The new pictorial directory is in your church mailbox! An updated mobile directory is also available; contact the church office at 218-346-4780 or call or text Sue Delaney at 218-849-2709 for the passcode, which is the same as previously. These directories are provided at no cost to the congregation; they are updated for free with each new set of photos taken.
Ken Burns’ Pianist Jacqueline Schwab in Concert! “I Lift My Lamp: Vintage Songs and Dances of Immigrant America” Tuesday, October 9 at 7pm at Trinity Lutheran in New York Mills, presented by the Cultural Center. Jacqueline is noted for her evocative playing on Ken Burns documentaries.
By this point in Mark’s gospel, Jesus has turned himself towards Jerusalem. He has set his eyes to the saving work that he will accomplish there, but his disciples just don’t seem to get it. Story after story in these chapters of Mark show the disciples struggling to have their eyes, their thoughts, their hearts in sync with Jesus. The call of the disciple is to follow- and we see the disciples struggling to get where Jesus is leading them.
Two weeks ago, Peter tried to protect Jesus when Jesus did not need protecting & we heard Jesus strongly rebuke him. Last week, we heard of the disciples being confused. Scripture says: “But they did not understand what he was saying and were afraid to ask him. ‘
And today is no different.
The disciple John tells Jesus about an exorcist casting out demons in Jesus’ name, and how the disciples stopped him because “he wasn’t following us”. Do you hear the issue there? He wasn’t following… us.
And you can almost hear Jesus’ palm hitting his own forehead in his reply, Jesus is frustrated. He tries in several different ways to explain why John was off-base in trying to stop the person who was “casting out demons”.
Jesus again and again sets himself as an example of service and humility. And not in some long-forgotten past. Just prior to these verses, Jesus pleads with the disciples to welcome little children and lowly ones into their fellowship in the same way that they’ve welcomed Jesus. Just after Jesus has both shown the disciples and twice told them that God’s company includes those whom everyone else excludes, John comes running up to Jesus, sounding jealous: “Teacher, we saw someone driving out demons in your name, and we told him he had to stop because he’s not one of us.”
Not one of us? Jesus was just holding a child before them, a living breathing symbol in his society of not one of us. Jesus had just told them to welcome those who are not one of us.
But when the disciples discover someone who brings wholeness to broken lives giving credit to Jesus for the healing they don’t respond with joy… but with jealousy, contempt.
They say, “Rabbi, we put a stop to that unauthorized activity.” And why? Well, just a few verses earlier in chapter 9, these Twelve were unable to do any of the works of power they were authorized to do. They failed to heal a child even though they’d been given power to do so. Now they come crying at Jesus to send that man a cease and desist. The disciples sought to stop this person from doing deeds of power in Jesus’ name precisely because these disciples failed to do deeds of power in Jesus’ name. And Jesus responds: “Do not stop him, for no one who does a deed of power in my name will be able to soon after speak evil of me.” Note the change in pronouns from us to me. Jesus does not say believe in us. Jesus says believe in me.
Discipleship is not about people following us; it is about following the One who calls us. Jesus hears their report and shifts the pronoun back to where it belongs: “Whoever then is not against us is for us.” The message is clear. When the disciples focus their efforts on their own selfish thoughts, they pit themselves against the very us that Jesus speaks of. They are unable to wield God’s authority because they didn’t want God’s authority. They rather desired their own authority. They fail when they focus on their power to heal rather than on God’s power to make that child well.
And Jesus reminds them, and us: the work they do, and the work we do, is not about them… it’s not about us… but it’s about the one who has sent us. True to the saving God that he is, Jesus continually works with us- and the disciples- to turn our hearts, turn our minds, turn our actions to him.
At noon today, we have important work to do as the body of Christ, as we take a vote to call our next senior pastor.
But that isn’t the only important work that we have to do as the body of Christ. We have important work also on Monday, and Tuesday, and really- every day of the week & every moment of the day.
The call of a disciple, the life of discipleship is a life where our practices and our actions help us grow in faith and live out our faith for the sake of others. Because this life we live isn’t about us--- but it’s about the one who sent us.
And the one who has sent us, has sent us to be agents of love, to work for justice and peace… to help all to know the love, healing, and redemption of Jesus Christ. Thanks be to God.
Come Play with Clay October 5 or 6! Join us at Carol Albright’s studio in Vergas across from J & K Marine! Cost is $35/session, October 5 at 7pm (fish or pumpkin) or October 6 at 11am or 7pm (pumpkin). To register call 218-329-3648.