Sunday, September 30, 2012

Proper 21B

In the day's Gospel reading from Mark, the disciples discover "others" are engaged in doing good works in Jesus' Name. They run to Jesus to complain, but Jesus tells them not to worry about it so much. It seems God is quite happy to work through others. "Don't be a stumbling block to those through whom God is working," warns Jesus. "Get rid of your stinkin' thinkin'! Throw it away and get on with life."

Hear the Gospel and meditate on what it means:

Sunday, September 16, 2012

A Mid-Term Exam

Today, Jesus asked his disciples: "Who do you say that I am?" This isn't a simple question; it is central to the Gospel according to St. Mark, and how we answer it will determine, to a large degree, what we will be able to accomplish in our lives and ministries.

The sermon can be seen and heard at:

Sunday, September 9, 2012

True Grit in Faith

True Grit – Proper 18B – September 9, 2012

“Today Class, we’re going to have a pop quiz.”

Do you remember having Pop Quizzes in school? A Pop Quiz  is a teaching tool. Goal: Encourage you to study … keep up. What is the universal response to a Pop Quiz?  Groan!

There were always a few kids who delighted in Pop Quizzes; Others totally didn’t care; But the majority: Groan!

Most of us live in the fat belly of the Bell Curve.
            We might excel in some things
            We might be worthless in some areas
            But in most of life, we’re smack dab in the middle

Why? It’s safe!
            Wildebeests: Front (Crocks), Trailers (Hyenas), Edges (Lions & Cheetahs). Safest place to be: In the middle of the herd.

In the Gospel today: Jesus is out in front. He’s tired. He’s been trying to get away for some R&R.

Let me catch you up (context):
Jesus fed the 5000,
Crowds have been overwhelming him.
He walked across the lake,
Last week he was catching flack (responsible for his disciples)
So now he has left the area completely – Left town.
He’s in Gentile Territory (Minimal contact: Clean vs. Unclean)
            He tried to keep it  a secret, but he could not.

The trouble, when you’re good at what you do, is you become someone in demand. Have you ever noticed that?

Jesus was catching a lot of flack: he had hyenas nipping at his heels, he had crocodiles snapping at his neck; but mostly he was surrounded by people who just wanted to be around him.
They didn’t care about whether carrying a needle in the hem of your garment on the Sabbath constituted a violation of Torah;
they didn’t care whether or not pots and pans were washed properly;
What they cared about was that Jesus cared for THEM,
Jesus cast out demons, touched the untouchables, healed the sick, fed the hungry, gave drink to the thirsty, and pronounced absolution for sinners (absolute heresy: only GOD can forgive!)

Jesus taught them about a God who cares for the sparrow as much as the Eagle; Jesus taught them that the light shining out from their lives was evidence of God’s presence – it is the light that counts, not the darkness.
But Jesus needs a break, and so he goes where he is sure no one will follow, but they do. WORD gets out, and Jesus faces a POP QUIZ.
            Gentile woman. 3 Strikes: Gentile, Woman, Demon/Daughter
            Jesus talks the talk, but will he walk the walk?
She comes to him and she begs him.
No one stands up for her; no one comes to her rescue; she’s on her own. But she’s also feisty. She’s not there for herself. She’s fighting for her daughter. She has a cause that’s worth the fight.
Perhaps Jesus is being tested here, or maybe he’s testing his disciples. Will no one take the time to remind Jesus of his words?

Not today, but Jesus rises to the occasion. “Your faith has brought healing to your daughter. Go, be at peace,” he says.
“My brothers (and sisters), as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don’t show favoritism,” says James (2:1). What Jesus does, he does well, and he does it for all people: Inner circle and outer limits alike!

Sunday, September 2, 2012


Deacon Duane Leach preaches from the Gospel of Mark, where Jesus is chastised by the "powers that be"  for allowing his disciples to violate the handwashing norms of the day. Jesus shifts the focus from the outward rituals to the inner person, where real "filth" manifests itself. "Rituals are good," says Deacon Duane, "but not when we let them come between us and God."