"Consider this ...." by Canon Denise

 

Canon Denise Acheson

Years ago I came across a poem which basically said – the more you learn makes you realise how little you know! Becoming a Christian is the first step of an eternal learning journey.

With the Holy Spirit’s guidance along the way one learns new things about oneself, about God and about others. We may outgrow some of the things we learned in the past as we grow closer to God through faith in Christ.

Faith is not static – and there are many things which we are called to think upon as we journey. 1 John 4 v1 says to test the spirits in order to recognise the Spirit of God.

So as we journey together let’s make time and space to consider this …….

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The Fifth Sunday after Trinity

Collect
Almighty and everlasting God,
by whose Spirit the whole body of the Church
is governed and sanctified:
Hear our prayer which we offer for all your faithful people,
that in their vocation and ministry
they may serve you in holiness and truth
to the glory of your name;
through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

The First Reading - 2 Samuel 5: 1-5, 9-10 or Ezekiel 2: 1-5
The Psalm - Psalm 48 or Psalm 123
The Second Reading - 2 Corinthians 12: 2-10
The Gospel Reading - Mark 6: 1-13
Click here to view the readings via the oremus Bible Browser website

Post Communion Prayer
Holy and blessed God,
as you give us the body and blood of your Son,
guide us with your Holy Spirit,
that we may honour you not only with our lips
but also with our lives;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

In his own house a prophet is without honour- Mark 6 v 5

Whenever Rory McIlroy comes back to visit Hollywood he is welcomed and applauded - and why not?? He is a local boy made good! He has raised the profile of NI and shown the world that a little province like NI can produce champions!
So what is going on here in the gospel of Mark- surely Jesus was a local boy who had made good and was raising the profile of Galilee and showing that it too, could produce champions!!!

We know Jesus from our 21st century viewpoint. We know how he was obedient to God's call on his life. How he healed the sick and taught about the kingdom of God . By his life and death he showed us what God's love is like. God's love for us is so great, so abundant, so extravagant that He was prepared to lay down his life for us.

If we had been around in Jesus' day there is probably no doubt in our minds that we would have been among the early group of disciples. We know that no word of doubt, criticism or animosity would have been directed towards Jesus. And if he had come back to his home town after all the miracles and healings and teaching he had done we would be the first to be out on the streets to welcome him- wouldn't we????

But this is a question I have asked myself many, many times.
What group of people would I have belonged to?
The sceptics,
the Pharisees or Sadducees,
one of those who took what Jesus offered and never looked back,
one of those who knew that Jesus was special but when asked to follow drew back,
one of the disciples who was prepared to give up all to follow Jesus?
Which one?

After the resurrection Jesus said to Thomas (the Doubter), "Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."
After living and following Jesus for 3 years how could any of the disciples be a doubter, we quietly ask ourselves.

In Mark's gospel those listening to Jesus do more than doubt - as the saying goes - they don't even give Jesus the "benefit of the doubt!"
They are amazed at his teaching.
Amazed because it is so profound?
Amazed because it so simple?
Amazed because they are hearing something new and wonderful?
Amazed because it is challenging them in their thinking?
Amazed because they have never heard anything like this before?
Amazed because it has an effect on them?
Or amazed simply because it is coming from someone they grew up with and, they think, is no better than they are?

Sometimes the hardest place to witness for Christ is among family and friends. When someone hears someone say "I am a Christian" it lodges in the listener's brain as "I am perfect!" and of course, exception is taken. No one is perfect. To be a follower of Christ certainly does not mean one is perfect. It means that one is forgiven, and given the promise of the Holy Spirit to continue leading and guiding the believer into that fullness of life that Christ promises to those who come to Him in repentance and trust. A Christian is a work in progress- far from perfect - but "becoming" more and more like Christ.

Jesus' listeners acknowledged that what they were hearing was good!
"What's this wisdom that has been given him? And he even does miracles!"
But in the next sentence we have the answer for their dismissal of Jesus,
"Isn't this the carpenter? Isn't this Mary's son?" -Jesus is just a local lad.

Just because they knew his background they felt they knew the person.
Too often we are quick to judge people on the basis of where they come from and who their relative is rather than the person themselves.
What motivated their offence at Jesus - jealousy, small mindedness, resentment? Only God knows the human heart.

What it meant was that they were deaf to what Jesus was saying to them about God's kingdom, blind to the way he demonstrated God's love, so that they could not benefit from the ministry of Jesus. They put themselves outside of Jesus' presence.
He could not minister in that place - but a few people recognised Jesus for the healer and teacher that he was - and he healed them.

I think this is a very sad story- but has a ring of truth in it.

We are attracted to the rich, powerful, famous and charismatic personalities. Jesus came among us as one of us- he had nothing about him to make him stand out- other than his commission from God. Many people in his day looked, listened and walked away. Many took offence at him.

Are we any different today?
Association with Jesus doesn't offer worldly riches and power. Jesus instead offers us the way of the cross. For many that is offensive.
Jesus cannot always get past that barrier.

Prayer. Lord, you speak but we are deaf. You call , but we do want to listen. You challenge is , but we close our ears. You hold out your hand to guide and to lift us, but we turn away.
You reach out to comfort us, but we are too self confident to receive it.
You join us on our journey but we do not recognise you. You try to change our direction, but we know best. And yet, you warm our hearts, inspire our faith, forgive us again and again, and we are amazed. Lord, open our hearts to your grace and renew our faith and hope. Amen

Canon Denise

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