Pentecost 2, Year B – “The pervading role of sinfulness”

Title:Pentecost 2, Year B – “The pervading role of sinfulness”

 Pentecost 2, Year B (full size gallery)

It felt like the beginning of a muggy summer but it was still beautiful outside as the day lilies were beginning to come up. The heron were on the river as well as canoes and motor boats. We had 21 in the service and 7 online.

The flowers left over from Nancy Wick’s funeral were exquisite and graced the the altar. Andrea provided an update of the Jamaica project with $1,625 raised and listed some key supplies still needed. She plans to go to Jamaica in August with possibly Catherine and others. The invitation was extended!

The sermon used a Google maps metaphor with locations this week in Iraq, Israel and Greece.

“Paul says that our outer nature is wasting away. And yet, our inner nature is being renewed day by day as we focus on heaven, the eternal unseen things that are to come, full of God’s glory.

“Jesus took this long view. His knowledge that the kingdom of God was near gave him the courage to go through his own journey, which included the cross.

“Jesus was all about the work of transformation. The point of our journey through this season after Pentecost, is our ongoing transformation into the glories of being part of the body of Christ, and our ongoing transformation of heart, mind and spirit as we enter more fully into the glory of living into the fact that we are already dwelling in the immensity of God.

The sermon is also one of the videos


Today’s readings explore the pervading influence of sinfulness that makes humans stand in resistance and opposition to God. In Genesis , we learn the meaning of human sinfulness from the story of Adam and Eve’s disobedience. Paul encourages the Corinthian Christians to trust in the eternal power of God. In the gospel, when his opponents declare that Jesus is possessed by Beelzebul, Jesus warns them of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. Jesus throws it back at them.

Today’s Old Testament reading from Genesis about the fall is excerpted from the second (2:4b–3:24) of the two creation stories in Genesis God has placed a prohibition upon the tree “of the knowledge of good and evil.” Chapter 3 this week recounts human rebellion against God’s prohibition. Wisdom can grow by experiences – and this is one!

The serpent first insinuates doubt about the facts of the situation and the woman responds by overstating the case. Then he instills suspicions of God’s motive and opens the possibility of freedom, especially the freedom to judge God.

The primary sin is disobedience, a stepping outside of the sphere of God’s will. This disobedience leads to the disordering of all relationships. First the couple become individually self-aware; they are no longer “one flesh.” The relationship with God is disrupted; the couple tries to hide from God. The man accuses the woman and God, and the woman accuses the snake. The judgments given by God account for the natural world and society as these were apparent to the Hebrews. They explain why the serpent crawls and why there is hostility between humans and snakes.

Verse 16 explains why the blessing of fertility (1:28) is associated with pain and why there is tension between the sexes. Likewise, through the cursing of the ground, the work for which humans were created (2:15) is now laborious. Verse 19 would seem to show that the mortal nature of humankind was implicit in the circumstances of creation (2:7), but now death is a conscious and inevitable fate.

Man and woman are now first individualized and called Adam and Eve. In an act of grace toward them, God redeems the sentence of death (2:16) and clothes the couple before sending them out of the garden, showing God’s protective care even in a time of judgment.

Psalm 130 is a lament, a plea for deliverance from unspecified trouble. It is one of the Songs of Ascent (Psalms 120–134), perhaps sung by pilgrims on the way up to Jerusalem. The psalmist makes an implicit confession of sin (vv. 1-3). He puts his trust in the Lord and exhorts the community to do likewise.

Paul’s Epistle (2 Corinthians 4:13-5:1) continues to explain the nature of his ministry. Despite his suffering, his faith will not let him keep silent, he must bear witness as he illustrated by quoting Psalm 116:10 His preaching, his suffering and his faith are all for the Corinthians’ sake so that the gift of grace may call forth the response of gratitude. For the believer, life in Jesus is both present (4:11-12) and future (4:14).

Paul uses dualistic images. God’s work of salvation and the Christian experience of it are both ‘now’ and also ‘not yet’. In verse 17, Paul plays with the sense of the Hebrew word for glory, which also means heavy. Literally, ‘the present lightness of affliction’ prepares believers for “an eternal weight of glory,” not as a compensation for suffering but as a product, a fruit, of it (Rom. 8:17).

The Gospel from Mark the further build up of opposition to Jesus’ ministry. The issue is now not questions of religious observance, but the very source and nature of Jesus’ authority and power. Jesus is judged (psychologically) as “beside himself” by his friends. This is tantamount to a charge of demon-possession (John 10:20). He is accused (theologically) as “beside himself” by the scribes. Their charge against him may be two-fold: possession by a particular demon, Beelzebul (2 Kings 1:2), and use of Satan’s power to cast out demons.

In response to the blindness of family and authorities, Jesus uses a parable to draw his listeners toward a decision. He refutes the charge of collusion with Satan and shows that instead, through him, Satan himself is bound by a stronger power (Isaiah 49:24-25; Revelation 20:2-3), the sign of the coming of the kingdom. He then turns the charge against the scribes—all sins and blasphemies will be forgiven, except setting one’s self against the very source of forgiveness by believing that the Spirit active in Jesus is satanic. Doing the will of God, on the other hand, brings one into intimate family relationship with Jesus (Matthew 25:40; John 15:14; Hebrews 2:11-13).