A reflection for the 6th June 2021
First Sunday after Trinity 2021

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Offered for Sunday 6th June 2021


Stephen

Reflections Script

'First Sunday after Trinity 2021'

Compiled 5th June 2021


I didn't ever think I'd make the following statement
but I've missed being part of a crowd!

However, I may have missed being part of a crowd;
crowds can also make us feel uneasy,
and sometimes with good cause.
Football crowds have that mix of happiness
and anger that can kick off in more ways than one.

Clusters of hyped up young people are often mistrusted
and unnerve people, unruly groups of people in a train
have spoilt many a journey,
too many children in a sweet shop sometimes
require number policies.
Even a cheerful event such as a town parade
requires masses of planning to be sure that traffic,
audience, people, children; all come together harmoniously
and without harm to anyone.

Even a seemingly free and easy music festival,
crowds are heavily managed with wristbands
and wire fencing. Crowd control is enshrined in our law
and deeply embedded in our hearts,
as it is in all societies;
whether enforced by police, home-grown signs,
or those spoken and unspoken rules
making up the very fabric of our society.

So it's not really a surprise to read there were
similar feelings in 'First Century Palestine'.
As Jesus travelled around Galilee,
healing and preaching, he drew crowds in the town,
crowds by the lake and crowds in any home he entered.
He had to preach from a boat to avoid being crushed.
People had to cut holes in a roof to
bring a sick friend to him.

He had to climb a mountain just so he could focus
on appointing a small band of more dedicated disciples.
Even when he arrived home he couldn't eat,
the crowds had got so demanding.
Crowd dynamics are important to recognise
as we come to Mark 3: 20 to 35



Let us Pray


For your love
which breathed this world into being,
and daily sustains it.
For your love which
granted humanity free will
and choice
For your love which
never fails as we do,
but stretches to eternity
For your love,
sacrificed upon a cross for our sake
For your love which
rose triumphant from the grave
and lives within us
For your love which
encircles us as we meet together
in your presence
For your love which
extends to all humanity.
Amen



Address


Have you noticed how much we like to label
people and use anachronisms
such as SKI; CHAV; WAG; YUPPY?
To explain...
SKI; Spending the Kids Inheritance!
CHAV; Council House and Violent!
WAG; Wives and Girl Friends.
YUPPIE; Young Urban Professional Person in Employment

Sometimes the use of this type of shorthand is
affectionate and good humoured:
while at other times,
putting people into a box seems to go with
putting them down in some way,

I personally find the use of CHAV deeply irritating,
disturbing and offensive!
However by using such terms we can feel superior
as we distance ourselves from the
sort of threat we feel they represent.

Tabloid newspapers can categorise a criminal
as a "monster", removing the threat that humanities
tendency towards wrongdoing in that person
might also lie in us.

Someone who stands up for unpopular moral values
may be labelled as a "do-gooder",
the ridicule protecting us from the risk of
our own behaviour being judged, or,
at the very least, drowning out that inner,
inconvenient voice that tells us they may well be right.

Jesus has just called his disciples.
Now he is in danger of being labelled by
an unsettled family and
an agitated religious establishment.

As his public ministry begins,
Jesus' relatives grow concerned at
tales of his long working hours.
They decide he has got things out of proportion,
and arrive in Capernaum to escort him home
to Nazareth for food and rest.

However news of Jesus' activity
has spread far further;
all the way to Jerusalem,
prompting the religious authorities to
travel north to address this upstart rabbi.

No one disputes the powerful
reality of Jesus' miracles.
The issue is how they respond to his ministry.
As Jesus' identity as God's Messiah emerges,
his earthly family want to contain him;
the religious officials want to destroy him.

For his family, Jesus must have a mental health problem;
for the Pharisees, Jesus must be demonic.

The Pharisees' accusation arises from the threat
Jesus poses to their high position within
the religious status quo rather than any honest motive.
Jesus exposes this as he highlights the illogical
nature of their claim:
it makes no sense for a demon- possessed healer
to exorcise one of his own.
In their desperation to defeat Jesus,
the religious authorities commit blasphemy
by pronouncing what is good as evil.
In doing so, they thrust aside
the kingdom of God in defiance.

Jesus offers no hope for those determined
to declare the light of the world to be darkness.
Mark frames this dramatic episode with the arrival
of Jesus' family within the context of a crowd.

Their concerns are with family allegiance
rather than religious position.
Unlike the Pharisees, they see themselves
as on Jesus' side.
Their motives are genuine,
and the issue far from trivial.

In Jesus' day, family bonds formed part of
sacred tradition, and were deeply connected
to the heart of Jewish identity.

But God's kingdom, says Jesus,
is still paramount.
As God's chosen Messiah,
he is forging a fellowship of redeemed people,
united by his Spirit and by their
relationship to himself.

The silent figures of this Gospel scene,
the disciples seated around Jesus in submission,
are his new family.
Anyone willing to join them
in following Jesus will be
welcomed as a fellow member.

The Gospels do not flinch from
what makes uncomfortable reading:
the opposition Jesus faces is from those
one would least expect to challenge
the source and character of his actions;
the religious community and his own family.

Jesus' ministry brings healing and reconciliation
between humanity and God, but it also brings
separation; from old ties to new loyalties,
from self glory to humble service.

How do we respond when we are faced with
the figure of Jesus, in all his love and power?

As we see the changes it may mean in our lives
to accept him as Lord, we may look for our own ways
of side-stepping the challenge.
We may try to water down his status from Messiah
to "just a good man", especially when
the voices in the crowd are loud,
or to consign him to history as a
great religious leader of the past,
who need not trouble us today.

Becoming a disciple of Jesus means
letting him be 'LORD!' both privately
and in the crowd

The cost of following him will involve
repositioning any attachments competing
for the first place in our lives,
from family and friends to our job,
status or possessions.

We may even find ourselves tempted to
patronise Jesus or push him away;
and if we are determined to do so,
he will not force us into his kingdom.
But if we accept him as he truly is,
the rewards of joining Jesus' family will
ultimately deliver more than any other
attachment can promise.



To Summarise

Jesus' ministry encounters strong opposition
from family and the religious establishment
Religious leaders' casting of Jesus as
demon-possessed reveals their sense of threat.
Jesus' family's call on his allegiance
prompts Jesus' definition of God's new family.
When faced with the cost of discipleship,
we can be tempted to downplay Jesus' status.
By accepting him truly as Lord,
with all it entails,
we enjoy a rich membership of
his kingdom family.



Our Blessing


As we re-emerge into a crowded world,
preparing to rub shoulders with others,
may God's vision make you see,
may Christ's touch make you brave,
and may the Spirit's power make you generous.
And the blessing of God almighty...


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