Potsdam United Methodist Church
Where we let Jesus shine! Where we invite, love and nurture ALL!
Sunday Worship
11:00am Service
Pastor Heidi R. Chamberlain
Information info@potsdamumc.org


July 8th:

Call:           Psalm 48        (782)
Text:           Mark 6: 1-6


I have never been on Twitter.

And thus I have never tweeted
        Unless (and here you had better listen carefully or you will miss it)
Unless ... my childhood rooting against Sylvester counts

But my lack of tweeting should not surprise anyone.

After all, neither preachers nor lawyers are enamored
        Of any form of communication
        That limits them to only 140 characters.

Those in both professions seem to believe that it is a sin to use
        One word                -if you can use three or four
        140 characters  - if you cane use 280,  560,    or 1120

And with having spent my entire adult life in those two professions
        I am just not cut out to be     "Jim, The Twitter Guy."

But I can do it.

And to demonstrate that,
        I am going to outline or summarize Christ's entire life
                In what could be a tweet.

Here we go:
        Bethlehem Born          Called Disciples
Teaching, Healing and Parables
        Jealousy        Jerusalem Palms
Last Supper     Betrayal        Arrest  Cross   Tomb
Resurrected     Appeared                Ascended

I did it.       I used exactly 140 characters
        And to those of you who doubted that I could
                I simply smile
                        Admittedly more of a gloating smile
                        Than a smile of humility.
                But a smile nonetheless

Now, I didn't attempt this challenge to show you that I could do it.

I attempted it
        Because keeping our scriptures in their proper context
                Helps us get the most out of them.

Last week we began a six week portion of the summer
Of telling the stories of Jesus
You know,               The ones we love to hear
Looking at things we would ask him to tell us if he were here.

We do so because we love to tell the stories
For those who know them best
Remain hungering and thirsting to hear them like the rest.

And the stories we are telling this summer
Are from the Teaching, Healing and Parables portion of his life

This portion began in Galilee
        Well after his birth
        Well before he entered Jerusalem to walk to the cross.

The stories of this portion of his ministry
        Caused or contributed to the jealousy that resulted in his death
For the powers that be
        Were threatened by a person who
                Healed with divine power
        And     taught with authority and unequaled wisdom

His time in Galilee was for the most part a great success

Last week, for example, we encountered two intertwined Galilean stories
        The healing of the bleeding woman
        The healing of Jairus' daughter

Those stories showed us:
Christ's great power
The deep faith of people who followed him
The impact he had on a variety of people of Galilee.

Today's story comes from the same period.
But it is in sharp contrast to last week's
        For not all the people reacted to Christ
the way that Jairus and the bleeding woman reacted.

Today's story is of Jesus returning to Nazareth, his home town.

[A Warning:     A number of persons may hear the text, and think
        "That is not exactly how I remember the story."

And I say, "Bravo!"

For Luke tells the story with details that are not in Mark's version
        Luke's version [Luke 4: 16-30]
is more dramatic than the one told by Mark and Matthew
                And thus it is both more often told and better remembered.]

But today we tell and hear the story as Mark told it    [Mark 6: 1-6]

What a contrast to last week's scripture!

For last week   we saw the trusting and accepting faith of both
        Jairus, head of a synagogue             and
        A nameless nobody of a bleeding woman

Those two saw that Jesus was special
Those two recognized that Jesus had power and authority

But this week   we find that people in his own home town
Refused to acknowledge either one.

For them, no matter what he did or what he said, he would always be
        The carpenter
        The brother of James, Joses, etc.

Oh, they were astounded by what he did and said
        But they took offense at the idea that he was special
        And likewise at the idea that he had power and authority.

Instead they saw him as a trickster.
After all he was simply the carpenter
        Mary's boy
        A guy with brothers and sisters.

He couldn't be special.
God couldn't have given him special power and authority.
        For     He was just one of them
He was - like they themselves - ordinary

Their reaction reminds me of Philip asking,
                "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?"

And it reminds me of how often we
who do not live in a major metropolitan area
think nobody from our area can be particularly important

Even though
        Malone produced a Vice President of the United States
        Canton produced a governor
        A Potsdam man became the collector of the port of NY
                Replacing the fired Chester A. Arthur,
who a few years later became President of the United States

Yes, they were from the 19th century
        But, it was just a year ago, that a man from Lisbon coached an NBA team to the title.

We think this way, even though
        The Lend-Lease agreement that kept Britain alive in WWII was signed by President Roosevelt in Heuvelton
        And men have become Methodist Bishops
                After serving congregations
 in Potsdam, Canton, and North Bangor

Can anyone important come out of the North Country?
        The answer is "Yes."

Can the Christ come out of Nazareth
The answer is "Yes"
        But those in the synagogue that day were unable to recognize it

They saw what they saw
They heard what they heard
        But they were unable to recognize and understand
They were unable to process
what it was that their eyes and ears told them.

Like Nicodemus who was puzzled about rebirth
Like the Israelites who wanted a king so they could be like others
        They could not open their minds
                To thinking and feeling like God thinks and feels
They - and so often we - cannot escape the prison
of only thinking and feeling like human beings.

That is our way of trying to control God
        Rather than of allowing God to control us

Although you and I are never going to think exactly like God
We are not clones of God, but rather imperfect imitations -
This scripture reminds us and teaches us
        That we have to be open to what God is doing
        That we need to learn to recognize
                When it is that God is thinking differently than we are
        And that we need to realize that in those situations
                God is right and you and I are not.

What we must understand is that
you and I cannot limit God
you and I cannot imprison God
        within the limits of our humanness.

We can gain that understanding
        Philip learned
        Nicodemus learned
        Even the Israelites learned - albeit they learned the hard way.

The failure of the people in Nazareth to understand
        That God doesn't always think or act like we would
caused them to reject Jesus.

Each of us has, at some point in our lives, felt rejected
        That feels like what we imagine Hell would feel like.

We don't like that feeling
We don't want to ever experience it again.

Why would we then act in a way that allows Christ to feel that way?

Not only that, but it feels mighty bad when we reject someone
        Twenty six years ago this summer I fired a secretary
        It was the right thing to do - she just didn't work out

But I felt so bad that by the end of our conversation,
        She was comforting me for having had to fire her.

If rejecting someone even when necessary and appropriate feels so bad
        Why would we ever act in a way to reject Christ.

Our keeping our minds, hearts, and souls open
to recognizing when we are thinking differently from God
can prevent us - and Christ himself -
from experiencing the pain of rejecting and being rejected.

Mark's version may be less dramatic than Luke's
        But its lesson is just as powerful
And just as needed.