Readings for the 18th Sunday after Pentecost

Mark 9:38-50; James 5:13-20; Numbers 11:4-29

Keep Out! No Trespassing.  Members Only. Signs like these show just how territorial we humans can be. Sometimes it’s about the pride of membership. Sometimes it’s about the distain or fear of outsiders. But whatever the reason, we have a habit of drawing dark lines in the sand to show who we’ll associate with and who we won’t.

Both the Gospel and Old Testament readings tell stories of individuals acting in God’s name and doing God’s work, but outside the conventional boundaries. And both times, it causes the “insiders” lots of needless heartburn. The disciples try to stop a man from exorcising demons in Jesus’ name “because he was not following us” (Mark 9). A young man complains to Moses about two men prophesying outside the group of elders (Num 11). In both cases, people have too narrow a view of whom God will use and how He will work. The Kingdom of God is bigger, and the ways of God are grander than we often realize