SERMON SUMMARY. People are in need and craving help. Those in need…who hunger…who thirst…will have a craving that needs to be filled. Sunday’s sermon sought to compare and contrast the response of two kingdoms/communities. The kingdom of God – God’s church – is a community led by God and should be compassionate and caring. Conversely, the kingdom of the world is cold and dark. A corrupt and complicit world ignores those in need or, worse, exploits their lack and exploits their hunger.
During this sermon, we discussed the deplorable educational statistics recently released about Black youth in Wisconsin (worst state in the country). In addition, we know that all around us are people in need – mentally, physically, economically and spiritually. How will communities respond to others in need? What do we do when we are in need? What kind of community are we aspiring to be? What is being done to help those who lack and who are hungry?
CORRUPT/COMPLICIT COMMUNITY (Hosea 4:1-2, 6). In a frequently referenced bible verse, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge”, God through – the prophet Hosea – laments the condition of God’s people. The people are perishing. But, it is not just the people by themselves – the community and the leaders of the community are part of the problem. The leadership (both political and spiritual) during Hosea’s time was corrupt ands complicit. Materialism (a/k/a emphasis on prosperity) and a lack of spirituality were common.
- Through his prophet Hosea, God is bringing a charge against his people in verses 1 and 2. What was the charge that God brought against the people? What was happening in the land?
- Do we see similar conditions in that community in ~700 BC and our communities today?
- In what ways today do we see people perishing for lack of knowledge (knowledge of God and knowledge of how to work in the world)?
- In verse 6, we see it is not just the lack of knowledge of the people that is the problem.Who else do we see that God holds accountable? What is the responsibility of leadership today?
- A definition of complicit is when somebody is aware of a crime/wrong and has the ability to do something about it but fails to do so. Do we see complicity in this text? Do we see complicity in our communities today? What is the role of the church?
CRAVING CHRIST (Mark 6:30-33). Just as the people were (1) struggling and in need in Hosea chapter 4 and (2) people are struggling and in need in modern Milwaukee (and other places) today, the people in the Gospel of Mark are also in need. But, there was/is a difference. Christ’s name, Christ’s works and Christ’s presence were being lifted up throughout the land. Ministry was going forth. People in need were craving and seeking a touch from the Lord about whom they had heard.
- There is song (based on John 12:32) that says “If I be lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men unto me.” What do we see in these verses to show us that Christ was being lifted up? That his ministry was being spread?
- A craving is “a powerful desire for something”. What do we see in the verses that show the craving the people had to be in the presence of God? Do people crave God today?
- How did the people in need know about Christ then? How do people in need find out about Christ now?CARING/CARING COMPASSIONATE COMMUNITY (Mark 6:34). In verses 30-33, we see that Christ and his disciples are fatigued from ministry (because ministry is tiring) and they are trying to pull away for a break. But, we also see that the needs of the people and the craving for Christ are great. Remember, if someone is dying of thirst, they will drink dirty water if they can’t get any clean water. How will this community of Christ respond to the needs of the people? Corruptly? Complicitly??
- How did Jesus feel about the people in need as they came to him for help? How do we (the church) feel when people come to us in need?
- What did he see? Who or what were they following?Jesus and his compassionate, caring community responded in two ways. He met their spiritual needs and began to teach them (remember, people perish for lack of knowledge). And then, later in the text, they also fed the people. He did not send the people away. Jesus, as the leader of this new kingdom, modeled concern, compassion and caring by extending himself and the disciples to work to meet the needs of the people.