Putting on the crazy glasses

 Gate Pa – Feast of St. Francis


Hebrew Scripture:     Esther 7:1-6, 9-10; 9: 20-22

Psalm:                         124

Epistle:                        James 5: 13-20

Gospel:                        Mark9: 38-50 

What I want to say:

WE are always being invited to have a much bigger understanding of what reign of God is all about
we are being invited to be like Francis
to pay attention to our thoughts, how we view people, creation, God
and how we live out this love affair with God
to let go of our preconceived notions of what it means to be God’s people
embrace much much bigger vision

What I want to happen:

allow ourselves and all people to be loved by God

The Sermon

1.      Introduction: strong women

last week heard passage from Proverbs seemed on face value to extol traditional roles for women, home maker
            Hannah Mollison understandably not so keen to read it
no getting away from fact that traditional roles important part of that reading
ð  I want to suggest much more than that
also extolled women to be strong,
ð  women described in this reading were not mousey submissive women
ran their households with imagination, and flair, and generosity
            I think can read it as invitation women to be more than traditionally were
ð  depends on glasses wearing as to how read it
ð  either read it – as champion of traditional roles
ð  or championing woman taking more significant roles in life household and communities. – more than submissive chattels
     Ø  this week had conversation with someone about missionary wives – seem  to me be great examples all that reading was about
     Ø  missionaries in their own right
     Ø  women who had significant ministries of their own with women lived among –
*      stories only just being resurrected
*      tellers of story focussed too much on men -> too traditional in understanding
*      missed these other important stories
Ø  Story just heard
o   story Esther is another story of kind strong woman proverbs refers to
o   interesting book – not directly mention God once
story of young woman who uses all her cunning to save her people from plans of Haman – Xerxes prime minister
§  offended by Mordecai's lack of respect
§  plans have both Mordecai and all Jewish people executed
§  including new queen – Esther
§  uses all means at her disposal to remind Xerxes of Mordecai’s value, and to expose Haman’s evil plan
§  all which every risky given low place of women in that society
too often tempted read scripture as conservative moral voice seeks preserve status quo, or take us back to the good old days.
while at times that is true
much of it is this radical voice invites us take much bigger view of world and God’s desire for that world
including strong women
read it in this way we need to change our glasses

2.      Marks Gospel
Ø  as I said last week
I think that is what is going on in Marks gospel
Jesus presented in Marks Gospel just keeps pushing for a much bigger view of what reign of God entails, and what our role is in it as loyal and fruitful followers
    Ø  last week heard disciples being interrogated about their discussion on who greatest
ð  all about who is in and who is out and what is the pecking order?
this is fair, because their whole society revolved around those kinds of questions
as does ours – although rule of ours is less clear
Jesus talked about leaders being servants and then embraced a child and said
Whoever welcome/embraces one such as this welcome/embraces me, and whoever welcome/embraces me welcome/embraces not me but the one who sent me!
to which John replies
“Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.”
very interesting reply isn’t it
I am not sure he is getting what Jesus is trying to say here
            vision still too narrow
like those read proverbs reading as defending traditional role women
not hearing radical nature of what Jesus is on about
Jesus in Mark is really pushing disciples,
ð  Marks community,
ð   us,
*      widen our vision,
*      widen our understanding of what the reign of God is all about
*      what our role in that is
    ð  trouble is, I suspect that we are mostly like John
*      we think we understand.
*      and if you think you understand then you probably don’t.
he goes on to talk about putting stumbling blocks in way these little ones-
            who are little ones?
children holding
                        “little people” spends time with
then get to really troubling stuff:
let’s try it in the Message:
   42 "On the other hand, if you give one of these simple, childlike believers a hard time, bullying or taking advantage of their simple trust, you'll soon wish you hadn't. You'd be better off dropped in the middle of the lake with a millstone around your neck.
   43-45 "If your hand or your foot gets in God's way, chop it off and throw it away. You're better off maimed or lame and alive than the proud owner of two hands and two feet, godless in a furnace of eternal fire. 47 And if your eye distracts you from God, pull it out and throw it away. 48 You're better off one-eyed and alive than exercising your twenty-twenty vision from inside the fire of hell.
Ø  what is this all about – should we get out our knives?
Ø  truth is we are all sinners
ð  that’s point gospel – we are all sinners, we are all out!!!! no-one is in!
ð  But God welcomes us all in anyway
ð  we are all equally undeserving, and God still says “come on down”
ð  there is no in and out with God, and no pecking order.
        *      so what is all this about chopping off feet?
Ø  body parts symbolise various ways we interact with each other:
-          eyes – emotion laden thought – understanding, and intentions towards world live in
-          feet and hands- actions
-          mouth – communication – both listening and speaking
    ð  not about chopping off hands and feet and going blind
    ð  is about paying attention to how interact in world
    ð  being aware of how all that affects others
        *      do our thoughts and actions help others see the reign of God in this community?
        *      do our thoughts and actions help others know that they are loved, profoundly loved
        *      do our thoughts and actions help others know that they never need worry about if they are good enough, because they don’t need to be
o   they are already loved
in God’s eyes they, all of us are already “in”
held in Gods heart
if Thoughts and actions are not helpful to others, then we need to change them (chop them off)

3.      St. Francis

today remember St. Francis – probably speak more about him on 14th
simple guy
simply sought live out gospel exactly as Jesus taught
no ifs and but
just gave away everything and followed crucified and risen one
knew greatest of all sinners
least God’s followers
he knew that held God’s love
knew if that was true for him then true for everyone met, including poorest and most despised
            every creature
all creation
each of these became means by which God declared God’s love for him and all creation.
he paid attention to thoughts, how viewed people, creation, God
he paid attention to how he lived out his love affair with God
so that everyone he met might know God’s love,
 and offer that love back to creation
Jesus invites us to do the same
pay attention to our thoughts and actions
to let go of our preconceived notions of what it means to be God’s people
embrace much much bigger vision
allow ourselves and all people to be loved by God


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