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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Today’s Scripture Reading | Mark 3:19b–35  

Then he went home; and the crowd came together again, so that they could not even eat. When his family heard it, they went out to restrain him, for people were saying, “He has gone out of his mind.” And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, “He has Beelzebul, and by the ruler of the demons he casts out demons.” And he called them to him, and spoke to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but his end has come. But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his property without first tying up the strong man; then indeed the house can be plundered.

“Truly I tell you, people will be forgiven for their sins and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit can never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”— for they had said, “He has an unclean spirit.”

Then his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside, they sent to him and called him. A crowd was sitting around him; and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside, asking for you.” And he replied, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.” (NRSV)

Mary must have been so worried. She knew that her son Jesus was stirring up trouble with the leaders of the religious house as well as the political house. He might have been an adult, but to her, he would always be her baby.

So what on earth did Mary think when she heard her son respond to word of her presence by declaring that his family was much, much bigger than just those to whom he was related by blood? Were her feelings hurt? Did it make her sad? Or do you think it gave her courage? Did hearing Jesus refer to his family as being a much larger community than she could have ever imagined help her to breathe a bit deeper, realizing she was not alone in her love for him?

A congregation I served in Texas was the spiritual home of a large foster family. The mother regularly provided respite for kids and teens who had nowhere else to turn, and she was good at it. Once they became a part of her family, regardless of how long they stayed, they also became a part of our church family. Yet it was impossible for the mother to sit with eight children in worship and have any sense of sanctuary! So the church decided to enlarge what family meant for those kids. Different adults would volunteer to be worship partners for one or two of the kids each Sunday. Therefore, not only did the mother have the chance to discover refreshment in worship, but the kids also discovered there were adults in the world who could be trusted to care for them. Their sense of family was made much larger than they could have ever imagined. I’d like to think that helped them to breathe deeper, perhaps like Mary.

Loving God, it can be too easy to forget that you have made us all members of your one body—family together. Keep reminding me of that today. Help me to see each and every person I encounter as a person created in your image and a part of my family tree. May that vision change the way I live today. Amen.

Written by Shannon J. Kershner, Pastor

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