Track 1: Darkness to Light
The children of Israel wanted a king like the other nations around them. Samuel new it was a bad idea and took it to the Lord. God gave the people a warning:
So Samuel reported all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking him for a king. He said, “These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen, and to run before his chariots; [and he will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and some to plow his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards and give them to his courtiers. He will take one-tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and his courtiers.] He will take your male and female slaves, and the best of your cattle and donkeys, and put them to his work. He will take one-tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves. And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves; but the Lord will not answer you in that day.” (1 Samuel 8:10-18)
God’s warning did not dissuade them. How often do we think that we no better than God? With our limited understanding, do we think that God is out of touch to reality? This must have been the thinking of the children of Israel:
But the people refused to listen to the voice of Samuel; they said, “No! but we are determined to have a king over us, so that we also may be like other nations, and that our king may govern us and go out before us and fight our battles.” (1 Samuel 8:19-20)
The founding fathers of our nation understood the dangers of concentrating too much power in governmental leadership. That is why they built in a system of checks and balances agents that power. Leadership makes promises to the people, but too often they are interested in their own welfare, often at the expense of others.
God had a completely different idea for Israel:
You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. (1 Pet. 2:9)
There is the kingdom of darkness which is ruled by Satan. The culture has bought into this kingdom. Then there is the kingdom of light. This kingdom is ruled by God. Which kingdom do we prefer? We cannot have both. The Apostle Paul wrote:
He has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins . (Colossians 1:13-14)
To live in the kingdom of God, however, requires faith on our part. His kingdom is not fully formed on this earth yet. Satan will attempt to draw us back into his domain. Often times it is with ridicule and mockin. Ever heard of the mocking bird media?
In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus was casting out demons from many people. He was accused of being out of his mind by the religious authorities. Even his own family were questioning what he was doing:
Then his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside, they sent to him and called him. A crowd was sitting around him; and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside, asking for you.” And he replied, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.” (Mark 3:31-35)
The kingdom of darkness is passing away. The Apostle wrote:
So we do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. 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; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)
For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, “Abba! Father!” it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ—if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him. I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us. (Romans 8:15-81)
Do we have the staying power? Jesus has that power for us. All we need to do is rely on him. He has won the victory over sin and death.
Track 2: Suggestions
The theme of two kingdoms seems to fit here as well. The reading from Genesis tells how the kingdom of darkness began with the fall. Man was in charge of the world until he handed it over to Satan.
The theme of casting out demons in the Gospel reading might be explored. This may be controversial. Can christian be oppressed by demons and be bound by generational curses? But there is nothing new here. Jesus’ own family tried to restrain his from. They were embarrassed by what the religious leaders were saying about Jesus. Maybe it is time for religious leaders to wake up to reality?
From this Sunday the appointed lectionary reading are split into two tracks. This treatment is carried through out the remainder of the Pentecostal Season. This year we will concentrate on Track !, offering complete homilies for this track. For Track 2 we will offer suggestions for homilies based on the different Old Testament readings and Psalms of Track 2.
Track 1 of Old Testament readings follows major stories and themes, read mostly continuously from week to week. In Year A we begin with Genesis, in Year B we hear some of the great monarchy narratives, and in Year C we read from the later prophets.
Track 2 follows the Roman Catholic tradition of thematically pairing the Old Testament reading with the Gospel reading, often showing how the person and ministry of Jesus Christ is foretold in the Old Testament reading.