Let's learn to talk spiritual kin with everyone, so we can discover the connections that make us all sisters and brothers in the family of God.
"For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother and my sister and my mother." (Mark 3:35 KJV)
This idea of us
calling each other brother and sister and being of the members of the family of
God does not replace our biological families, but adds to it. As we see here,
Jesus didn't mean to say that, or he didn't say, and we don't need to take it
as though he did, but to make it a little more clear, that his biological
family, his mother and his other family members were no longer his family, but
that in addition to that, so was all the other people. So were the others. We
are an extended family and we feel that often in the church, don't we? We think
of our spiritual family, our church family, and we grow close to each other and
we love one another. Some of our best friends are blood kin, and some of our
closest brothers and sisters are our spiritual kin. So it's all meant to expand
our understanding of what it is to be family and the family of God.
Transcript of sermon
Preached Extemporaneously [Video] on June 6, 2021
for Briensburg UMC
I think one of the best demonstrations or backups of that
idea we find at the cross where Jesus brought together one of his disciples and
his mother, and made that an eternal relationship that became representative,
not only of those two individuals, one, his birth mother and the other his
spiritual friend, but of all of us in the church that we are all kin together.
So it says, "Whoever does the will of God," that's how the passage
ended in the gospel reading. "Whoever does the will of God is my brother
and sister and mother."
God's will is stated in a lot of different ways throughout
the scripture, but it's pretty much summed up as the Bible says, although all
the law can be summed up, or all with God's will can be summed up in this one
word, namely, that we love one another. That was the commandment of Jesus, that
we love one another as Christ has loved us. If we do that, then we're doing the
will of God, and everyone who loves is doing the will of God. And a lot like
the prodigal son, sometimes we may stray, but that we're still the children of
God. We're just aren't enjoying the feelings and the benefits and everything of
it because we've turned away from it. But when we are restored in our love for
one another, when we turn back to God, then God is always there like the
prodigal father with open arms ready to receive us.
So, I think that a lot of people don't understand that.
They feel like that there's something about their life and their relationships
that makes them no longer the children of God, if they ever did feel like they
were. It's up to us to remind them that, no, you're a part of the family.
You're made in the image of God. You're the child of God. You may not be acting
like it. You may not feel like it, but come on home and you'll know. Come on
home and you'll feel it. Come on home and you'll know that you're in the family
and that your family loves you, and I think you'll love the family, too.
The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands. (Psalm 138:8 RSV)
So the Psalmist says in the Revised Standard, "The
Lord will fulfill his purpose for me. Your steadfast love of the Lord endures
forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands." We say in our communion
ritual in just a few minutes, that even when we have rebelled against God's
love, God's love for us has remained steadfast. That's just how it is. God
loves us, and there's nothing we can do to undo that. There's nothing we can do
to change that. There's nothing we can do to make it happen because it's
already there and nothing we can do to stop it. His love endures forever, and
his purpose is within that love. His purpose is that all of us would be in that
relationship with God and with each other as a family for all of eternity. The
promise of the Psalmist that's repeated in many other ways in the scripture is
that the Lord will fulfill that purpose that he has for us. So we praise him
and we want to be a part of that fulfillment. We are privileged to be part of
the work, even though our part may be really small, it's a privilege just to be
a part of it and to enjoy the progress as it's made toward the reconciliation
of all of humanity.
They heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. (Genesis 3:8-15 RSV)
In the creation story, it kind of picks up in the
narrative where they heard the sound of the Lord walking, as we say in the King
James, in the cool of the day. Then it points us to that God wants to be
companions with us. That's brought out, again, throughout all the scriptures if
we follow that thread. A lot of times we might forget that and think that
there's some other thing going on here. There are a lot of things going on, but
it's within that context of God's love for us. God wants to be companions with
us, friends, and to hang out together and spend time, and he wants to be with
us in the car, and in the house, and in the church, and in the yard, or
wherever we go. God wants to be a part of that, and a sharing of the... Not to
just to boss us around or get on our case about how we're doing things, or how
we're not doing and everything like that, but because God loves us. He wants to
be companions and walk with us as the song In The Garden tells us, how to walk
in the garden. He wants to walk with us in the cool of the day.
But we sometimes are embarrassed or afraid of that because
of our awareness of our disobedience. When Peter saw Jesus standing on the
shore, then he was a little bit embarrassed. And other times that the apostles
would say, well they're afraid because they just realized that they were not
worthy of this relationship. But worthiness isn't in the equation from God's
perspective. God knows our hearts. He knows our lives. He knows who we are,
what we've been through, what we've put others through, and he loves us. He
wants to be friends with us. That's what the forgiveness of sins is all about,
that we know that God loves us, who we are, and works with us on the rest of
it. So we're the children of God all the time, and so is everybody else. We
need to find those connections and helping them make that connection.
My grandmother taught me how to talk kin. She believed
that everybody in the whole world descended from Adam and Eve, and so that
we're all family she said. We're all members of the family. She was on a
mission to find out how we were kin with everybody she met. And she'd ask who
they were. Well, then the next thing would be, well were they from there? Well,
I know somebody over here and they're my third cousin or my 10th cousin or
something like that. So that became something that she kind of instilled within
me, not to the degree that she carried on. But she not only did that, but she
made her mission also to go visit all the family. So she was all over the place
visiting and traveling and meeting everybody, and finding out how we were kin.
She was pretty good at figuring it out, too. If she didn't know, she knew it
was in there somewhere and it'd get figured out somewhere.
But yesterday at Hugh Barksdale's funeral, I mentioned
that a few years ago his wife Marilyn and I had compared some notes to confirm
that Hugh and I were seventh cousins. We had descended from a common ancestor,
a clergyman, William Barksdale and his wife Mary Adams that were both born back
in 1629. So I said, (and much to Hugh's consternation because he teased me about
that all the time, "Oh no, no, no. I'm not related to you)." But
anyway. But I said that a long time before we knew we were cousins, seventh
cousins, a long time before we knew we were cousins, we knew we were brothers.
Brothers in Christ. I think that's important for us to recognize each other in
that way. A lot of times people have, especially when we were at all younger, I
guess, it was more common that in churches everybody called each other brother
and sister, but we still kind of do that. It's important, though, whether we
call each other that, that we treat each other that way, brothers and sisters,
and carry that and extend that out to the people around us in the world.
Yes, everything is for your sake, so that grace, as it extends to more and more people, may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God. (2 Corinthians 4:15 RSV)
Paul wrote, "Yes, everything is for your sake."
A lot of time we think, well we do this for the sake of the Lord. We come to
church for the sake of the Lord. We'll read the Bible for the sake of the... It
brings glory to God, as he said, but it brings glory to God because it's
extending God's love to more and more people is what he wrote. It's extending
God's love to more and more people, and more people are giving thanks for God's
love, and for this relationship, and for making us all this big, beautiful
family of love. So yes, everything is done for your sake, for our sake so that
we can have the joy that is complete, so that we can have the fullness of our
happiness, and reality, and relationship with everybody, and be on good terms
with everybody, and forgive each other and move along, and just enjoy life
together in this world and in the life of the world to come, in eternal life.
And looking at those who sat around him, he said, "Here are my mother and my brothers! (Mark 3:34 RSV)
So finally, in the gospel reading, again, in verse 34 it
said, "And looking at those who sat around him, he said, 'Here are my
mother and my brothers.'" And again, he did not mean to exclude anybody as
some churches like to do. Some places you go, they believe... Well, I don't go
there, but some places that there are, some cults and everything that believes
that you should get rid of all your biological relationships when you become a
member of their church. But we don't believe in that, and that's not what Jesus
was talking about here. He wasn't saying that those family members should go
away because these are his family now. But instead, that in addition, those
people at the door that were of his blood kin, there also were these people
sitting under his feet listening to him, and sharing and fellowship with him.
They were also his kin, and we are also his kin. So we don't exclude anybody
from the family. We're supposed to include each other and everybody else in the
family of God, extend that relationship wherever we can, extend our love and God's love to every person around us, and find some way to
talk kin with them, spiritual kin, and find out where they can make that
connection, where we can make that connection to where we can call them brother
and sister in Christ.
In the name of Jesus, Amen.