June 10, 2018
Grace and Peace to you this morning, Grace and Peace.
The crowds gathered around Jesus so much so they couldn’t even move around much or eat or anything else. And his family shows up because people are saying he has lost his “blank-ity, blank mind”.
He’s out of his mind and his family shows up. Now part of why a family would be worried in those days, is that a family, it’s not the nuclear family that we talked about in the seventies and eighties it’s a group where everyone in the group needs to be worried about the honor of the name. A family that when someone does something not normal, does something weird, the family gathers around them and tries to restrain them and says, ‘look that’s bad for all of us.’ Because in an honor and shame system, you don’t shame the family.
Two groups show us this beautifully, the first is the Godfather movies. You don’t go against the family. And the other is the Southern United States: one of the most Old Testament driven groups in the world. You don’t cook on Sunday, you don’t work, no cards, no movies. Except the women who cooked. Amazing how those rules change. But chances are they are also a loving people and they show up because Jesus is out of his mind and this is early in the Gospel, this is only the third chapter. And he’s already making such waves that his family is freaking out. “What are you doing? You are going to get in trouble.” And who else shows up besides the crowds and the family? Oh yes, the scribes, the ones who know the law, the ones who know how things are supposed to be. The religious authorities who look at this man who is doing these things and they look like they are from God, but he’s not with us.
So we have to stop him we have to start rumors about him and we have to say, “Ahh, Beelzebub is giving him this power. He’s got the prince of demons working on his side and that’s how he’s casting out demons.” And then the harshest rebuke in the Bible, in case you missed it. You can say whatever you want about Jesus, you can say whatever you want about God the creator, the father, but if you say it is an unclean spirit letting him cast out these unclean spirits. If you say that it is a demon letting him heal people, that’s the one that cannot be forgiven.
Jesus wants us to be out of our minds. And I will say we need to be very careful how we talk about this because we also need to have a good understanding of what mental health means. Everyone of us has mental health just as we have physical health. And we all talk about when our knees hurt, or when our shoulder hurts or when we are coming down with a cold or when we got the flu that one time. Or when we need surgery for this or that. But very few of us talk about depression, anxiety, or all of the ways our mental health is hurting as well. So a Sunday after two prominent celebrities have died by suicide, Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain. We need to be careful how we talk about mental health and we need to care for each other’s mental health the way we care for each other’s physical health.
That said, we know what is normal and safe in church. Normal and safe is loving the kids that are up here on Sunday morning. We love them don’t we? Yes, we love seeing them here and having them here and we love them and pray for them during the week. And we want to make sure they are cared for. Normal and safe is looking at this building and going, “wow, it’s beautiful!” These stained glass windows. Some of you may have noticed that when I am serving communion quiet often I am looking up. It is not because I am staring at Dawn or Deanna or Don up there. It is glorious in a biblical sense of glorious: the light coming thru the colors.
Normal and Safe is buying up a bank drive thru and making it public space where people can gather and eat and worship or have a concert or have a walking labyrinth so that people can walk and pray. And those who can’t afford a pilgrimage somewhere else can walk the labyrinth. They can have a pilgrimage in place, which is one way of talking about labyrinths.
You know what is not normal and not safe? Caring for the kids out smoking in the commons after school the way we are caring for the kids up here on church steps. You know what is not normal and not safe is vocally and with great passion welcoming people that the other churches around us are vocally and with great passion damning. What’s not normal and not safe is caring for our neighbors as much as we care for the neighbors in our pews.
That’s being out of our minds for God. That’s what it means to be out of our minds for Jesus.
And there is this great tension in the church. What does Jesus say? What will the neighbors say? And it gets tough. It’s hard sometimes because they don’t match.
I remember years and years ago I played little league baseball. It was back when I was cute …. long time ago. I have a trophy; our team was in first place. I even hit the ball once, beautiful . . . foul. You know what the rule is in baseball? If the foot touches the base at exactly the same moment that the ball touches the glove of the fielder whose foot is on the bag? Tie goes to the runner.
What does Jesus say? What will the neighbors say? Tie goes to Jesus. What does Jesus say? What is that obscure passage in the Old Testament that is only quoted in specific instances and nobody cares if your clothes are mixed of cotton and polyester anymore? That one’s in there by the way. If it’s between Jesus and the Old Testament, tie goes to ????? If the tie is between what does Jesus say and what do my fears say about being a public witness to the gospel? Where does the tie go? Jesus? Oh I wish. It doesn’t does it? It should.
When the tie is between a world that is hurting so badly and the good news of God’s unconditional love, poured out with such abundance that no matter where we are in life, God’s love meets us there. Who wins? It better be Jesus. Thanks be to God. Amen.