Good Morning! Welcome to this mornings Service.
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Our virtual worship leaders our Barbara and Geoff Saville. You can find a written message below by Glenda Taylor.
God Bless x
Barbara and Geoff also chose the song Jesu Jesu, fill us with your love. For copyright reasons we could not input this version into our video, but it's so good we couldn't resist sharing it in our worship today.
Message - Glenda Taylor
Readings - Ezekiel 2: 1-5 and Mark 6:1- 13
Jesus faced a lot of prejudice in his life but never showed prejudice to others. I would like us first to consider our reading from Mark, thinking particularly about the sort of reception Jesus received from the people in his home town of Nazareth and the way in which Jesus sends out his disciples and what we can learn from this. Secondly I would like us to think about the links between our reading from Ezekiel and Mark.
In Mark chapter 5 we learn of the outstanding success which Jesus has enjoyed. Amongst other things, he healed the woman with the flow of blood and raised Jairus’ daughter from death. However in chapter 6, the bubble bursts. Jesus comes to his home town and is greeted first with amazement, then outright insult. In verse 3 we read:
“Isn’t he the carpenter, the son of Mary?”
To identify someone by their mother’s name during biblical times implied the question “Are we certain we know who his father is?” Mark could be giving us a playful shove towards the real questions to be asked of Jesus’ identity. This is not about family at all, but about his contemporaries asking if he is the Messiah.
Although the people of Nazareth recognise the power of Jesus, they fail to acknowledge its true origins and therefore reject Jesus – which is their loss. The people of Nazareth are prejudiced against Jesus. I am a great fan of Jane Austen and her book Pride and Prejudice; I am reminded that initially Elizabeth Bennet was prejudiced against Mr Darcy. However, eventually she understood him and it all ended very happily. Perhaps the people of Nazareth eventually understood Jesus but at this point in time the words: “A prophet is without honour in his own country” come to mind. Mark’s Jesus takes this further, reflecting that he is cut off not just from his own country, but also from his own relatives and family. The Son of Man is homeless emotionally as well as physically.
It is not accidental that Mark tells us how Jesus sends his disciples out just after his mission to Nazareth has met with very limited success. They need to be aware of the possibility of failure in their mission as well as success, and they need strategies for coping with this. Jesus models this for them, telling them to move on where they don’t find acceptance, and to symbolise their action by shaking the dust from their feet. Their mission is to imitate Jesus in homelessness and in complete dependence on local communities; they are to identify with local people, rooting themselves in the communities where they find acceptance.
In effect, Jesus is modelling risk and failure for us. He risks ministry in his own town and is less successful than on previous occasions. He then moves on and continues his teaching elsewhere, encouraging others to engage in the same process: if Jesus is made to feel welcome, he will stay a while and is likely to be effective; if not, he feels he must move on.
In verse 10 we read:
“Wherever you are welcomed stay in the same house until you leave that place.”
Jesus is telling the disciples that wherever they were received, there they were to stay. Perhaps Jesus didn’t want them flitting about from house to house seeing who would give the best hospitality.
Most of us probably know what it is like to be aware that people have said horrible things about us. It’s worth knowing that Jesus experienced that too. It bothered him but it did not stop him. Instead of sticking around where he wasn’t wanted, Jesus went off somewhere else, where he thought he would be more welcome. The Gospel story gives us two phrases that have become well known in the English language: ‘A prophet is not without honour, except in his own country’, and ‘shake the dust off your feet’. These are two straightforward bits of Jesus’ wisdom. If you have something important to share, it may not be those in your own locality who are interested in what you have to say. And if people really don’t want to welcome you, don’t hang about; leave them behind and go somewhere else where you can do something more worthwhile.
Secondly let’s think about the links between our readings from Ezekiel and Mark. Jesus, Ezekiel and the twelve disciples all take part in mission, understood primarily as telling the people the word of God – the deeds of power are not as important as sharing the news of God’s kingdom and teaching. There is an authenticity and rootedness about this mission that comes from the strong links between prophets and their audiences. Ezekiel and Jesus speak to their own people, while the disciples identify with their hearers and are wholly dependent on them for their livelihood. Yet the results are very mixed. The disciples meet with success (and tell Jesus about it with delight in verse 30 of chapter 6), but Jesus’ words to his own community are rejected, and Ezekiel’s mission seems doomed from the start. But this lack of success does not make the mission any less valid. Both readings reflect a clear sense that speaking the word is what is important; further development is up to God. If the people will not listen, that is their loss, not the failure of the messenger.
I think it is fair to say that we don’t always know how our words and actions affect others. Sometimes a quiet word to a friend in need can be very valuable to them but they may not tell you that. Sometimes we can plant the seed of the gospel in someone’s heart without them or us recognising it, someone else may build on that and that gives God the opportunity to help that seed grow. I know this to be true when I look back at people in my life who did this for me.
What can we learn from all of this?
· Try to treat others fairly and without prejudice for example by supporting “Black Lives Matter”
· Try to tell others the good news about Jesus
· Try not to worry if people don’t want to listen or what we say makes us unpopular
Take Jesus’ advice, move on if we are not made welcome and continue elsewhere, encouraging others to engage in the same process. If we feel welcome, stay a while and probably be effective
· Try to leave the developing of our message to God
Let us pray.
We thank you for your son Jesus and the example he set for us. Help us to treat others fairly, without prejudice, as we would like to be treated. Give us courage to spread your word at school, in the workplace and in retirement and trust that you will help the message to grow. Help us to trust in you. For we ask all this through Jesus Christ our Lord.