Sunday, 5 July 2015

Can't make it to church? 5July 2015

The words that leaps out to me from the readings this morning are, 'And he was amazed at their unbelief.' Here we have Jesus back in his home town and despite the miracles He had done elsewhere before and after that visit, 'He could do no deeds of power there!'

Today, we find Lewis Hamilton driving in the British Grand Prix: Yesterday we saw Andy Murray playing at Wimbledon: Both spoke about the spur that playing to a home crowd brings. The reason for this is that the extremely partisan crowd set the conditions for something special from their heroes.

Could the same be true of Jesus? 

What would He, could He, have done on his return home had the people cheered every service and applauded every twist and turn of the happenings around Him? The Bible tells us that this is the case and there is there something important to take from the Gospel today: Those who create the conditions for something special with God see something special from God! But don't get me wrong - God is not some performer who needs to be feted or applauded or encouraged; this is not what it's about at all - God is looking for relationships and His word being preached and acted out to set the conditions.

Today: Do we crave His Son or merely call for a sign?

Had Jesus 'done stuff' to win the crowd over - to show His miraculous side - then what He brought them would have been cheapened and reduced to a mere circus act. The desire to speak and exhibit wondrous words and amazing miracles would have been great if I had been Jesus for I would have sought to 'show them' and silence them. Fortunately for us all though I am not Jesus!

'And he could do no deed of power there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them.'

I imagine those Jesus healed whilst home were people who needed a touch that brought healing and changed their lives, and perhaps the lives of those around them, but it was done privately, almost secretly, for manifestations of God's power and the preaching of sound words are not TV show materials (so turn off your 'Christian' channels and stop craving tickled ears - instead get into relationship with Christians and be Church!).

The second part of the Gospel is a shocker because it tells us tho 'shake the dust' from our shoes and walk away from those who reject the Gospel (the good news) of Jesus, the Christ.

We are told elsewhere that should those around us reject the word then we are to merely leave them to it and go where the soil is fertile and Church might be grown. This is a real difference from the call to remain and stay faithful whatever is going on - but it is one we need to heed. We never walk away from those with whom we might engage but neither do we stay with those whose attitude and rejection of the word produces the thistles of worthless conflict. Rejection of the written word and the living Word (Jesus) reduces the reality of 'signs and wonders' where they are - for 'signs and wonders' are evident where the living and written Word are found and honoured.

Our Old Testament reading today talks of David, a man called as a youth and threatened, tested and rejected for a number of years before coming into the promise that God had given him. But he kept faithful to God's word and followed Him and in the end it all came right. Perseverance and fidelity: hallmarks of every successful relationship and fulfilled prophecy!

And the message of the New Testament, which speaks of our weakness and God's Grace as Paul tells us:

'God's grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.’ 

Though we are weak, God will use that and fill the gaps in our lives, thoughts and actions. He will persevere and will in us, with us and through us, triumph - and signs and wonders, miracles and triumph will be seen. The path may be strewn with our weaknesses and the weaknesses of others as we endure insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles for the sake of Christ. But when we are weak, when we realise our limitations and look to the Lord, our weakness is also our strength.

Simple message today: Are you looking for a relationship with God through Jesus or to see the benefits, the miraculous, of Jesus in your lives. One is like marriage in that it is lifelong and life-giving whilst the other is like a tacky one-nighter that leaves a bad taste in the mouth once the event, and the thrills, have passed.

Which you looking for with God?

What do you need in your life?

The Collect
Almighty God,
send down upon your Church the riches of your Spirit, and kindle in all who minister the gospel your countless gifts of grace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

2 Samuel 5.1-5,9-10
Then all the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron, and said, ‘Look, we are your bone and flesh. For some time, while Saul was king over us, it was you who led out Israel and brought it in. The Lord said to you: It is you who shall be shepherd of my people Israel, you who shall be ruler over Israel.’ So all the elders of Israel came to the king at Hebron; and King David made a covenant with them at Hebron before the Lord, and they anointed David king over Israel. David was thirty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned for forty years. At Hebron he reigned over Judah for seven years and six months; and at Jerusalem he reigned over all Israel and Judah for thirty-three years. David occupied the stronghold, and named it the city of David. David built the city all around from the Millo inwards. And David became greater and greater, for the Lord, the God of hosts, was with him.

2 Corinthians 12.2-10
I know a person in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know; God knows. And I know that such a person—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know; God knows - was caught up into Paradise and heard things that are not to be told, that no mortal is permitted to repeat. On behalf of such a one I will boast, but on my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses. But if I wish to boast, I will not be a fool, for I will be speaking the truth. But I refrain from it, so that no one may think better of me than what is seen in me or heard from me, even considering the exceptional character of the revelations. Therefore, to keep me from being too elated, a thorn was given to me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me, to keep me from being too elated. Three times I appealed to the Lord about this, that it would leave me, but he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.’ So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong.

Mark 6.1-13
He left that place and came to his home town, and his disciples followed him. On the sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astounded. They said, ‘Where did this man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been given to him? What deeds of power are being done by his hands! Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?’ And they took offence at him. Then Jesus said to them, ‘Prophets are not without honour, except in their home town, and among their own kin, and in their own house.’ And he could do no deed of power there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them. And he was amazed at their unbelief. 

Then he went about among the villages teaching. He called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. He ordered them to take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts; but to wear sandals and not to put on two tunics. He said to them, ‘Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave the place. If any place will not welcome you and they refuse to hear you, as you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.’ So they went out and proclaimed that all should repent. They cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.

The Post Communion Prayer
Grant, O Lord, we beseech you, 
that the course of this world may be so peaceably ordered by your governance,
that your Church may joyfully serve you in all godly quietness;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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