June 6: The Second Sunday After Pentecost

The Rev. Joseph Peters-Mathews is the vicar of St. Hilda St. Patrick. The sermon for Sunday, June 6, 2021 was preached from the manuscript below and was a response to Mark 3.20-35.

In the name of God
in whom we live and move
and have our being. Amen.

In this morning’s gospel text,
we in some sense
pick up where we left off
in February.
Jesus is into his public ministry.
You may recall
his healing Simon’s mother-in-law
and the whole town
pressing against the doorway.
In the interim,
we’ve had the Easter Cycle
and Jesus has performed
more miracles.
Today there are so many people,
so many people reaching out for Jesus,
that he and the disciples can’t eat.

People are desperate
for Jesus’ love and healing.
Those around him
don’t understand his love
or his mission.
His family seeks to restrain him.
They’ve known him for 30 years…
what’s with this healing business now.
Surely it’s not real,
and he’s just out of his mind
thinking that he can heal.
They’ve known him for 30 years,
what does he mean
there’s more to him,
a part of him,
that they’ve never seen or known before?
The observers from Jerusalem
are skeptical of him.
They haven’t known him his whole life,
but this is different.
Who can cast out demons,
except a ruler of demons,
they wonder and accuse.

Those who have hidden parts of themselves
for some or even much
of their lives
can probably identify with Jesus.
There are all kinds of coming outs
that people undergo.
Here in June,
in Pride month,
we celebrate and stand in solidarity
with those who’ve come out
about not being
what’s seen as “the default.”
When people come out to their families,
they’re sometimes accused
of being out of their minds.

Forty percent of homeless youth
have been rejected by their families
for coming out as queer.
According to a 2016 CDC report,
lesbian, gay, and bi youth
seriously contemplate suicide
at almost three times the rate
of heterosexual youth;
they are almost five times as likely
to have attempted suicide
compared to heterosexual youth. [1]
In a national study,
40% of transgender adults
reported having made a suicide attempt.
Ninety-two percent of these individuals
reported having attempted suicide
before the age of 25.[2]
Despite marriage equality
having been achieved,
the queer community —
youth and adults —
faces lots of obstacles in society.

There are currently 37
anti-trans pieces of legislation
working their way
through state legislatures
across the country. [3]
People who live at the intersections of oppression,
know all too well,
how rough life can be.
We recall their names
at our Transgender day of Remembrance,
unable to ignore
how many trans women of color
are murdered every year.
If not their families,
someone has said,
like Jesus’ family,
that they’re out of their minds.

Jesus’ response to that
and to his critics who suggest
that he’s a demon overseer
is to rebuke it.
The Son of God
through whom all things were made
has the power to cast out demons
because he is God
and is lord of heaven and earth.
He points out to his accusers
that a house divided against itself
cannot stand.
What would it profit Satan
to be rejecting his own workers?
If the demons are having their impact
why would Beelzebul want to stop that?

Jesus is not dissuaded
by the rule-makers
or by his family.
He’s come to proclaim
forgiveness of sins
and that the Kingdom of God
is at hand.
Rather than be held back
by family who thinks Jesus has lost his mind,
Jesus expands who his family is.
“Looking at those who sat around him,
he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers!
Whoever does the will of God
is my brother and sister and mother.’”

Look at those who sit around you.
As we strive to do the will of God,
Jesus has called us
his mother, father,
sister, brother,
sibling, parent.
When we’ve been rejected by our families,
queer or not,
Jesus has embraced us
into his.
Maybe his mother and brother
hadn’t tried to restrain him.
there was family rejection.
So he expanded the family,
in a way known to so many LGBT people,
to a family of choice.
Jesus expanded his family,
his family of choice,
to include us too.

This is the good news that we know,
and that we try to share
with any in need.
No matter who we are
or where we are on our spiritual journeys,
no matter what we’ve done
God loves us.
Jesus came to preach
repentance of sins,
the restoration of broken relationships,
and that God’s Reign is at hand.
What we see and know now,
is not the end,
and God is working in and through the mess
in and through Jesus the Incarnate Christ
to make all things right.
As we strive to do the will of God,
remembering trans deaths
celebrating victories
applauding Pride
Jesus says to us,
Here is my family!
Let it be so.

[1] CDC. (2016). Sexual Identity, Sex of Sexual Contacts, and Health-Risk Behaviors Among Students in Grades 9-12: Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. via The Trevor Project.
[2] James, S. E., Herman, J. L., Rankin, S., Keisling, M., Mottet, L., & Anafi, M. (2016). The Report of the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey. Washington, DC: National Center for Transgender Equality. via The Trevor Project.
[3] via Freedom for All Americans Legislative Tracker.

Leave a Comment