“Getting Carried Away”

Jesus is being accused in our Gospel reading this morning by his enemies, family and friends of getting a little carried away with it all. Other translations of this text say he is possessed or crazy or out of his mind.

It’s hard to know which is more hurtful....to be accused of such a thing by your enemies or by your family? Did Jesus expect anything different from his enemies? Probably not. Did he expect anything different from his family and friends? Probably. 

Still, for many then and for us today, the claim that his healing ministry of casting out demons is something he can perform only because he is in league with demons, is alarming and offensive.

This breathtaking accusation led to the words of Jesus about an unforgivable sin against the Holy Spirit.

These words, I believe have been misunderstood for many, many years by so many, especially by church leaders and has led to high anxiety on the part of loving Christians who have been told that they might have committed the unforgivable sin.

Many still wonder, what could be God's unforgivable sin? Is it even possible that God has something God cannot forgive?

The simple answer – and the only one I know to give – is that humanity sure has a hard time believing that God's forgiveness is deeper and more powerful than anything they can do to offend or sin against God.

What I believe the Gospel writer Mark is trying to say here is that the only thing preventing God's forgiveness to humanity are the obstacles humanity puts in place to prevent God's forgiveness from happening.

God's unconditional love trumps it all! Always!!

So, that takes care of that! There is no such thing as an unforgivable sin on God's part....the only unforgivable sin that exists is ours for each other.

Let's get back to where we were.....Jesus is being accused of getting carried away and accused of being an accomplice with the Devil and if that isn't enough there is the whole business of his family telling him he has lost his mind.

It's clear from this passage that family tensions and dysfunction were present in the family of Jesus. This is promising.

Who among us cannot identify with that? Tensions and dysfunction all over the place. And with that come accusations of someone being out of their mind or getting carried away passionately around something.

Whether it is a grandmother who skydives out of a plane at the age of 80 or a college student who drops out and joins the Peace Corps or a friend who volunteers for a political candidate who has absolutely no chance of winning an election or ….. you name it!

You've been there and so have I!!

Getting caught up – getting carried away!

Rev. Robin Meyers, a UCC pastor and theologian, in his newest book, The Underground Church, says that if we don't see Jesus as crazy or out of his mind or at least getting carried away – we're not in touch at all with who Jesus was or still is.

I like that.

Isn't there something very positive about those who get carried away with their obsessions, their compassion, their passions?

I think of St. Francis of Assisi, the founder of the Franciscan Order who was born into a very wealthy family of cloth makers. 

He walked away from it all as a young adult and began a life of poverty and ministry to the poorest of the poor.

He died in 1226 and on July 16, 1228 he was pronounced a saint by Pope Gregory IX. He is known as the patron saint of animals, the environment and as one of the two patron saints of Italy.

His passion for the poor as a legacy somehow got lost in the fray unfortunately because apparently in his last days he felt some fondness for birds and animals and the environment.

It's too bad he stopped, as one of the stories goes, to talk to a bird singing in a tree once. That story stuck.

It's nice of course that he liked birds and animals and the environment, but for me his real passion was around those in poverty, and his insightfulness in how to live each day as an instrument of God's peace. 

He believed – 
Where there is hatred, we can sow love.
Where there is injury, we can pardon.

Where there is despair, we can bring hope.
Where there is darkness, we can be a light

He believed that it is in giving that we receive blessing upon blessing upon blessing.

I think he got a little carried away with this whole thing, don't you?

I'm glad he did. And I'm glad Jesus did, too. Along with Martin Luther King, Jr., along with Gandhi, along with Mother Teresa, and along with all the ones who have changed this world day by day by getting carried away with their passions and compassion for love, justice and inclusion....for doing not only what is right, but the right thing.

The prayer of St. Francis of Assisi along with our Gospel reading for today sums it up very well.

I'm going to closing this sermon today with the prayer of St. Francis and I would like you to join me – it is found in today's bulletin.....please turn to it.... 

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon; 
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen.