October 4, 2015
Nineteenth Sunday After Pentecost
Shera Nesheim, DM
Quick survey: Raise your hand if your parents are divorced or you have a friend or family member who has been through a divorce? Alright so statistics show that here today, 99% of us have had divorce affect us or someone we deeply care about.
This reading can make a person squirm in their seat. Just mention the word divorce and it can pull forth a wealth of emotions from anger to pain to frustration to grief. Everywhere I turn, the realities of fractured relationships are on tv, they splinter our lives, they are in schools, in our churches – which is why when we hear Jesus talk about divorce and broken relationships, we just want, no, we just NEED to hear his loving words.
Upon first listening to Jesus words today, in Mark, there is a lot of legal and historical banter. Some of which may not make sense. And then, just as Jesus gets into adultery and marriage, we get distracted by children who are trying to bust down the door to get to him.
Likewise, upon first listening to our local pop radio station, I found myself bopping my head to the beat of a catchy tune and with playful sounding lyrics, a song that is supposed to be about falling in love and getting married. This song, “Marry You” by Bruno Mars tons proposal video on youtube, and goes like this: (hit it Johan – on the piano…)
It’s a beautiful night,
We’re looking for something dumb to do.
I think I wanna marry you.
I’ll go get a ring
let the choir bells sing like oooh,
So what you wanna do?
Let’s just run girl.
(but then it takes a turn for the worse)…
If we wake up and you wanna break up that’s cool.
No, I won’t blame you;
It was fun, girl.
—> insert YCC boys singing back up “oooohhhh” 🙂
I’m not Bruno Mars but this song called “Marry You” seems sweet, until you read all of the lyrics. To summarize: boy meets girl on a beautiful night and they decide they want to do something dumb, like get married. Get the chapel. Get the ring. Lose inhibitions and if you regret it all the next day, who cares! It’s so easy to get caught up in the music and we forget the truth. We DO care about what happens the next day. We DO care about who we fall in love with. Relationships aren’t flimsy whims, and we do care what happen to them.
I’d like to think about today’s lesson from Jesus as a mini college course in “Relationships 101.” He’s not just talking about divorce, he’s talking about how to be in relationship. I think, we can draw 4 strong conclusions from Jesus today about what it really means when we enter into any relationship:
- We are to not let our hearts harden.
Like the Israelites, hardened hearts will do nothing for relationships or community. Hardened hearts mean that we close ourselves off to others. We try to justify our selfish actions with excuses, blame and fear. When our hearts are hard, we are no longer able to be in a positive relationship with others, including our significant other. We are no longer able to best care for those around us, our children, our friends, even ourselves. Look up hardened hearts in the Bible. It’s never a good thing. Keep reading around those texts to find how to prevent a hardened heart, other than staying away from butter and fried foods…
- We are to remember why we were created in the first place.
From the beginning, God made us for relationship. God didn’t want us to be lonely. God wanted us to care for this creation and live together with a partner, one who is so deeply connected to who we are, that we are better because of them and because God has joined the two together. And I believe, that we can know the Spirit of God in and through people with whom we have such a close, intimate relationship.
- We are to believe in the fidelity of relationship.
Fidelity means to be faithful. What Jesus is demanding here, is that to be in relationship with one another means to seek fidelity first. To be faithful to the promises we make to one another. Remember, we believe in a forgiving, but demanding God. None of us will ever live up to the expectations of God or our partner; only God’s mercy and faithfulness secures us into relationship with Christ and with one another. Thanks be to God for grace.
- We are to receive each other as gifts from God.
We receive each other like Jesus takes the children up into his arms. He makes the children, the forgotten, the most lowly human beings, and makes them the priority. He not only welcomes them into his house but he lovingly takes them into his arms, hugs them securely and blesses them. How would our relationships with one another be different if we were to receive each other as a gift from God?
Almost every single one of us knows someone who has had a relationship significantly fall apart. It’s not glamorous, it’s painful. And messy. And heart-breaking. When a relationship fails, the dreams that were with it end too.
Christians are not to stand and condemn people in divorced relationships, we are here to walk with each other. Broken relationships are a part of this life and we as Christians are called by God to witness to the forgiving and life-giving work of God in the midst of it.
We are here to check in and see how the kids are doing with all the transitions divorce often brings. We’re here to give each other a hug when it’s been a bad week. We’re hear to silently cry with one another, when the pain seems too much to bear. We are here to laugh with one another, because sometimes things get so chaotic, all you can do is laugh. We, the people of God, are here in the thick of it together. And it is time that we sing love songs of hope to one another.