Pentecost 2, June 6, 2021
St. Martin North Vancouver
“Overcoming Power with Power”
Jesus tells stories that challenge our expectations and call us to the kingdom. Today, as our hearts are aching with the griefs of the world, we hear his parable about a break-in. “No one can enter a strong man’s house without first tying up the strong man; then indeed the house can be plundered” (Mark 3:27). The gospel is inviting us to consider what Jesus is saying in context with the accusation against him of working for the devil. The twist is to see the thief as the hero: stealing, or taking back, what the strong man has under his control. Gospel work is about finding the power for good to overpower what is evil. And whoever does the will of God is a brother and sister and mother in Jesus’ family.
At the beginning of the service I read the pastoral directive from our Anglican Bishop John Stephens on the griefs this week of the death of indigenous priest Vivian Seegers and the confirmation of 215 unmarked children’s graves at the Kamloops Residential School. Vivian was my sister in Christ as a fellow priest and a follower of Jesus. She was a mother and sister for those in the Urban Aboriginal Ministry that she cared for: those who have been traumatized by generations of hurt through the Canadian residential school system. The Anglican Church has been part of the wrong done, and the Anglican Church is learning to walk a new path of truth and reconciliation in repentance and in response to the call of the gospel. But the old evil is strong. The strong man is just as much death and oppression and racism and ignorant fear of the other as it was in Jesus’ day. We need Jesus’ help to engage in the work of binding evil in the world.
Look around our province at what is happening. These are your grandmothers and grandfathers, mothers and fathers, aunties and uncles, cousins, and brothers and sisters. We can help with the healing but it means confronting the powers of this world and binding them in love. There are concrete steps we can take together and as individuals. We can pray, educate ourselves, and commit to the work of sharing the resources that are still in the strong man’s house.
This morning we pray together as a community. Please keep the concerns for justice and truth and healing in your devotions going forward, not just until it disappears from the news. This is a lifelong journey. If you haven’t done so yet, read through the 94 Calls to Action from the Canadian Truth and Reconciliation Commission, especially the ones that commit the Church to changes. Educate yourself about the history of residential schools. We didn’t get this teaching when we were at school and we need to know the facts. And for those of us who have enjoyed the privilege of being white and settlers on this land, it is time to become more aware of the inequities in our public systems. Maybe realizing that we too stand in the strong man’s house and enjoy the resources in it will help us come up with ways to give back some of what has been taken from others.
Through Jesus Christ, there is power to overcome the evil of the world, even the sins that have been committed in the name of the Church and the Christian God. The mark of the Holy Spirit is on all those who do the healing. These are all our relations. Amen.