Sermon preached by Archdeacon Trevor Harrison at the Midnight Mass of the Nativity 25 December 2019 It’s a marvellous, wonderful,... read more
Family, what do you make of your family? What do they make of you? Anything along these lines?
Desmond Tutu said, “You don't choose your family. They are God's gift to you, as you are to them.”
An unknown author said, “Blood's thicker than water, and when one's in trouble
best to seek out a relative's open arms.”
Robert Brault said, “The thing about family disasters is that you never have to wait long before the next one puts the previous one into perspective.”
Ashleigh Brilliant said, “If you don't believe in ghosts, you've never been to a family reunion.”
And another unknown author said, “Families are like fudge - mostly sweet with a few nuts.”
Now that is a sentence that Jesus’ family would have agreed with, because did you hear what they had to say about him first up in today’s Gospel. “He is out of his mind” (Mark 3:21). Jesus is back home and his family wants to be proud of the young rabbi that they have produced. Unfortunately his family was hugely embarrassed for as verse 21 tells us, “When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, ‘He is out of his mind.’”
By the way, there is much the same reaction at another time quoted in John 10:20. Jesus says, “I’m so good a shepherd, I’m willing to die for my sheep.” And some of the crowd responded, “He is demon possessed and raving mad. Why listen to him?”
Now I know sheep prices have gone well up, but all the same, die for your sheep? That’s crazy!
Now I know what you’re thinking. Unlike me, Jesus didn’t go to university and Theological College. I know that Jesus never published a book or a major manuscript. I know that he lived with his parents until he was 30 years of age, never owned a home, never dated, and went around to lots of parties with 12 unattached men, but still I ask you, does that make Jesus guilty of being out of his mind?
Looking for some rational input from Jesus so that we can see what a sharp mind he had? Alright, try this? “You only grow up by turning and becoming as a little child. You can’t get into the kingdom of God unless you revert and turn and become as a child. Want to win? You do so by losing. You get by giving. You live by dying.”
Wow. That sure doesn’t sound rational to us. Sounds like you’re out of your mind!
“Jesus, say something thoughtful, but make it something that’s practical so we can use it in our daily lives in the world.”
“Alright. Try this. Blessed are you poor. Happy are you hungry. Oh how fortunate are you who are divorced, or unemployed. Congratulations to those of you spiritually poor, those of you who don’t have much spirit.”
What? Blessed? Fortunate? Happy? Are you out of your mind? Where I come from, when you are unemployed people treat you like have some sort of disease. They don’t want to catch what you’ve got. In our world, those who are poor, divorced, or bereft are thought to be failures. Because we’re here at church, we don’t like thinking of ourselves as spiritually inept. We’re sitting here this Sunday because we’re spiritually rich!
And Jesus replies, “Oh, I’m not talking about the way that nine out of ten people think. I’m trying to teach you to have a different sort of mind.”
Once there was a rich property developer who was very, very successful. He built so many houses he could hardly remember how many he had. We would call him a success, a model for our young to emulate. “Soul, take ease, you’ve got so many houses you can’t count ‘em,” he said to himself. That night the angel of God tapped him on the shoulder and said, “Hello, fool.”
Now the man who told that story is clearly out of his mind.
Do you remember when St. Paul said to us, “Have this mind in you which was in Christ.” He didn’t say, “Try to have a right mind,” or, “You should have a generally well-informed and disciplined mind.” Paul says, “Have Jesus’ mind.
In assessing the soundness of Jesus’ mind, I remind you that sometimes, whether Jesus’ way, the way of the cross, is seen as reasonable or crazy depends on what counts for reasonable.
Do you think it reasonable for New Zealand to have had 16,630 abortions performed in 2010, one abortion for every five live births, and that number of abortions was the lowest figure in nine years. If we think that’s reasonable, we may tend to hear Jesus and respond, “He is out of his mind.”
One of the world’s oldest defences against Jesus was, “He is out of his mind.” It wasn’t so much Jesus was “out of his mind”; it was that he had a very different mind.
And I think some of you will agree with me when I say that it’s tough to be held accountable, in our discipleship, to the Son of God who happens to be not only Jewish, Galilean, crucified, and, since Easter, on the loose; and who also happens to be, in the eyes of much of the world, a little bit out of his mind.
And you know, being out of his mind seems to be contagious. If you think about it in a certain way, one of the great joys of the Christian faith is that it’s great fun to have your minds messed up by Jesus.
By the way, what is the episode that immediately precedes Jesus’ family’s charge of him being out of his mind? What crazy, ridiculous thing did Jesus do right before they said, “He is out of his mind?” I’ll tell you. The charge that Jesus Christ is out of his mind was evoked by this ridiculous, crazy act by Jesus: “Jesus appointed twelve – designating them apostles – that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach and to have authority to drive out demons. These are the twelve he appointed: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter), James son of Zebedee and his brother John …..” (Mark 3:14-17).
They didn’t mind Jesus preaching – he made some awfully interesting points that made a lot of sense. They didn’t mind him casting out demons or raising the dead, which was a very nice thing for him to do. But when he insanely gave everything he had and all that he hoped to do into the hands of 12 uneducated, imbalanced yokels, well, the world with one voice said, looking at his idea of disciples, “He is out of his mind.”
They were troubled when they met Jesus, but when they met his assistants – that is, us – they said, “He is out of his mind.”
And for that we say, “Thanks be to God.” Amen.