Message by Rev. Carol Kniseley   /   Resurrection Lutheran Church 

July 9, 2006  /  Text:  Mark 6: 1 – 6   /  Title:  Jesus Take the Wheel


Those of you who know me…know that I not only believe in ‘signs’…I like to collect them as well.    And one of my newest signs, which I picked up right here in Old Town Fredericksburg…has already become one of my favorites.   It simply reads:  ‘Home…is where your story begins.’    And if we think about it…isn’t that absolutely true for everyone here?    The Biography channel likes to use the slogan:  ‘Every life has a story to tell.’    To which I would add: ‘…and home, is where that story begins.’     They say that once you are grown…one can never truly ‘go home’ again.    And yet, according to today’s Gospel lesson…that is exactly what Jesus attempted to do. 


After all, he was the ‘home town boy made good’.    His ministry was off to a good start and I expect he was eager to share his new life with the folks who had raised him.    Not just his mother and brothers and sisters…but with the neighbors who had looked after him when Mary was occupied, or the other shop keepers who allowed him to do odd jobs after school just because they liked having him around.    And then there were the elders who were always filling his head with stories of long ago.    You see in their eyes, he was their son too.   So, of course when the opportunity came…he couldn’t wait to say ‘yes’.   


Apparently they welcomed him with open arms, inviting him to speak at the synagogue on the Sabbath.    Everyone in town piled into the tiny space, each one grinning from ear to ear and nudging one another as if they should be congratulated for how he turned out.     At least, until they heard what he had to say.    Mark does not tell us what Jesus said…but whatever it was, it certainly caused them to take offense and raised more than a few eyebrows.    That’s when things turned ugly.    “Is this not the carpenter…the son of Mary?’


Of course they knew whose son he was, but by calling him Mary’s son as opposed to Joseph’s…they cast doubt upon his parentage.   In those days, the only reason to identify someone by his mother was because no one knew for sure who the father was…which undoubtedly turns the question into a slap in the face.     ‘Is not this the son of Mary and the brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?’    


In other words, they knew him.    He was familiar to them…and that was the point.    They say that ‘familiarity breeds contempt’…and in this case, it certainly seems to be true.    They knew him…as the eldest child of a large family.   A child just like their own children, none of whom were traipsing around the countryside healing lepers and casting out demons and telling people that the kingdom of God had come near.     The only one who had come near, as far as they could see, was someone that they knew from the time that he was a toddler.  So they took offense at him…handing him his first big failure.   

I imagine it stung him pretty bad, to get his first taste of rejection at home.   He’d been doing so well before he got there.   Simon’s mother-in-law was feeling fine, the Geresene demoniac was back home with his family and friends, and Jarius’ daughter was out playing with the neighborhood kids…all because of Jesus.    Jesus had been preaching and teaching all over Galilee and even had a band of disciples who were ready to follow him anywhere…but not these people.     His own people rejected him, and he got the message:    ‘Prophets are not without honor, except in their hometown, and among their own kin, and in their own house.’    Frankly, he was utterly amazed at their unbelief.    And his response?   He left them…to go shine his light somewhere else.


This business of belief can be a rather sticky one to deal with.    Because the truth is, many of us don’t deal with it at all.     Oh we know about Jesus.   We know the stories, the miracles, the teachings, the events that led up to his birth and even those leading to his death.   We’ve heard it all told in a million different way.        And yet, could it be…that even we begin to take Christ for granted?     In our day to day living, as we go about marking one more thing off the ‘to do’ list…how much time do we really commit to Jesus and the impact that he is having in our lives?       


I suppose that’s why…when I first heard the song…Jesus Take the Wheel…I just knew I had to hear it again.   The song is actually a story about a young mother and her baby going home on Christmas eve.     The mom finds the car skating on a sheet of ice before she realizes that she is not in control.     And in that moment of total fear…she does the only thing she can think to do:  she cries out for Jesus to take control.  And not only of the car that night…but of her life as well.    Something inside of her turns back to the one person she knows all too well…perhaps even believed in as a child.   That person…turns out to be Jesus.   


When Carrie Underwood made the decision to try out for the American Idol TV show…she had no idea how far she would go.    Being a home-town girl from Checotah, Oklahoma, she grew up singing in the church choir.    And yet, it never dawned on the 23 year old that choosing to debut a song about Jesus could be so life changing.       In the end, it was the American people who chose Carrie to be their American Idol in 2005.    If you ask me, what the audience heard and saw in Carrie was not only a superb talent just waiting to be unleashed…but a faith in Jesus that touched the hearts of everyone who was tuned in that night.   And I don’t necessarily mean tuned in to the TV either.


Speaking of ‘signs’, I must say that I can’t think of a better sign for our country than to know that the American people are tuning into more and more songs about Jesus.    Perhaps what that really means is that more and more folks are finding their way back home.  And in the end, isn’t that where we really want to be found.   Safe…in the arms of the one who loves us with a never ending love.    Or better yet, in the hands of the one who will nevereverlet go of the wheel.    Amen