Trust: What Can Unite a House Divided? 6-7-15

Trust is absolutely essential to human existence. Humans have to trust each other in some very basic ways for surviving and even more for thriving. For the next 4 weeks, we are going to talk about trusting ourselves, trusting each other, and trusting God. I purchased this stone with the word “Trust” on it at the National Cathedral this week. I’ll pass it around. When it comes to you, you may say a prayer.

Mark 3:20-35 Then Jesus went home, and again such a crowd gathered that he and the disciples were unable even to eat a meal. When Jesus’ relatives heard of this, they went out to take charge of him, thinking that he had lost his mind. The religious scholars who had come down from Jerusalem said to Jesus.  “He is possessed by Beelzebul,” and  “He casts out demons through the ruler of demons.” Summoning them, Jesus spoke in parables.  “How can Satan cast out Satan? If a realm is torn by civil strife, it cannot last. If a household is divided according to loyalties, it will not survive. Similarly, if Satan has suffered mutiny in the ranks and is torn by dissension, the Devil is finished and cannot endure. No attacker can enter a stronghold unless the defender is first put under restraint.  Only then can the attacker plunder the stronghold.

June 7, 2015

Trust: What Can Unite a House Divided?

Let’s say you are in Paris or Montreal, some country you really want to visit and enjoy. You run into some people from Pennsylvania and strike up a conversation. It’s fun to talk to someone with whom you are not struggling to communicate, and they recommend a local restaurant. You turn to your traveling partners and you say, “Hey, we’re going to go to the Golden Temple restaurant tonight. Elouise here says it’s a great place, and we have to try it.”

That is a scenario most of us could easily imagine happening. Similarly, if a Parisian or local person on that same trip recommended their favorite restaurant, we might not be as quick to take their advice. We might imagine they were pushing a place they had a financial interest or incentive to push, or we might come up with another reason. But the truth is that the local person who knows more and has lived in the place longer is often less likely to gain our trust than the tourist who may have only been there a couple of days.

We are funny that way. We trust people for odd reasons sometimes, because they speak our language, because they are familiar to us in superficial ways. We trust people we have been around – family, friends, and fellow-church goers.


How odd for us then, that Jesus encourages and practices a totally different kind of trust. In our assigned reading for today, Jesus finds that his family (the people we usually trust the most) has developed suspicions that he is a bit off his rocker. The passage says they think he’s lost his mind. The Greek literally says, they thought he was “standing outside.” So “beside himself” is a good translation – or ‘out of it.” With all the healing and casting out of demons that he is doing, they think he is “outside” of control. They have come to try to take control of him.

He answers their accusations that he is under Satan’s control with a curious argument about how he could not possibly be Satan casting out the demons of Satan, saying a house divided cannot stand. When they tell him his mother and brothers and sisters are outside asking for him, he says, “No, my brothers and sister, and mother are here.”

Usually we put family and religious authorities at the center of who we would trust implicitly, who we teach our children to trust. Jesus undercuts both those assumptions. Christianity usually puts Christ at the base of their structures and uses his authority to bolster the authority of the institution. But the institutional authorities are precisely who Jesus condemns in this passage and often in scripture, for not recognizing who Jesus is. Jesus has little patience for them – or for his family.

But he seems to have endless patience for a broad range of other folks, for Gentiles, Jews, the poor, the demented, the sick, working people, women, tax collectors, sexual outcasts. Jesus seems to be looking for the people who can most easily make the transition from “dedication to religion to an openhearted love of God’s beloved, disfigured humanity.” [p. 118 Feasting on the Word]

Working with this broad range of broken people is where Jesus pushes us to build our community of trust. This is where we really learn to trust each other, in the trenches of our lives, in the places where we have to rely on each other to get through, the places where we find that our only option is to trust in God.

You know how they say there are no atheists in foxholes? The ones who share our foxholes with us are the ones we really learn to trust, the ones whose desperation we touch and who spark our desperation for the divine. (I’m desperate for you) Sometimes that might be the disabled, physically or mentally.

I listened to a repeat of a radio show Marcia and I love called ‘On Being’ this week. The interview was with the founder of l’Arch, a community of mentally and physically disable people. He is a very wise man. He said our community is not based on belief or a creed. It’s based on the body, the broken body of Christ.

We have a lot of learn as we in our brokenness welcome and build community with others in their brokenness. Jesus says this is what will unite a house divided -a commitment to accept the faithfulness of the Living God in and among the people of God. This is why we are facing each other in a circle during our summer worship – to develop trust in God through facing each other in our brokenness and in our connection to God through that brokenness.

In this way, we may learn the true meaning of the meal which Christ gave to us, the true meaning of trust in God, who is inside and who is outside of God’s community of caring. In this meal of brokenness and forgiveness, Jesus de-demonizes us, frees us from our captivity to classifying others and ourselves as inside or outside of God’s love and God’s community.