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Is It Right?


Recorded on February 14th, 2021

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Without questioning the nature of things, these things become tradition. They transform and become legalistic parts of us, and we tend to judge the world through this self-created lens of legalistic understanding.

Transcript of Sermon:

i don’t know about y’all but that made me cry tom the holy spirit just moves through you i am so proud of you you are a blessing to us thank you so much thank you and i know i’m speaking for many when i say that thank you i still have chills sometimes a song is uh says all the sermon needs to say that i think that one did that we are still in our journey through the book of mark we are going to be in our journey through the book of mark for a while because it tells of the story of jesus and as the song just said we are hungry for jesus we were created to be hungry for jesus and in today’s scripture we’re going to be seeing how jesus lived in this world in a way that was different than many people wanted him to and we’re going to look at how we can respond to that in our lives let us look at mark 2 18-28 now john’s disciples and the pharisees were fasting some people came and asked jesus how is it then that john’s disciples and the disciples of the pharisees are fasting but yours are not jesus answered how can the guests of the bridegroom fast while he is with them they cannot so long as they have him with them but the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them and on that day they will fast no one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment otherwise the new piece will be pulled away from the old making the tear worse no one pours new wine into old wineskins otherwise the wine will burst the skins and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined no they pour new wine into new wineskins on the sabbath jesus was going through the grain fields and as his disciples walked along they began to pick the heads of grain the pharisees said to him look why are you doing this unlawful thing on the sabbath he answered have you never read what david did when he and his companions were hungry and in need in the days of abathar the high priest he entered the house of god and ate the consecrated bread which is unlawful and only for priests to eat and he also gave some to his companions then he said to them the sabbath was made for man not the man for sabbath so the son of man is lord even of the sabbath this is the word of god for the people of god thanks be to god i was one of those people in class especially in elementary middle and high school probably high school the most when somebody would ask a question of a teacher i would get really annoyed i just wanted to be able to be taught take it in do what the teacher said and moved on i didn’t want to hear well why because the answer to me was obvious the why is you do it because you’re told to do it i am obviously in a lot of ways a rule follower in my later days i i’ve become more particular about the rules that i just follow without thinking about them but definitely as i was growing up i was just straight out a rule follower if there was a rule i followed it if you told me to do something i did it i didn’t think much about why i was doing it if there was a tradition we followed it we just did it i just did it and when we were in a class and if you asked why you were making class go longer you were making that part of class go longer and you were annoying me you should just do it because that’s the way it’s always been done or that’s the way we’re being taught for it to be done they’re the teacher you’re the student listen learn move on but as i have grown older especially as i have grown more in my spiritual life really this has come as a result of growing in my spiritual life i have learned the power and the importance of the question why and in my parenting i have promised myself that i would not rely on those famous words that parents use the because i said so statement when kids ask you why do i have to do this why are you telling me to do this why do we have to do this why do we have to go to church why do i have to empty the dishwasher why do i have to go to school and very often i’m pretty good at giving an answer to the question but even still today even still i have to admit i fall back on that statement because i said so but the thing is i don’t want to because i want to encourage my children to ask questions i want to encourage curiosity i want to encourage them to ask the question why and my daughter’s a great why asker she asks why about everything and she doesn’t always question it with why she asks really strange questions and they’re always with the y underneath but it doesn’t come out as why and it gets tiring answering all the questions but i try not to get so tired because it’s important to allow her to investigate to understand the reason why she is participating in something or the reason why we do the things that we do and as we look at what jesus is doing here we understand why why is so important because without why without us questioning the nature of things tradition tradition becomes legalism the things that we end up doing because our grandmother did them or our grandmother’s grandmother did them or because our parents did them or because we were told to do them by teachers those things become ingrained in us and we don’t necessarily understand why they’re ingrained in us we just know that they’re supposed to be that way we just know that i am this way and that’s right because that’s the way i was told to be and we don’t really question it it just becomes a part of who we are and we start to have a legalistic understanding of that part of us and then we impart that legalistic understanding on the rest of the world not only do we judge ourselves by that legalistic understanding we judge others by that legalistic understanding if we were taught that it’s right to do a certain thing at a certain time of year then we believe that and we engage in it or we judge ourselves if we don’t engage in it and we judge others if they don’t engage in it the way that we think they should a perfect example of that is church if you grew up going to church at 11 o’clock on sunday because you had to milk the cows before that’s why it’s at 11 o’clock for most people especially in the south if you grew up going to church at 11 o’clock on sunday at a building with people what we’re doing right now is tearing you to pieces because it’s not right in your mind but is it not right or is it just different and that’s something we’re going to push at today especially as we head into this lenten season this wednesday is ash wednesday which begins the beginning of lent which is the 40 days not including sundays that lead up to easter the resurrected day of christ and typically in this season it’s a time set apart a time of somberness a time of thinking and sitting in a time of fasting and i want to look at all of these things i want to look at our traditionalism i want to look at our legalism i want to look at our idea of church and i want to look at our idea of want and i want to put them against the mirror that jesus holds up here to the pharisees in mark 2 and see what we might be able to learn about our current season of life from what jesus is trying to teach not only the pharisees but those who are following him what we see happening here with jesus is that the pharisees are pushing against jesus and the things that jesus is doing with his disciples right before this piece of scripture they see jesus eating with tax collectors and sinners and they think that they think that is wrong and they push against that and then they notice that jesus’s disciples are not fasting like other followers of the jewish law typically fast and then they also notice that jesus’s disciples have been picking wheat on the sabbath which is wrong according to them so this is what we see happen jesus says to them about fasting you see fasting in the jewish tradition really only had to happen once a year on the day of atonement the yom kippur but they used it more than once a year typically twice a week for a lot of jewish people in their weekly rituals their weekly traditions of engaging god and so this is what they’re talking about they’re saying they’re seeing that you know john’s disciples engaged that’s john the baptist engaged in the fast and the pharisees while still engaging in the fast but why weren’t jesus’s disciples engaging in the fast and jesus said to them surely there’s a season and there’s a time for fasting because fasting definitely does help you grow in your grace it helps you grow spiritually it helps you grow closer to god but there’s also a season when it’s not the right time for fasting and he points out that right now is not the right time with jesus with them it’s a time for celebrating it’s a time for living differently and then with the sabbath they say these men were effectively working on the sabbath as they picked wheat they had very strict laws for the sabbath i mean if you look at jewish tradition today for those who live in an orthodox jew orthodox a jewish tradition they still have strict laws for the sabbath things that they can and cannot do on the sabbath day which include cooking and turning on and off lights and driving and not driving and it was seen as a very bad thing to participate in anything that would against what they saw as being rest and what jesus says to them about this is that the sabbath was made for man and man was not made for the sabbath and so what does this statement mean it says the sabbath was made for man not man for the sabbath the sabbath was made for man not man for the sabbath so what does that mean you see things like fasting things like rest on the sabbath things like prayer and scripture reading and church church the church that we have today 11 o’clock on sundays in a building with people they are definitely good things fasting is a good thing praying is a good thing sabbath rest is a good thing going to church with people is a good thing but what they really are are graces given to us by god in order to experience god in a different way you can experience god through worship at home you can experience god through praying anywhere you can experience god through fasting you can experience god through rest you can experience god through spiritual retreats you can experience god through walking in nature god has made many different ways for us to experience the presence of god some of them are solitude ways some of them are communal ways some of them are both where you have both pieces happening at the same time but what these are our tools are gifts graces that god gives us to use in order to grow in our faith and these gifts were given to us to be used these gifts were not given to us for us to mold ourselves into them we were not made for these gifts we were made for god church is not god fasting is not god sabbath is not god the lenten season is not god and so often we do things for so long they become tradition and tradition becomes a legalized way of experiencing god and we see that as being the only way the right way to experience god and what jesus is saying here is that that’s not the way to see it that is not god’s intention with these graces that we’ve been given god instituted the church god instituted fasting god instituted the sabbath but god didn’t institute these things so that we could make laws out of them god didn’t institute these things so that we could create a legal system to hold people accountable to god created them so that we could better experience the grace of god through them but when we create a legal system out of the things that were intended to be graces we miss the point entirely which is why the question why is so important you see i didn’t even realize until probably about a year and a half ago that the reason why church typically happened in the south at 11 o’clock was because people had to milk their cows before they came to church 10 20 30 years ago for most churches that’s the reason why most churches start at 11 o’clock the reason why churches happen in a church building is because of constantine who was a roman emperor and he made the christian religion the state religion and those buildings were able to be built but before then church happened in homes church happened whenever christian people were brought together in one place whether it be two three four that was church but we’ve decided it has to lurk a certain way in order for it to feel right to us sabbath sabbath happens because we’ve been told by god god instituted that all of creation was made in six days and then god rested on the seventh that’s why sabbath happens has nothing to do with turning on and off lights or picking wheat and not picking wheat god didn’t put all of those caveats onto the sabbath we did that god didn’t create all the rules that go with what a church looks like we did and when we fail to ask why we lose the nature we lose the beauty we lose the wonder of what god’s trying to give us in these graces and we lose the ability to grow because of it we become legal pharisees just like we see here with jesus we become pharisees who say this isn’t what church looks like this isn’t what fasting should look like this isn’t what sabbath should look like this isn’t what lent could look like but that’s not ever what god said that’s just what our traditions have told us and tradition isn’t bad it’s what we do with it that becomes the problem and so what do we want to learn from this what do we take from this what we need to understand is that jesus is holding up a mirror to us and asking us to look at the things that we believe to be true about the world the traditions the rhythms that we’ve put into place into our life and telling us to ask why why do we do it this way why does it have to be this way does it actually have to be this way could we do it in a way that will allow more people to experience the grace of god with us could we do it in a way in which we would experience the grace of god more fully and one of the things i want to challenge us with as we go into the letting season is this typically lent is a time for sober and somber reflection as we lead up to the death and resurrection of christ and throughout the week we fast we give things up and then we have little many resurrections each sunday but i believe that we have been in a long season of somber reflection as covid19 has been really ruling the world that we live in and i’m not sure that we need more somber reflection what i think fits this season the why of the reflection question that jesus puts to us is that what we need more of is more hope more anticipation of the joy that comes with understanding that resurrection is about ready to happen that jesus descends into hell battles with death wins and rises again letting us be free from sin we need to anticipate that with hope this year and so what i’m going to ask us to do over the lenten season as we continue on our journey through mark is not to necessarily give something up to fast from something you can really and here i’m not giving you a rule i’m making a recommendation but you seek god and let god lead you but if this is the way that god’s leading maybe you can join me in this instead of giving something up let’s add something to our lives this lenten season let’s add hope to our lives daily and this is what i mean by that i want to add scripture the hope of scripture the hope of resurrection to our life every day for 40 days up until lent up until easter and what i suggest we do is read one psalm every day for the 40 days of lent on sundays we will read our math our mark scripture so those are the seven days of sundays but on every other day the six days of the week that aren’t a sunday leading up to easter sunday we will read a different psalm that’s my encouragement you can choose whatever psalm you want i will be posting on our facebook page a psalm that you can choose to read with us just read it every day and let the hope let the truth let the beauty that is scripture that is god fill our soul reflect on it sit in it and see what jesus does with you as we prepare ourselves to celebrate the resurrection of our savior because you and i you and i were given the grace of a spiritual discipline called lent but we weren’t made for lent lent was made for us so how can we engage in lent this year in a way that prepares us in a way that recognizes this special season that we’re in the special time that we’re in how can we do church in a way that recognizes the fact that we don’t have to be legalistic church was given to us was made for us we weren’t made for church i encourage you to join me on this journey this lenten season a journey of hope a journey to draw us closer to god closer to the love that we were made for let us pray god i thank you for giving us ways to draw closer to you i ask you lord as we engage in this journey that you would help us to see you better i specifically asked lord that you would show us ways in our lives that we are engaging in tradition and ritual in rhythms and routines whatever they may be that maybe are legalistic instead of life-giving show us what they are and show us a way to change that legalism into a life-giving practice that draws us closer to you god we need hope and hope is on the horizon resurrection is right there help us to set our eyes there and to find comfort in knowing that we are with you it’s in the name of jesus we pray amen

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