Worship preview for 6/10

The theme of the day for the Third Sunday after Pentecost focuses on the cosmic conflict between Satan and God. Jesus is the victor in that conflict, and we share in that victory because of his death and resurrection. Although we are yet threatened by Satan’s attacks in this life, we are part of God’s family as we are led by the Spirit.

The Old Testament reading recounts the tragic aftermath of humanity’s Fall into sin, but closes with the first gospel promise. God promised someday, someone would come bash the head of the snake who brought evil into the world, but not before the snake is able to strike this person’s heel. In the Gospel reading, Jesus says he is more powerful than Satan, able to rescue his family by defeating Satan. In the Epistle reading, St. Paul acknowledges that today we must wait for Christ’s return before we can truly celebrate the victory over evil. Nevertheless, the battle has already been won.

The hymn of the day is “Rise! To Arms! With Prayer Employ You” (ELH 518). This hymn encourages steadfastness against Satan and proclaims the victory we have over him in and with Christ.

The Gospel reading:

Mark 3:20-35

These verses contain two stories of conflict, one inside the other. In both we see opposition to Christ’s mission. The outside story is about Jesus’ family, who attempted to take him home because they thought he had lost his mind. But Jesus did not go with them. Instead, he said that his family is composed of everyone who does God’s will by listening to his Word.

The inside story is about Jesus’ opponents, who claimed Jesus cast out demons by his use of superior demonic powers. Jesus showed the absurdity of that kind of civil warfare. Instead, his deliverance of people from demons shows that he has come to bind the devil in order to plunder his house by freeing his slaves. Thus he is not empowered by an unclean spirit but by the Holy Spirit.

The Old Testament reading:

Genesis 3:8-15

After Adam and Eve had rebelled against God in their attempt to become divine like him, they hid themselves in fear and shame from God. But he did not leave them there in that terrible place. Instead he looked for them. But they refused to take any responsibility for their sorry state. Adam shifted the blame onto Eve and through her onto God. She, in turn, blamed the snake. Then God cursed the snake—the Devil—by declaring that his head would be crushed under the heel of Eve’s eventual offspring, Jesus.

The New Testament reading:

2 Corinthians 4:13-18

The greatest comfort in the Christian life is the bodily resurrection of Jesus. Regardless of what happens in this earthly life, our resurrections from the dead are also secure, and we will be with Jesus in the life to come. And right now, Jesus is doing something amazing with us. As our bodies age and decay, he is making new people of us, people for whom the best is yet to come.