Proper 5B’21
6 June 2021
1 Sam 8; Ps138; Mk.3.20-35
St. Luke’s Episcopal Church
North Little Rock, Arkansas
The Rev. Carey Stone

The Lord will make good his purpose for me (and for us): O Lord, your love endures forever; Do not abandon the works of your hands. Amen. -From Psalm 138


What did we do before we had “Caller ID?” I’ll never forget my first “Caller ID.” It was the one that was housed in a small white plastic box that plugged directly into the phone line, and featured a display window. Whenever the phone would ring, provided the caller had a listed phone number, their name would appear in the display. Now it was possible, most of the time to know before answering who was calling. As we have all discovered this has given us the option of answering or letting them leave a voice message. Cell phones of course now have this as a standard feature. It sure comes in handy especially when it is an out of state call, with no identifying name, these interruptions we refer to as “Robo Calls” where someone is trying to either sell us something, offer us a cruise to the Bahamas (with miles of string attached), or steal our identity by asking for our DOB and Soc. Sec. #.


You’ll notice on the front cover of your service leaflet two images, and both of them relate to getting a call: the first one as you can see is a call from – well – God; and the second is a call from a group of people – a community.


The first image of a cell phone getting a call from God might give us a chuckle but what if it actually happened? Would we answer? Or would we not answer and hope that God might leave a voicemail where in our own good time we could listen and see if we liked the message or not? Would we call back or would we ignore the call, and hoped that if it was important, God will call back?


In today’s Gospel reading we see a Jesus who had definitely answered the call to proclaim the Good News to both the religious and secular worlds. The religious folk, had listened to his message and decided that at best it was something they had no interest in, and at the worst, Jesus’ message was the babblings of a man who had become demon possessed! Some in the secular crowd saw him as a novelty, and his message and method of delivery entertaining, while others thought he was suffering from a mental breakdown – and with bedlam being the overall effect. To his family it was time for an ‘intervention!’ Jesus’ own earthly family thought that he had “lost it” and had gone crazy. His family was determined to try and save Jesus from himself: “The crowd came together again, so that Jesus and his disciples could not even eat. When his family heard it, they went out to restrain him, for people were saying, “He has gone out of his mind.” (3. vv.20-21) Jesus answered God’s call and it would cost him his popularity, his reputation, his standing within his earthly family, and eventually his physical life.


I’d like to recommend that you try something before going to sleep tonight. Find a quiet place, and look at the front cover of the service leaflet ( the image of the cellphone) imagine that you are getting a call from God, and then really listen, (you may be surprised by what you hear, by what thoughts enter your mind). If no impressions occur, use your best imagination and imagine what God be saying to you at this particular time in your life? As we come slowly out of COVID what is God calling you to be and do? Write it down, ponder and pray over it. It is so very important that we answer the call for as God’s children there is a purpose for our lives. It is that

purpose that will give our lives meaning and will lead us to the second call – the call to Christian community (the Church).


Now look at the second image on the cover of the service leaflet. You’ll notice there are various residences, and institutions, and the words “Called Together.” If we have learned anything through the pandemic it is this – that isolation can be deadly to our bodies, minds, and spirits. God has hard-wired us to need each other. As one author noted “there is no such thing as a ‘Lone Ranger Christian.’” Interestingly, the phrase “one another” depending on which Bible translation your reading, is used 100 times. This serves to emphasize there’s just no way to do “one another” by ourselves.


With the advent of live-streamed services, many have gotten use to the absence of in-person worship over the past year and a half, as well as the convenience of watching from home, and have not yet returned. We are indeed grateful for the new audience we are reaching through this new medium, while at the same time so very aware that there is nothing quite like being here. You can see the whites of people’s eyes; you can feel their spirit and energy. It is in community where we get to practice all the “one another’s” it’s the place where we get to explore our faith, ask questions, receive gifts and share our gifts. Coming back to church, next to getting the vaccine, might just be the best thing we could do for our own health and well-being of our bodies, minds, and spirits.


Jesus, always alert to an opportunity to take folks beneath the surface to the deeper meaning of things, seized this moment as a teaching moment. When the crowd informed Jesus that his mother, brothers, and sisters were looking for him, Jesus asked a rhetorical question: “Who are my mother and brothers, and my sisters?” And looking at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and brothers, and sisters! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”


This is the Good News is that we are all a part of a huge family – Jesus made it clear that ‘if blood is thicker than water, then spirit is thicker than blood!’ So, there is a second call – the call for community – to come together, from all walks and locations of life, and called to this holy place. Come as you are, vaccinated and unvaccinated, the masked and the unmasked, God is not finished with you and me, or St. Luke’s yet! As the psalmist wrote, “The Lord will make good his purpose for us (me).”


There is a prayer I found several weeks ago that seems to speak to the place we are in as the pandemic begins to abate, and I’d like to share it with you. It was written by Eric Milner-White who put together the first Lessons and Carols service back in 1918, and who composed this prayer in the year of St. Luke’s’ founding back in 1954:


Prayer before a service in church


Let me come into the church of God,

to meet the Spirit of God:

not to give religion an hour

but to live in the eternal,

not to maintain a decorous habit,

but to bow in the holy place before the Holy One;

not to judge the words of the preacher,

but to draw life from the Word and Truth everlasting,

not to be soothed or moved by music,

but to sing from the heart divine praises,

not that my eyes roam over architecture or congregation

but that my soul looks up to the King and his beauty,

and my heart plead the needs of his children,

not that my thoughts escape into the world,

but that they be still and know that you are God.

Let me go, and go again, into the house of the Lord,

and be glad, and give thanks, and adore

my King and my God. {A-men}


  • Eric Milner-White, My God, My Glory, 1954