and 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.” And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, “He has Beelzebul, and by the ruler of the demons he casts out demons.” And he called them to him, and spoke to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but his end has come. But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his property without first tying up the strong man; then indeed the house can be plundered.
“Truly I tell you, people will be forgiven for their sins and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit can never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”— for they had said, “He has an unclean spirit.”
Then his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside, they sent to him and called him. A crowd was sitting around him; and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside, asking for you.” And he replied, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.” -Mark 3:20-35
Oh no. Here they come. The church people. The crew from the temple. The people of God. The religious folks.
The “members of the congregation.”
And they’re all wearing their Sunday’s best.
And they’re carrying their Lutheran Handbooks.
And they’re wearing the liturgical colors.
Dear God, Oh no!
And Look! They’re with the moral majority, focus on the family, the soap-box-standing, the venom spewing!… They’re with the self-righteous, the judgmental, the angrier and angriest, the up-standing citizens, and photo-taking politicians; lovers of all things never-changing, all things established, ‘cause ‘that’s-just-the-way-it-is, honey!’
They’re with the ones who love to tell us that ‘that’s just the way it is!’
God help us! Oh no!
They’re with the ones who love to tell us we are sinful, we’re unclean, we’re impure, and unholy; they’re with the ones who love to tell us we are bad.
They’re with the ones who love to tell us we’re bad or stupid or lazy because we’re poor, or because we’re hungry, or because we’re thirsty—as if needing food or drink or sustenance of any kind is some sort of defect, or deficiency, or even selfish or greedy…
God! You know it’s not selfish to be hungry!
(As if God didn’t say that cary for the hungry, the thirsty, the sick, is caring for God, doing God’s will).
Here come the ones who love to tell us we are bad or wrong because we are single, or childless, or gay, or divorced, because we are anything-at-all other than one man + one woman + also one crud-ton of baptized, bathed, and dues-paying kids;
Here come the ones who love to tell us we are bad or wrong because sometimes we have to work on the Sabbath. But, darn it, ever since Rome took over, that’s the only time we can get some work every now and agin. On the Sabbath. And, darn-it, we’ve gotta live! We gotta pay the bills. We’ve gotta pay the doctor or the doctor’s gonna stop seeing the kids, you know? Sometime’s ya gotta work on the Sabbath!
You know this, O God!
Here they come, the “faithful.”
Here they come, the faithful, the lovers of the king,
the king our occupier,
the king our oppressor.
Here they come, faithful unto death
no matter the King’s faults;
lovers of Herod who occupies our land with his family and their friends and their armies.
Here they come: the Herodians!
Here they come: they’ve even taken his name as their own!
The Herodians! The Herodians? The Herodians?!
Holding their banner, flying it high,
for the self-proclaimed “King of the Jews…”
(That’s what Herod called himself)
“Son of the gods, ruler from the heavens on earth…”
Here they come in the name of “Our king:” Our-king-vindictive. Brutal. Terrifying. A man who orders genocide. And crucifies those who make him nervous. Who crucifies those make him feel threatened by the feeding those in the realm to which he’s entrusted, and proclaiming the Realm of God at hand, so close you could touch it.
Here they come, with their banner, their flag, their membership certificates, their Lutheran Handbooks…
The Herodians. The Church-folks.
The baptized, the circumcised, the faithful.
Here they come with holy water and rage.
And they mean business.
LET’S GET OUT OF HERE!
Dear God, deliver me from Thy people.
if that’s what people were saying
as they were gathered.
I wonder if that’s what people were saying as they were gathered, together, around Jesus.
I wonder if that’s what people were thinking as they were gathered together hoping, longing, desiring for something—something more.
hoping, longing, desiring
for belonging, for acceptance, for community, for healing, and liberation,
I wonder if that’s what people were thinking as they were gathered together, hoping
for “this-day our daily bread,” the forgiveness of trespasses, and deliverance from evil; for God’s Kingdom-come, God’s will-be-done, on earth
as it is in heaven…
if that’s what people were saying as they tasted, anticipated, gathered together, looking for the life of the world
and the Kingdom, the Feast, the fulfillment of what might yet be…
I wonder if that’s what they were saying as they gathered around Christ, the embodiment and the anticipation of the new Reign, the new Kingdom, the renewed world for which they hoped, for which they gathered, together, in their deepest needs, diseases, desires, thirsts, leprosies…
I wonder if that’s what people were saying when, suddenly, the Church-folk and the Herodians crashed the feast, disrupted the foretaste of what’s to come.
When they crashed the feast,
Accusing this man, this God, this Jesus,
who was helping people speak, walk, live, and worship anew;
who had freed women and men from the demons that shut them up, kept them quiet; demons that robbed them of their voice
or spoke for them in words not at all their own;
when they showed up
accusing this man, this God, this Jesus,
who freed women and men from the demons that immobilized them, paralyzed them, kept them from walking and running and marching…
Accusing this man, this God, this Jesus,
who freed women and men from strong demonic powers that excluded them
from full participation in society and worship and even in their own homes;
demons that sucked and burrowed their way into his sisters’ and brothers’ and mothers’ and neighbors’ lifeblood until they became a shell of who God desired and desires for them (and us) to be…
I wonder if that’s what people thought, said, and felt…
Here come the church-folk and the Herodians, accusing this man, this God, this Jesus, who has liberated women and men from their demons of fear, their demons of addiction, their demons of “what-will-everybody-think- if they find out who I am, what I’ve done, where I’ve believed…”
demons that tell them, that tell us,
that tell so, so many people:
“you’re not good enough,” or “you’re better than everyone!” or “you’re not ready yet,” “you’re nobody,” you’re “too poor” or “too stupid” or “too old” or “too young” or “not too pretty, really.”
Or not loved by God! Not loved by the Spirit. Not held in Love.
Demons that blaspheme by denying and distorting grace and love and Liberation.
Be gone, demon! says Jesus.
…BE GONE! Be cast out.
Get out of here.
I wonder what people thought when “here come
the church-folk, the Herodians!” accusing Jesus.
Accusing Jesus who proclaims to those in need, to us, to church-folks, to you, to me:
Your sins are forgiven.
Your leprosy is gone.
Take up your mat and walk!
Speak, you have a voice.
Love, you are forgiven.
Touch the Kingdom of God, you are liberated—
even as you wait for its fullness.
Jesus, who proclaims to those in need, to us, to church-folks, to you, to me:
You are beloved, loved, Children of God.
You are my sisters and my brothers and my Mother
You are freed to do God’s will
as it is in heaven.
The Spirit blows this way and that,
going wherever She may,
liberating whomever She chooses;
forgiving, reconciling, inspiring, healing, feeding, however and wherever She breathes, She wills, She wants.
Look for the Spirit.
Listen for the Spirit.
Pentecost has come.
Pentecost in now.
Go out in love.
Cast out demons.
I wonder what those people thought
who were gathered around Jesus,
to be fed, to be healed, to be forgiven, to be Resurrected,
I wonder what they thought
when the… (church-folks???) and the… (Herodians???) showed up.
I wonder what they will think today.