HYMN for Week 16/Mark 6:1-13/Jesus rejected
Who is This, The One Before Us?
Text: Gracia Grindal Tune: Amanda Husberg
1. Who is this, the one before us,
Giving people bread?
Mary’s Son, he cast out demons,
Raised the dead.
2. He who raised the dead is Jesus
Come from Nazareth.
One of ours, we do not know him
3. Without faith we cannot see him,
In the wine and bread,
Once for all he died to save us,
As he said.
4. Scripture says though we betray him,
Still he comes to us.
Once for all he died to save us
On the cross.
5. On the cross we see God hidden
In his flesh and blood.
Spirit, give us faith to know that
He is God.
Text copyright 2008 Wayne Leupold Editions, Inc.
The story of Jesus’ rejection by his hometown and his family is the story of people being who they are. Commentators through the ages have made allegorical interpretations of this scene showing the event as a symbolic marker of his rejection as though this rarely has happened before in families. Or hometowns.
We know that is not true, maybe in our own lives. Jesus’ reciting an old truism that prophets are without honor in their own country gets at the very human nature of this rejection. And we all know it well.
One of the funniest, and uncomfortably true, skits in the Carol Burnett Show that I remember was when a successful son in The Family comes home after winning the Nobel Peace Prize, among other things, to receive an honorary degree from the local college. He receives no adulation from his family, each of whom is nursing some grudge from the past. They can hardly get ready for the ceremony in his honor they are so engaged in their own dramas. They knew him when… He isn’t special, he was just… And he hurt them, but not as much as they are hurting him. While this family has the capacity to be cruel and heartless, and focused on their own griefs, it is not unusual in families. They are being normal, albeit exaggerated for comic effect. What the wider world has to say about a family member is of little consequence to my own life, they are saying. And in that they are right. There is no way they can think that their relative is more than what they know.
In this event in Jesus’ life we see that the people of his hometown cannot imagine or grasp who is standing before them. In matters of faith, this is the truth. Without the gift of faith, we cannot see anything but flesh and blood. So they reject him. They think they know him, but they do not. Maybe he is too much like them. Maybe they also wonder what good can come out of Nazareth? He is only the son of a carpenter. They've known him since he was a boy.
Jesus certainly is like them. He came to live with us as flesh and blood, to get to know us and relate to us and bring us a new life that changes everything. He has brought eternity into our very limited spaces. And he breaks open possibilities undreamt of in our philosophies or simple conventions. Heaven is walking with us, by us, into our dailiness.
Today we are in a protracted struggle with each other about our future. Who do we want to be? People are read out of society for what they think or even thought long ago. Those thoughts define them. Their sin becomes them and there is no salvation or forgiveness possible.
We Christians have always known we are sinners and despite our attempts to be good, we are filled with urges toward evil and wrongdoing. It is what should make us humble and aware of our need for correction and forgiveness. There but for the grace of God go I, is the mantra Christians have to say. It makes us gentle with others because we see ourselves in the other.
The miracle is that we can be forgiven and find the strength to go forward, despite our failures. Christ came into our midst knowing exactly who we are and what would happen to him. Despite all that, he came and lived with joy among us. Even those closest to him, who thought they knew him best, were given the grace to see that what they thought they knew was not the half of it. Here in their midst stood another reality, another world, one that transformed all of life: God in the flesh, dwelling among us. Do not our hearts burn within us when we see the world around us by the power of the Holy Spirit, as he takes fire in our midst and shows us eternity? Does not this make our walk back to our homes and our friends completely different? Praise the Lord, it does!
It is not easy to find a hymn that speaks to this difficult topic so I am using my own. Hymn writers sometimes seem to have solved their doubt and anxiety before writing a hymn, but that often makes hymns seem too confident for weak believers who find themselves in doubt. It is not in their power to believe on their own. We pray for the Spirit to create faith in us.
Amanda Husberg, the composer of the tune, died this last February. She has left behind a great treasury of music almost all of it glorifying God. I am grateful I could know her and work with her.
Purify my Heart. A fine piece by Amanda and a frequent collaborator Richard Leech. Good for this lesson.
(Sorry for the bad quality copy. I am away from my copier.)