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Published by Joseph Winston

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Published by: Joseph Winston on Jul 05, 2009
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Pledge of Allegiance
The Rev. Joseph WinstonJuly 5, 2009
Grace and peace are gifts for you from God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
We all know these words, “I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United Statesof America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indi-visible, with liberty and justice for all.” When we speak the Pledge of Allegiance,we publicly state our loyalty to the laws and the authorities of this country.This is but one pledge that we give in this life. High school and college fightsongs commit their students to stay devoted to everything the school holds dear. If we are called to testify in court, we promise “to tell the truth, the whole truth, andnothing but the truth.” Countries enact treaties that describe in detail their behaviorwith other nations. In each of these examples, we give our word that others cancount on us.
Romans 1:7, 1 Corinthians 1:3, 2 Corinthians 1:2, Galatians 1:3, Ephesians 1:2, Philippians1:2, 2 Thessalonians 1:2, Philemon 1:3.
During the time of Jesus, people pledged their allegiance to their family. Frombirth to death, the entire social structure of the ancient world faithfully enforcedthis way of life. Boys followed in the footsteps of their fathers. They masteredwhatever work their father performed and this would be their lifelong calling.Girls learned the business of the household. They studied cooking, cleaning, andraising of children. This is their allotted task in life. The family prearranged mar-riageforbothsexes toensurethattheirchildrenmarriedpeopleoftheproperclass.These newly formed families then started the exact same cycle and for the mostpart, nothing ever changed.There is a very good reason why families live just like this. It ensures theirsurvival for another generation. That is why families pass on basic skills and tra-ditions to their children. They want their hard earned wisdom and their genes tolast another day.The author of today’s Gospel lesson clearly understands that children pledgetheirallegiancetotheirfamily.Thatiswhythenarratorrepeatsforusthequestionsasked in that synagogue some two thousand years ago, “Where did this man get allthis? What is this wisdom that has been given to him? ...Is not this the carpenter,the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are nothis sisters here with us (Mark 6:2-3)?”Right underneath the surface, each of these queries asks the same question,“How is this possible?” The people of Nazareth know who Jesus is because forgenerations they have watched his parents, grandparents, and great grandparents.The neighbors of Jesus have seen Him working as a common day laborer with His2
hands because that is what the men of this family do.
They have worked withwood and stone for years. More than likely that is what James, Joses, Judas, andSimon all do for a living. They are carpenters. In the same way, the townspeoplehave experienced His sisters. These women have married into other families thatwork with their hands. It is perfectly understandable why the town wants to know,“Where did this man get all this (Mark 6:2)?”This is not the first time that Jesus has run headfirst into this problem of notdoing what society expects of Him. A little bit earlier in the third chapter of Mark (Mark 3:20-35), the lawyers from the central office down in Jerusalem hear aboutthe miracles and the teachings of Jesus. A little bit of research on the backgroundof Jesus and His family quickly convinces them that Jesus is full of the Beelzebub.How else would He have this kind of power? Understandably, they want to stopJesus since they do not want to be seen as promoting the prince of devils amongthe people. So, they immediately leave Jerusalem to face Him. When they arrive,they accuse Jesus of having a pact with the devil. That is why He has the authorityto heal all those sick people. Jesus then disarms the situation by using a bit of common logic. He says that a leader never sends an underling to do somethingthat the head disagrees with. That is why He is not working for Satan. But thisbit of wisdom from Jesus does not convince His mother or His brothers. They areactually afraid that Jesus has gone off His rocker. That is how they explain why isnot working with His brothers.Christ responds to His mother and His brothers with two hard-hitting ques-
is anyone who works with their hands.

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