Sunday I continued my series of sermons on Mark’s gospel. Ched Myers’s commentary on this week’s text (Mark 4:35-5:43; 6:30-56; 7:24-8:9) in Binding the Strong Man inspired me to take the angle I took in preaching this sermon (“A Different Kind of Community“).
The socio-literary function of the first section of Mark’s Gospel was to tear down the “sacred canopy” that legitimizes what Mark perceived as oppressive social institutions. But he knew that the war of myths must at some point also offer a new and compelling symbolic world to warrant an alternative social practice if it hopes to attract and maintain converts. (186)
In reading and reflecting on this lengthy portion of Mark’s gospel, I was reminded how often the church has been quick to imitate Jesus’s criticism but slow to imitate Jesus’s offering of an alternative practice. Often, I think this failure to offer an alternative practice has resulted from our blindness to the alternative offered by Jesus in this portion of Mark’s gospel. Said another way, we’ve been able to articulate what we’re against and unable to put into words what we’re for, because we’re far more familiar with what we perceive Jesus to be against than what the gospel writers proclaim him to be for. May I, may we, have ears to hear and eyes to see not just what Jesus is against, but what Jesus is for, so that we might embody his alternative social practice.