The Rev'd John P. Gedrick III
Christ Church, New Haven, Conn.
Second Sunday after Pentecost
June 10, 2018
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
The Bishop of Atlanta, Rob Wright, publishes a weekly and often pithy reflection, and for his topic this past week, he chose the word “restrain” from this morning’s gospel. His thoughts stuck with me, and I thought, this morning, we, too, might consider Bishop Wright’s question, How do we restrain Jesus in our own lives? Restraint does pop right out at us, The crowd came together again, so that they could not even eat. When his family heard it, they went out to restrain him, for people were saying, He has gone out of his mind. We know that he hasn’t, of course, or knowing what we know about Jesus, we’re, at least, willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. This Jesus who offers us the freedom of release, the freedom of unrestrained love, the freedom of knowing that Here, gathered, are my mother and my brothers, and Jesus assures us, Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.
Thy will be done. It is that for which we pray. It is the assurance for which our heart longs. Inspire us to know what is right, we pray, and guide us to act upon it. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. It is what we, our souls long for, more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning. The psalmist reminds us in his great plea out of the depths that we long for God because God forgives. There is forgiveness in heaven, and we pray for it, we hope for it on earth. If you, Lord, were to note what is done amiss, O Lord, who could stand? For there is forgiveness with you; therefore you shall be feared. With him there is plenteous redemption, and he shall save Israel for all their sins. We wait or as Paul puts it, We do not lose heart because it is by God’s mercy that we are assured of our place in heaven.
A trouble, perhaps, the trouble is that the world, the earth and humankind upon it is not apt to forgive. Often, it hates. The enmity of old is powerful, and because of its power, we often succumb to it and do not choose to forgive. Thus we pray, Forgive us our trespasses. Help us not to give in, we might say. Help us to persist in love. Help us to wait. Enmity, after all is a strong and powerful force, and we, very often tap into it and accuse, He has gone out of his mind. We, very often, restrain, He has Beelzebul, and by the ruler of the demons he casts out demons. Jesus, thank God, catches us in our own game, loves us, and asks us to recognize what we’ve done. With Jesus, you see, there is forgiveness; withered hands are restored; the lame take up their pallets and walk. He knows his father’s will, the very spirit within him, and he’s trying to show us how it is to be done, how to resist the hate of the world, the devil, no less, here, on earth. How can Satan cast out Satan, he asks? Divided, anyone falls, he reminds, and for the record, he reminds us still further, I’ve bound him up.
Just before this little lesson, Mark relates to us that Jesus went up the mountain and called to him those whom he wanted, and they came to him, as we have come this morning. And he appointed twelve, whom he also named apostles, to be with him, and to be sent out to proclaim the message, and to have authority to cast out demons. There is it.
By proclaiming the good news, that there is forgiveness even when it is in short supply, even in the midst of hate, it is then that we cast out demons, and we weaken the power that enmity holds in the world. The Holy Spirit within us, God’s grace within us, is the source for living without restraint, so let us not blaspheme against it. Instead, let us tap into it, let us receive it in the host, let us tap into it, let us not lose heart, let us tap into it, let us wait for the Lord by forgiving others. The way not to blaspheme against the Holy Spirit is recognize what is within us and to wait. More than watchmen for the morning, let us wait for the Lord in the knowledge of our own forgiveness.
More than watchmen for the morning, let us hope in the Word made flesh. More than watchmen for the morning, let us keep asking for the inspiration to know what is right. More than watchmen for the morning, let us ask for guidance in acting upon it. More than watchmen for the morning, let us never give in to the power that hate holds in the world. More than watchmen for the morning, let us ask for forgiveness when we do. More than watchmen for the morning, may we forgive others as we have been forgiven, for in forgiving, God’s will is done, and we find life unrestrained on earth as it is in heaven.