Rarely do you find 3 RCL readings in the same week speak with a clear Children and Family voice, whether you look at the family dynamics in the first half of the Gospel Reading, or you look at the basic emotions of acceptance and rejection across all three readings; there is something that can speak to the heart of the child, or the child within or the child that was.
In the First reading 2 Samuel 5:1-5, 9-10. Though we may not be destined for Kingship, who does not need to hear of the self doubt that David had in moving forward into his role of King, something God called him too as a child, every child, present, past or within needs to hear of that moment of self doubt because we too experience them. I remember the confusion of being left in charge of my younger siblings, and being totally unprepared to feed them, get them ready for bed, read to them, get their homework done etc in my parent’s absence, even though I had been trained from early on (by observing), on what I was required to do. In that moment of self doubt, I needed to be reminded that David, given a bigger responsibility than mine, faltered like me. There was no crystal ball to tell me that my siblings would survive that night, but in hearing this story of David, I can discover that it worked out in the end, the historical aspect of Bible story telling allows for future endings, which we cannot foresee in our own lives. Every child needs to hear that future, every child needs to know they are not alone in their doubt, every child needs to hear the story, and a reference that they understand, so that they can incorporate God’s story into their own lives. When talking at an emotional level of doubt we all can access the reading, regardless of age or educational standard, the story becomes universally or intergenerationally accessible.
This week’s Gospel reading (Mark 6:1-13) is again a complex collection of stories, any of which could stand alone, yet are packaged for us to consider together. Why talk about disciples and birth families in the same passage if not to draw something of the two concepts. This community of Christ, the disciples are juxtaposed against contrasted and validated by the traditional family. What is similar, what is dissimilar, what is being taken forward and what is left behind. I have read/heard some commentators raise the issue of the putting aside of birth family here as being opposed to so called Christian Values of Family First, but that discussion can not hold water, for as Christians we are asked to love God first. It brings us into conflict between social norm and Christian faith, and every family needs to be aware that this faith we are seeking comes with costs. Maybe it’s compatible, maybe it’s not? No child or family should leave this passage without understanding that it contains tension. How do we negotiate that tension without Judgement? A child sensing the tension, will also learn by observing the behaviour of the adults interacting with it, do not sell them short by giving them a value lesson that may or may not be incompatible with the life they live or may need to live? Families, Christian or otherwise are complex organisations and to simplify the passage is to belittle our myriad of experiences.
And every child, needs to hear the comfort of a faith that is built to give them strength and life skills. In Mark, they learn that you don’t keep pushing faith, you move on and keep going, how many children, present, past and within need to hear that it’s ok to step away from a situation, you do not have to win every argument, against every bully, or even do well at everything. And that in our Second Reading this week 2 Corinthians 12:2-13, that in our weakness God is strong. Because every child, present, past and within knows that they are weak, that there is a bigger kid, a large adult, a boss, a rival, but we have a God that is even bigger.
This is the Good News and it is for all ages, I want to encourage you that it does not take much tweeking to open out your sermons this week, so that present little ears can hear God’s message for them.
I am writing this on Wurundjeri land and wish to pay respect to all Elders, past, present and emerging.