On Sunday June 7th I led worship at Killinghall Chapel. It was an augmented congregation as Bilton Area Chapel is being re-organised and has joined Killinghall. We began worship as we read Psalm 130 responsively before we sang, ‘Come, let us of a wonderful love.’ I led the opening prayers of praise, confession and the Lord’s Prayer. I gave a talk to the children about taking responsibility when they do wrong things and not blaming someone else, as Adam blamed Eve, and Eve blamed the serpent for tempting her. Adam even hid away from God. My younger sister Fran accidentally knocked a bottle of milk over and ran and hid as she dreaded Mum’s reaction, but neither of us remembers what happened. If you break something, it is better to own up rather say it’s not my fault. What would happen if you accidentally broke something and your mum or teacher came in and you said, ‘It’s not my fault. It fell off the shelf;’ and a friend steps forward and says, ‘I take the blame.’ Jesus takes the blame, when we admit we have made a mistake and that we are sorry, accepting that it is our fault. We sang ‘Abba Father,’ and ‘Give thanks with a grateful heart,’ before the children left for their groups.
I then read ‘Genesis 3v8-15’ and members of the congregations led the dramatised reading based on Mark 3v20-35 before we sang, ‘Will you come and follow me if I but call your name?’
In the sermon I discussed the problem of blaming other people for their own disobedience, as Adam had put the blame on Eve, who had blamed the serpent for tempting her. Their actions brought punishment on them all, so Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden and had to struggle to sustain their lives in a constant battle against evil.
Mark’s gospel up to this point showed the positive reaction of the large crowds following Jesus round Galilee, watching his healings and the casting out of unclean spirits, but now rumours had replaced that that joy. When Jesus returned home to a big crowd giving him and his disciples no time to eat, some people said Jesus must be mad. His family heard the rumours that Jesus was out of his mind and set out to take care of him and take him home. They feared for his safety. They already felt uncomfortable about the people he mixed with, the outcasts and tax collectors; they knew he was antagonising the religious authorities and wished that he had been wiser in his choice of friends.
The teachers of the Law feared Jesus’ actions. They recognised that exorcisms were performed at that time, but Jesus’ actions had greater authority, when he told the unclean spirits to go, the people were freed immediately. They accused Jesus of casting out demons through the power of Beelzebub, but Jesus pointed out that if he were fighting demons with Satan’s power, Satan’s kingdom would be destroyed, as it would be divided. Jesus knew there was a constant battle between good and evil, but that God is stronger than the evil. Jesus became exasperated when the scribes were accusing him of using evil to free people from possession, especially as he spent his time healing, loving and accepting people and teaching them about God. He said those who wilfully accused him of such actions, were sinning against the Holy Spirit and would never be forgiven, if they did not recognise that he was praying to God for the release of those afflicted by unclean spirits. Even his family seemed to want to intervene in his ministry. When his mother and brothers arrived looking for him, he said that his true family were those who were on the road with him, facing the same struggles and learning to love and obey God as Jesus did.
The psalmist felt overwhelmed by his failings and the sins of Israel and called out to God in desperation to save and restore Israel. He waited in hope for God to answer his call. He felt crushed by guilt and nowadays we too can feel crushed by the weight of our failures. Others can battle with addiction, debt or exploitative labour practices. These people could feel hope in the midst of all their situations if they recognised their need of Jesus. He can help us as we bring our failures, our needs, our joys and our sorrows to our heavenly Father through Jesus. Then we can have the Holy Spirit in our lives to help us grow closer to Jesus and receive his love to share with a needy world. God gives us strength in our weakness.
We sang, ‘I need thee every hour, most gracious Lord’, before I led the prayers of intercessions. Our worship concluded as we sang, ‘God of all power, and truth and grace.’