In the next few weeks, we will look closely at the book of Ruth. Please pause here and read Ruth chapter 1. This charming and apparently simple story is actually far from simple. The issues it deals with are profound issues for us. We will look at the setting of the story today, and learn that the book of Ruth, though set in times far different from our own, nevertheless brings us face to face with problems that are as relevant as today’s’ newspaper and ones own daily journal entry.
Sermon on Mark 6:30–56, for Pentecost +9B, July 22, 2018 Audio Version Here
Mark 6:30–56 (I chose to read the whole story, not just the parts the Lectionary suggested, so, it’s a bit long. So instead of including the whole text here, you can get it here at biblegateway.com
The Miracle of Compassion
Some people have told me that they have had to simply stop listening to or watching the news; it is so disturbing. I sympathize with them. At the end of a week filled with news that left most Americans in both parties upset, frustrated and angry, Friday it became even harder. We saw a video of a boat on a lake in Branson, Missouri, fighting to get back to shore in a sudden intense storm, and finally going down. There 31 people on board. People on shore watched in disbelief. You could hear a woman saying “Those dear people.”
Quite often it amazes me how the scripture texts suggested by the common lectionary line up with current events. Today’s text includes a storm on a lake and a boat full of people in danger. Mark’s version of the Jesus story includes several storms at sea. Mark also has two miracles of feeding the multitudes and multiple healings. Why? What is he trying to do?
Sermon on Mark 6:1-13 for July 8, 2018, Pentecost +7B Audio Version Here
He left that place and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. On the sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astounded. They said, “Where did this man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been given to him? What deeds of power are being done by his hands! Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. Then Jesus said to them, “Prophets are not without honor, except in their hometown, and among their own kin, and in their own house.” And he could do no deed of power there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them. And he was amazed at their unbelief.
Then he went about among the villages teaching. He called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. He ordered them to take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts; but to wear sandals and not to put on two tunics. He said to them, “Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave the place. If any place will not welcome you and they refuse to hear you, as you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.” So they went out and proclaimed that all should repent. They cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.
I like practicing Yoga for several reasons. The health and fitness benefits are obvious to everyone. But there is more. No one I know grew up in a yoga-practicing family. People here in America typically start practicing yoga because they want to become better people. Some of them have been alienated by traditional religion, but they have not abandoned spirituality, and they often talk about practices and ways of thinking that will help them become more grounded and compassionate.
So, why do people come to church?
So, I don’t know what you do to deal with all the pain, the bad news, the bleakness that bombards us every day – I hope you have ways of coping. One of the ways I deal with it, is, at the end of a day, I put on Youtube and find music that, for me, helps put the soul back into a good space. So, I’ve followed this choir – I was in a choir as a boy and have a permanent love for choral music. It’s not for everyone, but it does something for me. So, here is the Nordic Choir doing “Before Sleep” by Susan LaBarr. The music, to me, is beautiful, but so are the lyrics that seem to speak to the present moment:
Each one of us has walked through storm
and fled the wolves along the road;
but here the hearth is wide and warm.
but here the hearth is wide and warm.
And for this shelter and this light
Accept, O Lord, our thanks tonight.