Proper 5B (OT 10)


Voice in the Wilderness: Tremaine Combs

Featured Musician: Bryan Sirchio


Featured Musician:The Steel Wheels

Mark 3:20-35


Initial Thoughts

  • The honeymoon is over. Words of assurance for clergy under duress (to a point).

Bible Study

  • Literary context

    • Immediately after calling the rest of the 12

    • Popularity on the rise

    • Healings were drawing crowds despite his efforts to keep things quiet.

  • Structure of the story

    • Crowd

    • Family - He’s Crazy

    • Legal experts - He’s evil

    • Jesus responds to accusation of evil

    • Legal experts actually at fault

    • Family Arrives

    • Call to crowds to follow

  • Family

    • First wants to “control him,” because he’s out of his mind.

      • Side note: “Mother, brothers, and sisters are looking for you.” What about Dad? Has Joseph died? Joseph never mentioned in Mark.

    • Jesus redefines family as those who are sitting with him.

    • Revolutionary redefinition - throws into question entire Jewish system of social construction. Threatens to undermine core of social stability.

    • Radical redefinition - calls people to care for others in a way that is radically inclusive. The idea that one can create a “Chosen Family” out of shared values over blood ties is remarkably freeing - and terrifying.

    • When church defines itself as a family, who is being left out? Who is part of the church family?

  • Unforgivable Sin

    • What does it mean to insult the Holy Spirit, and why would that not be forgiven?

    • Jesus’ reply is a part of a larger defense of his ministry against the accusation of the Pharisees. They claim that Jesus’ work is of Satan. They don’t question the results, they question the motivation and source of his power.

    • Jesus, on the other hand, points to the results. How could something be evil if it is producing healing, peace, and love?

    • Jesus is attacking their close-mindedness and blindness to the work that God is doing. They are closed off to the power of the Holy Spirit. They have decided that God cannot be doing such things, so if they deny the power of the Holy Spirit then they cannot be forgiven. As long as you deny the Spirit’s ability to forgive, cleanse, heal, then you cannot be forgiven. This is not about eternal damnation for saying “I deny the Holy Spirit.”

    • For Christians who worry about if they’ve committed the “unforgivable sin,” they don’t need to worry, for in the very act of worrying, they are not denying the power of the Spirit.

Thoughts and Questions

  • The beginning of Jesus’ ministry was a wild success, everything was going great, by the honeymoon didn’t last long. It didn’t take long for his family to think he was crazy and the leaders of the ‘Church’ to think he was evil. Jesus responded to his claims with a nice bit of logic, but they didn’t use logic to come to their conclusions. Interesting article about Reasoning with Unreasonable People.

  • Mental Health Awareness Month is over, but this is still a way to talk about mental health, and how we deal with people who we perceive as “out of their mind.” Family tried to dismiss Jesus with claim that he was “out of his mind.” Leaders tried to dismiss him with claim that he is working with Satan. How do we still do this to people? Who do we dismiss as crazy or evil, thus cutting off a possibility of relationship?

  • Two groups that should be considered insiders. One dismisses him. The other accuses him. Jesus refutes them both. What groups that are on the surface ‘insiders’ are actually missing the boat?

1 Samuel 8:1-20; 11:14-15


Initial Thoughts

  • Keep journeying through 1 & 2 Samuel through August 9

  • Read vv. 1-20 and include 11:14-15 which is the answer to the request

    • Need the Background

Bible Study

  • Samuel - Prophet and Judge - the bridge between the Judges and the Kings

    • The first Prophet? If a prophet is the moral, spiritual and ethical counter to the wickedness of Kings- then Samuel is the first Prophet

    • Samuel is also the last judge - continues the theme of unfaithful children of the Prophet (1 Samuel 3)- even then PK had troubles

    • Also potentially a priest since he does make burnt offerings to God (which non-Priests are forbidden to do- e.g. King Uzziah)

  • They both come up with the wrong solution to solve the problem: Who will lead Israel?

    • WRONG: Samuel wants to appoint his sons

      • They, like Eli’s sons are judges (political leaders) but are corrupt so Israelite leaders correctly reject them

    • WRONG: Israel wants a King

    • RIGHT: Yahweh is the leader of Israel. Yahweh is the fiery pillar, the column of smoke, the one who led them out of Egypt

      • The question should not be who will lead Israel but how to follow God and walk with God

  • Why King and not God?

    • Kings are visible and tangible- God by God’s very nature is not

    • Kings are good and making their nations powerful - God is interested in blessing all nations, not making one more powerful at the expense of another (eg. Egypt)

    • Kings are corruptible - Power corrupts and total power corrupts totally - God is now corruptible but is steadfast in faith and love to the thousandth generation

  • Problems with Kings

    • Kings = Military Industrial Complex and exploitation

    • He will take what belongs to God - 10%

Thoughts and questions

  • We often fall into the grass is always greener - or their worship/ music/ CE program/ young adult attendance/ attraction to Millennials is better than us - how can we be them? The church is called to proclaim the good news, love God and love neighbor - that should be our focus- not trying to copy others. How can we balance learning from others while fulfilling our own unique vision?

  • Samuel resists the gimmick theology and politics of the day - monarchy. What religious and political gimmicks is the church being tempted by which distract us from God?

  • As we face an uncertain future- are we asking the right question: How can we follow God and walk with God better?

2 Corinthians 4:13-5:1

Initial Thoughts

  • A little background on 2 Corinthians:

    • Written about 50 CE, several months after 1 Corinthians and Paul’s visit to Corinth (cf. 1 Corinthians 16:5-7)

    • Actually Paul’s third letter to the Corinthians. Paul refers to his second letter written in tears and anguish (2 Corinthians 2:4). This “letter of tears” is lost

    • Paul’s relationship has become increasingly strained

    • Paul is addressing claims from other evangelist who have better backgrounds (were one of the 12) or better gifts

    • According to Luther Seminary professor, Mary Hinkle Shore, Paul chooses his words carefully to prevent the relationship from deteriorating, but is also having a hard time keeping his emotions in check. Furthermore he is constantly framing his letter in the theological concept of God’s reconciling work in Christ

Bible Study

  • Context within letter

    • Picks up right where we left off last week.

      • Last week was about strength to endure persecution. This passage completes that thought.

    • Next week skips verses 2-5, which mixes a metaphor about being clothed and naked with the building/tent metaphor.

      • Probably a good couple of verses to skip. Not Paul’s best work.

      • Next week moves into the ministry of reconciliation

  • Connection between texts: the contrast between appearance and reality.

    • Israel wants a King, when in reality they already have one.

    • Jesus appears to be “out of his mind” but in reality he is the one grounded in the power of the HS.

    • His real family is not the one of blood ties, but of common values and belief in the law of love.

    • 2 Corinthians deals this same theme. “The new city God builds is the reality toward which God’s victory is moving, and defeats along the way have only a limited kind of reality attached to them” (Texts for Preaching, Year B, p. 373)

  • “Same spirit of faithfulness as is written in Scripture.” Paul is connecting covenant of Israel to Christ.

    • “We also have faith, we also speak” is an allusion to septuagint of Psalm 115:13 (Beverly Gaventa, Texts for Preaching, Year B, p. 378)

    • Connection to the faith of the past is a bridge to the faith of Christ and a to the faith of the believers after Christ.

    • There is both a continuity of Spirit that has been around since Creation, and something new that is happening in resurrection of Christ. This is the Spirit that the Corinthians can still be a part of.

    • Connection between belief and proclamation is a part of the apostle’s mission. It is now given also the Corinthians.

  • Handle verse 16 with care.

    • “So we aren’t depressed” as Common English translates can be troublesome

    • “Christians don’t get depressed” has been used as a weapon against those struggling with mental health.

      • It can keep people from getting the help they need.

      • Increases stigma

      • Faith in God, loving Jesus, and following Christ and Depression are NOT mutually exclusive.

    • Key is Lamentation (or even depression) with hope.

    • Paul’s point is not: “Don’t get depressed.” It is “even when we are depressed, God is there, even when we don’t see it.”  

  • “Our temporary minor problems” NOT “Your temporary problems”

    • Paul is a part of the situation, not an outsider looking in.

    • Paul is sharing in the suffering, not minimizing someone else’s problem.

    • To tell someone else that their problems are temporary, or “no big deal.”

    • If you are inside the situation, then you have earned the right to proclaim hope and endurance.

  • Encouragement in time of persecution

    • God is building an eternal house as opposed to the earthly tents.

      • Not about the Temple that people made on earth, but of a grander, more complete living with God, and in God.

    • A word of encouragement for people to look at the big picture. In face of struggle, Paul is reminding the people that they are in for the long game.

    • Reminder that the same God who raised of Jesus will raise them up, as well.

    • Things are not always as they seem, because of God working in the world to bring all together.

Thoughts and Questions

  • Is God in the depression? Is God in the valleys? Are we ever truly forsaken? This is a chance for the preacher to examine “Our temporary problems.” What are the problems facing this community? Struggling finances, opioid addiction, closing factory? What are the temporary problems under which this community suffers? Is there a chance to meet this condition with love? Is there an opportunity for healing that the Church (or this congregation) can step into? Two weeks ago we were told that the young will see visions and the old will dream dreams. What have you seen since? What can you see together still?


Thanks to our Psalms correspondent, Richard Bruxvoort Colligan (,@pomopsalmist). Thank you to Scott Fletcher for our voice bumpers, Dick Dale and the Del Tones for our Theme music (“Misirlou”), Nicolai Heidlas (“Sunday Morning”,"Real Ride"and“Summertime”) and Paul and Storm for our closing music (“Oh No”).