Lectionary Year B
October 5, 2003

Mark 10:2-16
Contemporary Address

Step VI - Contemporary Address

A. Goals

(JFC) We can hope this sermon gives hope for God's role in all relationships.

B. Describing the Audience

(JFC) It is my turn to preach this passage to/in a very substantial congregation 18 miles from Kentucky's capital city in a county seat community, a quite pleasant town and to/for a PC(USA) congregation. It comes on World Communion Sunday this year, so the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper will be celebrated. The people in the pews are rather enlightened, well informed and committed to community and ecumenical ministries. They have good and various educational, spiritual development and fellowship programs. Currently they are emphasizing a fall three-day emphasis on a Harvest of Faith Venture for the entire community with a popular guest speaker, some music and a panel discussion, on contemporary issues faith addresses, e.g., whether to ordain women, homosexuals, clergy abuse, etc.

C. Address

(JFC) A sermon, entitled for this working draft, "Relationships By God"

Passage is "hotly disputed", yet, it is contended that it is clear that Jesus is revising the Law of Moses. Jesus uses Law to correct Law, Genesis to address/correct Exodus. He brings the traditional principles home to the people in their real time. So, too, to us.

I. Marriage and Other Such Sacred Relationships Seem Ideal
A. God generated relationships, see Genesis 2:18-24. Since loneliness is not good, God provides accompanying people with whom we can relate as companions.

B. God approves of and allows for relationships to grow and develop. Henrik Ibsen (1828-1906), Norwegian dramatist, in The Wild Duck, act 4, referring to Mrs. Sorby's marriage, wrote, "A marriage based on full confidence, based on complete and unqualified frankness on both sides; they are not keeping anything back; there's no deception underneath it all. It's an agreement for the forgiveness of sin."

II. Divorce Happens
A. A list over Paul Harvey's name, entitled, "If I Were the Devil", said - "I would attack the family structure and values, the backbone of the nation, and I would make divorce acceptable and easy, even fashionable. If the family crumbles, so does the nation;"

B. People get hardened hearts & God knows it & allows even Moses to address such real misfortunes in human behavior. Relationships break down. People move. Jobs change locations. Children mature and pursue dreams abroad. Schools afar offer majors sought by students. We find moving more often these mobile days.

III. Relationships Require Vulnerability
A. "And a child shall lead them" - Isaiah 11:6 and 8f. Becoming as a child - with real dignity and uncommon value, as in Mark 9:36f. As with a family and all other relationships, "A successful marriage is an edifice that must be rebuilt every day, as Andre Maurois (1885-1967), French author, critic, in "The Art of Living" (1940).

B. Scott Simon asked Daniel Schorr, on Weekend Edition Saturday, 9/13/02, about the country's vulnerability issuing in wisdom and Schorr said he was uncertain of that result as he was of its consequential hope for volunteerism. Could it do that for and with us?

Even if we divorce, even if relationships breakdown, even if we get out of step with God, it is not the end of the world. God still reaches out to us, wants us close enough to touch and blesses us, as did divine love embrace the children (the Gospel text's verses 13-16). Around the Lord's Table we find relationships, first with the Living Lord, then with one another, also with ourselves and, on World Communion Sunday, with believers globally.

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