Ordinary Time (Proper 5)
MARK 3:20–35/3:15–30 IV
Who Is My Mother, Who Is my Brother?
Genesis 3:8–15, Psalm 130, 2 Corinthians 4:13—5:1, Doctrine and Covenants 161:6b
Build a wall of cardboard boxes at the front of the worship space. On the front of the boxes, write words that can divide people (anger, fear, oppression, etc.). On the back of the boxes, write words that unify people (love, understanding, compassion, listening, etc.).
Supplies for Focus Moment: wooden blocks
Arrange for people to participate in “Houses of Unity” and “We Confess Our Divisions.”
Call to Worship
Leader: Out of the depths we cry to you, O Lord.
All: Lord, hear our voices! Let your ears be attentive to our supplications!
Leader: If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, who could stand?
All: But there is forgiveness with you, so that you may be revered.
Leader: We wait for the Lord, our souls wait, and in the word we hope;
All: Our souls wait for the Lord, more than those who watch for the morning,
Leader: O Israel, hope in the Lord! For with the
All: It is God who will redeem Israel from all its iniquities.
—Based on Psalm 130
Hymn of Gathering
“All Are Welcome” CCS 276
OR “Summoned by the God Who Made Us” CCS 330
Focus Moment: Houses of Unity
Supplies: wooden blocks
Paraphrase today’s scripture passage. Give emphasis to verse 25, where Jesus says, “And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand.”
Ask for volunteers to work as a team using the blocks to build a simple house with at least four walls. When they are done, ask them what it was like to build a house together. Was it easy? Was it hard?
After a brief conversation, ask them to return to their house. Ask each volunteer to pick one wall of the house, and on the count of three, pull one of the blocks out from the base of the wall. The house should fall.
Talk about what the scripture means when a house is divided. Ask if anyone has people in their lives they sometimes don’t get along with. Then steer the conversation to the many different “houses” we have in our lives (church, school, country, world). Ask how we can be peacemakers to create more unity in a divided world. If possible, give everyone a block to take home as a reminder to build houses of unity.
Prayer for Peace
Light the peace candle.
God who meets us in the midst of our division, breathe into us your Spirit of peace. When we forget to listen to each other, still our minds and soften our tone. When we forget that we belong to each other, call to our memory that our welfare resides in the welfare of others. May we become the building blocks of your peaceable kingdom on Earth. In Christ’s
For more ideas: The Daily Prayer for Peace services offered at the Temple in Independence, Missouri, can be found on the church’s website as Calendar Events at www.CofChrist.org /daily-prayer-for-peace.
Hymn of Relationships
“Who Is My Mother, Who Is My Brother?” CCS 336
OR “Would You Bless Our Homes” CCS 629
Based on Mark 3:20–35/3:15–30 IV
Disciples’ Generous Response
Project the Disciples’ Generous Response Video, “Who Stands Behind You?” which can be found at www.CofChrist.org/resources#/1660/disciples-generous-response-who-stands-behind-you. Note that the story points to the idea that we should treat each other as family in Christ.
As you share financially through Mission Tithes, or if you give regularly through
Blessing and Receiving of Local and Worldwide Mission Tithes
For additional ideas, see Disciples’ Generous Response Tools at www.CofChrist.org/disciples-generous-response-tools.
We Confess Our Divisions
Invite the congregants to spend a few minutes in quiet reflection about the words of division displayed at the front of the sanctuary while quiet music plays. After a few minutes, have a few people who have been previously asked to come forward, take the wall down, and turn the boxes so they show the words of unity.
“We Are a Family of Faith” CCS 350
OR “O God of Vision” CCS 78
Doctrine and Covenants 161:6b
Ordinary Time (Proper 5)
Exploring the Scripture
This scripture lesson features a literary form used regularly by the writer of Mark. A story is in the middle of a story. The outer story—the beginning and the end of the lesson—is about Jesus’ family members going to find him because they think he has lost his mind. The story in the middle is the scribes accusing Jesus of being Satan because he cast out demons.
Two groups in this passage stand in contrast to their motivations but are similar in their accusations. Jesus’ family members, out of love and concern, go to find him because they think his preaching, teaching, and miracle-working is erratic behavior. They act in love but think Jesus is insane and perhaps harmful to himself and others. The scribes also see Jesus as harmful, but they act out of arrogance and contempt. Insanity is just the opinion of his family, but the accusation by the scribes was a legal offense punishable by imprisonment or death.
The persona of Satan, also known as Beelzebub, evolved throughout the history of the Jews. Early in Hebrew stories, as depicted in Job 1 and 2 and Zechariah 3, Satan was a heavenly being whose role was to test humans’ commitment to God and to prosecute them before God if they failed. By Jesus’ lifetime, Jews understood Satan as the supreme opponent and rival to God and God’s good works, as well as being “the ruler of the demons.”
As he does in other stories in the Gospels, Jesus uses logical thinking to turn his opponents’ words against them. It can be only the power of God, not Satan, who drives out demons. Verses 28–30 represent one of the few places where Jesus talks about sin and its effects. Rather than talking about sin, Jesus preferred to talk about sinners. It was, after all, part of Jesus’ mission to redeem sinners.
The third group in the lesson is Jesus’ followers. On this occasion, the throng was so intent on hearing and seeing Jesus that he and the disciples could not even eat. By its presence, the crowd was seeking to do God’s will. Jesus loved the people for that—beyond the love, care, and concern he had for his birth family.
We can learn three principles from this scripture lesson:
First, it is important to Jesus that people understand and see the saving power of God at work in his ministry. Jesus’ effort to correct the charges of doing magic or acting as an agent of Satan wasn’t to uphold his credibility or to get out of trouble. Jesus’ intent was to make sure everyone witnessing the event was aware the power of God was the source of Jesus’ miracle and ministry. That same message is true today. The power of God is still resident in our ministry and actions when we engage in Christ’s mission.
Second, everyone has worth. Jesus usually doesn’t hang out with rich, powerful, or aristocratic people. He doesn’t have the scribes’ social and political power and probably doesn’t have their formal religious training. Yet, Jesus out-thinks them. By challenging the scribes, he shows his followers and reminds us that we don’t need social and political power to be about Christ’s mission. We just have to be dedicated and willing disciples.
Third, there is
- The power of God was responsible for Jesus’ miracles and ministry. That same power is available to us today.
- Social and political power is not necessary for disciples to engage in Christ’s mission.
- Creating community provides help and support to one another in living a life dedicated to justice and peace.
Questions to Consider
- How is God’s saving power expressed in your ministry as you engage in Christ’s mission?
- When have you challenged injustice, expressing the Worth of All Persons?
- How is God calling you and your congregation to bring ministry to those who are marginalized?
- How does your congregation create community? How can