Here is our worship service for June 6, 2021, the 2nd Sunday after Pentecost!
The bulletin can be found here.
Please note that we are moving to Setting 8 this week .
As usual, you can have some water for the Thanksgiving for Baptism, something small to eat and drink for communion, and a lit candle for the whole service in your space if it will be helpful in your worship today. Instructions on how to use them will be in the video.
May God’s love shine in and through you this day and always!
O God, it is in your Word that we find hope. By the power of your Spirit may we hear you speaking wisdom into our hearts and steadfast love into our lives, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
You know I always kind of laugh a bit inside when I read this portion of the Adam and Eve story that we got in our first reading today. I laugh not because of the years of misogynistic rule that could have stemmed from it. I laugh not because of the theological summersaults scholars went through over the centuries in interpreting it. I laugh not even at the thought of a talking snake. But I laugh at how so darn relatable this is.
“Me? Uh no, it was her.” “Oh me? No, no, it was the snake.” “Me now? Not my fault your people are so gullible.”
Basically excuse after excuse, finger pointing after finger pointing, shifting blame after shifting blame. Yeah, totally sounds like Adam and Eve are this old married couple who can’t seem to own up to their part they played in the relationship. Those of you who are married or have been in a long term relationship whether it be romantic or plutonic know what I mean. It isn’t easy to admit wrong, it isn’t easy to see our own faults, it isn’t easy to actually look at ourselves and see our role in the friction or conflict that we might find ourselves in. It always seems to be the other person’s fault that the relationship isn’t perfect. It’s just easier to swallow that way.
But really, there is no relationship, marriage or not, that is perfect. Although we might want others to believe that ours is or we see how others portray theirs as perfect on social media and what not, the fact of the matter is that when there is a relationship between two separate individual people with any shred of an opinion or original thought, there will be disagreements. The disagreement doesn’t have to escalate into conflict, mind you, but it totally can. Especially when they continue to disagree in spite of all the very sound logic that you present, then really it gets hard not to bring up the vocal fisticuffs from time to time. Like I said, it’s normal. It’s part of any relationship. In fact, some would say that it’s one of the defining factors of a strong relationship, as many counsellors (that I know at least) often raise a brow when a married couple claim that they “never fight”.
So if disagreements are normal in relationships, what is the deal with Jesus’ reaction to his family’s disagreeing with him in today’s gospel lesson? You know, I’ve always thought it to be unnecessarily harsh, and quite frankly something that I would never get away with if I had tried it with my own family. To me, the family just showed concern for Jesus’ wellbeing and maybe sanity as they saw how hard he was working and all the crazy things he was saying against the establishment and they just wanted him to stop and maybe take a break. Sure, maybe they were cramping Jesus’ style a bit by saying he was out of his mind, but I don’t know if that warrants full blown disownment. So what gives? Why was Jesus so harsh with his own vocal fisticuffs?
Well, the thing is I don’t know if it was the actual conflict that set Jesus off here. It wasn’t the being called crazy. It wasn’t even just the disagreement of how Jesus should be spending his time. I think it was the failure on his family’s part to see and recognise the restorative work that Jesus was doing and the forgiveness that he was revealing. Instead of being able to accept this gracious gift of love, they, and technically the scribes that showed up to this episode as well, not only denied who it was coming from but perhaps also denied that they even needed it.
Because really, why would any of us need forgiveness if none of us do anything wrong?
You know what I mean, don’t you? It’s a lot easier to justify our actions, rationalize our opinions, and even come up with total nonsensical excuses before we admit wrong. The fundamental problem with the “I said/they said” debates, the “devil made me do it” excuses, and the “I don’t agree with them so they must be out of their minds” mentality is that we have such a hard time admitting wrong, and I wonder if that then relates to our having a hard time accepting forgiveness.
Of course, there are consequences to our actions, and we will have to own up to those whether we like to or not, but people in general seem to fail to recognise the joy in diversity, the fullness in difference, maybe even the growth in conflict. I’m not saying we need or should go and pick fights with our spouses or others because it’ll make us better people, but we do need and should see that even in our disagreements, even in our conflict, even in our vocal fisticuffs where things might have been unintentionally said in the heat of the moment, that there is forgiveness. There is restoration. There is unity in the Spirit even when we don’t feel all that united.
See, we all know that we’re not perfect. We all know that we make mistakes. The goal of community and relationship isn’t to stamp out the imperfections and flaws, it isn’t to blot out the weaknesses and shortcomings, it isn’t even to stop others from sinning. But the point is to see how even when there is all this messiness in life, we are all forgiven. We are all welcome. We are all dearly and wholly loved. Not because we’ve earned it, but because God chose it. And also, because we need it. Like really badly.
And so the fact that God freely forgives and loves and welcomes, unites us in relationship, community, and in God’s kin-dom. However, if we deny our need for that forgiveness and love, then that effectively divides us. If we hold to the thought that we are always right no matter what evidence is stacked against us, then we face our own self-righteous exclusion. If we decide not to welcome others because they are too different or just not like us enough, then we doom ourselves to be unwelcomed.
See this is the unforgiveable sin that Jesus talks about. I know that term sounds really scary because we’re afraid that we might accidentally commit it, but the blaspheming of the Spirit is not so much an action as it is a mentality. It isn’t something that you can unintentionally do and God is like, “whoop, too bad, you aren’t forgiven”. It isn’t something that we can fall into. But it is a decided worldview that you are perfect and don’t need forgiveness. It is an intentional opinion that you are always right and anyone who disagrees is just out of their minds. It is an idea that we are better than others and they can be better if they just agree with us so we decide that we should control and manipulate and dictate to them how they should live their lives and we effectively try to be their god.
I know it sounds harsh when put that way. I know many if not all of you will be thinking that it doesn’t pertain to you and that you are humble enough to stay united with God in the Spirit. I know it isn’t easy to admit that maybe, just maybe, we need to do some work ourselves as well.
A couple weeks ago now some horrific news came down about the 215 deceased bodies of Indigenous children, some as young as 3 years old, were found at an old residential school site in Kamloops. I’ll admit, when I heard the news, I was shocked. I couldn’t believe that such an awful and evil thing could have happened in our country and in such recent history. But I was even more surprised when I spoke with an Indigenous friend of mine about it and she was like, “well, yeah, of course there were 215 bodies found, I’m more surprised that it took them this long to find them.”
See this was her lived experience. The whole residential school system was her and her family’s reality for years. She wasn’t surprised about this news because she knew that there were and still are many missing Indigenous people and children who have gone unreported or overlooked. Even in our country there are systems in place that lead us to believe that we are somehow free from the evils of the rest of the world. We are taught that anything that happens to us is actually someone, anyone else’s fault. We are conditioned to think that we are not in need of forgiveness.
Well. Jesus reveals to us that we are. And then he gives it.
In this season after Pentecost, may we see the importance of forgiveness in our lives and in our community, that we might more fully see how we are united in the Spirit of God’s grace and steadfast love. Thanks be to God. Amen.