Scripture - Mark 3:20-35
Mark 3:20-35 (New Revised Standard Version)
Then he went home; 20 and the crowd came together again, so that they could not even eat. 21 When his family heard it, they went out to restrain him, for people were saying, “He has gone out of his mind.” 22 And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, “He has Beelzebul, and by the ruler of the demons he casts out demons.” 23 And he called them to him, and spoke to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? 24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25 And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. 26 And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but his end has come. 27 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.
28 “Truly I tell you, people will be forgiven for their sins and whatever blasphemies they utter; 29 but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit can never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”— 30 for they had said, “He has an unclean spirit.”
31 Then his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside, they sent to him and called him. 32 A crowd was sitting around him; and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside, asking for you.” 33 And he replied, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” 34 And looking at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 35 Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”
Jesus has this odd notion of family. In this text, he returns home and his own family comes out to protect him because they are worried that the crowd is going to do something dangerous to him - they fear for his safety because of the fact that the crowd is saying “he’s out of his mind” and the scribes are calling him demon possessed. In the midst of this teaching, Jesus receives word that his mother and brother and sisters are around him - and he uses that as a teaching opportunity to declare that all who do the will of God is brother and sister and mother - he takes the definition of family and extends the circle, making family about more than blood relation, but about connection in the heart of God -- and that means something pretty powerful. It means we’re obligated to one another in the same way we understand healthy families are obligated to one another -- and all the negotiations that go with it.
I think about that especially as we approach Annual Conference this week, and the vote that will take place on Friday on our disaffiliation from the United Methodist Church. This vote is happening because we chose to treat our LGBTQIA friends and families as part of our circle - affirming and celebrating their gifts, beloved in the eyes of God for who God created them to be.
The three churches disaffiliating (HopeGateWay in Portland, Tuttle Rd. in Cumberland, and us) are sharing our reasons to convince the Annual Conference session to let us leave through a video. Representatives from each of our congregations shared their thoughts - and for worship today, I’d like for this to be a reminder of why we’ve taken these steps.
This is what it means to be church - we are a family together. We belong to one another - in ways that go beyond mere blood connection - though there is plenty of that here to be sure. We empower and give strength to the weak, we listen to the voices from the margins, we look out for each other. We love each other as if Jesus were right alongside us.
As we take this next step this week, may we keep those bonds of kinship in the family of Christ in mind and take them to heart. Amen.
Pastor Melissa Yosua-Davis has been serving the community of Chebeague and its church since July 2015. She currently lives on the island with her husband and five year old son and 2 year old daughter, along with their yellow lab. Read here recent sermon excerpts, thoughts on life and faith, and current announcements for the church community. She also blogs at Going on to Perfection.