Our class tried to think about how the kind of “outward piety” Jesus criticizes in Matthew 23 competes with “the weightier matters of the law” in our world. We all had memories of Sunday clothes vs. school clothes; one of our classmates told about a time she scolded one of her children for not wearing socks to church; it might have been a little too easy to think of the televangelists with flashy suits and big cars (unlike us), and a little too hard to think of ways we, ourselves, might get bogged down in pious trivia to the neglect of justice and mercy and faith.
Don’t forget, the Pharisees didn’t invent the phylacteries and the fringes. Those were commanded – unlike Sunday shoes, come to that. So what behavior of ours would be analogous? We didn’t answer that question, because we got caught up in clarifying what exactly a phylactery was in the first place, and how that related to Deuteronomy 6:4-9, and noticing that loving God with all our heart and soul and might is supposed to come first, is what the outward signs are supposed to signify, and by then it was time for worship.
In worship, the main text was Mark 6:1-13 – Jesus preaching in his home town, being scoffed at, and then sending the twelve out on a mission. Our pastor asked the kids, What if you do your best to make something good, to give that to someone, and they don’t want it? How does that make you feel? Sad? Angry? Like a failure? Does it mean what you offered isn’t good? [No, not necessarily, although sometimes we feel that way.] Does it mean you should give up? Stop trying to give people the good things you can make and do and be? No, not that either.
Jesus knew about rejection. Sometimes, people rejected Jesus. So, he knew his disciples would be rejected, too, and he told them so. But he sent them out to do amazing things anyway. And they did. Keeping on making and doing and being the good things we can is one of the signs that the realm of God is at hand.
We have new LED lights in the multipurpose room, thanks to the diligent efforts of several members and the donation of the use of a lift from a neighbor. It’s noticeable: we can turn on all the lights, and really see each other, instead of sitting in the dark to save money. Thanks, light-bearers, for making and doing and being and offering something bright and good!