John said to Jesus, "Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us." But Jesus said, "Do not stop him; for no one who does a deed of power in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. Whoever is not against us is for us. For truly I tell you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ will by no means lose the reward.
"If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea. If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than to have two hands and to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame than to have two feet and to be thrown into hell., And if your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and to be thrown into hell, where their worm never dies, and the fire is never quenched.
"For everyone will be salted with fire. Salt is good; but if salt has lost its saltiness, how can you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another." Mark 9:38-50
Today we begin a new relationship with the people of St. Peter's Sitka. I am here to be their interim and we will walk together for a while. We will have much to learn about each other, since we are from very different parts if the country. I may do things differently from them, as they might from me. And yet we are all in this together, as we help imagine the future for this wonderful congregation together. We will look at all of the gifts and challenges, and prayerfully, together, begin to shape the coming weeks and years of their ministry in this place.
Jesus and his disciples are having great success and responses from the people. The disciples worry that others who have received the good news might not be following them exactly as they should. Jesus reminds them that their reward is from God and that God honors all offerings of service and generosity. God asks they we not hold back or hinder others, but rather encourage and use they gifts we have. God invites us today to not stand in the way of love and healing but rather to be agents of love's growth and the healing of the world.
Today, I ask God to help me offer what I have in service to God for the sake of these precious people. May our gifts and skills be used to God's glory and the healing and renewing of us all. May God's love shine through this earthen and inadequate vessel. May people receive what they need from God this day and may we never stand in the way of healing and love.