Sunday, July 05, 2009

I Declare!

Southern Saying: I declare.
I did not know,
or that is surprising,
or it can merely be used when there is really nothing else to say.
Usage: I declare!
(source: Momma, and quotemountain)

Today at ECOOS, the Rev. Mary Cat Young gave the sermon. It offered her another chance to relate her mission trip activities, this time a trip to the hurricane recovery areas of Bay St. Louis Miss. and NOLA. I give her points for trying to forge a link with the Gospel of Mark. Although there could have been more said, I am tempted to say, "I declare" because there really is nothing else to say. But, being a stinkin pewster, I started to sniff around the edges of her homily to find anything that the sermon made me think about.

First thought: Sailing into the storm on Bay St. Louis.

Second thought: Read the Gospel again! (Mark 6:1-13)

(Verses 3-13 here)

Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?’...

(I wonder if Mary Cat could have tied in the carpenter description with some of the handiwork her High Schoolers performed on their trip?)
And they took offence at him. Then Jesus said to them, ‘Prophets are not without honour, except in their home town, and among their own kin, and in their own house.’ And he could do no deed of power there,...

(A possible justification to leave town to do missionary work).
...except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them. And he was amazed at their unbelief.

(You don't have to travel very far to find unbelievers, but you might have to walk a few miles to find some who will believe).
Then he went about among the villages teaching. He called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. He ordered them to take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts; but to wear sandals and not to put on two tunics.

(She did touch on this one. Unlike the twelve, Mary Cat's group did take sleeping bags along on their journey).
He said to them, ‘Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave the place. If any place will not welcome you and they refuse to hear you, as you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.’ So they went out and proclaimed that all should repent. They cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.

That last part has the difficult bits, and although they do not relate to the Sr. High student's trip to the Gulf coast, and were not a subject of the sermon, they made me pause. First, the "testimony against them" part is so politically incorrect. Who in this day and age, when all religions and beliefs are considered equally acceptable to God, would dare to testify against an unbeliever? Aren't we supposed to support each other? Doesn't that extend to granting at least silent approval of their unbelief? Second, that casting out of demons stuff is so passe. Everybody knows there are no such things as demons. Even if there were, where would you cast them anyway? There probably isn't any such thing as the supernatural either, so we would be making those demons homeless. Third, imagine anointing the sick with oil. We are so beyond that kind of hocus pocus, and besides, the use of oil expands our carbon footprint and makes us dependant on foreign countries (Oh, sorry, they didn't use that kind of oil).

When I re-read today's lessons and recall Mary Cat's sermon, I am left wondering how we are to interact with an increasingly unbelieving world. Have I been prepared by my church to answer the challenges presented to us by the naysayers and the skeptical?

Has my church sufficiently grounded me in Christ to defend His name?

Or should I just keep being a "good person" and be a silent example for Him?

To the last question I say, "No!" A vision of the rocks themselves refusing to be silent came to mind: Luke 19:37-40

"And when he was come nigh, even now at the descent of the mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen;

Saying, Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest.

And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said unto him, Master, rebuke thy disciples.

And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out."

I declare! Praise to the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost!

Shout it out! Keep those stones from singing!

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