Grace and Peace to you!
Word came the other day that folks are planning our fortieth high school reunion. That’s a scary thought, not simply because of the pile of years between today and high school. It is also scary because reunions, and other occasions that place us amidst the folks that “knew us when,” lead is to perceive ourselves as others may have seen us back then. Do you know the feeling? It was not that long ago, when surrounded by family, it seemed I was not an adult, but rather a 10- or 11- year-old boy. With old friends, the ones that will gather to reminisce about the past forty years, well with them, for some reason it was that wonderfully awkward Jr. High age. Great!
This curious psychological mind bent came to mind this week as I reflected on our story for Sunday, Mark 6:7-13 Jesus sending the twelve on a mission trip. The context of the mission follows hard on the heels of Jesus’ visit to his hometown for a reunion of sorts. The visit began with Jesus teaching in the synagogue. At first folks were pretty impressed. He was wise. He was healing folks. Then someone remembered his family. They remembered he started out as a carpenter. Then they felt hoodwinked, he was above his station, ‘cause they knew who he really was!
Biblical scholar John Pilch notes two types of honor, “Ascribed Honor” and “Achieved Honor.” Ascribed honor is derived from birth. The context of our family identify our honor rating. In Mark’s story, Jesus is noted as a craftsman and the son of Mary. This identification by the crowd is meant to underscore uncertainty about Jesus’ father, and to mark him as one not worthy to teach in the synagogue.
Ready for this less than stellar reunion and its lack of honor, Jesus responds with a zinger from scripture. “A prophet is not without honor, except in his own country.” He shames them, before they can shame him. His point is that outsiders are better able to determine the honor of one who speaks for God in the here and now, better than insiders, the people who should know best. In that case, the hometown crowd will not be able to understand his teaching, or receive his healing mercy. So on that account, he sends the twelve out among other villages.
Sometimes, we can be so set in our ways, so sure of everything right in front of our noses, we can miss the new thing to which God is calling us and the Spirit is showing us.
Join us in worship Sunday as we explore Jesus’ Packing List for his disciples in Mark 6:7-13.