READING: Genesis 3:8=15, II Corinthians 4:13 - 5:1 and Mark 3:20-35
SERMON : "Even Though..."
Rev. Richard J. Fairchild
Our first reading is taken from Genesis, chapter three,
verses eight through fifteen. The setting is in the Garden
of Eden - immediately after Adam and Eve succumbed to the
wiles of the Serpent and ate of the tree of the knowledge of
good and evil.
SECOND READING: II Corinthians 4:13 - 5:1
The second reading is taken from Paul's Second Letter to the
Corinthians, in the fourth chapter. Paul writes in this
passage about the hope we have in Christ Jesus. Beginning
at verse thirteen, Paul writes:
GOSPEL READING: Mark 3:20-35
The gospel reading this morning is taken from the Gospel
According To Mark - in the third chapter, verses twenty to
SERMON: "EVEN THOUGH...."
There is a great richness to our texts today -
We have the story of the garden of Eden - where we see Adam and
Eve trying to hide from God - trying to hide their sin and their
shame behind the trees and bushes - hoping that God will not
And then we have the story of Jesus - being accused by some
scribes from Jerusalem of being possessed by the Devil - by
Beelzebub because he is casting demons out of people and healing
others, and forgiving sins, and telling still others that is
lawful to heal on the Sabbath and perform other good works.
And we have Paul - dear Paul - who in his letter to the
Corinthians acknowledges the afflictions of this life - how our
outer nature - our flesh - our mortal body - wastes away - and
who then asserts in the midst of this that those who believe in
Christ do not lose heart because their inner nature is renewed
day by day.
We do not lose heart, he writes, for this slight
momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal
weight of glory beyond all measure, because we look not
at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen.
A lot of people do not believe in the story of the garden of Eden
they do not believe what it teaches about the power of evil,
nor what it has to say about pain and suffering being the result
Pity them - not because they are somehow less than those who do
believe in this story, but because they risk missing the
opportunity for their own redemption.
Pity them because they have eyes, but do not see,
and ears - but do not hear.
The suffering of this world - at least the vast majority of it -
is quiet clearly caused by human beings.
War, poverty, oppression, mass starvation, murder - all these
things are within human control and yet we have no control over
Millions starve while tons of grain rots in warehouses. Tens of
thousands are killed while the nations all round talk peace.
Uncounted numbers suffer - though they have done no wrong.
We meet good people - people who really try to do right by their
families and friends,
and we discover pain and suffering in their lives -
children who do not show respect towards them,
relatives who cheat them,
spouses who betray them.
We see bad people apparently prosper -
we see them grow rich on the labours of others,
and party on with steak and caviar
while their neighbours struggle to simply put bread on the table.
The bible teaches us that there is a power in the world that
causes this, the power of evil,
and that this power takes a personal form, a real form
against which we have no power of our own .
The bible teaches us that we, are under the control of sin and
death, and that we cannot change this fact on our own - that we
Last night a friend of mine was talking about his father:
he spoke of how, for many years, his father binged out,
how his father was a drunkard - a man who when sober was kind and
gentle - and when drunk - well he was something else again.
He had no control over himself.
And this kind and gentle man brought pain and suffering upon
others, or at least the force within him did so -
the family had to move - to change homes and communities -
almost every year -
landlords were cheated
friends - abandoned - or embarrassed or betrayed.
And this continued on - until one day - after taking his children
to Sunday School for a period of time, after witnessing the faith
of others and what it did for them, he accepted Jesus into his
life - he asked God to take control and to guide his actions and
save him from his sins - and from the power of sin.
And then things changed -
debts still had to be paid, amends still had to be made
mistakes still occurred -
but the inner man - the man that God made - was set free to grow
No more booze, a lot more prayer. And the love and kindness of
the man that could be glimpsed before - in the moments of
sobriety - became apparent to all - for days, weeks, and finally
years on end. The children who were still living at home stopped
fearing what would happen next - they began to look forward to
being with their father - they began to develop their own faith
in God - a faith that still guides them to this day.
This man, this father, this husband, experience a change in
control - he went from being in the control of the devil to being
in the control of God, and the result was the renewal of his
inner nature, and in the end, when his earthly tent was
destroyed, the result was a building from God - a house not made
with hands - eternal in the heavens..
There is a power in the world - a power that our sinfulness as
individuals, and as a human race, has set loose upon the world.
The Bible calls this power Satan - or evil - and it is dedicated
to deception, and to destruction, and to death.
But there is another power also loose in the world, the power of
God, and it is a greater power than the power of Satan,
indeed it vanquishes Satan and all his minions,
and in the end,
as the Revelation of John teaches us, and as Christ himself
it vanquishes death itself.
That is what today's gospel lesson is about when Jesus turns to
those who accuse him of casting out demons by the Prince of
Demons and says to them
How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided
against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a
house is divided against itself, that house will not be
able to stand. And if Satan has risen up against
himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but his end
has come.... truly I tell you, people will be forgiven
for their sins and whatever blasphemies they utter; but
whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit can never
have forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin..
Someone I know out West loves birds and spends a few moments in
his backyard every morning feeding them. He says that doves eat
more than other birds and because they have such voracious
appetites they will soon eat right out of your hand.
One morning he decided to play a little game with a
particular dove that had been a regular for several
months. He held out his hand with seed in it and when
the dove approached and was just about to peck out a
few seeds, he closed his hand, hiding the seed.
The bird stopped, cocked his head in disbelief, and
then retreated a few feet. He then reopened his hand
and the bird boldly approached a second time. Again
the hand clamped shut just before the bird could reach
the food. The bird again retreated. Several more
times my friend repeated the little ritual and the dove
reacted in the same disappointed way.
Finally, after about the sixth or seventh time, the
dove flew off. My friend never saw that particular
bird again; it never returned.
We can chase the Spirit of God away,
We can deny it access to our lives,
We can refuse to believe,
and to obey.
We can please ourselves - rather than seeking to please God,
much as my friend out west sought to satisfy his curiosity -
rather than the bird that trusted him.
When we do - when we refuse to trust and believe,
When we refuse to see what is around us or to acknowledge
the forces that underlay all human affairs,
we remain in the control of the evil one,
we remain under the control of sin and death,
and our inner nature - with our outer nature - decays
- we remain unforgiven - despite the cross - despite the
This week we celebrate the 53rd Anniversary of the D-Day Landing
in Normandy. Rather - we remember it - many of us with a great
sense of immediacy, with a great sense of pain, a great sense of
This event would not have had to occur if people had looked more
carefully at the world around them - if they had understood
earlier the evil that was, and is, in the world.
Back in 1938
after Austria had been taken over by the Germans,
after Czechoslovakia had been invaded
after Crystal Naught - the night of broken glass
Prime Minister Chamberlain of England proclaimed that Hitler was
a rather pleasant person, a person who really wanted peace - one
that the allies could bargain with in good faith.
It simply wasn't so -
nor is so all the assertion that psychologists and teachers and
counsellors make about how the problems of this world will be
cured when all people are fed and clothed and educated properly.
The German people in 1918 - and again in 1939 - were among the
best fed, the best clothed, and the best educated in the world -
and look at what happened..
And look at us here in Canada today - according to the latest
United Nations Report we are the best country in the world in
which to live in terms of food, clothing, shelter, education,
health, and human rights - yet are we free of suffering? Are we
free of hatred and of senseless violence?
Sometimes you got to hear the bad news if you are to really
understand the good news.
The bad news is this - we as human beings are sinful,
and not only are we sinful - our wills are not completely
we are under the influence of an evil that is greater
than we are as individuals,
an evil which is greater than that of ignorance
and of poverty,
indeed we in thrall to an evil that is so strong that it even
thrives in the midst of education and in the midst of wealth.
The good news is this - that God seeks us - that God wants us -
and that we can place ourselves under the control of God
and enter into the kind of world and help build the kind of world
that God planned for us from the very beginning.
We do it by faith - by trust - by belief - and by walking in the
ways of God, the way revealed to us by Christ Jesus our Lord..
The experience of Paul - which he writes of in today's epistle
reading is that when we come to faith,
when we come to believe in Jesus Christ and in his message a
great and wonderful thing happens -
we are made new creatures - day by day, bit by bit,
and we begin to share in the victory of Christ over sin and
death, over the evil one,
until at last we inherit an eternal weight of glory
that is beyond all measure,
as did my friend's father; as do millions of others each and
Look not simply at the things that seen, but look at the things
which are unseen - the things that are eternal - and open your
hands - and leave them open - so that the Holy Spirit may land
upon you, and remain with you, and give you life in this world
and in the next.
PRAYERS OF PETITION AND INTERCESSION
Eternal God - God of mystery and of manifestation,
- we thank you for your hidden presence and for the clarity
of your spoken word.
-we thank you for the promise of eternal life and for the
strength and peace you give us now,
- we praise you for your quiet whispers and for your mighty
- we thank you for our earthly life that is wasting away,
and for our inner life that is renewed day by day.
Lord, we call upon you from our hearts,
- help us to look to the eternal
- help us to bear the passing troubles and tribulations,
- help us to surrender control of our lives to you, and to
love others and to proclaim your everlasting peace..... Lord,
hear our prayer....
Lord, we thank you for the goodness of your creation and we mourn
the sin that has corrupted it.
We pray O Lord, for the courage to resist evil and to declare
We pray for the rising up of prophets in our midst to proclaim
your word, and for the enlightenment of those who choose the
broad way that leads to destruction..... Lord hear our prayer...
We pray for the human family today - O God,
- for the family of nations, that they may dwell in peace
- for the country in which we live, that it may be just and that
it may prosper
- for the community in which we dwell that it may be caring and
- for the people with whom we worship, that we may be good
witnesses to the love of Christ,
- and for the persons you have placed us in relationship with -
that they, and we, may have health and wisdom, peace and
strength..... Lord hear our prayer...
Finally, O God, on this the eve of the anniversary of D-Day, we
remember those who fought in the last world war, we remember the
sacrifices made by so many,...and we pray for your kingdom - your
peace - to come in its fullness, upon our world.... Lord hear our
All these things we ask through Jesus Christ, he who taught us to
pray saying, OUR FATHER...
HYMN: Make Me A Channel Of Your Peace
copyright - Rev. Richard J. Fairchild - Spirit Networks, 1997 - 2006
please acknowledge the appropriate author if citing these sermons.