Damariscotta Baptist Church
Wednesday, September 19, 2018
Growing personal relationships with God and community

07/08/12 Sermon

Mark 6:1-13

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in Thy sight O Lord our Strength and our Redeemer, Amen


Just about every small town in America has had someone who left and became famous.

Can you name any famous people who are from Damariscotta or the surrounding area???

I was looking up notable people who are from Damariscotta and saw the names of Anna Belknap who is an actress on the TV show CSI New York.

Many of you also know the name of Jake Day who was the creator of Walt Disney’s Bambi.  (Barbara Cooney—illustrator)

We also have people from away who probably have had some famous local heroes who have made it big……..
My hometown is a place called Osceola, Arkansas and it’s had its share of local heroes.
     Kemmons Wilson who started the hotel chain of Holiday Inns.
     The famous cowboy Roy Roger’s wife, Dale Evans was from Osceola.
     A couple of well know NFL players, Cortez Kennedy and Maurice Carthon were from Osceola.
     And about 8 or 9 years ago another person from Osceola, Buddy Jewel won the first Nashville Star contest.  When Buddy came back to Osceola in 2003 the city made Buddy an honorary mayor, gave him a key to the city and even put a big picture when you come into town.
Buddy was a local hero. And local heroes get accolades, people celebrate them.
Now in our scripture today we see that Jesus is returning to his hometown of Nazareth. Jesus had become a celebrity, very well known all over Judea.

Word had gotten out of his great miracles, his great healings and teachings.

Jesus had become as big as a rock star.
But as we read, Jesus doesn’t get the local hero welcome and celebration. No keys to the city, no honorary degrees, no hometown parade.
So what happened???

Well as we read, Jesus went to the synagogue to do what he did best (preach and teach) and before too long he’s got everybody mad at him.

In verse 3 we read that they took offense of him. They strongly disapproved.
In fact in the gospel of Luke (ch. 4) we read that they took Jesus out to a cliff to try and throw him off.
Not too much of a heroes welcome here!
Jesus lost his chance to get the big sign on the highway!
So what did Jesus do or say that was so wrong that turned this local hero celebration into a public lynching?
Well clearly Jesus was putting forth some teachings that didn’t match with their own.

We don’t see the content of what he said in this scripture but we do know it provoked controversy.

He clearly didn’t give them what they wanted.
And that’s something that is a big part of our church culture today….giving people what they want.
You know, as a preacher I have to resist the temptation to say things that you all want to hear; to preach a sermon that you can all nod your head in agreement with and feel good about.
Preachers can want approval from their congregation and they can also want their churches filled up.
I mean, you don’t want to offend people, especially if they’re out church shopping.

After all, we live in a culture that is so consumerist. People go around shopping for churches with the mentality of it needing to meet their needs.

And churches have affirmed this as they try to cater to peoples needs.
The last church I served was a very large church that had 4 different, unique worship services: a traditional, a contemplative, a blended and a contemporary worship service.

It was like a Chinese buffet. (Get your egg foo yung, or your sweet and sour shrimp or king po chicken).

And of course this consumerist mentality is not just a problem for large churches. It also plagues smaller churches.
Preachers and other church leaders can feel pressured to speak to your weekly wants instead of what God wants.

We’re subject to consumerist criticism over the hymns selected or the order of service or some other worship detail.

And then we have the issue of our choirs. Choirs can fall into the consumerist way of performing anthems with the hope that you (the audience…I mean the congregation) will enjoy it and be inspired; feel good. 
Well that can sound good but what we’re supposed to be doing is pointing people to God; we’re to be signs that direct people to the Kingdom.

And that’s what Jesus was doing. But in doing so, he ticked them off. Jesus shook them up by pointing to the Kingdom of God.

And that’s what Jesus is pointing us toward again today.
Jesus is coming into his hometown, (aka his church), you see we’re his hometown people who supposedly know him the best.
This scripture is speaking to us today to wake us up out of our religious consumerism that we might experience what it truly means to be a follower of Christ.
Jesus came to his hometown to offer power in their lives; to heal them and deliver them from their demonic ways. And he’s coming to us as well.
The question is whether we will receive him as our hometown hero or will we be offended?

Now most of us would say that we would surely receive Jesus with open arms.

We know Jesus so well. We’ve come to church our whole life, sang in the choir and we even got a baptism certificate hanging from our wall.
And yet as we see in our scripture, these people knew Jesus too. They were very familiar with him. But they didn’t really know what he was all about?

And that can be the same thing for us. We can be so familiar with Jesus but not really know him.

And when we’re confronted with who he really is and what he calls us to, it ticks us off.
I’m reminded of a quote from Wilbur Rees who said most people only want $3 worth of Jesus……… Not enough Jesus to explode my soul or disturb my sleep, but just enough to equal a cup of warm milk or a snooze in the sunshine.

I don’t want enough of God to make me love a black man or pick beets with a migrant.

I want ecstasy, not transformation.

I want warmth of the womb, not a new birth.

I want a pound of the Eternal in a paper sack.

I would like to buy $3 worth of Jesus, please.

Our churches are filled with people who only want $3 worth of Jesus.
And when they are confronted with their lack of commitment and the limitations they put on Jesus it ticks them off.
You see, the true Jesus who calls them to drop everything to follow him is contemptuous.
You’ve probably heard the old saying that familiarity breeds contempt.

Many of Jesus’ hometown church people feel contempt for him.

Deep down they resent Jesus. They say: Who does he think he is, wanting me to come to worship each week, or serve him by serving others or praying and reading scripture every day, or join a small group or not have sex before marriage, stop looking at pornography or lusting, forgiving people who do us wrong…..what a burden Jesus is!
Let’s throw him over the cliff.

And sadly we like the people of Nazareth fail to experience the great power of Jesus in our lives as a result.

Our dabbling familiarity with Jesus prevents us from experiencing what those who are so desperate for Jesus have found.
It’s interesting that before Jesus came to Nazareth he had just healed a woman who was hemorrhaging for years. He had also brought back to life a man’s 12 year old daughter.

What these 2 had in common was their complete trust and belief in Jesus.

And as a result, Jesus was able to bring new life to them because of their faith in Christ.
Believing in Christ is not familiarity with Christ. Faith in him is giving our whole lives to him.
Jesus laid it on the line to what it meant to follow him. He made it clear that just dabbling was not enough.
He told Rich young ruler that to follow him he needed to sell everything.
In John 6 Jesus’ teachings led many to turn away. He laid it on the line to the disciples when others were leaving. He said “You don’t want to leave too do you?”
One of my favorite scriptures in the Bible is 1 Kings chapter 18 verse 21.
It’s the account of the prophet Elijah who told the Israelites who were dabbling between their faith in God and the prophets of the fertility god Baal ----How long will you waver between 2 opinions, if the Lord is God follow him, if Baal then follow him----but make up your mind one way or another.
Fence sitting in not an option.

Jesus’ call to those who would follow is a radical call.-------------And it can be offensive.

But you know, it’s only offensive to those who need be offended; those who need to be confronted to make up their mind.
And Jesus wants us and needs us to make up our mind because only when we decide to believe in him and follow him completely will we receive the power and freedom in our lives needed to adhere the next section of our scripture today….

Mark follows this account of Jesus in his hometown of Nazareth with the sending out of his disciples to go and witness to others.

Of course that can be another call that many can be offended by.
The call to witness to others is one that makes us squirm in our seats.
And it’s one that many of us are avoiding.
There was an Episcopal woman, who worked as a clerk in a bookstore. When she arrived for work one morning, she encountered a man dressed as a Hasidic Jew.
After turning on the lights she said, ‘Would you like any help?”
“Yes,” he answered softly, “I would like to know about Jesus.”

So she directed him upstairs to the shop’s section of books about Jesus and turned to go back downstairs, but he called her back.

“No,” he said, “Don’t show me any more books”. He said “tell me what you believe”.
Well the woman later said: “My Episcopal soul shivered.” But she gulped and told him everything she could think of”…………………………
The call to witness to others outside the walls of the church makes many Christians anxious.
The culture has influenced us to an extreme to not be pushy or to offend.
And as a result, many Christians would rather talk about sex, or their salary, or anything other than what they believe about God.
But this scripture tells us that, in spite of the potential for offending others just as Jesus did, we’re to get past our anxiety and tell the story of Christ’s transformative power in our lives.  
We don’t need theological, church words but rather simply the truth in love from our hearts.

And then for those who are offended or don’t listen, we just move on---Jesus says to shake off the dust from our feet.

Our job is done----We cast seeds and let God do the work from there.

But this is not simply reserved for a minority of people in the congregation. There is no 80/20 rule for followers of Christ to witness.
It is essential that all of us who proclaim to follow Christ get outside these walls and get to the business of loving those in our community thru our witness.

As recipients of the transformative power of Jesus in our lives, it is a top priority to love all people in this community.

As a congregation, we need to push away from the buffet bar and get to the intentional business of growing personal relationships in this community so that we can share the transformative power of Christ that we’ve experienced ourselves.

(Taylor’s graduation, salutatorian who proclaimed she was an atheist. ----------------------We are failing because Jesus is only familiar to us)

In closing this morning, Jesus’ is coming to his hometown people; that’s you and me, to shake us up out of our contemptuous familiarity that we might follow his radical call to give our whole lives to him, to seek to live his kingdom ways and to witness his coming kingdom to others.

The question before each of us is whether Jesus is truly welcome in our hearts. Have we put out the sign, and rolled out the red carpet?
Have we given him the keys to our city that we might experience his transformative healing power and deliverance in our lives?
Today, Jesus is coming to remind us again of what it means to follow him.
Will we be offended by our lack of faith or will we believe and receive him as our local hometown hero?
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen