Struggling With Mark, Struggling with the Naked, Ugly Truth

God’s Word is challenging,

Moving,

Provoking

Confusing

We look to these Scriptures for guidance,

For answers

We lift up saints

Examples, Models of Holy Perfection

But here, in this Holy Text

We are sometimes thrown for a loop

By the parables, and stories

And sometimes the meaning is not always so black and white

These Scriptures are countercultural

These Scriptures expose everyone’s faults

Errors

Prejudices

(pause)

Humanity is hardheaded

We would rather conform to the world’s directives

Than God’s commandments for our lives

God calls us out of our poorly constructed strongholds

I won’t say comfort spaces

Because as humanity, we’d rather corner ourselves

Refusing to share,

Refusing to reach out

Refusing to live out what God has called us to do

(pause)

Initially,

I was going to share how the Word continually impacts

Our lives

I’d been wrestling with what Mark was projecting

In this one verse which I had heard all my life

But now, I had a different understanding

(pause)

We have to realize there is a gaping hole of Jesus’s life

We are not privy to

So when Jesus utters this slur-

Dog?

Think of where she is positioned when she addresses Jesus

She is at his FEET, weeping, pleading

For healing, for reprieve, for peace,

She is a Syrophoenican Woman

Not

One of the chosen Tribe of people of God

She’s a Gentile

Pagan

Her speech, accented with diverse tones

Her skin, tinted in different hues

But she recognizes who Jesus is

She recognizes what Holy Power Jesus cradles in His hands

And she is desperate

She can not protect her child from the demonic

that encroaches on their lives

What Mother would not go to ANY length

For the protection of her child?

(pause)

But Jesus responds like this?

“Let the children be fed first,

For it is not fair to take the children’s food,

And feed it to the dogs.”

(pause)

Is this Sarcastic Jesus?

Some commentaries conclude that this was a test,

But for whom?

Is this Jesus’s way of saying,

“I will only heal you if you acknowledge

That I am your Lord and Savior?”

Or was Jesus reacting based on how he was raised

The societal influences and clues

How this ancient society reacted and treated those

Who did not have status,

Who were outsiders

Perhaps Jesus mimicked the way we do sometimes

When we see the homeless

Or immigrants, who based on the color of their skin

We assume they are undocumented

Or the way they wear their clothes

Unkempt

Tattered

Because perhaps, not a stitch of compassion has been shown

Or showered on their communities

Neighborhoods

Which are seen as dumping grounds for garbage and waste

We, in our righteousness conclude

They are nothing more than leeches

Their only purpose is to consume what we have

Our knee-jerk reaction when they come Scavenging

For our dropped, wasted crumbs of tangible things

Is to turn away,

Muttering perhaps

Or even admonishing to their face

“There are others more deserving than you-

We call them not by who they are

Sister

Neighbor

Friend-

But what we consider their unforgiveable sin

Drug addict

Alcoholic

Thief

(pause)

Society has conditioned and taught us to be wary

Guarding our personal space,

Our time

Our treasures

From those people

Yet, funny how James reminds us clearly-

Is it not the rich who oppress you?

Is it not they who drag you into court?”

Aren’t the oppressive economic establishments

Who are slaves to the bottom line, to greed

Who siphon off our precious time

Who hoard and steal our talent that we give freely

Who decimate small towns and annihilate small businesses

Should we not go with our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ

And call to them, remind them, of the hurt they have inflicted

On their fellow siblings in Christ and in Faith?

(pause)

Is it not oppressive structures throughout our government

Those who swore to serve ALL?

Through passing of laws which ultimately reduce the quality of life

For our neighbors, for family members, for us

Through economic restructuring supposedly

for the common good,

Benefiting in all actuality,

The chosen few

(pause)

Many people proudly proclaim this land

As the place for the Tired, poor, huddled masses

But the reality is that there is a systemic issue of being ungenerous

Unwelcoming

Hoarding spaces

For only a certain cluster of people

Only a specific people deserve of God’s Grace

It says right here in the Bible, right?

(pause)

Meanwhile everyone who is different

In every way, shape, sound

Which includes us, my sisters and brothers in Christ

Are pushed to the margins,

The wastelands

To desperation

(pause)

I was supposed to preach on Mark

And then Wednesday happened

Scrolling through my Facebook Feed

And I saw THAT picture

And I slammed down my laptop

And my spirit wept

That child

3 years old

Family in desperation,

Begging for a peaceful place

Where that child should have been laying down for a nap

Or laying down to feel the beauty of the wild in his face

Or some creepy crawly thing moving past

NOT instead feeling the harshness of an endless ocean

Separation from his family

Alone.

(pause)

The ugly truth is that people of faith refuse

To follow JESUS

Who CLEARLY time and again,

JESUS states to us

Love your neighbor as yourself

Yet Jesus utters this ethnic slur

Was He loving His neighbor in that moment

Didn’t we hear last week in Mark,

Where Jesus states that it is the things deep within us

That pollute our actions and our beings against our neighbor

(pause)

“If you show partiality

You commit sin

You are a transgressor”

Where is the Good News?

(pause, pick up one of the pictures and display it)

The Lord sets the prisoners free;
  the Lord opens the eyes of the blind.
The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down;
    the Lord loves the righteous.
The Lord watches over the strangers;
    he upholds the orphan and the widow,
    but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.

The Good News is

“…God chosen the poor in the world to be rich in faith

and to be heirs of the kingdom

that he has promised to those who love him”

The Good News is

Jesus Christ experienced life here, among us

Was one of us

So that He understood our shortcomings

Our prejudices

Our –isms

And calls US to Love one another

Because of what He gave to US, here at the Table

Gave up for US, here on the Cross

http://www.elca.org/News-and-Events/7771

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