and “stumble” is a form of the Greek word “skandalon” which is related to our English word “scandal”. It is also translated as “take offense”. The word “hell” is the Greek word “Gehenna” which is a transliteration of the Jewish name of the garbage dump, which was continually burning, just outside Jerusalem and where several child sacrifices happened (see 2 Chronicles 28:3 and 33:6). Finally, notice the verses. In our modern translations verses 44 and 46 are missing and there should be a footnote about that in your Bible. The end of our passage Jesus commands us to be at peace with each other. So, how does scandal lead to the fiery garbage dump? Why is it important that we remain at peace with each other?
The Lectionary Readings assigned for October 11 are:
Job:23:1-9, 16-17 – Someone once said that Job would have been better off if his friends hadn’t joined him. Their basic argument was that Job must have done something wrong to deserve God’s punishment. (Bad Joke: Who is the shortest person in the Bible? One of Job’s friends, Bildad who was Shuhite (shoe height). Ha-ha.) In chapter 22, Eliphaz argues that Job’s wickedness was great because of all the pain Job is going through. Our reading this week is Job’s reply. Job says that he wishes he knew where God could be found. Then he would lay out his case and listen for God’s answers. The trouble is, Job cannot find God. Question: When troubles come your way, where do you find God?
Psalm 22:1-15 – You may recognize the first words of this beautiful Psalm as the words Jesus spoke while dying on the cross: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” The entire Psalm is 31 verses and the stanzas alternate between cries of despair and words of comfort. Verse 3, “Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel.” Verse 6, “Bit I am a worm, and not human; scorned by others, and despised by the people.” Followed by verse 9 “Yet it was you who took me from the womb; you kept me safe on my mother’s breast.” Question: When you hear the first verse spoken by Jesus do you also hear the words of comfort and deliverance that are also part of this Psalm?
OR Amos 5:6-7, 10-15 – Some tough words from a prophet who saw the wealthy taking advantage of the poor. He call on the wealthy to “seek the Lord and live” (6) and to “hate evil and love good and establish justice” (15). In between these verses he lays it on pretty thick. Question: How can we who have much use what we have to help those with very little? How can we stand up for justice?
Psalm 90: 12-17 – These are the last 6 verses of the Psalm. The psalmist asks God to teach him (and us) so we may gain in wisdom, to have compassion when we fail, to make us glad in the future, and to work through us for all God’s children. Question (see verse 14): How can we allow God’s love fill us in the morning as we rise so that we may do God’s work all day?
Hebrews 4:12-16 – There seems to be two unrelated thoughts in this passage: the Word of God being living and active and a great high priest, Jesus, who has suffered as we have. What if these thoughts are related? The Word of God, active and cutting through all our innermost defenses, knows us to the very core. Since all of our hurts and sins are known, and Jesus has been tempted as we have and has experienced our pains (all without sinning) then we truly can be bold (confident?) and approach the “throne of grace” and receive God’s mercy. Question: If God’s Word knows you, how can you NOT receive God’s grace?
Mark 10:17-31 – The very familiar story of the young man who wants to know how to gain eternal life? Jesus gives a two part answer: only God is good and keep the commandments. “Yes,” the young man says, “I do all that.” “One more thing, then,” Jesus says, “sell everything, give to the poor, and follow me.” Well that was actually three things but the young man was shocked (SHOCKED, I say) and went away grieving for he was wealthy. It is very hard for the wealthy to be a part of God’s Kingdom. Our churches pay me a little over $40,000 a year in income. I earn more money than 98% of the world’s peoples. (Check your income here: how-rich-you-are) How then can I be faithful, follow Jesus, and serve God? The answer to my problem: “For God, all things are possible.” Question: does your wealth get in the way of faith or does your faith guide how you use wealth?
Have a great week serving God by serving neighbors.
Peace in Christ,
Pastor Gary Taylor