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Superiority The words almost sound

whiney, like a four-year old

Mark 9:38-50 9/30/18 tattletale: “because he was
Rev. Gary Shoemaker not following us.” The
Bellingham F.C.C.
disciples thinking of
Mark has put together a themselves as an exemplary
number of different lessons unit worthy to be followed is
from Jesus and sent them to pretty funny considering how
us in rapid succession in the thick headed they are.
9th chapter of his gospel. It
starts with John coming up And in case you think I’m
to Jesus and telling him judging them, I’m often just
something they saw. as thick headed as they were.
Someone was casting out I’m still trying to figure out
demons in your name, but we all this God stuff, and there
tried to stop him because he are times when I think I’m
wasn’t following us. Or we headed in the wrong
could say, he was doing direction. But for the
something that only we’re disciples to complain about
supposed to be able to do. someone else casting out
He’s not one of us, so we told demons. It’s obvious that
him to knock it off! they’ve forgotten that
following upon the
transfiguration, an afflicted

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individual must complain to that they have the truth. Can
Jesus about his son’s demon: we just go over there and tell
“I asked your disciples to cast them to knock it off because
it out, but they could not do we’re the ones who have the
so” (Mark 9:18)? truth?”
And Jesus says, “Umm, no.
Have they also forgotten the That’s not how this works.
discussion right before That’s not how discipleship
John’s question? That’s when works.” And then he says
they had been discussing further, “And, I know what
which of them was the you want to do next! Now
greatest and Jesus resolutely you want to put a stumbling
declared that arguments block in their way. Not only
about status are upended in do you want to call them out,
God’s Kingdom, that you want to make sure they
traditional divisions of “us” fall. Seal the deal.” Yep.
and “them” are rendered That’s exactly what we want
moot? Their concern smacks to do.
of an elitism that does
nothing more than confirm Then Jesus gives us a
their continued ignorance. warning, be careful how you
treat others. Be careful how
“Jesus we saw someone from you treat the little ones. Be
a different church claiming careful how you put down

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others because you think you We forget that we are all in
have cornered the market on the same proverbial boat, or
truth. pond, depending on your
preferred metaphor. And we
Here we have a classic need to stick together, not for
Markan sandwich, where the sake of an affront against,
Mark places a story in a battle lodged, or a fight for,
between two other stories but for the sake of
that are nearly the same. In camaraderie and collegiality.
this case he begins with the As soon as our
argument over who is the denominations, our church,
greatest, to which Jesus our faith, becomes that which
declares that greatness is we need to defend, we’ve
defined by who is last and given up on true dialogue and
servant of all. Then the story openness to conversation.
about them trying to stop We’ve shut the doors and
someone from doing good, decided that our ways are
but was not one of them. better than others. As I said
Then he comes back to a last week, faith is not about
warning about putting a competition. Faith is about
stumbling block in front of service. It’s about support
anyone who’s trying to find and community. We need a
the way of Jesus. lot of reminders about that.
Which is why this story again

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from Mark, and these words forget about those without
again from Jesus. health insurance. As long as
we’re doing fine, we can
He wants to really make that forget about how women are
point. So he goes to still being treated as objects.
hyperbole and says that it As long as we’re doing fine
would be better for them to we can build walls to keep
have a heavy weight tied others out.
around their neck and get
tossed into the deep end of Charles Dickens’ lesson in “A
the pool. How we treat Christmas Carol” is spot on
others matters. How we get when it comes to this
along with our neighbor lesson. Ebenezer Scrooge is
matters. How we treat the transformed from a selfish,
least powerful matters. How tight-fisted miser who could
we treat the immigrant care less about the welfare of
matters. How we treat the anybody else into a big-
farmworkers matters. How hearted, generous, and kind
we treat the poor matters. man. Part of what effects
this dramatic transformation
Our faith makes a difference. is the fact that he’s visited by
Our culture seems to have the ghost of Jacob Marley,
forgotten that. As long as his former partner who had
we’re doing fine, we can been dead seven years. The

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ghost of Jacob wore a long for anyone to forge such a
and heavy chain that he heavy chain of heartless
literally had to drag along unconcern for others without
with him. When Scrooge feeling something of its
asks Marley about it, he says weight in this life. In our
that he wore the chain he Gospel lesson for today,
forged in life—a chain forged Jesus uses a different
by all the merciless, unjust, metaphor for the cost of a life
ruthless, and oppressive lived at the expense of others
deeds he had done in life. —he says you might as well
And he warned Scrooge that wear a millstone around your
his own chain was as long neck and throw yourself into
and as heavy as his, and it the sea! In case you are
had grown even longer and unfamiliar with the way grain
heavier over the seven years used to be processed, a mill
since Marley’s death! would grind the grain
between two stones, the top
It’s an interesting concept, one of which was called the
that in death we wear chains millstone. It was round and
forged from what we have it was turned by livestock
done in life. Though Marley pulling in circles. A modern
claims that his chains were day equivalent might be one
invisible until the day he of those cast-off tires full of
died, I think it’s impossible

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cement that we use to hold set free from our oppressive
up a volleyball net. deeds. Like Ebenezer
Scrooge, all we have to do is
But I think we also have to change our hearts and change
remember that we all have our ways, and our millstones
diminished another at some come falling off.
time in our lives. We all have
our own millstones around
our necks. Fortunately, the
same Christ who confronts
all who enhance their own
welfare at the expense of
another also offers to set us
free from our millstones. All
of us who carry millstones,
whether we’re “average” or a
“mover and shaker,” suffer
from what we do when we
diminish others. It’s no fun
walking around with a
millstone around your neck!
And just as Jesus offers
freedom to the oppressed, he
offers us all the chance to be

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