Monday, September 21, 2009

Mark 9:38-50: The Lectionary Gospel Lesson for September 27, 2009

This is my own translation of the lectionary gospel lesson for Sunday. Please make any comments concerning the passage you want. Together, let's discuss the Word of God:


38And John was saying to him, "Teacher, we saw a certain person, in your name, casting out demons, and we were trying to prevent him, because he wasn’t following us." 39And Jesus said, "Don’t prevent him, for no one who does a work of power in my name will be able quickly to speak evil of me. 40For the who is not against us, he is for us. 41For whoever might give you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ, amen I say to you, that person will absolutely not lose his reward.
42"And whoever might cause to stumble one of these little ones who trust in me, it’s better for him to have a millstone put around his neck and to have him cast into the sea. 43And if your hand might cause you to stumble, then cut it off. It’s better for you to enter into the life disabled than having two hands, to go down into Gehenna, into the fire unquenchable. 45And if your foot might cause you to stumble, they cut it off. It’s better for you to enter into the life lame than having two feet, to be thrown into Gehenna. 47And if your eye causes you to stumble, then cast it out. It’s better with one eye to enter into the Kingdom of God, than having two eyes, to be thrown into Gehenna, 48where their worm doesn’t come to an end and the fire isn’t put out. 49For everyone will be salted with fire. 50Salt is good. But if the salt has become unsalty, then in what way will you season it? Have salt within yourselves, and live in peace with others.

1 comment:

  1. Part of the Gospel lesson -- the Millstone.

    Back in the late fifties or early sixties my Pastor at the
    Presbyterian Church of Devon preached on this text. He was a gifted
    Pastor, but not the best preacher. I don't recall many of his
    sermons, but this one I do remember. He preached on this text. He
    began by speaking about the British Order of the Garter. He spoke of
    the meaning of the order and the metal one was given on induction.
    Many metals are hung around people's necks when they are conferred.
    Then he proposed a new order - the Order of the Millstone. This would
    be conferred on anyone who molests children. He did not use exactly
    those words. In those days we were not so willing to speak openly of
    sexual matters. Regardless of the language he used, we all knew what
    he was talking about. Fresh in my mind was a Scoutmaster in a former
    church I attended who was dealt with for molesting some of the Scouts.

    Today we are more open about addressing subjects like child abuse
    (sexual and otherwise) and sexual misconduct. I was part of a team
    that rote policy for our denomination on sexual misconduct at the
    General Assembly level. I chaired the team that revised it after the
    1993 Assembly.

    As the Committee on Ministry Associate for the GA I did research on
    sexual misconduct out in the presbyteries. I asked each presbytery to
    tell me what cases of sexual misconduct they were currently dealing
    with. Many reported all the cases they had dealt with in recent
    years. One or two told me about impending cases not yet filed, but
    known to the Presbytery. As I sifted through all that information, I
    could rejoice in several things. Most of the cases did not involve
    Pastors. They were lay violators, like that Boy Scout (Cub Scout)
    Master I spoke of earlier. But I focused on the clergy. Again I was
    able to rejoice that very few cases involved child molestation. It
    was no where near the epidemic proportions we have witnessed in the
    Catholic Church in recent years.

    Make no mistake. One case of child molestation is a tragedy!

    I did a little calculation. I added up all the cases the Presbyteries
    had reported to me. I added an artificial average number for all the
    Presbyteries who had not reported. I then multiplied the resulting
    number by ten (the Women's Unit at the GA was saying that for every
    minister caught, ten more were guilty.) And I then compared the
    number to the number of Ministers in The PC(USA). The result was less
    than 1.5 percent! If it looked like an epidemic, part of the
    appearance of epidemic was due to repeat offenders, and media hype.
    And i rejoiced that of that 1.5 percent involved in misconduct of any
    kind even fewer were involved in child molestation. The great
    majority of Presbyterian ministers were decent, God fearing people,
    who would never do anything like that!

    Back to our text. Child molestation is only a very small and narrow
    part of the application of this text. There is so much more to talk
    about. One could see the reference to "little ones" as meaning new
    Christians. Anything that causes a new Christian to stumble is worthy
    of the millstone. That might include the misuse of power by a church
    officer. That might include a teacher whose tongue is afire (See the
    recent James three text as an example.) This might include pride in
    ones spiritual gifts that turn off a new Christian, etc.

    The Gospel lesson is a rich mine for the preacher this week. Too bad
    that it is up against all those other great alternatives! I don't
    suppose people would put up with multiple sermons this Sunday. grin>