Sunday LinkUp – 02June2024





  • Today is the second Sunday after Pentecost (according to the Christian Worship Calendar).
  • We are now in the season of Ordinary Time, when we turn our attention to the work of the church of Jesus Christ, focusing especially on discipleship and mission.  It is a good time to remind ourselves of the importance of following the leading of the Holy Spirit because God often moves in surprising ways.
  • The theme for this week is the God who breaks conventions.
  • The keynote passage is Mark 2:23-3:6 … and there are a few selected passages that I want us to spend some time on.








  • A video presentation … from Home Office …



Ordinary Time:  Mark

Throughout our lives, there are seasons that unfold with unexpected grace, where the Father, Son, and Spirit gently surprise us amid the ordinary rhythms of life.  After the sending of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, we enter the season of Ordinary Time, where in our everyday lives, we become more aware of how the Spirit is moving and building the church.

Ordinary Time is not merely a period marked by routine, but a time to be attentive to the call of discipleship and disciple-making.  We are joining Jesus in building the church, participating in the ongoing work of redemption and restoration.

As we journey (through) Ordinary Time, we are invited to embrace the wonder of being surprised by the grace extended to us each day as we join Jesus in ministry.  It is a time of heightened awareness, where the mundane becomes infused with divine purpose and meaning.

In the simplicity of our routines, we discover opportunities for discipleship and growth.  Whether it’s worshiping together, serving our neighbors, or being present in our church communities, each moment becomes an invitation to participate in the ongoing work of the triune God.

Ordinary Time is not a period of stagnation but a season of dynamic movement, as the Spirit empowers us to join in the mission of building God’s kingdom here on earth.  It is a time to listen attentively to the whispers of the Spirit, guiding us in our journey of faith and discipleship.

Like seeds planted in fertile soil, we are called to cultivate the fruits of the Spirit in our lives — love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  As we nurture these virtues, we participate in the ongoing renewal and transformation of the world around us.

And so, as we embrace the sacredness of Ordinary Time, let us remain open to the surprises of the Divine.  For in the midst of the everyday, the Father, Son, and Spirit beckon us to join in the eternal dance of love and redemption.

In the stillness of this moment, we wait.  And as we wait, we hold fast to the promise of new beginnings, ready to unfold in the fullness of time.

So, let us take heart, dear friends, for in the sacredness of Ordinary Time, we find moments of divine encounter.  May our hearts be open to the surprising movements of the Spirit as we journey onward, for it is in the midst of the everyday that we are called to discipleship.

“And passing along by the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen.  And Jesus said to them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.’  And immediately they left their nets and followed him.”     Mark 1:16-18



In this season of Ordinary Time, we turn our attention to the work of the church of Jesus Christ, focusing especially on discipleship and mission.  It is a good time to remind ourselves of the importance of following the leading of the Holy Spirit, because God often moves in surprising ways.






MAIN MESSAGE  (Interactive Discussion)


Mark 2:23-28   New King James Version   

  • In this passage, we see Jesus challenging popular ideas about what was permissible on the Sabbath.

23 Now it happened that He went through the grainfields on the Sabbath; and as they went His disciples began to pluck the heads of grain.  24 And the Pharisees said to Him, “Look, why do they do what is not lawful on the Sabbath?”  


25 But He said to them, “Have you never read what David did when he was in need and hungry, he and those with him:26 how he went into the house of God in the days of Abiathar the high priest, and ate the showbread, which is not lawful to eat except for the priests, and also gave some to those who were with him?”

27 And He said to them, The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.  28Therefore the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath.”


  • About the shewbread (according to William Barclay’s commentary) …
      • Exodus 25:23-30 tells of the shewbread. It consisted of twelve loaves placed on a golden table three feet long, one and a half feet wide, and one and a half feet high.  The table stood in the tabernacle in front of the Holy of Holies and the bread was a kind of offering to God.  It was changed once a week; when it was changed it became the property of the priests and of the priests alone and no one else might eat it (Lev.24:9.)  Yet in his time of need David took and ate that bread.
      • Jesus showed that scripture itself supplies a precedent in which human need took precedence of human and even divine law.
  • The Sabbath was meant to serve man
  • The fact that David was not punished for eating the “showbread” (as per 1 Samuel 21:1-6,), highlights an important principle – human need is more important to God than religious ritual.
      • Hosea 6:6What God really wants is mercy before sacrifice.
      • Isaiah 58:1-5,6-9love to others is more important than religious rituals
      • Psalm 51:17the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart; these, O God, You will not despise .
  • Any law that leads to the detriment of Man is out of sync with God’s purpose.  The way the Pharisees were applying the Sabbath Law was out of harmony with God’s purpose … so God had no problem disregarding their interpretation of the Sabbath law.



Mark 3:1-6

And He entered the synagogue again, and a man was there who had a withered hand.   So they watched Him closely, whether He would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might [a]accuse Him.   

And He said to the man who had the withered hand, [b]“Step forward.”Then He said to them, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?”  But they kept silent.   

And when He had looked around at them with anger, being grieved by the hardness of their hearts, He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored [c]as whole as the other.   

Then the Pharisees went out and immediately plotted with the Herodians against Him, how they might destroy Him.



QQQ… from Barclay’s commentary …

This passage (Mark 2:23-28) confronts us with certain essential truths which we forget at our peril.

(i) Religion does not consist in rules and regulations. To take the matter in question — Sunday observance is important but there is a great deal more to religion than Sunday observance. If a man might become a Christian simply by abstaining from work and pleasure on the Sunday, and by attending church on that day, and saying his prayers and reading his Bible, being a Christian would be a very easy thing.  Whenever men forget the love and the forgiveness and the service and the mercy that are at the heart of religion and replace them by the performance of rules and regulations religion is in a decline.  Christianity has at all times consisted far more in doing things than in refraining from doing things.

(ii) The first claim on any man is the claim of human need. Even the catechisms and the confessions admit that works of necessity and mercy are quite legal on the Sabbath. If ever the performance of a man’s religion stops him helping someone who is in need, his religion is not religion at all. People matter far more than systems. Persons are far more important than rituals. The best way to worship God is to help men.

(iii) The best way to use sacred things is to use them to help men. That, in fact, is the only way to give them to God.

The best way to use sacred things is to use them for men. It has been known for children to be barred from a church because that church was considered too ancient and sacred for such as they. It can be that a church is more concerned with the elaboration of its services than with the help of its simple folk and the relief of its poor.  But the sacred things are only truly sacred when they are used for men. The shewbread was never so sacred as when it was used to feed a starving man.  The Sabbath was never so sacred as when it was used to help those who needed help.  The final arbiter in the use of all things is love and not law.


Re: The Christian Sabbath …


Colossians 2:11-16 …  11 In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body [h]of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. 13 And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, 14 having wiped out the [i]handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. 15 Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.

16 So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a [j] festival or a new moon or sabbaths17 which are a shadow of things to come, but the [k]substance is of Christ.  


The command to keep the Sabbath is in Exodus 20:8-11.

“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holySix days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God.  In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates.  11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day.  Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.   

What is the essence of sabbath-keeping?  … no work … rest ….

Hebrews 4:1-11  Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it. For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, [a]not being mixed with faith in those who heard it. For we who have believed do enter that rest, as He has said:

“So I swore in My wrath,
‘They shall not enter My rest,’ ”   

although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. For He has spoken in a certain place of the seventh day in this way: “And God rested on the seventh day from all His works”and again in this place: “They shall not enter My rest.”

Since therefore it remains that some must enter it, and those to whom it was first preached did not enter because of disobedience, again He designates a certain day, saying in David, “Today,” after such a long time, as it has been said:

“Today, if you will hear His voice,
Do not harden your hearts.”    

For if [b]Joshua had given them rest, then He would not afterward have spoken of another day. There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. 10 For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His.

11 Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience.


Matthew 11:28-30  Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am [f]gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”  

Matthew 12:1-13   At about that time Jesus was walking through some grainfields on the Sabbath.  His disciples were hungry, so they began breaking off some heads of grain and eating them.  But some Pharisees saw them do it and protested, “Look, your disciples are breaking the law by harvesting grain on the Sabbath.”  

Jesus said to them, “Haven’t you read in the Scriptures what David did when he and his companions were hungry?  He went into the house of God, and he and his companions broke the law by eating the sacred loaves of bread that only the priests are allowed to eat.  And haven’t you read in the law of Moses that the priests on duty in the Temple may work on the Sabbath?  I tell you, there is one here who is even greater than the Temple!  But you would not have condemned my innocent disciples if you knew the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’[a]  For the Son of Man[b] is Lord, even over the Sabbath!”

Then Jesus went over to their synagogue, 10 where he noticed a man with a deformed hand. The Pharisees asked Jesus, “Does the law permit a person to work by healing on the Sabbath?” (They were hoping he would say yes, so they could bring charges against him.)  

11 And he answered, “If you had a sheep that fell into a well on the Sabbath, wouldn’t you work to pull it out? Of course you would.  12 And how much more valuable is a person than a sheep! Yes, the law permits a person to do good on the Sabbath.”

13 Then he said to the man, “Hold out your hand.” So the man held out his hand, and it was restored, just like the other one!  14 Then the Pharisees called a meeting to plot how to kill Jesus.



CLOSING SONG  (and Offertory Song)


CLOSING PRAYER  (and Thanksgiving for offering)



SERMON … from Home Office …

Traditions and Rituals

Mark 2:23-3:6 NIV

A woman was diligently preparing a ham for Christmas dinner and her son was helping her cook. The son, who recently graduated from college, was trying to learn all he could about cooking, a budding passion he discovered while having to feed himself for the first time. He watched closely as she neatly sliced off the shank (end), placed the ham in a large roasting pan, and meticulously inserted cloves all around it. The son asked, “Mom, why do you cut off the end of the ham? Is there something wrong with the meat?” The woman paused and considered her son’s question. Finally, she said, “I don’t know. It is just how my mother taught me. I have been doing it this way all my life.”

Intrigued, the woman called her mother, who was busily preparing Christmas dinner in another part of the country. After the obligatory Christmas wishes, the woman asked, “Mom, why do we cut off the end of the ham? My son asked me, and I did not know why, but I have been doing it for years.” The grandmother laughed and said, “Sweetheart, we did not have a lot of money when you were younger. We only had one roasting pan and it was not big enough to fit the entire ham. So, I had to cut off the end to make it fit!”

The woman in the story had been unnecessarily discarding perfectly good ham year after year because of a tradition that was no longer helpful. While this story is amusing, it illustrates the danger of continuing practices without having a good understanding of why those practices are needed. This can be especially true for old institutions like the church. We have many rituals and traditions that Christ followers have been doing for centuries. Yet, many of us do not know how and why those practices started. It is easy to get attached to rituals and traditions because we feel like “it has always been this way.”


A new pastor was installed in a very traditional, aging Protestant church. The fresh, dynamic leader wanted to modernize the congregation’s worship to appeal more to a younger audience. As a first step, he proposed reading from the New International Version during the worship service instead of the King James Version. He felt that this would be a fairly easy shift to make, and he could use the momentum to implement other changes. Unfortunately, the pastor was wrong, and several members pushed back hard. During a church meeting, one deacon stood up and said, “I don’t care what you say! I’m sticking with the King James. If it was good enough for Jesus, it is good enough for me!” As you may know, there are several things wrong with the deacon’s statement. The New Testament was written after Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension. Jesus spoke Aramaic (not English) and read from the Old Testament scriptures, which were primarily written in Hebrew. Plus, the King James Version was released more than one and a half millennia after Christ was born! However, the most troubling part of the deacon’s statement was his unwillingness to reconsider the underlying reasons behind something he had been doing for years.

In this season of Ordinary Time, we give our attention to the work of the church in the world. We think about the extent to which we bear witness to Christ and the nearness of his kingdom. As we go and share the gospel with our neighbors, it is a good time to consider why we do some of the things we do. Are we inadvertently presenting our traditions (i.e. the day or time that we meet, how often we take Communion, the way we structure personal devotional time, etc.) as if they were part of the gospel message? This is not solely a modern challenge. In his ministry, Jesus had to address the legalistic observance of traditions and practices by those in his community, especially as they related to the Sabbath (the weekly day of rest). We read in Mark 2:23-3:6:

One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and as his disciples walked along, they began to pick some heads of grain. The Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?” He answered, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need? In the days of Abiathar the high priest, he entered the house of God and ate the consecrated bread, which is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions.” Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” Another time Jesus went into the synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath. Jesus said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Stand up in front of everyone.” Then Jesus asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they remained silent. He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored. Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus. (Mark 2:23-3:6 NIV)

Many in Jesus’ day had strong opinions about what could and could not be done on the Sabbath. (The religious leaders had instituted 39 specific prohibitions for the Sabbath, including carrying anything outside the home, any form of cooking, and any work related to growing or gathering crops.) They took exception to Jesus’ disciples grabbing a handful of grain as they walked. Even healing someone supernaturally was considered work. Their stubborn beliefs about the importance of the Sabbath were so strong that even the performance of a miracle was less important. Jesus’ critics would not even spare a moment to appreciate the awesome power of God to heal a man. Christ tried to use these situations to reeducate his audience on the true purpose of the Sabbath. It was never meant to be oppressive and restrictive. Rather, the Sabbath was meant to be a gift — a time to slow down and enjoy the most important things. The Israelites didn’t have to hunt and gather on the Sabbath, God provided for them. It was not supposed to be about following a set of rules. Instead, the Sabbath was designed to indulge in good things that are life-giving — things that draw us into deeper relationship with God and each other. To Jesus, the Sabbath was the perfect time to heal a man of his disability. That miraculous act brought the man a deeper experience of peace and rest, which is what the Sabbath should be all about.

Before we judge Jesus’ critics, we should consider if we are any less stubborn when it comes to our traditions. Of course, there are things we should stubbornly hold onto. We should hold fast to the gospel and the God revealed by Jesus Christ. We should stubbornly proclaim that Jesus is the solid rock on which we stand. We should be unapologetically firm in the core beliefs of the Christian faith. However, we should embrace diversity in the way in which those beliefs are expressed. How open are we to change? How open are we to making room for different ways to express our faith?

For two weeks in February 2023, a revival broke out among students at the Asbury Theological Seminary (ATS) in Wilmore, Kentucky. A small group of students were praying together in the chapel after a typical worship service when something shifted. The prayer and worship just kept going. More and more students joined. It grew to where almost 15,000 people from around the world attended the revival each day. There were no well-known Christian personalities directly involved. There was not really a program or format — just young people following the lead of the Spirit. The people on the stage were students, not seasoned theologians. The singing was not led by recording artists. In fact, what the students actually did could be considered quite ordinary. Yet, God’s presence made what was happening in that chapel extraordinary. Altogether, more than 50,000 (some say closer to 70,000) people participated in this outpouring of God’s Spirit.

Many people praised God for what he did at the ATS revival. At the same time, many expressed doubts or criticized the revival. One common criticism was that the revival “did not look like church.” Those with this view wanted there to be more structure. They wanted to see formal Bible studies led by experts, and sermons delivered by skilled speakers. Many with this view were motivated by concerns that the students might slip into theological error without proper guidance, which might have some merit. However, we also must be willing to consider that some of the criticism of the ATS revival may have resulted from holding on too tightly to traditions. Some of the critics of the revival were so used to encountering God in a certain way that there was no room for God to do a new thing.

As Christ followers, we must embrace the fact that Jesus will move us outside of our comfort zones. He will come at angles we do not expect. He will challenge our beliefs and reorganize our priorities. He will disrupt our traditions and teach us new ways. For many of us, this is unsettling news. Change can be hard, even under the best circumstances. However, we belong to a God who puts new wine in new wine skins. We belong to a God who walks on water and calms the wind with a word. We belong to a God who called women as disciples and touched lepers. We belong to a God who completely upset common understanding of the Sabbath. To follow Christ is to be transformed. And the comfort is that Christ only introduces changes that are ultimately good for us.

Let us be willing to bring the ways in which we worship — our traditions and rituals — and place them at the feet of Christ because he is Lord. Let us say, “Lord, mold us and shape us as you will.” Let us be willing to change for the sake of the kingdom. Let us be willing to change to be what our neighbors need. Instead of saying “no” immediately to the things that make us uncomfortable, let us take time to pray with an open heart. Let us be willing to let God change us. Perhaps we will find ourselves becoming more like Christ as we re-examine some of our traditions and rituals to determine if they truly advance the kingdom of God. Perhaps, in a spiritual way, we will learn to stop throwing away perfectly good pieces of ham!




Small Group Discussion Questions

  • Have you ever done something repeatedly only to find out there was a better way to do it?
  • How did you feel?
  • Why are traditions and rituals good?
  • How can traditions and rituals be challenging?
  • What is one way God is challenging you to come out of your comfort zone?
  • How can you better respond to the leading of the Spirit?


You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off.  
You [a]comprehend my path and my lying down, And are acquainted with all my ways.  
For there is not a word on my tongue, But behold, O Lord, You know it altogether.  
You have [b]hedged me behind and before, And laid Your hand upon me.  
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is high, I cannot attain it.  

Psalm 139:13-18  

14 I will praise You, for [b]I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well.
15 My [c]frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformedAnd in Your book they all were writtenthe days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them.  

17 How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!  How great is the sum of them!   
18 If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand;   
When I awake, I am still with You.  


And he said, “I did not call; lie down again.” And he went and lay down.  

Then the Lord called yet again, “Samuel!”  

So Samuel arose and went to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.”  He answered, “I did not call, my son; lie down again.”  (Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, nor was the word of the Lord yet revealed to him.)  

And the Lord called Samuel again the third time.  So he arose and went to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you did call me.”  

Then Eli perceived that the Lord had called the boy.  Therefore Eli said to Samuel, “Go, lie down; and it shall be, if He calls you, that you must say, ‘Speak, Lord, for Your servant hears.’ ”  So Samuel went and lay down in his place.  

10 Now the Lord came and stood and called as at other times, “Samuel! Samuel!”  

And Samuel answered, “Speak, for Your servant hears.”  

1 Samuel 3:11-20  New King James Version  

15 So Samuel lay down until [b]morning, and opened the doors of the house of the Lord. And Samuel was afraid to tell Eli the vision.  16 Then Eli called Samuel and said, “Samuel, my son!”  

He answered, “Here I am.”  

17 And he said, “What is the word that the Lord spoke to you?  Please do not hide it from me.  God do so to you, and more also, if you hide anything from me of all the things that He said to you.”  18 Then Samuel told him everything, and hid nothing from him.  And he said, “It is the Lord.  Let Him do what seems good to Him.”  

19 So Samuel grew, and the Lord was with him and let none of his words [c]fall to the ground20 And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba knew that Samuel had been [d]established as a prophet of the Lord.   


But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.  We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed;  we are perplexed, but not in despair;  persecuted, but not forsaken;  struck down, but not destroyed — 10 always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.  11 For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.  12 So then death is working in us, but life in you.   





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