Mark 1:21-28

When Jesus starts his ministry, should be the heading on this. Mark has a special message about Jesus' ministry and what he came for, just like each of the gospels does. Maybe we're delving into all these meanings because Mark calls this, in his introduction, a gospel and this is good news and we should watch for it. Looking at each of these may help us with seeing today's scripture a little more clearly.

In Matthew Jesus starts his ministry with the sermon on the mount. High up on a hill in front of a crowd of disciples he gives the new law, just like Moses on the mount. So in Matthew Jesus is the supreme teacher and this is what his ministry is. In Luke we get the story of his going home and declaring to his friends and neighbors that the passage from Isaiah's book about how a year of the Lord's favor had begun. This was a Jubilee year, a year where you were to reach out to the poor and oppressed, free captives. This is what Jesus ministry is about in Luke. In John we get the story of the first miracle in Cana at a wedding feast where the water becomes good wine. Jesus displays God's abundance to us again and again in the gospel of John.

This brings us to today and Mark. Today we are witnessing something that most of us don't believe in. As a matter of fact some might think its even a little crazy. Today in Mark Jesus casts out demons. Now what does this have to do with his ministry in Mark? We have to look into what it meant to be classified as someone who had demons in that time to understand what is going on here. If you were thought to have a demon you were unclean, it meant you couldn't be near others, you couldn't take your rightful place in the synagogue, you were outside of the community. Mark's gospel is about ministry to those on the margins of society.

How often do we put someone on the margins, outside of the community? Is it because we think we have to protect the community? Is it because they don't quite measure up to what we think is a Christian? Is it because we think we are protecting God? As if God needs protecting and preserving. How do we reach out to those on the margins and do we bother?

Its important to ask and explore these questions. Sometimes we seem to be more like gatekeepers in the church instead of welcoming those who are different than us. In Bishop Geralyn Wolf's book "Down and Out in Providence" she writes of her experiences in different churches as she poses as a homeless person for her sabbatical. She talks about places where she wasn't welcomed at one time because she was a woman seeking ordination and now welcomes her with open arms. Other churches where she thought there would be welcome and there wasn't. Our question to answer is who is on our fringe?