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First family

Pastoral Messages | August 31, 2017

The news this week has been dominated by images of individuals and families who, in the most literal way we can imagine, can’t survive on their own. The photographs and videos coming to us from southeast Texas are heartbreaking: nursing home residents sitting in waist-deep water, entire households waiting for rescue on rooftops. We want to know how this could happen. How could so many end up stranded? Why didn’t everyone leave sooner? What could the local and state governments have done differently as the storm approached? There are a hundred answers to each one of those questions, and the most helpful responses do not place blame. As this disaster continues to unfold, one thing is clear: we need each other.

It was the poet John Donne who famously wrote, “No man is an island,” but Christians shouldn’t need a hurricane to be convinced of that axiom. We are part of the Body of Christ, as the apostle Paul puts it, and each part of the body needs every other part.  Another author, James K. A. Smith, writes, “the church constitutes our ‘first family.’”

“Baptism opens the home,” he says, “liberating it from the burden of impossible self-sufficiency, while also opening it to the ‘disruptive friendships’ that are the mark of the kingdom of God.”  We know we can’t always make it on our own, and the good news is, we don’t have to.

My mom’s cousin lives in Houston and safely evacuated before the storm, but on Monday morning she posted this plea on Facebook:  “We have family members that need to be rescued!” She went on to give details of the location of her relatives’ home, desperately hoping that someone in a position to help would see it. Fortunately, her relatives did escape the rising water around their home, but when I think about it now, I realize any one of us who claim the church as our spiritual home could say the same. We have family members that need to be rescued. From floods, poverty, loneliness – the list goes on.

Being part of the family of God means I’m not allowed to be concerned only with blood relations or the family that lives inside my home. “If the church is our first family, then our second homes should be defined by it, and our doors ought to be open to the stranger, the sick, and the poor.” Maybe on some days that means the list of people I need to care for seems overwhelming, but it also means the list of people who care for me is just as long.

May God provide for our family today – in the Quad Cities, in Houston, and everywhere in between.

Ryan Bailey, director of faith formation

One comment on “First family”

  • Stella Herzig

    August 31, 2017 at 2:41 pm

    Thank you, Ryan! super good message!

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Isaiah 53:4-12

4Surely our griefs He Himself bore,

And our sorrows He carried;

Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken,

Smitten of God, and afflicted.

5But He was pierced through for our transgressions,

He was crushed for our iniquities;

The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,

And by His scourging we are healed.

6All of us like sheep have gone astray,

Each of us has turned to his own way;

But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all

To fall on Him.

7He was oppressed and He was afflicted,

Yet He did not open His mouth;

Like a lamb that is led to slaughter,

And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers,

So He did not open His mouth.

8By oppression and judgment He was taken away;

And as for His generation, who considered

That He was cut off out of the land of the living

For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due?

9His grave was assigned with wicked men,

Yet He was with a rich man in His death,

Because He had done no violence,

Nor was there any deceit in His mouth.

10But the LORD was pleased

To crush Him, putting Him to grief;

If He would render Himself as a guilt offering,

He will see His offspring,

He will prolong His days,

And the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand.

11As a result of the anguish of His soul,

He will see it and be satisfied;

By His knowledge the Righteous One,

My Servant, will justify the many,

As He will bear their iniquities.

12Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great,

And He will divide the booty with the strong;

Because He poured out Himself to death,

And was numbered with the transgressors;

Yet He Himself bore the sin of many,

And interceded for the transgressors.

Psalm 91:9-16

9For you have made the LORD, my refuge,

Even the Most High, your dwelling place.

10No evil will befall you,

Nor will any plague come near your tent.

11For He will give His angels charge concerning you,

To guard you in all your ways.

12They will bear you up in their hands,

That you do not strike your foot against a stone.

13You will tread upon the lion and cobra,

The young lion and the serpent you will trample down.

14“Because he has loved Me, therefore I will deliver him;

I will set him securely on high, because he has known My name.

15“He will call upon Me, and I will answer him;

I will be with him in trouble;

I will rescue him and honor him.

16“With a long life I will satisfy him

And let him see My salvation.”

Hebrews 5:1-10

The Perfect High Priest

1For every high priest taken from among men is appointed on behalf of men in things pertaining to God, in order to offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins;2he can deal gently with the ignorant and misguided, since he himself also is beset with weakness;3and because of it he is obligated to offer sacrifices for sins, as for the people, so also for himself.4And no one takes the honor to himself, but receives it when he is called by God, even as Aaron was.

5So also Christ did not glorify Himself so as to become a high priest, but He who said to Him,

“YOU ARE MY SON,

TODAY I HAVE BEGOTTEN YOU”;

6just as He says also in another passage,

“YOU ARE A PRIEST FOREVER

ACCORDING TOTHE ORDER OF MELCHIZEDEK.”

7In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His piety.8Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered.9And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation,10being designated by God as a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.

Mark 10:35-45

35James and John, the two sons of Zebedee, *came up to Jesus, saying, “Teacher, we want You to do for us whatever we ask of You.”36And He said to them, “What do you want Me to do for you?”37They said to Him, “Grant that we may sit, one on Your right and one on Your left, in Your glory.”38But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?”39They said to Him, “We are able.” And Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you shall drink; and you shall be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized.40“But to sit on My right or on My left, this is not Mine to give; but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.”

41Hearing this, the ten began to feel indignant with James and John.42Calling them to Himself, Jesus *said to them, “You know that those who are recognized as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them; and their great men exercise authority over them.43“But it is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant;44and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all.45“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

Bartimaeus Receives His Sight