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Mark 6:1-13

The Rev. Jon Roberts

7 July


Calvary Episcopal Church

Indian Rocks Beach, FL

1 He went away from there and came to his own country; and his disciples followed him. 2 And on the sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue; and many who heard him were astonished, saying, “Where did this man get all this? What is the wisdom given to him? What mighty works are wrought by his hands! 3 Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense[a] at him. 4 And Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor, except in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house.” 5 And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands upon a few sick people and healed them. 6 And he marveled because of their unbelief. And he went about among the villages teaching. 7 And he called to him the twelve, and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. 8 He charged them to take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts; 9 but to wear sandals and not put on two tunics. 10 And he said to them, “Where you enter a house, stay there until you leave the place. 11 And if any place will not receive you and they refuse to hear you, when you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet for a testimony against them.” 12 So they went out and preached that men should repent. 13 And they cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many that were sick and healed them.


He Sent them out Two by Two (Il les envoya deux à deux), 1886–1896, James Tissot

If Familiarity breeds contempt,
Honor may be lost in your hometown.
And if moving away makes you exempt
Think twice about any return,
Your own people may attempt to take you down.[1]

A study shows that 72% of high school graduates do not intend to stay in or return to their hometown after they graduate. 61% of college graduates say the same. Why is this? As young people develop today, between the ages of 15-20, there is a strong likelihood to be “patterned.” This is a word that describes how a culture of experiences, at a relatively youthful, pre-independent age can shape how a person is characterized by others. Often it begins with their upbringing. “Their father is Adam, and their mother is Susan.” The list may continue to include the names of brothers and sisters. In a hometown, there is genealogy of succession. The city or village, depending on how big it is, may become aware of its history and form you into it in some way. It could be a career path such as, “They come from a long line of attorneys”, or they may be known by achievements such as, “She is just like her mother and grandmother. They all know how to sew beautiful quilts.” Those are the positive contributions, and the list of variables is endless. Still, they are familiar. We become self-aware by what patterns we have lived into. What if our contributions were negative? What if we dropped the ball that could have won the championship, and it was forever remembered? What if you were responsible for a tragic death, even though it wasn’t a crime, something you could have prevented? In such cases, you might also consider moving away to avoid being reminded by everyone you see. Maybe you think these are only small hometown problems, and nothing like this happens in the big cities? Think twice.

In my own hometown, I am known to be the son of “Winky & Louise”, brother of “Cindy,” and maybe some remember my grandparents’ names or other relatives, if asked if they knew me. They may tell you where I lived growing up in Hillsborough, NC, the schools I attended and the friends I had. My father was a builder and many of the houses he built, I worked on. They would know I attended First Baptist Church. I was a pretty good artist, fisherman and basketball player. They may even add “I remember when”, stories. My sister has plenty of them, many about my not-so good, moral decisions and she freely offers them in sequential order. Maybe some of my friends may have similar ones to verify. For many of those I wish not to relive and ask that we close memory lane for the time being. Maybe that is part of the reason why my family and friends think I never returned home. Perhaps. I have not been back there long enough to find out. God had in store for me a journey when I left home to which there have been many achievements as well as some failures. Although I shared them all, it was from a distance. It was away from home. To some degree, we should be able to relate the importance of how much our local upbringing can have a major impact on our development, and may I even suggest our faith in Jesus. Moving away is not a bad thing if it is for the right reasons, and those reasons should be because you are following your heart, and you are following God’s voice.

If young people, such as those high school and college graduates, leave home after they graduate, you know they would love nothing more than to come back one day and make everyone proud. “See what I have become” and then let the fatted calf be sacrificed for a holy barbecue and let the celebration take place! Bold, ambitious but how self-centered to believe we could make such a contribution to our town, our family tree or at the most remote, our individual lives by propping ourselves on our achievements in front of the people who “grew us up” and assisted in us becoming patterned. They may be confused, remind you of the person they remember, set the record straight and even try to take you down.

Another interesting point to make is that when most people leave to find a partner. This need for “twosome-ish”, journey making is something internally driven. God is calling us to think twice and a suitable partner allows this to happen. Let’s now turn to how all of this applies to Jesus.

Jesus was the eldest in his family. Firstborn of Mary. Joseph, technically was the step father, as Jehovah, Yahweh, God Almighty in heaven was and is the true father of Jesus. When Jesus turned eighteen, or some time after, theologians suspect his earthly father, Joseph, died. We know hardly any detail. We know he was not around during Jesus’ Galilean ministry when he was about thirty years of age, nor was he present at the Crucifixion or Resurrection. As the eldest son, it was his responsibility to remain as the head of the house. He was to take his father’s trade, to be a carpenter to provide for his mother and the rest of the family. Jesus had four brothers and a few sisters. In the Gospel heard today, we hear their names: James, Joses, Judith, and Simon.[2] The sister’s names were undisclosed due to tradition. When did Jesus leave his town of Nazareth, taking an exemption on Family Responsibility 101. It may have been those in his town to give him a failing grade because we hear it in their voice when he returns. “Isn’t this Jesus the son of Mary and Joseph?” “Where did he get this wisdom” that he speaks from in the local church, the synagogue? You can almost hear one say, “Who does he think he is?” They remembered him, possibly, as the one who ran out on his family, although there is no evidence, no saying of Mary or James, his brother to indicate this was true. It was James, who came to be part of the developing church after seeing Jesus’ resurrection. He left town later and wrote a letter, that we have in the Bible today (The Letter of James).

The application of Jesus’ return to his hometown, stirring up contempt from those who held memories of his youth and simply could not believe he was some type of learned rabbi, is relative to the church. Jesus was without honor in his own hometown, but it did not stop him from attempting to a good work while there. He healed a few who were sick it says, and right after, he summoned his twelve disciples and told them what to do. They were to pair up, six groups, two-by-two, going door-to-door, doing what? Telling people about Jesus’ upbringing? Telling people Jesus was the Son of God? Lord no, they could not even wrap their heads around that one at the time. No, he told them to go preach, telling people to repent of their sins. If people will not come to church and believe they are sinners and need to repent, then Jesus’ plan was to go meet people where they are.

Finally, the pattern of Jesus was made clear in heaven in relation to His heavenly Father and his heavenly Spirit. He always knew who he was based on relation to them. This is also a reminder to all of us. We are fashioned, patterned around our relationship to Christ. That will be the ultimate understanding when we return to our heavenly home. If this hometown world, this country we live is destined to tell you otherwise, think twice. We are to be familiar with Jesus, and in Him, He shows no contempt for the penitent. In Him, He knows our true story. He knows our heart. Will you listen to His voice, let go and resist being taken down by the ones who hold you in contempt? Jesus is calling us to return with Him, to join Him, in His hometown.

[1] The Rev. Jon Roberts
[2] Mark 6:1-13

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