Dear Gentle Readers,
Here is the text of last Sunday's sermon(warts and all). It isn't exactly the sermon I delivered because I tend to go off script. Also, here are the readings that relate to the sermon.
1 Samuel 8:4-11, (12-15), 16-20, (11:14-15)All the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah, and said to him, "You are old and your sons do not follow in your ways; appoint for us, then, a king to govern us, like other nations." But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, "Give us a king to govern us." Samuel prayed to the LORD, and the LORD said to Samuel, "Listen to the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them. Just as they have done to me, from the day I brought them up out of Egypt to this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so also they are doing to you. Now then, listen to their voice; only-- you shall solemnly warn them, and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them."
So Samuel reported all the words of the LORD to the people who were asking him for a king. He said, "These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen, and to run before his chariots; [and he will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and some to plow his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards and give them to his courtiers. He will take one-tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and his courtiers.] He will take your male and female slaves, and the best of your cattle and donkeys, and put them to his work. He will take one-tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves. And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves; but the LORD will not answer you in that day."
But the people refused to listen to the voice of Samuel; they said, "No! but we are determined to have a king over us, so that we also may be like other nations, and that our king may govern us and go out before us and fight our battles."
[Samuel said to the people, "Come, let us go to Gilgal and there renew the kingship." So all the people went to Gilgal, and there they made Saul king before the LORD in Gilgal. There they sacrificed offerings of well-being before the LORD, and there Saul and all the Israelites rejoiced greatly.]
2 Corinthians 4:13-5:1Just as we have the same spirit of faith that is in accordance with scripture-- "I believed, and so I spoke" -- we also believe, and so we speak, because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus, and will bring us with you into his presence. Yes, everything is for your sake, so that grace, as it extends to more and more people, may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.
So we do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure, because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal.
For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
Mark 3:20-35The crowd came together again, so that Jesus and his disciples could not even eat. When his family heard it, they went out to restrain him, for people were saying, "He has gone out of his mind." And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, "He has Beelzebul, and by the ruler of the demons he casts out demons." And he called them to him, and spoke to them in parables, "How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but his end has come. But no one can enter a strong man's house and plunder his property without first tying up the strong man; then indeed the house can be plundered.
"Truly I tell you, people will be forgiven for their sins and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit can never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin" -- for they had said, "He has an unclean spirit."
Then his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside, they sent to him and called him. A crowd was sitting around him; and they said to him, "Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside, asking for you." And he replied, "Who are my mother and my brothers?" And looking at those who sat around him, he said, "Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother."
When I finished reading the lessons assigned for today I kind of scratched my head and asked myself what these readings have in common. I decided that their common thread was that each reading deals with relationships. In Samuel it is the relationship between God and his people. When you read the books of the Old Testament it becomes clear that the the relationship between God and the people of Israel is a rocky one. They misbehave, God punishes them, sometimes by being conquered in war or a famine or something. They start behaving again and God blesses them with bounty. They mis-behave again. God punishes them again. They straighten up and God blesses them again. It goes on and on. Some say this pattern continues today.
In Paul's letter to the Corinthians he writes, “we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus, and will bring us with you into his presence.” Paul has a faith and trust in God and he tells us we will one day be in God's presence. We have a relationship with God.
In the reading from Mark, Jesus talks about his relationship with his family of followers. I do not think he was trying to diss his family. I have no doubt Mary and his siblings worried about Jesus. He had chosen a difficult road to travel. Mary was worried that her son would come to a bad end. Mary was right. He died a horrible death on a cross.
But let me get back to family. Jesus is told, “Your mother, brothers and sisters are outside asking for you” and he responds, “who are my mother and my brothers?” He says, “whoever does the will of God is my brother, sister and mother.”
I looked up family in the dictionary and was given a fairly narrow definition. It said, family is a basic social unit consisting of parents and their children. That's it. Probably back in the 1950's people would have pretty much agreed with that definition. Not today.
To me family is so much more. I take a much more expansive look at family just as Jesus did. I work as a counselor on Fridays at the food bank and one of the main questions we ask is “how many are in your household. The numbers seem to frequently shift from visit to visit. That is OK with us. When Sherry and I were married I became part of her family and she became part of mine. Families do change. Sometimes frequently.
Since Sherry and I have moved to Chariton we consider ourselves a part of the St. Andrew's family. What does that mean to be part of a family, especially this church family. Discussion...Jesus said “whoever does the will of God is my brother, sister, and mother.”
Occasionally, I will stand before you and refer to you as my brothers and sisters. When I first started doing that, quite honestly it seemed a little awkward. I come from a tradition that would be considered a little standoffish. Not any more. I truly feel that you are my brothers and sisters and I am so proud to be a part of such a great group of people.
We must also remember that we are part of an even larger family. We are part of God's family. The family that is doing God's will. God isn't checking credentials at the door to heaven to make sure you are the right religion or denomination. If you are visiting the sick, feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty and clothing the naked you are doing God's work. You are part of God's family