Mark 6:1-13; “Moving Out…” (July 5, 2015)
The first words of children can be very revealing.
Firstborns often identify objects as their first words—like “car,” “tree,” “mommy,” or “daddy.”
Second and third-borns often utter first words that express relationships—like “gimme” or “mine.”
I know of one Tennessee kid, the fourth of five children, whose first word was late in coming, but when it came it was worth waiting for! His first word was “move!”
I was also the 4th child of 5 children, I know what this Tennessee kid meant! He wanted the other children to get out of his space and allow him some room to breathe.
This sermon is about “Moving Out.”
This is the first Sunday of a new appointment year.
Many United Methodist pastors have had the grand experience of moving from one church to a new opportunity—new church, new home, and a new community.
I started this process when I was 13 years old.
I had lived in Morristown, NJ for 10 years.
At the end of 8th grade, my family was moving to Ft. Worth, Texas.
It was a great adventure: a chance to meet new friends, re-invent myself, and learn about a different part of the country.
Two years later, my dad got transferred to Iowa.
We moved in the middle of the school year—February.
We boarded the airplane in Ft. Worth—it was 55 degrees.
We landed in Des Moines, Iowa—it was -10 and there was a blizzard blowing.
None of us had heavy coats—we had to walk across the tarmac from the plane to the terminal.
Two years later, we moved from Grinnell, Iowa to Winchester, VA.
This was a very difficult move—I was in love!
I was a new Christian with a wonderful youth group and a great group of friends.
I didn’t want to move!
The inevitable happened—through my tears and in spite of my protests—we moved to Virginia.
Two years later, I graduated from James Wood High School and was preparing for college.
I was accepted at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
I was excited about starting my college experience.
But I had a problem getting to school.
My grandfather had just had a stroke so my mother was in California all summer long helping Grammy and Grampa.
My dad couldn’t get off from work—he was the manager of his own business and could not leave for any reason.
My older brother and sisters were out of the house with their own college requirements.
The only option available to me was to take a 24 hour bus ride.
I was determined to go to college.
Somehow, though, I knew I was also moving out of the house for good and entering the world of adulthood.
I was eager to enter the adult world, but there were some tears shed those first few miles of the bus trip.
Moving out is a process. It happens over a period of time.
In truth, it begins at child birth.
We move out of the house: when we go to preschool, when we graduate from preschool, when we go to kindergarten, when we graduate from high school, when we take our first job, when we get married, when we have our first child, and second, when we grow up—we are always moving out!
I have seen this in my own children as well—every stage they went through was a process of moving out.
We see it in the life of Jesus as well—today’s scripture shows the 30 year old Jesus moving out of the old and into the new.
Jesus returned to his childhood home of Nazareth.
He went to the synagogue—the same space he had worshipped every Sabbath while he was growing up.
The synagogue leaders asked him to preach for the home crowd.
Many were excited about their home town boy coming home.
“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! In not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters with us?’ And they took offense at him.” (Mark 6:2-3)
We knew Jesus when he was a little tyke, sitting on his mother’s knee, working in his father’s shop, fighting with his siblings.
We used to babysit this boy—how can he be the Messiah?
He is nothing more than a common carpenter—he cannot be the Messiah!
What gives him the right to stand up and teach US about God?
Jesus met his first failure at Nazareth.
It wasn’t really his failure but theirs—the people of Nazareth.
“And he could do no deed of power there …and he was amazed at their unbelief.” (Mark 6:5-6)
Some people are surprised that Jesus encounters rejection and conflict in his own home town.
Mark suggests that they rejected him because they thought of him as a “hometown boy.”
Jesus suggests that this is common practice for all prophets:
“Prophets are honored everywhere except in their hometown and among their own family and in their own house.”
This seems to be the lot of all of the Biblical prophets—they met rejection.
Jesus was in the Biblical tradition—he provoked controversy.
Jesus was willing to suffer rejection.
As a preacher, I find this an amazing thing.
Most preachers want success. We like to be liked!
We fashion sermons that will be listened to.
We look for illustrations and “sticky” phrases to keep you interested—to promote understanding of the Biblical text, and simply to keep you awake.
We think that if we are adept at preaching, we ought to be able to find some way to lead you to acceptance.
Jesus doesn’t concern himself with that!
He knows that he will face rejection—he accepts it as a certainty.
Jesus knows that he is in the process of MOVING OUT!
He is moving out of the comfortable nest of his family.
He is moving out of the traditional ties with mother/father; brother/sister; and his extended family.
He is also moving out of the cultural norms of his day.
The Gospel of Mark has traced this progression in Jesus’ own process from Carpenter’s son to prophet.
In Mark 3:20-21: Jesus’ own kin label him crazy and try to drag him home.
In Mark 3:31-35: Jesus’ mother, brothers and sisters attempt to lure him away from the disciples—they try to restore Jesus to the traditional family values of their day.
Jesus responds by MOVING OUT!
The Gospel of Mark links the story of Jesus’ rejection with the sending out of the 12 disciples into ministry.
Jesus is revealing that all disciples are in the mission of Moving Out!
We are sent out, two by two, to be modern prophets to our generation.
We are to travel light: without food, suitcases, money.
We are to practice simplicity: wear one pair of shoes, one tunic.
We are to depend on another’s hospitality: stay in one house.
We are to expect opposition: “If any place will not welcome you and …refuse to hear you, as you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.”
We are to accept failure: for even Jesus was rejected at Nazareth.
We are to proclaim repentance: like the disciples before us, we will see signs and wonders, sickness will be cured, those oppressed by evil will be delivered, the lost will be saved, and the love of God will be made known.
But for all this to happen: We must be moving out!
We must be moving out…
From our safe worlds that we have built for ourselves;
From our comfort zones of work and play;
From the status quo of home, church, and community;
We must be moving out…
To the Kingdom of God breaking into our midst;
To the journey of Christian discipleship;
To a life of sacrificial love for self and others.
We must be moving out…
To bring God’s answers to the real needs of people;
To go out 2 x 2 and proclaim repentance;
To heal the sick;
To cast out demons;
To teach the good news;
To proclaim that Jesus of Nazareth is Messiah.