A Reading from the Second Book of Samuel (5:1-5, 9-10)
All the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron, and said, “Look, we are your bone and flesh. For some time, while Saul was king over us, it was you who led out Israel and brought it in. The Lord said to you: It is you who shall be shepherd of my people Israel, you who shall be ruler over Israel.” So all the elders of Israel came to the king at Hebron; and King David made a covenant with them at Hebron before the Lord, and they anointed David king over Israel. David was thirty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty years. At Hebron he reigned over Judah seven years and six months; and at Jerusalem he reigned over all Israel and Judah thirty-three years. David occupied the stronghold, and named it the city of David. David built the city all around from the Millo inward. And David became greater and greater, for the Lord, the God of hosts, was with him.
1 Great is the Lord, and highly to be praised; *
in the city of our God is his holy hill.
2 Beautiful and lofty, the joy of all the earth, is the hill of Zion, *
the very center of the world and the city of the great King.
3 God is in her citadels; *
he is known to be her sure refuge.
4 Behold, the kings of the earth assembled *
and marched forward together.
5 They looked and were astounded; *
they retreated and fled in terror.
6 Trembling seized them there; *
they writhed like a woman in childbirth,
like ships of the sea when the east wind shatters them.
7 As we have heard, so have we seen,
in the city of the Lord of hosts, in the city of our God; *
God has established her for ever.
8 We have waited in silence on your loving kindness, O God, *
in the midst of your temple.
9 Your praise, like your Name, O God, reaches to the world’s end; *
your right hand is full of justice.
10 Let Mount Zion be glad
and the cities of Judah rejoice, *
because of your judgments.
11 Make the circuit of Zion;
walk round about her; *
count the number of her towers.
12 Consider well her bulwarks;
examine her strongholds; *
that you may tell those who come after.
13 This God is our God for ever and ever; *
he shall be our guide for evermore.
A Reading from the Second Letter of Paul to the Corinthians (12:2-10)
I know a person in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know; God knows. And I know that such a person—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know; God knows—was caught up into Paradise and heard things that are not to be told, that no mortal is permitted to repeat. On behalf of such a one I will boast, but on my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses. But if I wish to boast, I will not be a fool, for I will be speaking the truth. But I refrain from it, so that no one may think better of me than what is seen in me or heard from me, even considering the exceptional character of the revelations. Therefore, to keep me from being too elated, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me, to keep me from being too elated. Three times I appealed to the Lord about this, that it would leave me, but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong.
The Holy Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ according to Mark (6:1-13)
Jesus 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.
by the Rev. Deacon George Snyder
“Then Jesus said to them, ‘Prophets are not without honor, except in their hometown, and among their own kin, and in their own house.” In today’s Gospel lesson, Jesus went to his hometown—where he had been raised by Mary and Joseph after their return from Egypt. I wonder if you find that strange—that the people in Nazareth who knew Him best totally rejected Him.
The Jews of that era—actually for hundreds and hundreds of years before Jesus—were eagerly awaiting the advent of their Messiah, the son of God who would lead them out of bondage from foreign rulers. Why then, did they reject Jesus who was ready to lead them to God’s promise? Jesus could have led them to that for which they had been waiting for hundreds of years, but the people of Nazareth rejected Him instead.
When I was ordained twelve years ago, a good friend also from Trinity Church in Troy was being ordained. Our two priests at Trinity wanted to keep both of us to serve as deacons at Trinity. After much discussion with the bishop, the bishop decided that one of us could stay, but the other deacon would have to find a new church home. I chose to leave and allow Stephanie, my friend and co-deacon to remain at Trinity; that is when I came here. That first Sunday, I sat in the pews with you and worshipped. Father Mike introduced me as a deacon and said that I would be coming here, serving God, as your deacon. You instantly accepted me as your deacon—your regret to that acceptance came later.
Stephanie had a much more difficult time being accepted as a deacon because she had already established a history at Trinity. You know, Stephanie who played the flute beautifully for special music occasionally; yes, Stephanie who served as Senior Warden. Stephanie who sat in that front pew on the left side of the church. I had no history when I came here; you knew me in no other capacity than “deacon.” Stephanie, for a long time, had to fight their mental imagine of who she was in order for her to function as the new person she had become.
This is part of the trouble that Jesus has in his home town. They had known him since he was a small boy—he was Mary’s son, he played in the street with the other children, he helped his father in the carpenter’s shop making every day, common items for others in the village. They must have asked themselves, “How can this man whom we have known since he was a child be the Messiah, the Son of God? How can this man who we have known for so many years suddenly become a prophet? In order for the villagers to accept this, they would have to undergone a massive change in their mindset. That mindset had been forming for 30 years; that kind of a mindset is hard to change. Jesus had changed over those thirty years, but the villagers had not.
This prophet who now entered their village preaching the wisdom of God could not be the Messiah! Jesus was human! They had interacted with him for three decades—interacting with him in a way that proved that He was human. How can a human be the son of God? Just like my friend Stephanie had trouble being accepted in her new role at Trinity, Jesus had trouble with those who knew Him because they thought they knew Him; their old picture of Him did not permit a new image of the Son of God to enter their mind. The villagers would have been much more amenable to a stranger coming and speaking the wisdom of God. With that scenario, there would be no past images of a member of their village, and to block, the new role of Jesus. A new prophet would have had the freedom of creating a future image, unhampered by the past.
There may well be another reason for the villagers rejecting Jesus. The text says, “’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.” Why were they offended that Jesus taught them with wisdom like a prophet would? They were offended that a man who came from a background like Jesus should say and do things such as He did as his public ministry began. Familiarity, indeed, had bred contempt.
Part of their anger may have come from the fact that Jesus worked for years as a carpenter—a tradesman. We have such people today—people who can build for you anything you want. They could add a garage to your house; or you might hire them to build a chicken coop. They could put on a roof for you, or even repair a leaking toilet. Jesus was like this; he could build anything you wanted. The people of Nazareth despised Jesus because he was a working man—a common man at the bottom of their society. He was a man of the people, a layman, a simple man—and therefore the villagers despised Him. They did not have their minds set on a man who could repair a hole in the roof or fix a fence—a handyman—as their messiah. Their image of a messiah was someone to follow in the royal footsteps of the house of David. Jesus did not fit this royal image in their minds.
Another question the villagers have had is if this man were the messiah, why didn’t he reveal himself earlier? The fact that Joseph is not mentioned when the villagers list all the other members of the family might indicate that he was already dead. Scholars generally agree that Mary had married an older man; so it is likely that Joseph is already dead by the time Jesus begins his public ministry. It could well be that after Joseph’s death, Jesus’s job–since he was the oldest –was to care for His mother, His brothers and His sisters. Earning enough money to provide for a large family had to have been a big job; the economics of that period were much worse than even today in this time of economic downturn. Only when they were all old enough to take care of themselves and their mother did Jesus leave them. Jesus was faithful to his earthly family.
The result of all the villagers rejecting him was that Jesus could do no good in his own village. If you think back to last week, we saw Jesus healing the woman who was hemorrhaging. He brought Jairus’s daughter back to life. Jesus cannot perform his life giving miracles to people if they do not believe in Him. Consequently, He could do nothing in Nazareth. Belief in the divine was totally absent. The villagers made Jesus powerful to do good.
The people of His hometown passed up an opportunity that would not come around a second time. Jesus could not do His work with them because the atmosphere was wrong. Preaching cannot take place in the wrong atmosphere. In an atmosphere of expectancy, even the poorest effort at preaching could catch fire; a germ of an idea from a preacher can burn in the heart and mind of a true believer, and a miracle can take place. If there is no expectation that the preacher will say anything of value, nothing of value can come from the words of the preacher.
If men and women come together to hate, they will hate. If men and women have come together to refuse to understand, they will misunderstand. If men and women come together to see no other point of view than the one that they have had for many years, they will see no other point of view.
The message for us today is that the children of the Living God who come into sanctuaries to hear God’s words and to be set on fire with the spirit to do His will be set on fire. If they are expectant, if they believe, if they come together to love one another, even those who are widely separated can come together to do His will.
We Christians have had a tremendous responsibility laid on our shoulders. We can either help or we can hinder the work of Christ Jesus. We can open it wide for Him, or we can slam it in His face like the people of His village did. If we open it wide, if we are set on fire by His spirit, we can move a mountain alone. With belief in our Lord, we can accomplish anything; we can do wondrous things for others in His holy Name. We must remain open to the coming of the Holy Spirit to tell God’s children what it is that the Father wants us to do.
I pray for each of you that you have a week filled with openness to the Spirit of God.