Mark 6:1-6

(NOTE: My apologies for how weird the devotion distribution ended up last week. I have no idea what happened. Either WordPress or Feedburner just went nuts. I hope it is better today. And thank you again for taking a moment to reflect on the Bible with me.)

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. Mark 6:1-6

Houston is pretty excited today. The Astros are back in the World Series and Game 1 is tonight. This doesn’t happen often around here and it is exciting when it does. This vast, diverse, energetic city is divided in so many ways – and comes together in so many ways when things like this happen. We feel like we part of the same team. Even my wife, who doesn’t give a hoot about sports, talks about the Astros using words like “us” and “we”.

One of my darkest memories from my high school years was playing in a varsity basketball game for the very first time on my hometown court. I was a sophomore. Skinny. Kind of dorky looking with my black rimmed rubber covered elastic strapped “sports glasses” on. When the announcer called my name to enter the game, virtually the entire student body stood up and booed. They booed at everything I did. Every time I touched the ball. All game long. We lost.

The trouble was, I was playing for the other team. Due to family circumstances beyond my control, I was forced to transfer to another school during football season. One Friday night I played against Fargo South; Monday morning I walked into the office of Fargo South High School to get my course schedule (and my 75 cents for my poor kid free lunch.) So the first time I played varsity ball in my hometown, I was playing for the visiting team.

I think about that moment every time I read about Jesus having a tough time with his hometown team. That those who ought to have known him best, knew him least. That those who rejected him wanted to make it about Jesus rather than making it about their own inability to imagine God doing something marvelous in their midst.

I think about this text often when I write things in sermons that, to me, are faithful and honest with the direction of the gospel reading, but I know are going to be extremely challenging to the faith and the worldview of some of the people I love in the congregation I serve. But that, I think, is how the Christian faith works.

Christianity is a team sport. Christianity is a conversation. Christianity is a way of being, with and among people. Sometimes healing happens. And sometimes healing is preceded by finally hurting enough that our eyes are open to new possibilities that finally lead to wholeness.

Let us pray: Dear Jesus, our hearts go out to you at the idea of you being rejected by the very people who you knew best. And yet we know that we could very well have been among them. Your loving way of being in the world for people sometimes comforts us, but just as often challenges us to be more loving ourselves. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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