Posts Tagged ‘Knox’


Thanks to the magic elves that power the inter-web, a west-shore English pre-schooler came across the pond for a holiday. One of the stops was a Sunday morn to the Rainbow Garden an Free Libraries (books & toys) of Knox Presbyterian

Photos of the vist by Shawna & J

This Sunday I was invited to preach at Knox Presbyterian Church in Calgary on Mark 6:1-7 (New Revised Standard Version):

He left that place and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. On the sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astounded. They said, “Where did this man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been given to him? What deeds of power are being done by his hands! Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary[a] and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense[b] at him. Then Jesus said to them, “Prophets are not without honor, except in their hometown, and among their own kin, and in their own house.” And he could do no deed of power there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them. And he was amazed at their unbelief.

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.

Here is the service:

Here is the link

The Speaking Notes:

Thank you to Mark and the Session for inviting me to speak today as we continue our journey through the Gospel of Mark.

Ever been judged by your backstory? Your family connections? Where you are from? Had unfair assumptions made about you based on how you talk or dress? Ever let those effect who you are in your day-to-day life? Perhaps in what the Dalai Lama dubbed Job, Career or Calling, or in church-speak vocation, y’know what you do to pay the bills, but also what you do because of your passion and who you are? Ever notice how other’s thought patterns or beliefs about who you are, in certain environments can shape your internal monologue? Or even your ability to do what you know you can do?

This is where today’s passage is taking us in the Gospel of Mark. For it can be seen as a moment in time for Jesus, much like we encounter in our own lives. It is one of the gospel moments, I love to take time in community to say, let’s be Jesus in this moment and ponder what we hear from the chorus of neighbours…or as the catch phrase goes, who’s renting space in your mind and heart? We’ll take some time with the passage, and then some time on what we can tease out for our own soul care and soul work.

Read Mark 6:1-7:

He left that place and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. 2 On the sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astounded. They said, “Where did this man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been given to him? What deeds of power are being done by his hands! 3 Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary[a] and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense[b] at him. 4 Then Jesus said to them, “Prophets are not without honor, except in their hometown, and among their own kin, and in their own house.” 5 And he could do no deed of power there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them. 6 And he was amazed at their unbelief. Then he went about among the villages teaching.  

It is presented as an external dialogue, where you can see the encouragement loop and the passive aggressive discouragement loop. Those in attendance praising the work Jesus has done, the power of his words, and his healings. The healings which are more to reveal the unwelcome of community, and to push the boundaries of inclusion and belonging. Then you get the snipers, those that do not want to see good or hear change and look for that. They look to what is known about Jesus, and what the scandals are. How he can hardly be a holy man for just look at his family. He was a tradesman, so how could he be “wise” or, we know his family-his brothers, and sisters. This can be a familiar refrain used for esteem or disrespect dependent on the family’s reputation. It is also being able to show that this were children that grew up and alluding to any known shenanigans Jesus and his siblings got up to. Let’s be honest here, who growing up regardless of place in time in history has not gotten up to some mischief. These are the reminder phrases. In case that doesn’t work though, the nay sayers decide to pull out the ultimate reminder.

They name him through the matriarchal lineage of his mother, Son of Mary (not Son of Joseph as was the tradition and practice). This was pointing out that his father truly was unknown, and that Joseph decided not to follow the law and have Mary cast out or stoned. That is Joseph decided family had more to do with than simple biology and was about belonging. But that was the simplest part of the story, see, Mary, well, Mary was the powerful piece of the story that scared the neighbours I think. If you spend time exploring the Mary visions throughout history, historians and Marian Theologians agree that Mary appears more than Jesus to both Christians and Non-Christians, simply because she can share the message of hope and love without centuries of horrendous baggage. Even though in this moment those “who took offense” are trying to turn her powerful yes to God into baggage for her child and derail what is being heard about the place where all belong, where labels do not matter, and the Image of God is beloved in its beautiful and blessed many forms. See Mary was the teenager in a patriarchal society, God decided the way society worked was not right, and skipped over talking to her father, or her betrothed as she was seen as less, in the Roman Empire as a non-citizen in short form she was property. God didn’t care, he went directly to Mary and asked her. The power of shaking the foundations of the systemic wrongs of that era began, with a peasant class, Jewish teenage girl, simply taking control of her own story, because her Creator honoured their beloved creation not the system of oppression created by man. In the hearing those offended were hoping to derail, in the story what is affirmed though for those with open hearts, is that all have voice and belong.

Though what we see in the closing verses, is what is called unbelief and creates disruption in the story as what is normative for a Jesus visit is not as impactful. Which can leave the reader thinking this is about level of belief for miracles or healing, though in other instances we have seen this not to be the case.  Ponder with me for a moment, could this be a story we enter learn through Jesus’ eyes. In this moment and time, where perhaps, he is feeling a bit of the imposter syndrome while, what may have been happening is that the trip had the same results as others, though the re-introduction of the negative monologue of his childhood had let him and perhaps, those around him, to see the outcome differently.

Have you ever had someone thank you for something and you schluff it off as nothing, or perhaps congratulate you on an achievement and you offer up x,y, or z rationales as to why it wasn’t a big deal? Perhaps offering opportunities the seeking more information loop starts, so your reticence holds you back, or simply the “I’m not good enough” or …. I am sure we all have different voices or impulses or feelings, much like was displayed in this short passage that hold us back or create a filter to experiences so we cannot truly experience and know the wonder we are a part of.

For those who watch RuPaul’s Drag Race, he will talk to the queens in short one to one time and call these tracks the saboteur. It is a life coaching tool; I prefer the term gremlins. It creates such a vivid imagery. There are two things that usually spring to mind, one is the World War II idea of a gremlin which is a mischievous imp that is causing an undiagnosable mechanical failure. See the connection with the offended and the soundtrack being laid down? The other is obviously the campy horror movies of the 1980’s Gremlins, which saw things go awry for the mild mogwai if they get wet or fed after midnight, they turn into horrific monsters of terror. Both works, when our underlying mild gremlin is fed a bit, it can create a space of flight, fight or freeze.

As I contemplated the passage of Jesus’ rejection in his hometown, what the commentators and scholars said, and my own background this is where I saw the connections in the why does this matter to us now. Jesus showed what happens when we leave our gremlins alone, we can still do life, but as the last two verses showed it’s more of a “meh” life. Yet, we also noted high tension in Jesus’ community, and is it also possible that the gremlins and “meh” life moment, kept him and his family safe.  And this brings us into the soul work as we have journeyed through Jesus’ eyes, I now ask for a bit of trust to do some care for ourselves.

If you are able grab a piece of paper and a pen or pencil or simply, come back to this talk when you are ready for this practice.

Take a moment to sit up a bit straighter, centre yourself, however you are comfortable, with some deep diaphragmic breaths.

Now as we come out, take a moment to think of what your internal dialogue, feelings or intuitions are, with your pen and paper- draw your gremlin. Give them form. Take time with comic speech bubbles and add the phrases around or feelings that the gremlin uses.

Is the picture of your gremlin clearer?

You know what’s missing? A name. Take a moment and name your gremlin.

In this process, we are praying and acting. We are taking back our story. It is very hard to do any soul work in a nebulous vacuum. Once named however we can truly work with the gremlin.  Say hi to your gremlin using its name. You are meeting truly for the first time. See everything the gremlin has been a part of.

Do you like the gremlin in your life? Do you want the gremlin out of your life?

This is a key question. Just as Jesus pointed out a prophet in their hometown, it is because the gremlin can be the loudest in the most familiar of places because it can be fed after midnight if you will. Are we going to stop feeding it? If you are ready to get rid of the gremlin, the first step is thanking the gremlin. Why? First, it disarms the power, but also it acknowledges that the gremlin has been a part of your journey for a time, and in that time has done what it thought was best.

Once thanked, now it is time. If you are ready, then say goodbye to your gremlin by name. Once you have said goodbye, then destroy the image, simply ripping it up and putting in the compost or recycle bin, or if safe and you have a tin for outside burning is always good for a freedom ritual. I mean Jesus showed an end of the gremlin as he stepped out of the story and began teaching again the neighbouring towns. His own freedom ritual, with the next story being about sending out his disciples two by two.

I do want to take a moment to caution though, this is one moment in time when we are freeing ourselves from a gremlin. After this moment, they have less power. They may return, but now you are familiar with them. You know their words and tactics. By doing that, you can call them by name, and show them the exit sign.

If you chose not to say goodbye to your gremlin today. That is also fine, we have had a long relationship with them. Talk with someone who you trust, set up a time to revisit the gremlin and your decision. These simple things of follow up coffees or teas can aid in the process. For we are interdependent, we need community. If you chose to say goodbye today, take time to touch base with a good friend to celebrate.

For that is the simple nuance, Jesus heard his gremlins internally and externally in this story. Yet he lived into who he was and moved through their voices to continue with his life and teachings. May we continue to be who we are lovingly created to be as well.

Thank you for entering into the story, and the soul work.

Amen.

For the curious, here is what is happening within Knox Community via the June 2021 Knox’s Binding Threads Newsletter:

Benediction:

The ancient Hebrew story in Genesis reminds us it is not good to be alone. We are created for community, belonging. Created by the spirit, loving one another, as Jesus reminded us to love ourselves, and called very blessed and very good by the loving Creator. Let us go outwards living that love and creating that belonging in our world. Amen.