A Stumbling Block

A Stumbling Block


Rev. Dr. Robert R. LaRochelle is currently serving as Pastor of Grace Lutheran Church, ELCA, in Plainville, CT until October 1. He is the author of several books, including A LOVE-HATE RELATIONSHIP, which is scheduled for publication by Wipf and Stock in 2022

Scripture:  Mark 9:38-50 (NRSV)

John said to him, ‘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 afterwards 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.’

Reflection: A Stumbling Block

In reading this passage, the message that speaks to me is one spoken quite directly and powerfully: 'Do NOT be a stumbling block'. It is a powerful admonition, don't you think?

For parents, spouses, friends and as Christians, it contains the recognition that by our words and actions, we could get in the way of others! Going deeper, we need to ask: Getting in the way of what? In the way of peace? Of self respect? In the way of being affirmed as someone worthwhile? How might we possibly be potential stumbling blocks or millstones?

This passage also raises for us the complementary question: How do we project Christianity? Were people who interact with us to know that we self identify as Christians, what kind of picture of Christianity would we present through our words and our actions? In considering these questions, it seems that we need to be drawn back to this: It is important to recognize that how we live does make a difference in the life of others. This could be either for bad or for good.  The examples we set for others are powerful ones, oftentimes with quite long term impacts!

In an era where racism continues to haunt us and violence remains so dominant a force,  a period in time where that which motivates the lives of so many serve as such bad examples of what human living is meant to be about, this admonition speaks directly to all of us, down through the many generations since these words were first spoken:' DO NOT BE A STUMBLING BLOCK.'

As we reflect on this sage advice, spoken so powerfully by a man from Nazareth long ago, may we be inspired by these words, words that speak to our hearts and consciences as we seek to live out these- our earthly lives!


Precious God, we seek to be instruments of your peace, not stumbling blocks who get in the way of that which these earthly lives are really meant to be. In this moment, we seek to open our hearts to you, present within us, present around us....We pray this in the name of Jesus...AMEN

New Prayer Requests:

We ask churches and church leaders to join us in the following prayers either by sharing them during worship, printing them in bulletins, or sharing them in some other way. To make a prayer request, please contact Drew Page at paged@sneucc.org

Prayers of Intercession:

  • For the victims and their families of the 510 mass shootings already carried out in 2021
  • For the families and friends of more than 670,000 who have died due to the Covid-19 disease. (Editor Note: As weekly deaths have soared passed 2,000 per week again, I felt the need to renew the weekly prayer request for the victims of this seemingly endless pandemic).
  • For the Haitian migrants who are being deported from the U.S. with no homes or stable country to return to

Prayers of Joy and Thanksgiving:

  • For the Rev. Emma Brewer-Wallin, Minister for Environmental and Economic Justice for the SNE Conference. Emma was ordained on Sunday at her home church in Salem, OR

 This Week in History:

September 24, 2016 (5 years ago) The National Museum of African American History and Culture opens in Washington D.C. on the National Mall. The opening ceremony is led by President Barack Obama, during which the president rang the Freedom Bell, once housed in an African American Baptist church founded in 1776. The museum drew over 2 million visitors in its first year of operation.

“Study the past if you would define the future.”

Bob R. LaRochelle

Rev. Dr. Robert R. LaRochelle is an ordained UCC clergyperson who has served churches in Union and Manchester, Connecticut, as well as ELCA churches in Windsor, Wethersfield, and Plainville, Connecticut. He also worked as a teacher and counselor in ...

September 20, 2021
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