October 10 Worship Service

Our October 10 Sunday worship service is available on video through Facebook. You may view it without being a member of Facebook. We are excited to say that our Sunday 8 & 10:30 am services are open again for in-person worship. Services will continue to be streamed online.

Click on picture to view video

The October 17 Sunday worship service will be held with in-person attendance. We have returned to regular in-person worship services. With an upturn in county COVID cases, we recommend masks even for those who are vaccinated.

It is scheduled to be streamed live on the DeSoto Redeemer Facebook page. We will post a direct link to the recording here as soon as it is possible after the service.

We are glad to share our worship with you. Click on “Contact Us” above to find out more about our faith family and what we believe.

Amos 5:6-7, 10-15 | Psalm 90:12-17
Hebrews 4:12-16 | Mark 10:17-31

The Gospel text today is usually called, “The Rich Young Ruler.” Who decided to call it that? Nowhere does it say that he is young nor a ruler. He could have been an old peasant, a middle aged craftsman, anything else. He may well have been rich, being a man who “had many possessions.” We are just told by Mark that he is a man. Maybe we should rename this one “The Man Who Had Many Possessions,” or better yet, “The Man with the Burning Question!” That’s the point of the story.

He comes to Jesus with a question, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” That is a question which many people have, and may be one of the oldest questions going. People have been asking it since time memorial. That, and another question, “Why me?” I’ve noticed people are more worried about the answer to the question in the text the older they become. So, again, he may have been and old peasant! Jesus reply is simple, “Keep the commandments.” He then names a couple of them. It’s ironic, or maybe purposeful on Jesus’ part, that Jesus doesn’t name the ones which the man has trouble with. He doesn’t list “covet.” Which is what the man suffers from. He wants. He desires. And, he wants more what he does not have. At the moment, he covets eternal life. Though we are told later that he has many possessions, he is not really fulfilled by them. He realizes that they do not make him complete, which is true of all earthly things. They don’t ultimately measure up, and they will all ultimately break, rust, mildew, or fall apart. They have left him wanting, empty. True, they may have given him security in this world, but he desires more. It even seems that those many possessions are a stumbling block for his desire for eternal life. He desires now things outside of this world, eternal life – that is the ultimate of wants. He wants security in the next life.

It is strange that Jesus doesn’t list any of the commandments from the first table of the Law, those which deal with our relationship with God. These are usually considered the most important Commandments. He doesn’t mention, “You shall have no other gods.” That one turns out to be another of the man’s problems. His possessions have become his gods; idolatry which is his chief trouble (and really most peoples). The First Commandment is the hardest to keep. It always has been. The Jews had recognized that for centuries. All persons tend to set up their own little gods. One article I read a long ago said, “For American men, it is their car; for American women, it is becoming the shopping mall” – an interesting place of worship, and gather more possessions. But, the shopping malls are closing. So, women are now safer! Men are still stuck with cars, and they are much more expensive. But, Jesus doesn’t hit him with the First Commandment in the course of their discussion. I find that interesting. I think that Jesus just sort of assumes that the man has trouble with that one. We all do.

The man says that he has kept all of the commandments since his youth. That is a big claim, actually a boast, an impossible one. He is basically saying, “I don’t sin.” Think about that one for a while. But, I know a couple of people who have basically, and ignorantly, made the same claim. And yet again, Jesus response is interesting. “He looks at him, and loves him.” He must have admired the fact that the man is trying; that he at least believes himself to be sincere. “You lack one thing…” The man’s problem is that he feels he is lacking (and in terms of making our own salvation, we are always lacking something). “Go! Sell! Give to the poor! Follow me!” Did you notice that all of those are commands, not statements nor suggestions. But the man is thinking in terms of law here. And the man is appalled! Jesus has hit him right between the eyes with the First Commandment. His possessions are his idol. Get rid of your idol! That is what is preventing you from keeping the commandments. That is what is blocking your way.

The key, “You lack one thing.” We always will lack at least one thing when we are trying to earn salvation, eternal life. Hence, “For mortals it is impossible.” The Greek original is even a bit stronger. A better translation is, “Humans are powerless.” We do not have the power. The power must come from beyond us when it comes to the eternal. We shall always lack, want, at least one thing. We just don’t have it in us. We are not able!

But then Jesus says, “For God all things are possible.” Again, the Greek says, “God has the power.” It is not up to us. It is up to God. It is God’s gift to bestow. It is not something which we may earn. That’s why we reject Works Righteousness out of hand. That brings us to the camel through the eye of a needle. Many Biblical scholars will point out that “The Eye of the Needle” was Jerusalem’s shortest gate, camels had to go through on their knees. It was difficult. I think that Jesus is going even further than that illustration. It is impossible, not just for the rich, or poor, or middle class, but for all those who have fallen into sin. We human beings are faced with an impossible dilemma. But it is not impossible for God! God has the power. And God, from His divine generosity, has given us the gift of eternal life, through our faith in his Son, Jesus Christ.

God gives to us, freely, what we cannot hope to make, earn or accomplish. A possession which is only His to give. He gives to us that which is the impossible for us, the gift of eternal life, everlasting salvation and the forgiveness of our sins. He does this out of His steadfast love for us, as a gift of His grace. It is not something which we must do. It is a gift freely given to all who believe. That is why, truly, the Gospel of Jesus Christ is, indeed, the Good News.

October 3 Worship Service

Our October 3 Sunday worship service is available on video through Facebook. You may view it without being a member of Facebook. We are excited to say that our Sunday 8 & 10:30 am services are open again for in-person worship. Services will continue to be streamed online.

Click on picture to view video

The October 10 Sunday worship service will be held with in-person attendance. We have returned to regular in-person worship services. With an upturn in county COVID cases, we recommend masks even for those who are vaccinated.

It is scheduled to be streamed live on the DeSoto Redeemer Facebook page. We will post a direct link to the recording here as soon as it is possible after the service.

We are glad to share our worship with you. Click on “Contact Us” above to find out more about our faith family and what we believe.

Genesis 2:18-24 | Psalm 8
Hebrews 1:1-4; 2:5-12 | Mark 10:2-16

Genesis 2: The Creation of Woman. I just taught this text on Wednesday for the Confirmation Class, which I thought was ironic timing. And it is also a favorite for weddings, lots of weddings.

Why does God do this? Why does God create the woman? “It is not good that the man should be alone.” God is concerned about the man, when God is not there with him, out doing things that require God’s undivided attention. So, woman is created for the sake of companionship (and more). She is someone for the man to share life’s journey with. She is created for the sake of relationship. They both are really. So, no longer alone. To be fair, why does God create the man? There is a school of thought which holds the same reason, so God is not alone, literally, a “playmate.” We are created for God to be in relation with!! Think about that one for a while. I like that one a lot more than the standard, “Adam was created to tend the Garden of Eden.” Playmate vs. Gardner, I’ll go with playmate,
Back to the text, what does God set out to create? “I will make him a helper as his partner.” A strange sentence. The Good News Bible Translation prefers, “a suitable companion.” That works better. The Hebrew literally means a “help-meet.’ Someone who is equal: co-equal, co-worker and companion. She is created then not just for companionship, but also to share the work, to take care of the Garden of Eden, equally.

So, God sets out to make this “help-meet.” God creates all of the creatures of the earth. And, not of them fit the bill. And so, God shifts gears, does something unique. By the way, this flies in the face of the saying, “God never changes.” Yes, God does change the way He operates when He wants to. In this instance, God does something completely different. God creates a new creature, from a creature. This is the only place in Scripture where this happens. Puts the man in a deep sleep, takes a rib, and makes woman. This is the one!! You can tell that in the man’s response when she is brought to him, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh, declaring equality and compatibility. This one shall be called Woman, for out of Man this one was taken.” The relationship is formed from the same being. Man and Woman are co-partners; two halves of the same whole. In marriage, “The two become one flesh” in the eyes of God. This is the basis of the Christian Theology of Marriage. God’s intention in marriage is relationship, companionship, equality and, unfortunately, work.

That brings us to the question asked in the Gospel lesson. The question is presented as a test on Jesus, asked by some of the Pharisees. The question is on divorce. “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” Now, pay close attention to Jesus’ answer. Jesus’ answer is, it is “allowed.” He does not say that it is “lawful.” And, Jesus continues to explain the situation with: Moses allowed divorce because of the “people’s hardness of heart.” God did not originally intend it. The theological understanding of marriage is the restoration of the Oneness of the Man in the Garden, namely Adam and Eve. The two become one creature, one being in the sight of God, and marriage, all marriages, is therefore a New Creation, per se. A new couple enters into the world with God’s blessing. That’s the Good News. That is God’s intention.
The Bad News is, as always in the world of theology, sin. Thanks to Adam and Eve’s Fall into sin, in the very next chapter, Genesis 3, relationships break and the concept of divorce enters into creation. Divorce is a breaking of a relationship, a relationship which God had intended from the beginning. It also can lead to the breaking and straining of many other relationships.

Now, Moses allowed a certificate of divorce to be written. And it could be written for virtually anything that the man didn’t like: burning supper, not ironing his shirts, snoring, whatever. Women could get a divorce too. But for women it was much more complicated. Men could do it at the drop of a hat. He just had to write the certificate of divorce, take her up on a hilltop, face the east, say “I divorce thee. I divorce thee. I divorce thee,” and hand her the certificate. It was then done. A simple process, and it was being used, and abused all the time, usually leaving the woman penniless and indigent. By the way, conservative Jewish women are still in a quandary when it concerns divorce.

Now, here, Jesus ups the ante, quite a bit. He argues that a divorce, isn’t. Did you catch that? He quotes, “So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” That’s the adultery part of the lesson. Although people often divorce on grounds of adultery, though they claim other grounds: my favorite excuse is, “Irreconcilable Differences.” That sounds like burning supper to me. Jesus seems to be arguing further, as usual. The divorce does not break the relationship. Whoa! There’s a twist. His answer to the Pharisees questions is literally and simply, “They are no longer two, but one flesh.” There is no breaking of this bond. Kind of changes modern norms a bit doesn’t it! And, Christ is looking forward to his own mission in this.

Why? God starts a relationship with us, and although we may seem divorced because of sin, God does not give up on us! This too is a New Creation. Christ is the first fruits of that New Creation, restoring the relationships between God and humanity, and also between our selves, healing the rifts we have created among ourselves.

In baptism, we are made a part of that new creation. We are joined to his flesh, we become one with Christ: “No longer two, but one”, and we are joined to his new life through his death and resurrection. The guilt of our sin is removed, and we are restored to the original intention in which God created us. Christ’s relationship to the Church is often described as that of Bridegroom and Bride, using the language of marriage, a new creation. Read the Book of Revelation on the subject. That marriage theme runs through Scripture. Now, being joined with Christ, and in his Church, we share with him in his glory before God. As we have the promise that we are not alone. Christ has joined us to himself, and we cannot be divorced from him.