•  — Edited

    Tradition and the Bible (Mark 7:1-13)

    Watch Sermon Video Here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zKYt9MhlBDI&t=1s

    Sermon Discussion Questions:

    1.     If there was something that had functional authority over your life besides the Bible, what would it be?

    2.     What would Christians who have a more politically conservative bent use as “traditions” as having equal authority as the Bible? How might this lead to self-righteousness?

    3.     What would Christians who have more politically liberal bent use as “traditions” as having equal authority as the Bible? How might this lead to self-righteousness?

    4.     How does the message of the gospel prevent tribalism among Christian brothers and sisters? Read Luke 18:9-14.

    5.     What traditions do you have in your life that are a blessing and increase your joy in the Lord? Do you have any that may have begun to sneak towards ignoring the Bible? Contradicting the Bible?

    Sermon Manuscript:

    What is your functional authority in your life? What do you give final say to when making decisions? I’m not referring to what you believe your authority is or what you think the authority should be. I’m referring to day-in day-out, what is it that makes you say: this is right, this is wrong, this is good, this is desirable? 

    It could be friends, spouse, vacation—whatever holds the most weight in swaying your decisions. In our text today we will see Jesus interact with the scribes and Pharisees and reveal that their functional authority resides not in God’s Word, but rather in the traditions of men.

    1 Now when the Pharisees gathered to him, with some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem, 2 they saw that some of his disciples ate with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed. 3 (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands properly, holding to the tradition of the elders, 4 and when they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash. And there are many other traditions that they observe, such as the washing of cups and pots and copper vessels and dining couches.) 5 And the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?” 6 And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written,

    “‘This people honors me with their lips,

    but their heart is far from me;

    7 in vain do they worship me,

    teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’

    8 You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.”

    9 And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition! 10 For Moses said, Honor your father and your mother’; and, Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ 11 But you say, ‘If a man tells his father or his mother, “Whatever you would have gained from me is Corban”’ (that is, given to God)— 12 then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother, 13 thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do.” - Mark 7:1-13

    After a period of seeming absence from Jesus’ narrative, the Pharisees and the scribes reenter our story. In particular, we have not seen the “scribes who came down from Jerusalem,” since Mark 3:22, where they proceeded to accuse Jesus of being possessed by demons. So, they obviously are not big fans of Jesus and His ministry. However, here we stumble upon what seems like relatively mundane, domestic issue. Some of Jesus’ disciples are not washing their hands before eating. We read, “Now when the Pharisees gathered to him, with some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem, they saw that some of his disciples ate with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed,” Mark 7:1-2.


    This, however, has nothing to do with hygiene and has everything to do with ritual purity. They were not washing their hands to remove dirt or germs, but to symbolically cleanse themselves from anything that was ritually unclean that they may have come into contact with. The issue of clean/unclean has been a reoccurring theme in Mark thus far with Jesus’ regularly coming into contact with individuals who were ceremonially unclean (Mark 1:40-45; 5:25-34; 5:41-42) and his labelling of demons as “unclean spirits” (Mark 1:23; 5:1-13; 6:7). One of the reasons why Jesus is seen as being such a scandalous figure in the religious authorities’ eyes is due to his regular association and contact with those who are unclean. As we continue to read Mark 7 we are going to see Jesus bring about a radical shift on the understanding of clean and unclean. But it would be wise for us to understand where this idea comes from.

    In the books of Exodus, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy, Moses is given detailed instructions about what makes one clean or unclean. To be “unclean” was to come into contact with something that represented the realm of death—blood, disease, corpses, bodily discharges, etc. God is holy, which in the Old Testament, is contradictory to anything that is unclean or common. God’s holiness includes his ethical perfection, His righteousness, but it also includes His purity, His total separation from anything that represents death or impurity. If you remember, “death” and all its attendant counterparts of disease and decay, is solely the by-product of sin (Gen 2:17; Rom 6:23), which is in essence rebellion against God. God’s holiness cannot allow what is unclean to come into His presence.

    A major part of the covenant that God makes with Moses after the Exodus is a lengthy detailed account of how Israel can remain clean and holy so Yahweh may dwell with them. Leviticus 19:2 summarizes it well, “You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.” So all of Israel was bound to abide by these purity laws, otherwise they ran the danger of coming into the presence of God as one unclean, which would have killed them, or having God no longer dwell in their presence. By the times of Jesus, it had become a common tradition for very religiously devout Jews to undertake a handwashing process similar to what priests in the tabernacle and temple were required to do, “When they go into the tent of meeting, or when they come near the altar to minister, to burn a food offering to the Lord, they shall wash with water, so that they may not die. They shall wash their hands and their feet, so that they may not die,” Exodus 30:20-21. Though this command was exclusively for priests and had nothing to do with eating food, in time Jewish tradition morphed this command into a requirement for all Jews to undertake before eating. Mark explains, “The Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they give their hands a ceremonial washing, holding to the tradition of the elders. When they come from the marketplace they do not eat unless they wash. And they observe many other traditions, such as the washing of cups, pitchers and kettles.,” Mark 7:3-5 (NIV). 


    Notice that Mark tells us that they observe “many other traditions.” By the time of Jesus there was a large body of oral traditions that were handed down from generation to generation that people believed were first given by Moses and then added to by rabbis offering their own interpretations (what is today known as the Mishnahfound in the Talmud). The apostle Paul tells us prior to his conversion he was, “extremely zealous…for the traditions of my fathers,” Gal 1:14. These “traditions” were usually expansions on the laws we find in the Old Testament and how to apply them in varied situations. The Pharisees and scribes scrupulously followed these traditions and are shocked that Jesus’ disciples aren’t following along. The ask Jesus, “Why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?” Mark 7:5. 

    Now, our typical response when we read the gospels is to view the scribes and Pharisees as kind of ridiculous examples of self-righteous rule followers. While Jesus does expose their hypocrisy and hollowed out religion, we should be slow to rush to a cartoonish depiction of them. If we were living in Jesus’ day we would have all likely looked up to Pharisees—they were exceedingly devout men who take adherence to the Law very seriously. When one reads the Old Testament, you are struck by how much of it is a story of failure. There are certainly high points (Abraham, Moses, David), but the overall story is ultimately a downward spiral. God saves His people, but they consistently and constantly rebel against Him, break the covenant, and worship other gods. The entire section of the Old Testament that we call the “Prophets” is dedicated to repeatedly warning the nation of the danger of ignoring God’s Law. God, however, repeatedly promises that if Israel will just follow the Law and worship Yahweh alone, then He will bless them and establish them. This is what the Pharisees mission is—they want to correct the failure of their fathers by meticulously and scrupulously following the Law.

    Jesus’ response is surprising: “And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men,” Mark 7:6-8. 

    Now, just to avoid any confusion, we believe that traditions are a blessing. In the classic musical, Fiddler on the Roof, we see a modern critique of tradition. The story revolves around a Jewish family who slowly sees their traditions stripped away from them by the daughters of the family rejecting the traditional hierarchy of listening to their father’s advice in who they marry. Tevye, the father, opens the musical with the song Tradition.At one point, he mentions the prayer shawl he wears and says: “You may ask, how did this tradition get started? Well, I will tell you…I don’t know. But it’s a tradition. And because of our traditions every one of us knows who he is and what God expects him to do.” While this is trying to show some of the silliness of traditions, the conclusion that Tevye reaches I think is actually very important: traditions help us understand who we are and what God wants from us. Traditions are a part of God’s common grace for societies. Their danger comes from when these traditions contradict or ignore Scripture.

    Even though the Pharisees have a seemingly righteous motive they are ignoring Scripture and contradicting Scripture. Jesus says the Pharisees “leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.” They are abandoning what God has said in His Word and are looking to these traditions about hand washing as being more important. 

    But then, Jesus tells us, they actually contradict Scripture: “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition! For Moses said, Honor your father and your mother’; and, Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ But you say, ‘If a man tells his father or his mother, “Whatever you would have gained from me is Corban”’ (that is, given to God)— then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother, thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do.”

    Jesus cites Isaiah 29:13 to describe the Pharisees. Isaiah 29 is describing a faithless Israel who will still go to Yahweh’s temple to offer lip-service, but then go off and proceed to worship other gods. Surely, the Pharisees would have been the last people you would have associated the people Isaiah is describing. They didn’t take their faith seriously enough, the Pharisees take their faith very seriously! But, this is critical, you can look like you are very devout, even like you are serving God, but have hearts that are far from the Lord. This means that the people that Isaiah is describing, people who pay lip service to Yahweh but then go and worship pagan gods, actually match the description of the Pharisees, people who believe they are zealously pursuing pure worship of Yahweh. 

    But, Paul similarly warns us of those who believe they are zealous for the Lord but have missed the boat entirely, “Brothers, my heart's desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. 2 For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. 3 For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God's righteousness. 4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes,” Rom 10:1-4.

    What “traditions” are a part of your life? 

    Church traditions: the classic example of tradition in the church would be the Roman Catholic church. The Roman Catholic church officially holds to two sources of authority: the church’s tradition and Scripture. Further, the church’s magisterium provides authoritative and binding interpretation of Scripture, so if at any point one wants to correct the church’s tradition by Scripture, the church can overrule you by saying, That isn’t what that Scripture means. Just as the Jews believed there was a body of oral teachings that Moses gave that was handed down and was eventually codified in the Talmud, so too does the Catholic church teach that there was a body of oral teaching given by Jesus to His apostles that was never written down, but simply passed down from generation to generation in the Church. 

    In the 16th century, when a German monk named Martin Luther began to criticize the church’s teachings and practices on indulgences, justification, its priesthood and other abuses and teachings in the church that clearly ignored or flat out contradicted what the Bible taught, he was eventually summoned to the Diet of Worms where he was asked to recant his views. He responds famously,

    “Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Scriptures or by clear reason (for I do not trust either in the pope or in councils alone, since it is well known that they have often erred and contradicted themselves), I am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted and my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and will not recant anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience. Here I stand, I can do no other. God help me. Amen.”

    “My conscience is captive to the Word of God.” That is our inheritance as Protestants, sola scriptura—Scripture alone is our authority. We can appreciate and learn from church traditions—you would be a total fool to ignore the historic creeds, confessions, and catechisms of church history. We are not the first Christians who have ever read our Bibles; there are many giants of old who have produced excellent expositions of Scripture that have stood the test of time as invaluable guides. Nevertheless, there is nothing outside of Scripture which has the authority to silence or contradict. Jesus here is clearly laying out the authority God’s Word has to rule over the traditions of men.

    Now, of course, we are not Roman Catholic, but friends this does not mean that our church is not prone to fall into this same error. We should be reminded that the Pharisees did not one day say, “Let’s contradict the Hebrew Bible!” Rather, the way barnacles can slowly form on the hull of a ship that is left at dock for a hundred years, slowly pulled under by the growing weight, so too do the gradual accumulation of traditions that are not under the scrutiny of Scripture gradually ignore, sideline, silence, and then eventually contradict Scripture. Traditions, remember, are not a bad thing! We are just always to be careful never to get the cart before the horse—we keep our traditions under the watchful and authoritative eye of God’s Word. 

    So, in our church it is our tradition to end each service with singing the doxology, we take the Lord’s Supper every week, we have a certain liturgy each service, our services are in English, I wear a tie (sometimes)—none of these things are necessarily commanded in Scripture. They do not silence or contradict Scripture. In fact, we think for the most part these elements actually help us worship together more effectively. But, we are not claiming that these traditions have the kind of authority that God’s Word has. And we certainly wouldn’t look at other churches that practice differently and think: You aren’t obeying God because you don’t sing the doxology at the end of your service! No, like Luther, we want our consciences to be captive to the Word of God—not our tradition.

    So, before we criticize someone else in our church or some other church for doing something that seems to run roughshod over our traditions, let’s ask ourselves: is this something that Bible actually teaches, or is this just my personal or church’s preference?

    Cultural traditions: 

    Cultural traditions are a wonderful gift. I love many of our cultural traditions—blowing up fireworks on the 4th of July, getting popcorn and candy when going to the theatres, the excitement and camaraderie you feel with other fans when you attend a sporting event together, decorating your house with Christmas lights in December. But, there is also a great danger in cultural traditions—perhaps even greater than our church traditions. Cultural traditions can have far more functional authority in our life than we realize and influence what church’s teach.

    You don’t have to look very long in a history book to see abuses from cultural traditions—particularly traditions that are centered on viewing another group or class of people as sub-human. Whether you are looking at the caste system in India, or the Third Reich in Nazi Germany, or the Apartheid of South Africa. In many places, it is the cultural norm, tradition, to treat people who are different from yourselves with hostility, fear, and degradation. 

    Flannery O’Connor, the great novelist from the 20th century, wrote a short story called Revelation describing the way racism, arrogance, self-righteousness can all be hidden under a veil of Christianity. The story is basically O’Connor taking the story of the Pharisee and tax-collector from Luke 18 and turning it into an expanded short story, set in the South in the 1940’s. It follows a Mrs. Turpin, a middle aged white woman who owns a pig farm in Georgia, as she goes to a doctor’s appointment with her husband Claud. As she is sitting in the waiting room, we hear what she is actually thinking and then hear her subtle, thinly veiled criticisms of everyone else in the waiting room. But as she is sitting there, all the while constantly thanking God that she is a devout Christian and isn’t like the poor colored people who works on her pig farm or isn’t like that white trash family sitting in the room (who she thinks to be more repulsive than colored people). But there is also a college-aged girl in the room named Mary Grace reading a book, but keeps staring angrily at Mrs. Turpin. With every subtle racist comment, every self-serving comment, every condescending look Mrs. Turpin gives, the girl is getting angrier and angrier, till her knuckles clenching the book are white and her face is purple. 

    Eventually, Mrs. Turpin thinks to herself, Girl…I haven’t done a thing to you! The girl might be confusing me with somebody else. There was no need to sit by and let herself be intimidated. “You must be in college,” she said boldly, looking directly at the girl, “I see you reading a book there.”

    The girl continued to stare and pointedly did not answer. 

    Her mother blushed at this rudeness. “The lady asked you a question, Mary Grace,” she said under her breath.

    “I have ears,” Mary Grace said.

    Mrs. Turpin, so thrown off by the sudden and strange anger of this strange girl, begins to talk condescendingly to her mother about the importance of a cheerful attitude and good disposition. Eventually, Mrs. Turpin says with feeling, “If its one thing I am…its grateful. When I think who all I could have been besides myself and what all I got, a little of everything, and a good disposition besides, I just feel like shouting, ‘Thank you, Jesus, for making everything the way it is!’…At the thought of this, she was flooded with gratitude and a terrible pang of joy ran through her. “Oh thank you, Jesus, Jesus, thank you!” she cried aloud.

    The book struck her directly over her left eye. It struck almost at the same instant that she realized the girl was about to hurl it. Before she could utter a sound, the raw face came crashing across the table toward her, howling. The girls fingers sank like clamps into the soft flesh of her neck.

    People eventually pull Mary Grace off of Mrs. Turpin and sedate her, but before she becomes unconscious, Mary Grace locks eyes with Mrs. Turpin and yells, “Go back to hell where you came from, you old wart hog.”

    You might be thinking, what on earth is that story about? Remember, the girl’s name is grace. O’Connor was taking the story of the Pharisee and the tax-collector and setting it in a contemporary setting. The Pharisee loudly thanks God that he is so righteous and not like other people, certainly not like that tax-collector over there. What had happened? He had let his cultural traditions of defining “right” and “wrong”, “good” and “bad” have more authority in his life than God’s Word. Had the Bible held most authority, he (and Mrs. Turpin) would have responded like the tax-collector before God: “have mercy on me, a sinner.” Our cultural traditions that lead to dividing us into tribes and groups have an insidious power to make us self-righteous, self-justifying—to lead us to forget that we are sinners like everyone else and our ONLY hope is in Jesus, like everyone else. How do we know that we are “good”? We aren’t like them. We vote for the progressive candidate, we vote for the conservative candidate. We aren’t like those backwards fundamentalists over there, or we aren’t like those crazy liberals over there. We know we are justified before God because our skin is a certain color, because we have a certain view of how our economy should work, because we stand up for the rights of the victims and downtrodden or because we champion the importance of a work ethic and not exploiting the system. 

    Mrs. Turpin’s revelation: 

    "What do you send me a message like that for?" she said in a low fierce voice, barely above a whisper but with the force of a shout in its concentrated fury. "How am I a hog and me both? How am I saved and from hell too?" 

    “Why me?" she rumbled. "It's no trash around here, black or white, that I haven't given to. And break my back to the bone every day working. And do for the church.” 

    "How am I a hog? she demanded. "Exactly how am I like them?" and she jabbed the stream of water at the shoats. "There was plenty of trash there. It didn't have to be me. 

    "If you like trash better, go get yourself some trash then," she railed. "You could have made me trash. Or a nigger. If trash is what you wanted, why didn't you make me trash?" 

    “Go on,” she yelled, “call me a hog! Call me a hog again. From hell. Call me a wart hog from hell. Put that bottom rail on top. There’ll still be a top and bottom!” 

    A garbled echo returned to her. 

    A final surge of fury shook her and she roared, "Who do you think you are?" 

    At last she lifted her head. There was only a purple streak in the sky, cutting through a field of crimson and leading, like an extension of the highway, into the descending dusk. She raised her hands from the side of the pen in a gesture hieratic and profound. A visionary light settled in her eyes. She saw the streak as a vast swinging bridge extending upward from the earth through a field of living fire. Upon it a vast horde of souls

    were tumbling toward heaven. There were whole companies of white trash, clean for the first time in their lives, and bands of black niggers in white robes, and battalions of freaks and lunatics shouting and clapping and leaping like frogs. And bringing up the end of the procession was a tribe of people whom she recognized at once as those who , like herself and Claud, had always had a little of everything and the given wit to use it right. She leaned forward to observe them closer. They were marching behind the others with great dignity, accountable as they had always been for good order and common sense and respectable behavior. They, alone were on key. Yet she could see by their shocked and altered faces even their virtues were being burned away.

    What did Mrs. Turpin learn? She learned what Jesus taught the Pharisees, “Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you,” Matt 21:31.

    1. Why Did Israel Have Those Weird Purity Laws?

      Many proposals have attempted to account for the various laws of ritual purity. Three of the most prominent may be noted. (1) These rules promoted the health of the community. In particular, the laws about unclean animals guarded the Israelites from disease carried by certain animals (e.g., pork is a carrier of trichinosis). This view has been advocated by medieval rabbis such as Rashbam and recent scholars such as R. K. Harrison. (2) These rules prevented the assimilation of foreign cultic practices into Israel’s worship of God. (3) The clean animals exhibited behaviors desirable in humans (e.g., the several references to an animal’s chewing of the cud symbolize meditating on the law). This view goes back to Jewish rabbis of the intertestamental era. An adaptation of this position in sociological categories is set forth by M. Douglas in Purity and Danger.

      These explanations and others provide insight into some of the laws on ritual purity, but none of them is sufficiently encompassing. If the laws of clean/unclean animals were given to promote the people’s health, for example, Jesus did a great disservice in declaring all foods clean (Mk 7:14-20). Nevertheless, the numerous rules on washing certainly promoted the health of the ancient community, for cleanliness guards against the spread of disease. Some of these laws did set a barrier against pagan worship, but they did not do so categorically. For instance, the bull, the most valued sacrifice in Israel, was likewise highly revered by many of Israel’s neighbors. However, these rules did establish guards against occult practices, for most ceremonies dealing with demons and magic had rites that would render an Israelite unclean. Thus finding a system that accounts for these rules as a whole is formidable.

      J. Milgrom has argued that the nexus of life/death is the underlying principle. This nexus does offer a wide-ranging explanation for the rules of purity/impurity. The rules dealing with a corpse or with carcasses of various animals are rooted in the abhorrence of death and in the fact that death is the opposite of holiness, the life center. Skin diseases, besides being repulsive, give the appearance of sapping the life out of person. Certainly grievous growths in bricks and garments are destructive of those materials.

      The loss of blood and semen represent the loss of life-giving bodily fluids.

      In light of this principle, Milgrom has posited that the laws regarding clean/unclean animals promoted reverence for life by limiting for Israel the flesh they might eat to a few animals, primarily domesticated small and large cattle, some wild game, fish, birds and locusts. His position has much to commend it. Certainly hunting as a sport did not gain the prominence in Israel that it had in Mesopotamia and Egypt. Israel’s attitude toward hunting may be rooted in the food laws and the prohibitions against consuming blood. Furthermore, many of the prohibited wild animals were carnivorous or eaters of carrion. In this light it is valid to postulate that in general the food laws were based on the death/life nexus.

      These rules of clean/unclean had a powerful impact on the social and spiritual life of ancient Israel. They were a strong force for social cohesiveness. Later Jews of the Diaspora gave greater prominence to these rules in order to preserve their identity while living among Gentiles. They also provided numerous symbols of the character of holiness, especially of “unity, integrity, and perfection” (Douglas 1966, 54). The standard of wholeness explains why blemished animals could not be offered and priests with physical imperfections could not serve at the sanctuary (Lev 21:16-23; 22:17-25). The prohibition against various mixtures, such as sowing a field with two kinds of seed or wearing a garment of two different materials (Lev 19:19), symbolized the integrity of holiness. That “clean” symbolized moral purity is evidenced in the parallel of “a pure heart” with “clean hands” in Psalm 24:4.

      The rules regarding corpse defilement kept the Israelites from highly valuing funerary monuments, as was the case in ancient Egypt. Since cemeteries in Israel were never considered holy ground, they could never function as places for Yahwistic worship (cf. Is 65:2-5). Burial grounds could never be located in proximity to a sanctuary, nor could a corpse be interred in a residence. These impossibilities struck a fatal blow against ancestral worship and also erected a huge barrier against occult practices, especially necromancy (cf. Deut 18:10-12). Thus they kept the concept of the demonic from enslaving the minds of God’s people.

      By relegating all human *sexuality to the common area, the rules on ritual purity excluded any kind of sexual expression as a way of worshiping Yahweh. It is important to stress that these rules regarding genital discharges did not demean the proper expression of human sexuality in the marital context. They actually promoted male and female fertility, thereby enhancing the fulfillment in each family of God’s promises to Abraham that his seed would be numerous (e.g., Gen. 12:2-3). Their role was to separate this vital dimension of human living from sacred space.

      The rules dealing with clean/unclean animals were a strong moral force, for they made the Israelites conscious at every meal that they were to order their lives to honor the holy God with whom they were in covenant. That this design is inherent to the food laws is confirmed by the presence of the command to be holy as God is holy. This command appears in three listings of the rules regarding edible animals (Lev 11:44-45; 20:25-26; Deut 14:21; cf. Ex 22:31). Daily observance of these food laws established a pattern of obedience to God, thereby exalting the pursuit of spiritual values above following a pragmatic way of promoting the community’s welfare.

      • J.E. Hartley in Dictionary of the Old Testament: Pentateuch, "Holy and Holiness, Clean and Unclean" InterVarsity Press.
      1. Order of Service for Family Worship, May 24th

        Take time throughout the week to be prayerfully reading through these passages of Scripture to prepare you and your family for worship on Sunday morning.

        For guidelines on how to conduct family worship on Sunday morning, read here.

        Order of Service for Family Worship

        Sunday, May 24thth

        Sections with **asterisk to be done at home.

        -       **Call to Worship: Psalm 66:1-4

        o   Think: Notice, in this psalm the author doesn’t merely call for all of God’s people to shout for joy, nor even all of humanity—but “all the earth.” All of creation proclaims the majesty and glory of God (Ps. 19:1-2)—God is just too glorious to keep trees and mountains from crying out the praises of God. We, the redeemed of the Lord, however, get the unique privilege to proclaim, “How awesome are your deeds!” As we turn to sing to our great God to whom all the cosmos bows in worship, recall the great deeds of our salvation, the crown jewel of our praise.

        -      **Sing

        o   Song recommendations: “All Creatures of our God and King” “How Firm a Foundation

        §  Why These Songs? “All Creatures” is a classic hymn that summons us and all of creation to sing praises to our God. “How Firm a Foundation” is one of the few worship songs I know of that sings about the sufficiency of God’s Word, a major topic in our sermon text today.

        §  If you prefer, feel free to find other songs that exalt Christ, flow from Scripture, and prepare your heart to receive the Word.

        -       **Scripture reading: Amos 5:18-24

        o   Think: In Amos we see God’s hatred of show religion. God takes no delight in technical obedience to external rituals and acts of worship when our hearts are bent towards injustice and unrighteousness. At the time of Amos’ writing, Israel had begun to worship other gods and practiced wicked acts of social injustice—but maintained the regular ritual worship of Yahweh at the temple. God is not pleased, even though they are still offering all of the prescribed offerings in the Law. So too our hearts run the risk of “technically obeying” God by participating in outward rituals, all the while our hearts are set on loving other things more than God.


        -       Word of Exhortation (video)

        o   Announcements

        o   Pastoral Prayer: John 6:63

        o   Sermon: Traditions and Commandments (Mark 7:1-13)

        -       Benediction: 2 Cor 13:14

        -       **Sing Doxology

        Praise God from whom all blessings flow,

        Praise Him all creatures here below,

        Praise Him above ye heavenly host,

        Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,


        1.  — Edited

          Sometimes, Satan Uses the Little Things

          In my sermon from this Sunday, I spoke about how trials and testing don't always look like gigantic catastrophes or life-altering collapses. Sometimes the most effective temptations in our lives are the monotonous, mundane frustrations that pile up. Whether its picking up your kids' socks off the ground for the millionth time or sending that follow-up email because that person isn't responding, little frustrations can be profoundly effective in stealing our joy and catapulting us into sin. Were our child to be rushed to the hospital or our business fold, most Christians would likely trip some emergency switch in their mind that says: This is a trial, you need to seek the Lord for help. This is a good thing. But that "switch" doesn't get flipped in our day to day frustrations.

          I think it should. And I think C.S. Lewis agrees with me.

          In Lewis' fabulous sci-fi novel, Perelandra, he tells a story where Satan has manifested himself as the "Un-man" on a new planet to tempt an Eve figure there. However, a man of Earth (Ransom) is sent by God to this planet to thwart Satan's plans and keeping the Eve figure from sinning. After enduring a full assault of temptations and deceptions and resisting them, the Lady falls asleep and the Un-man unveils his simple (yet effective) method of tempting Ransom:

          All three were very still. Beasts and birds came often and looked upon them. Hours later the Un-man began to speak...

          "Ransom," it said.

          "Well?" said Ransom.

          "Nothing," said the Un-man. He shot an inquisitive glance at it. Was the creature mad?...He dismissed the problem from his mind and returned to his own uncomfortable thoughts.

          "Ransom," it said again.

          "What is it?" said Ransom sharply.

          "Nothing," it answered.

          Again there was silence; and again, about a minute later, the horrible mouth said:

          "Ransom!" This time he made no reply. Another minute and it uttered his name again; and then, like a minute gun, "Ransom...Ransom...Ransom," perhaps a hundred times.

          "What the Hell do you want?" he roared at last.

          "Nothing," said the voice.

          Next time he determined not to answer; but when it had called on him a thousand times he found himself answering whether he would or no, and "Nothing," came the reply. He taught himself to keep silent in the end: not that the torture of resisting his impulse to speak was less than the torture of response but because something within him rose up to combat the tormentor's assurance that he must yield in the end. If the attack had been of some more violent kind it might have been easier to resist. What chilled and cowed him was the union of malice with something nearly childish. For temptation, for blasphemy, for a whole battery of horrors, he was in some sort prepared: but hardly for this petty, indefatigable nagging as of a nasty little boy at a preparatory school...

          Then all at once it was night. "Ransom...Ransom...Ransom...Ransom" went on the voice. And suddenly it crossed his mind that though he would some time require sleep, the Un-man might not.

          -CS Lewis, Perelandra, Chapter Nine, pg. 122-24

          Maybe Satan's most effective device to spoil your joy is something so mundane it might not cross your mind as a trial or temptation: losing a night of sleep to a crying baby; an important Word document that was somehow deleted; the vending machine refusing to take your dollar bill. Satan is not so dignified to not use the most childish and crude means to lead you to sin. So, think: what irritates me most regularly? What little frustration, little indulgence saps my happiness in God?

          Identify whatever it may be, and when it comes, tell yourselves: this is an opportunity for the devil and my flesh to lead me to sin, Lord help! Don't just react with what feels normal--fight! Resist it, pray, and draw near to the Lord, whether the trials are big or little.

          "Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith," - 1 Pet 5:8-9.

          "Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you" - James 5:7-8

          "Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil," - Ephesians 6:11

          1.  — Edited

            Yahweh in the Flesh (Mark 6:45-52)

            Watch Sermon Video Here

            Sermon Discussion Questions:

            1.     What stood out to you from the sermon most?

            2.     What is your rhythm for prayer look like? When was the last time you “pushed pause” on life to dedicate special time to pray?

            3.     What point in your life has led you to question whether or not God is good?

            4.     How does Jesus’ coming, death, and resurrection help remind us that God can be trusted? See Romans 8:32.

            5.     What little frustrations tend to irritate you most? Are you able to see these as “trials” that require the Lord’s help?

            6.     What was the significance of Jesus walking on water? Saying “It is I”? What would you say to someone who said that Jesus was only a “great teacher”?

            7.     Why do we need a mediator between God and us? See Exodus 20:18-19 for example of a need. In what ways is Jesus a mediator? See Romans 8:34.

            8.     What situation in your life right now is God asking you to trust His hand even when you cannot see His face?

            Sermon Manuscript:

            A former professor of mine recently wrote about his experience of his 23-year-old daughter contracting COVID-19. He writes:

            “Two days after the hospital admitted Hannah, a physician called to let us know that her lungs weren’t delivering sufficient oxygen to her body. If the medical team didn’t place her on a ventilator before the end of the day, cardiac arrest seemed the most likely outcome. Based on the condition of her lungs, the doctor had concluded that the cause was COVID-19. When I asked a nurse if my wife and I could visit Hannah in the intensive-care unit, the nurse replied, “You don’t want us to call you to visit. If we ask you to come see her, it’s because the doctor doesn’t think she’s going to make it to the next day.”

            A 23-year-old on a ventilator was nothing we could have anticipated 17 years ago when God worked through the foster-care system to place Hannah in our lives. The first couple days on the ventilator, Hannah was sufficiently coherent to video conference through her phone, even though she couldn’t speak. But then it became necessary for the medical team to sedate her, and the distance between us grew silent and dim.”

            For three weeks his young, healthy daughter lay in a hospital bed with a virus that was supposed to not affect young, healthy people. Why would God allow something like this to happen? Mingled with the difficult and sorrow over the devastating effects of this virus is the tragic economic strangling our country has experienced. Nearly 36 million people across our country have filled for unemployment, with that number likely to continue to rise. And this means that the poorest and most vulnerable across our country are likely to feel the consequences of that most severely. We hear stories of locally owned businesses having to close doors. And, of course, we see our country and community as divided as ever. What is God doing? We know we are supposed to trust God and we know He is in control, but how are we to do that when it feels like life is so confusing, so difficult? 

            45 Immediately he made his disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. 46 And after he had taken leave of them, he went up on the mountain to pray. 47 And when evening came, the boat was out on the sea, and he was alone on the land. 48 And he saw that they were making headway painfully, for the wind was against them. And about the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. He meant to pass by them, 49 but when they saw him walking on the sea they thought it was a ghost, and cried out, 50 for they all saw him and were terrified. But immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” 51 And he got into the boat with them, and the wind ceased. And they were utterly astounded, 52 for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened. 

            • Mark 6:45-52

            In our previous story, Jesus miraculously feeds five thousand men with five loaves and two fish, leaving twelve baskets of food left over. Here, the narrative immediately picks up from that scene. We see Jesus pushing His disciples into a boat, telling them to immediately travel across the lake while He remains behind to dismiss the crowd. The verbs Mark employs to describe Jesus making His disciples get into the boat are strangely forceful, implying coercion, force, and hurry. Why is Jesus rushing to get His disciples out of there?

            Well, if we look at the parallel account of this narrative in the gospel of John, right after the feeding of the five thousand, we read, “Perceiving then that [the crowds] were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself,” John 6:15. The crowds, seeing that Jesus is able to make food materialize out of nowhere, rush to forcibly make Jesus into their king. Perhaps Jesus rushes His disciples into the boat and commands them to leave for the other side of the lake because He fears that His disciples (who are still struggling with understanding Jesus’ mission) may be influenced by the crowds’ misplaced enthusiasm. Or, maybe Jesus simply wanted to have some time alone. But, of course, Jesus could have just told His disciples to wait for Him while He prayed. But He didn’t do that—He pushes them into a boat and tells them to start paddling to the other side. So, whatever the ultimate purpose of why Jesus is rushing His disciples off, what we can say with confidence is: Jesus wanted His disciples out on the lake without Him.

            In verse 46 we are told, “And after he had taken leave of them, he went up on the mountain to pray.” Jesus has ascended a mountain before (to call the twelve, Mark 3:13) and He has gone away by Himself to pray (to seek God’s will after the beginning of His ministry, Mark 1:35). Here, Jesus ascends a mountain and prays by Himself. Mountains, in the Bible, are significant places. God most often reveals Himself on mountains (Eden, Sinai, Horeb, Carmel, Zion). Jesus ascends the mountain to get away from the crowds, to pray, and ultimately to have communion with His Father.

            Now, of course, we do not need to climb a mountain to commune with God. Wherever we are, whatever we are doing, we can immediately go directly to the Father in prayer. However friends, like we discussed two weeks ago, Jesus demonstrates for us that sometimes we need to push “pause” on life and seek the Lord. To be honest, I am embarrassed at how rare I do this. I can think of maybe a handful of times in my life where I have intentionally carved time out of my schedule and said, “This is not my time—this is the Lord’s time, this is a time to seek Him.” Friends, we need more of that, I need more of that. Maybe this week you need to take three hours in the evening, you need to take a morning, plant a flag in the ground and say, “This is the Lord’s.” Mom’s, talk to your husbands and say, “You need to watch the kids tonight, I am going to love and serve our family by seeking God’s face in prayer for more time than I ever have.” Employees, tell your boss, “I need to use a personal day, some vacation time,” and serve and bless our church by opening your Bible and praying for us all. If Jesus had to do this, how much more should we??

            Now, Jesus is up on the mountain, praying, and we are told, “And when evening came, the boat was out on the sea, and he was alone on the land. And he saw that they were making headway painfully, for the wind was against them,” Mark 6:47-48a. If you remember the sermon from Mark 4 where Jesus stills the storm, we talked about how the “sea” in the ancient imagination stood for more than just a big body of water. In Genesis 1, when the earth is “without form and void” we are told that all there is present is a body of dark, chaotic waters. Nearly all of the ancient creation myths involve the turbulent seas representing chaotic forces of destruction and entropy. The sea was also the home in popular imagination of dragon like sea monsters that the Bible calls Leviathan or Rahab. Now, I’m not saying that the Bible is necessarily saying that chaos and evil literally emanate from the sea nor that there are literal sea dragons in the waters, but simply that the Bible (particularly the Old Testament) appropriates these cultural images and metaphors to communicate its message. This is why repeatedly in the Old Testament we are told about Yahweh having power over the seas, splitting the head of Leviathan, and compares the enemies of God’s people to flood waters—these are all just imaginative symbols to communicate the truth that God alone has power over the forces of evil and chaos that want to unravel the order of creation.

            It seems like Mark is wanting to evoke this image of the “sea” by using the very term to describe the body of water. The “sea of Galilee” was actually not a “sea” at all, but a “lake.” But Mark wants us to be thinking about the danger of “the sea” as we read his account (and, you notice how much Mark emphasizes Jesus’ ministry in relation to the sea?). Mark is using a popular imaginative symbol (that is also used in the Old Testament) to convey truth to us: who is in control of the sea (chaos)?

            Unlike the story in Mark 4, it doesn’t appear that the disciples are in mortal danger. Rather they are stuck in an incredibly frustrating situation: rowing a boat across choppy water with the wind blowing against you. Mark tells us that they are “making headway painfully.” The word for “painfully” is literally the word used elsewhere in the Bible for “torture.” Sometimes the trials and difficulty in our life doesn’t necessarily look like catastrophic, life-threating or life-altering suffering. It just looks like something that grates on your nerves, like a thousand little papercuts. The disciples set out “when evening came,” so as soon as the sun went down. But we are told that Jesus doesn’t come out to them till the “fourth watch of the night,” Mark 6:48, which would have been sometime between 3 and 6 AM. So the disciples, after a long day, are forced into a boat by Jesus as it is getting dark and He tells them, “Go to the other side.” But shortly after they start a strong wind pushes against them and they are fruitlessly rowing for maybe 6-8 hours. They are sleep-deprived, they are confused (WHY did Jesus force us out here all alone??), and they are just physically exhausted. The trials we go through don’t always look like having your life threatened for the gospel—sometimes it looks like small, frustrating problems.

            The disciples are out, struggling with the oars when we are simply told, “he came to them, walking on the sea. He meant to pass by them, but when they saw him walking on the sea they thought it was a ghost, and cried out, for they all saw him and were terrified,” Mark 6:48-50. The disciples have seen Jesus quell the stormy sea with His voice, but here Jesus is walking on the sea! The chaotic waters present no danger to Jesus—He walks on them as if they are as safe and secure as the land, doing what is humanly impossible to do. The disciples have no category for thus and (understandably) cry out in fear, assuming that Jesus is some sort of ghost coming to them. 

            But Jesus approaches the boat and, “he spoke to them and said, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” And he got into the boat with them, and the wind ceased. And they were utterly astounded, for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened,” Mark 6:50-51. There are two major points of application from this text, and I want to take them in the reverse order they are given to us.

            A Failure to Understand

            The disciples aren’t only afraid, they are “astounded, for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.” We will discuss what Mark is referring to with the loaves later, but I want to focus in here on this term ‘hardness of heart.’ What does that mean? The last time we saw it in Mark it was in reference to the religious authorities in Mark 3:5 when Jesus is healing a man on the Sabbath. Elsewhere in the Bible a hardness of heart implies a stubborn resistance to God that manifests itself as willful ignorance—I don’t know because I don’t want to know. Paul describes those outside of Christ as, “They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart,” Eph 4:18. Jeremiah explains it like this, “This evil people, who refuse to hear my words, who stubbornly follow their own heart and have gone after other gods to serve them and worship them,” Jeremiah 13:10. According to the Bible, following your own heart is considered a judgment from God, not a virtue. 

            It is surprising to see Jesus apply this term to His own disciples. After all, they were with Jesus, receiving special teaching directly from Him (Mark 4:11, 33-34). Yet they still do not understand who Jesus fundamentally is. This is sobering because it reminds us that you can be around Jesus and receive Jesus’ teaching, but still have a hardened heart. Jesus warns in Matthew seven that at the last day there will be people who have cast out demons and prophesy and work miracles in Jesus’ name, who will approach Him only to hear, “I don’t even know you,” (Matt 7:21-23). We should never think that just being around Jesus is a substitute for actually having a genuine relationship with Him. But this isn’t only sobering, but also encouraging! The disciples here have hard hearts that don’t understand—but they don’t stay there! With the exception of Judas, all of these men go on to become lions of faith! They become part of the very foundation of the church. God can overcome hard hearts.

            What the Disciples Don’t Understand

            Let’s move our eyes back up to the most eye-popping element of the story: Jesus walking on water. In the Old Testament, we are only ever told of one person who walks on the sea: Yahweh (Ps 77:19; Isa 43:16). In the book of Job we read that it is God alone, “who stretched out the heavens and trampled (walked upon) the waves of the sea,” Job 9:8. Thus, for Jesus to walk on water, to tread upon the waves of the sea, would have been Him doing something that only Yahweh does. But this appears to be the exact point Jesus is wanting to make. When Jesus gets to the disciples boat He tells the, “Take heart, it is I. Don’t be afraid.” What might be unclear to us English readers that wouldn’t have been lost on the original readers is Jesus use of the divine name: I AM. What is often translated as “it is I” could be more literally translated as “I am,” the same name given to Moses at the burning bush when asked what God’s name was, to which He replies, “I am what I am,” Exodus 3:14—or, as we know the name: Yahweh. 

            Just think of the many connections this story has with the Exodus story: Jesus has just miraculously multiplied bread to feed a large crowd, which is what Yahweh does for the Exodus generation in the desert as He provides manna from the heavens; Jesus was ascended upon a mountain when He sees His twelve disciples out on the boat, Yahweh is upon the top of Mount Sinai as the twelve tribes are gathered before Him; Jesus provides a miraculous water-crossing for His people by walking upon the water and delivering the disciples from the storm, Yahweh provides a miraculous water crossing by splitting the red sea and delivering the Israelites from Pharaoh. And then, Jesus approaches their boat and says: Don’t be afraid, I am. Mark is taking pains to show us that Jesus is the same God we read of in the Old Testament (Yahweh), come now in the flesh. This is what the disciples do not understand.

            But there is still one phrase that is particularly puzzling. When Jesus is walking on the water Mark tells us that Jesus “meant to pass by them” Mark 6:48. What does that mean? This likely comes from Mark’s use of Job 9 in retelling his story. In Job 9, after explaining that it is God alone who walks upon the waves of the sea, Job laments, “Behold, he passes by me, and I see him not,” Job 9:11. In this chapter Job is lamenting that God seems utterly baffling. He is high, holy, sovereign over everything—Job isn’t questioning that God is in control—but He is questioning whether or not God is good. How can God allow such devastating suffering fall on Him? Job’s friends have begun to accuse Job of hiding some great secret sin which God is now punishing him for—which of course is not true. Job is frustrated; he wishes that there was someone in heaven who could argue his case to God on his behalf.

            “If I wash myself with snow and cleanse my hands with lye, yet you will plunge me into a pit, and my own clothes will abhor me,” Job 9:30-31. Here, Job is saying that if he were to do everything to clean himself, to make himself presentable before God so as to earn the right to be heard before God, he would fail—he cannot make himself clean enough for God because God is totally holy, wholly other from Job. “For he is not a man, as I am, that I might answer him, that we should come to trial together. There is no arbiter between us, who might lay his hand on us both. Let him take his rod away from me, and let not dread of him terrify me. Then I would speak without fear of him, for I am not so in myself,” Job 9:32-35

            What is Job’s frustration? God doesn’t know what it is like to be a man! He is so high and holy, why on earth would He even listen to me? I am just a speck of dust, a little cog in the giant machine of God’s providence. There is no one to be an arbiter, an attorney who can stand at my side and “lay his hand on us both” to take away this fear. God is too great—afterall, He is the one who makes mountains trembles, controls the wind, and can walk on water! If only God could somehow come down and be a man, then He would understand!

            It is interesting to imagine what Job would be thinking were he sitting in the boat with the disciples, watching Jesus trample on the waves, control the wind, and say, “Take heart, I AM. Do not be afraid.” Jesus is no wonder worker—He is the high and holy God, come down, He is Yahweh in the flesh. Tom Wright explains, “How can you live with the terrifying thought that the hurricane has become human, that fire has become flesh, that life itself became life and walked in our midst?” This means, friends, that we have what Job was looking for—God has become a man, we do have a mediator, an arbiter, to plead our case in heaven. But, wonder of wonders, the gospel isn’t only the message that God condescended and took on flesh—marvelous thought that be, but He ultimately went to the cross and died in our place for our sin. “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all,” 1 Tim 2:5-6. 

            Authority is scary to trust. What if they take advantage of me? If I surrender to someone having power over me, what if I’m abused? But when we see authority literally lay its life down for your good, you know that authority can be trusted—even when you may not understand why something is happening.

            Trusting His Hand When You Can't See His Face

            My professor concludes his story with these powerful words:

            During those days of distance, I remembered when Hannah first came into our home as a 7-year-old. The process of adopting her was already underway, and I began the habit of slipping into her dark room each morning to wake her when it was time to get up. For months, each morning followed an identical pattern. When I touched her shoulder, her body stiffened, and her eyes flashed open. She looked frightfully around the room and then stared into my face. In those moments, she didn’t seem certain at first where she was or who I might be. It was no wonder she felt this way. Thus far in her brief life, she had already lived with at least a half-dozen different families.

            “It’s ok,” I whispered. “It’s me. You’re home now.”

            A similar routine continued for almost three months. Each morning, she woke with a start—stiff-armed, wide-eyed, and fearful.

            And then, one Saturday morning, something different happened. She didn’t stiffen or glance wildly around the room when I touched her. She didn’t even open her eyes. Instead, she simply rolled into my arms with her eyes closed and whispered, “Good morning, Daddy. Love you.” 

            She had learned to trust my touch even when she couldn’t see my face.

            That’s how we’re called to trust our heavenly Father. And it’s what I kept remembering anew during those long, silent days when my daughter’s body required a ventilator to battle a deadly virus. 

            All I could do was to trust my Father’s hand even when I couldn’t see my Father’s face.

            I don’t know what God was doing in allowing my daughter to contract COVID-19. Nor do I claim to understand what God is doing around the globe as millions of others face this same disease. I do know this: nothing is outside our heavenly Father’s control, and we can trust his hand even when we cannot see his face. 

            1. Order of Service for Family Worship, May 17th

              Take time throughout the week to be prayerfully reading through these passages of Scripture to prepare you and your family for worship on Sunday morning.

              For guidelines on how to conduct family worship on Sunday morning, read here.

              Order of Service for Family Worship

              Sunday, May 17th

              Sections with **asterisk to be done at home.

              -       **Call to Worship: Isaiah 43:1-2

              o   Think: In our sermon text today, we will see God uphold His people in the midst of chaotic waters. In this passage we see God uphold His people—not by keeping them from water or flame—but by promising to be present with them in the midst of the floods and the fire. We now draw near to give thanks to the Lord for His provision, protection, and care for us in the midst of difficulty. We need not fear, for He has redeemed us, called us by name, and made us His own.

              -      **Sing

              o   Song recommendations: “O Church Arise” “ God Moves in a Mysterious Way

              §  Why These Songs? “O Church Arise” is a refreshingly unique song in its corporate nature, calling the whole church to arise and walk in faithfulness. During this season of scattered worship it is important for us to remember that we are still a part of the wider church. “God Moves” is a timeless reflection on the mysterious providence of God that at times leads us into seasons we do not always understand. In our sermon text today the disciples will be pushed into darkness and difficulty by their Lord, which is what the Lord still does for us today at times. 

              §  If you prefer, feel free to find other songs that exalt Christ, flow from Scripture, and prepare your heart to receive the Word.

              -       **Scripture reading: Job 9:1-12, 30-35

              o   Think: Last week we heard about God’s mysterious plan for Job’s life in suffering. Here we see Job vent his frustrations that while God is all-powerful and His judgements are irreversible, Job feels like God has turned a deaf ear to Him. Job laments that he has no “arbiter” to stand between Him and God to serve as a mediator, someone to ensure that his prayers are heard before this awesome and mighty God. What Job doesn’t know, of course, is that this problem is remedied by this same God coming as the man Christ Jesus, our mediator between God and man.

              -       Word of Exhortation (video)

              o   Announcements

              o   Pastoral Prayer: 2 Cor 4:7-18

              o   Sermon: Yahweh in the Flesh (Mark 6:45-56)

              -       Benediction: Num 6:24-26

              -       **Sing Doxology

              Praise God from whom all blessings flow,

              Praise Him all creatures here below,

              Praise Him above ye heavenly host,

              Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,


              1. Important COVID-19 Announcement

                Hello brothers and sisters,

                If you watched our sermon video from this last Sunday (May 10th), Pastor James announced that this upcoming Sunday we would be gathering together in our parking lot to celebrate the Lord’s Supper together. Under the current phase of Governor Inslee’s plan to reopen our state church’s are able to gather for “drive-in spiritual service with one household per vehicle.” However, last week Inslee provided an updated guidance on “drive-in” services that actually prohibits taking communion together. It also provides such strict parameters that it looks like gathering in our parking lot like we intended will not be feasible for our church (for example, you cannot roll your windows down unless your car is over six feet away from other cars). The prime reason we were wanting to gather was to celebrate the Lord’s Supper together, which now appears to no longer be possible. 

                So, we will continue to do what we have been doing for the time being. This may be frustrating for you (as it is in many ways for us). We long to gather together again because God has designed the Christian life to be one of regularly assembling for corporate worship (Heb 10:24-25). We, however are trusting the Lord’s good and sovereign plan in this all as we strive to love our neighbor as ourselves and submit to the governing authorities that God has placed over us (Rom 13). If the governing authorities were to alter their directives so that they required us to sin or to discriminate against churches and Christians exclusively, we would reconsider our position. However, we still believe that the governing authorities have a reasonable justification for requiring the quarantine restrictions and are not coercing us to sin or unjustly singling out Christians for their restrictions, thus we will continue to abide by their directives. 

                But this does not mean your elders have not been thinking about a plan for us to gather together again! Jay Inslee has laid out a four-phased plan of reopening our state that provides us guidance for when we can gather together again as a church. We are currently in phase one right now. Inslee has not given concrete dates on when the next phases will be implemented, but has said that there will be a minimum of three weeks between each phase. So, as long as the cases of infections continue to decline and the necessary requirements for testing and contact tracing are available, we should be able to gather together sometime this Summer.

                Of course, this plan represents our best estimation at what reopening will look like but will be subject to change as new information is released.

                Quinault’s reopening plan:

                Phase 1 (current phase): 

                -       Small groups meet via Zoom (or some other video conference software)

                -       Video recordings of Sunday service for family worship at home

                Phase 2:

                -       If you are not an “at-risk”* population, practice hospitality with social distancing

                o    Having up to 5 people from outside of your household over now permissible (meeting outdoors, if possible, is encouraged).

                -       Continue to meet in small groups via Zoom

                -       Continue to release video recordings of Sunday service for family worship at home

                Phase 3:

                -       Gatherings up to 50 people now permitted with social distancing practiced

                o   At-risk* populations still required to stay home

                -       Continue to practice hospitality by having families over, but now with no “5 person” cap.

                -       Small groups now safe to gather again, but social distancing must still be practiced.

                o   For at-risk* individuals unable to gather with their small groups, pursue how to still creatively stay in-touch with the group either through Zoom or phone calls.

                -       Corporate worship can resume, but…

                o   No childcare will be offered till we can do so safely

                o   Social distancing measures will still be in place, which will require alterations to how we gather. More specific information on what those alterations will look like will be released later.

                -       We will still record these services and offer the recordings on Facebook Live so those unable to gather can still participate.

                Phase 4:

                -       Resume all normal meetings

                -       Will explore continuing to offer services online for those at-risk* individuals who still feel unsafe gathering together

                Ultimately, we trust our God’s inscrutable wisdom as He works out His sovereign plan. We know He is ultimately committed to us (Rom 8:32) and working for our good (Rom 8:28), even in the midst of frustrations and trials (1 Pet 4:19). If you have any questions about this, please feel free to contact us at info@qbc.org.

                “But since we were torn away from you, brothers, for a short time, in person not in heart, we endeavored the more eagerly and with great desire to see you face to face,” – 1 Thess 2:17

                Thank you and God Bless,

                On behalf of the elders, 

                -       Marc

                *High-risk populations are currently defined by CDC as: persons 65 years of age and older; people of all ages with underlying medical conditions (particularly not well controlled), including people with chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma, people who have serious heart conditions, people who are immunocompromised, people with severe obesity, people with diabetes, people with chronic kidney disease undergoing dialysis, and people with liver disease; people who live in a nursing home or long-term care facility.