SUNDAY 10   June 5-11

 

Mark 3: 20-35                           (Sermon: “Crazy Man!”)

2 Corinthians 4: 13 to 5:1

1 Samuel 8: 4-11, 16-20

Psalm 138

 

CALL TO WORSHIP

 

As the grace of the Lord Jesus spreads,

more and more people will join in thanksgiving.

I give thanks to you, loving God, with my whole heart,

together with all heavenly beings, I sing your praises.

 

We do not focus on things we can see, which are temporary,

we lock on to those unseen things which are eternal.

God will fulfil the purpose for my life,

for the Lord’s steadfast love endures forever.

 

OR

 

Who are the true brothers and sisters of Jesus?

Whoever does the will of God is a brother and sister of Christ.

We will bow down together in the holy temple,

we will give thanks for God’s steadfast love and faithfulness.

 

Any family that is divided against itself is doomed,

it cannot hold together.

Whenever we call for saving grace, we are answered,

God makes us strong and generous of spirit.

 

As we walk together in God’s ways, we shall sing,

For great is the glory of our loving God.

 

PRAYER OF APPROACH

 

Holy, holy, holy are you, Cup and Spring of the universe!

Most generous are you, best Friend the earth has ever had!

Wonderful are you, sole Parent of the Christian family!

Glorious are you, Source and Strength of abounding grace!

Glorious are you, God of our Saviour Christ!

 

As we your children assemble in this humble temple,

flow into us with your own robust Spirit,

that we may rise above trivial concerns and petty attitudes,

and enter into the ennobling fellowship of the household of God.

 

In the name of Christ Jesus, our Brother and Lord.

Amen!

 

CONFESSION AND FORGIVENESS

 

By the grace of Christ, let us make our peace with God and with one another.

 

Let us pray.

 

Lord of light and love, of hope and happiness, of truth and trust, we confess our constant need of your mercy and rehabilitation.

 

We may not be notorious sinners, some of us may not even be able to put our finger on any obvious grievous sin that has happened in the week since we last met in this temple of grace. Yet we acknowledge the entangling web of human evil of which we are each a part, and confess those particular strands of hurtfulness, or apathy, of wilful folly, which we have contributed to the general mess.

 

Aware or unaware, to a large or small degree, O God, that we have blocked your light, hindered your love, diminished hope, impeded happiness, obscured your truth, and failed our trust.

 

We need to unload our shame and frustration. We need to make a clean confession, and to open our lives to that Divine inflow of mercy and healing without which the soul loses its dignity. Forgive and renew us, we humbly pray.

 

We dare to make our peace with you because your have first make your peace with us in the sacrificial loving of Jesus Christ. In whose name we make this confession and receive absolution.

Amen.

 

FORGIVENESS

 

It is true, you know? Not just wishful thinking. God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself. He is our sure peace. Believe the Gospel and make your peace with one another.

 

            * Communal sharing of the peace.

 

 

PRAYER FOR CHILDREN

 

FOR SHY KIDS

 

Dear God,

you know how easy it is

to play

with kids who are friendly

and who laugh a lot.

 

Help us also

to play

with those who are timid and shy

or with those kids with sad eyes

who don’t laugh much at all.

 

In Jesus’ name,

Amen!

 

PSALM 138

 

With all my love I come to you, God,

            filled with gratitude and praise.

Along with all the children of the stars

            I eagerly sing your glory.

 

Into your temples I come

            to bow down in wonder,

giving thanks for the Name

            that means utter love and faithfulness.

You are far larger than the universe,

            and your promises are stunning.

You remember even individuals like me,

            when I call you answer with inner strength.

 

Surely earth’s parliaments must come to praise you

            when they begin to hear what you have to say?

They will sing together of the good things you do,

            although your glory is immeasurable.

You overlook all the starry galaxies,

            yet you are happy to live with ordinary folk.

But for the proud, arrogant humans,

            you shall bring them down to earth.

           

Should I walk into big trouble, you will be there.

            your arms outstretched to take the blows.

The purpose for which I was born will be fulfilled.

            You are tireless, your love endures for ever.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Ó B. D. Prewer 2006

 

COLLECT

 

Loving God, from you all light and goodness flow.

Please keep coming to our assistance,

so that we may not only think about things that are loving

but through your guidance and inner strength

may we have the wit and the courage to do them.

Through Jesus Christ, who with you in the unity of the Spirit

are the source of glory for ever and ever.

Amen!

 

SERMON: CRAZY MAN!

 

Mark 3: 20-35

 

Was Jesus crazy?

 

The mother of Jesus rarely appears in Mark’s Gospel. His brothers and sisters appear even less. When they do appear, as in today’s Gospel Reading, it is not a happy situation. They think Jesus is out of his mind, going off to apprehend him and drag him off to safety.

 

 

Then Jesus returned to the house. A pressing crowd gathered, and did not allow even for him to eat. Hearing about this his family set off to arrest him, for people were saying “He is out of his mind.”

 

His mother and brothers arrived; they stood outside and sent for him. The crowd was packed around him. They said to him, your mother, sisters and brothers are outside asking for you. Jesus replied “Who are my mother and my brothers. Looking around 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.”

 

Put aside, please, the fact that this incident constitutes one of the most poignant moments in the Gospel story. We can only conjecture how painful this situation must have been to him, to Mary and his sisters and brothers. But as I said, forget the poignancy of this event. Much bigger questions are put to us by this happening.

 

Two things hit me between the ears when I hear this harrowing excerpt:

 

1/  The first is the issue Mark asks us to confront: God must be first priority.

2/ The second is the question each generation must face: Was Jesus crazy?

 

FIRST PRIORITY

 

For Jesus, and for those men and women who left all to follow him, loyalty to God was the first, unassailable priority. Not the cultural customs of his community, not the assumed wisdom of the religious leaders, not the precious law of Moses as interpreted by the Pharisees, not even loyalty to family- mother, father, sister, brother, wife or husband. Doing what God wants is always the first priority.

 

When those whom Jesus loved dearly, his widowed mother and his brothers and sisters, arrived to stop him doing his Gospel thing, he had to choose. Would it be his relationship with God or his relationship with them?  He did not hesitate. Family must recede. God first, followed by the new family God was creating, the family of believers.

            “Who are my mother and my brothers? Looking around 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.”

 

I will confess something to you. I don’t like getting into this section of the Gospel. I find it most unsettling. I think I can identify two reasons for my discomfort.

 

To start with, these words have been misappropriated by almost every sect and egomaniac religious leader that has enticed good souls astray. They have also at times been grievously misused by the official church, when it has browbeaten, or cast out, or persecuted, those who dared question power brokers in the church.

 

I have been involved in upsetting pastoral situations where a sect has got their claws into a church member. I remember one group who had specifically ordered a teenage lad: “You must not tell your parents or anyone in your church until after you have been authentically baptised by us. Keep it secret until then.” They justified this poaching of an insecure soul by quoting words like the ones we have heard today.

 

This misuse of the words of Jesus has left scars on my soul; scars which under pressure can reopen. My friends, you can see why I say I don’t particularly like this gospel reading.

 

Nevertheless, I am glad it is there. I need to hear it. The Word of Jesus still stands. God must have first priority. Before even mother, father, sister, brother.

 

Another reason why this passage discomforts me stems from personal discipleship. Looking back over the years of my ministry, I have at times badly misjudged what it meant to do the will of God. I regret to say that on many occasions, especially in the early years of ministry, I placed my service to the church always before my service to my wife and family. In other words, I mistook what “doing the will of God” meant in specific situations. Moreover, I suspect that in some circumstances I failed to adequately love my family (in practical ways) because I was neurotically wanting to either feel liked and wanted by the church people, or I was trying to justify myself by good deeds.

 

Whatever the reason (and God alone reads the complicated truth of my soul) I am sure now that I often failed my wife and family. I misjudged what doing the will of God required from me. Although neither my darling wife nor my adult children hold it against me, it remains a sore point in my experience.

 

Maybe this confession of mine may assist some of you dear folk. I am not suggesting that you should dilute the word of our Lord, or forget you first allegiance. I am suggesting that some of you may fall into the same error as I did. Maybe sometimes you jump to the wrong conclusion about what “first allegiance” meant. Let my regrets be a red alert for you.

 

WAS JESUS CRAZY

 

On to my second comment on the Gospel passage for today. Was Jesus crazy?

 

From those earliest days, some labelled Jesus as out of his mind. This has persisted. There are today plenty of arm chair philosophers who was argue that Jesus was a kindly but gravely deluded young man.

 

The late C.S.Lewis, whose name has recently come into the news again with the release of the film “Nania,” made much of the dilemma posed by Jesus. He was fond of saying that when you encounter a remarkable person like Jesus, who seemed to possess such an acute awareness of the Presence and the will of God, you have only three options: Either that person was a scheming con man, or he was a madman, or he was truly witnessing to a higher truth. (Lewis himself had been, of course, for much of his life an agnostic philosopher and literary scholar. Until unexpectedly he was “surprised by joy” and came suddenly to faith.)

 

Not many critics would claim Jesus to be a con man. But many do fall back on the “deluded psychotic” tag.

 

In one sense they are right. By the common mind of our world, Jesus has out of what they thought should be his rightful mind. By the standards of our community, he was a crazy man who did crazy things.  Touching lepers, befriending prostitutes, claiming to go beyond the law of Moses, asking us to forgive our enemies and to pray for those who persecute us, refusing to take up arms to defend himself, telling a rich man to give all hiss wealth away, informing his hearers that a mortal man had power on earth to forgive sins. They seemed crazy ideas then. They still do. For this money-grubbing, self absorbed society in which we live, Jesus neither had his feet on the ground nor his mind in focus.

 

His unique craziness finally led him to knowingly walk into a trap. He refused to restrain the man whom he knew was about to betray him, he refused to defend himself in court, he let himself be abused and then crucified. That is crazy stuff!

 

Saul of Tarsus, was well aware of the apparent craziness of the Lord he whom had once persecuted and then ardently served. He saw the Gospel as a wonderful foolishness; especially the foolishness of the cross. But he boasted of this redeeming brand of craziness. Paul knew from his own heart and soul that the foolishness of the cross had more sanity and healing in it that anything else on earth.

 

Crazy? Today I want to say to you, and say to myself: “Have we really trusted this upside-down wisdom of Jesus, or do we pay him lip service, while still conforming to the world?”

 

LIKE CRAZY

 

The younger members of the congregation used the word “crazy” in a slightly different way than do we “oldies.” They often put another word with it, coming up with “like crazy.” This does not signify lunacy but an experience which is far better than normal. “Like crazy” implies a higher level of happiness. Maybe a superior degree of sanity?

 

In that sense Jesus certainly is crazy; crazy to any fortunate soul who has come to love, serve and adore him. He loves us like crazy, and we find ourselves rising above old wants and lusts, so that we begin to also love God like crazy. Then doing the will of God (to love others like crazy!) is not so much a duty but a privilege. Then the Christian life becomes not a “big ask” but a celebration.

 

If you love the Lord Jesus like crazy (even if it is only sometimes) you will know exactly what I mean.

            “Who are my mother and my brothers? Looking around 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.”

 

Praise be to God!

 

ALMOST A CREED

 

Do we believe?

Yes, in spite of ourselves, we do believe!

 

While some follow fad and fashion, changing with the seasons in Paris, London and New York,

we follow the man from Nazareth.

 

While some put their hope in a big lotto win, or chase profits at no matter what cost to family,

we put our hope in loving one another as our Christ has loved us.

 

While some may give in to a sophisticated cynicism, or some fall into apathy or despair,

we put out faith in the God who has given us his only true son.

 

While some may boast of their superior education, culture, race, or living standard,

we boast in the self-giving of that Son on a Cross.

 

While some try to justify themselves by prizing fame or power, or by claiming superior morals,

we allow the grace of our Lord to Jesus to be our best prize.

 

Because of Jesus,

yes, we believe in the living God

by whose Holy Spirit all things are open to change and renewal.

And that includes us and the church,

thanks be to God!

 

A LITANY OF INTERCESSION

 

Although God is unspeakably high and glorious,

this Lord meets the lowly with grace.

 

Let us pray for the world at large, the large powers and their leaders, and those small nations whose voices sound weak within the councils of the mighty; may the will of God be done.

Although God is unspeakably high and glorious,

this Lord meets the lowly with grace.

 

Let us bring before God the needs of our own land, its leaders and those who are led, the wise and the gullible, the radical and the conservative, that the will of God may be done.

Although God is unspeakably high and glorious,

this Lord meets the lowly with grace.

 

Let us lift up to God our local community, its schools and community centres, its sporting fields and hospitals, farmers, industry, and commerce, that the will of God may be done.

Although God is unspeakably high and glorious,

this Lord meets the lowly with grace.

 

Let us commit to God the life of this church; its fellowship and outreach, its healthy members and the sick, our pastor, leaders, and the many quiet achievers; that the will of God may be done.

Although God is unspeakably high and glorious,

this Lord meets the lowly with grace.

 

Let us pray for our families, friends and neighbours, especially for any who are enduring hardship, grave temptation, or are facing hard decisions, that the will of God may be done.

Although God is unspeakably high and glorious,

this Lord meets the lowly with grace.

 

Most high and glorious  God,  our holy Friend, thank you for listening to our prayers, Please sift and sort them, correct or enlarge them, deny them or bless them, for you know what is best for us, and we trust you to complete all that you have commenced on earth. Through Jesus Christ our Saviour.

Amen!

 

WORD OF MISSION AND BLESSING

 

There is much to be done,

            but not all things are of prime importance.

There is much to be done,

            but each person can only do so much.

There is much to be done,

            but out confidence and strength lies not in ourselves

            but in the grace of Christ who loves us and gives himself for us.

Go and do what you can,

put all your trust in God,

and your days will not be in vain.

Amen!

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ etc...........