A reflection for the 4th July 2021
Fifth Sunday after Trinity 2021

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Offered for Sunday 4th July 2021


Stephen

Reflections Script

'Fifth Sunday after Trinity 2021'

Compiled 3rd July 2021


Way back in my curacy days I'd on occasions join
the men of the Church on a Friday night in the local
'Working Men's Club'.

One night as I finished my beer, the conversation turned
towards Church things with the old chestnut of 'Sermons'
soon coming to the front! Like a pride of lions circling
it's prey I was pounced on with the eight men declaring
a good sermon was judged not by the quality of input,
biblical insights, challenging, thought provoking
and life enhancing conclusions, but by the length with the
consensus of opinion being five to six minutes being about
right for a 'Sermon of Quality!'

No surprise my response was short and to the point,
'Tough, it takes what it takes!'
However, 'What does make a Good Sermon?

Many books and courses have been written on this subject.
Some argue it's vital to use interesting and relevant
illustrations. Others say sermons should be fun and include
a few jokes and entertaining stories.
Others debate whether a preacher should use notes or
not use notes; move around, or preach from the pulpit;
make use of PowerPoint or avoid it at all costs!

The sermon Jesus gives in the Synagogue recorded in
Mark 6: 1 to 13 does not tell us what words Jesus used,
how long he took, whether he used a joke or how he presented
his teaching!
It does however make it abundantly clear Jesus preached
an excellent sermon, for people were 'Amazed' by his words.
Yet, their initial positive reaction soon changed to
antagonism and Jesus' sermon was not received well at all.
The people actually "took offence at him"!



Let us Pray


Lord, open our eyes to the truth of your word.
We pray for wisdom as we prepare to read and hear your word;
Clarity for while we listen;
Discernment as we apply what we hear to our hearts.
Let your proclaimed word change our actions and attitudes.
We pray the truth you reveal
will transform our hearts and minds to follow more after you.
Amen



Address


'The Family!'
What a strange beast it can be; as any family party or
get-together demonstrates, especially weddings for some reason.
Families can be wonderful, dreadful, quirky and odd.

On the one hand, they can be a wonderful place of nurture
and support. At the other extreme, they can be an awful place
of hurt and abuse.
But for the most part our experience of families is neither
completely one nor the other, but full of contradictions.

They can nurture and protect us, but also be stifling and
discouraging at the same time. You know the kind of thing;
the mother of an independent and happy taxi driver who wanted
her child to be a bank manager;
the father of a talented teacher who would have preferred
his child to be a doctor;
the children who can't accept their mother's
new interests in retirement.

Sometimes as Christians we gloss over the tricky nature
of families. 'The Church is the Family of God', after all,
and the family unit a lynchpin of the Christian community.
But in Mark's Gospel we have permission to reflect upon the
contradictory and sometimes plainly difficult nature of families.

Mark is really rather harsh on the family, and, by extension,
the home and home town.
In Mark 6: 1 to 13 he records with bluntness, Jesus was not
accepted by his own people.
"Prophets are not without honour," he says, "except in their
home town, and among their own kin, and in their own house."

And that's not all Mark has to say about families either.
The passage from our Gospel echoes an earlier event
in chapter 3 verse 21 where Jesus' family set out to restrain
him because they think he's gone just a little bit mad.

A few verses later where they turn up the at edge of the
crowd and call for him, and Jesus dismisses them in an
astonishingly harsh manner, implying his mother and brothers
are not necessarily his flesh and blood, preferring those
who do the will of God.

The other Gospel writers also record this event,
but they make it much gentler, much more neutral;
not in the context of this family spat.
Check it out in Matthew chapters10, 12 and 13,
Luke 8 and 12 and John 6.

Jesus' ministry is seriously hampered in his home town
and among his family; he was amazed at their unbelief;
in sharp contrast to the villages where he and his disciples
subsequently go, casting out many demons and curing the sick.

It really does seem 'Familiarity Breeds Contempt!'
You'd think Jesus' people knew who he was and where
he had come from would make his miraculous acts more real,
more convincing.
But not so, they somehow lacked the imagination to see him
as God saw him, and ultimately got left behind.

We can probably all identify with Jesus in some way.
Some of us would want to be gentler with our families,
and some harsher. The fact remains even Jesus experienced the
contradictions of family life.

The family that nurtured and supported him; got him to the point
in life where he was to launch his ministry; somehow they were
unable to make the leap of faith and imagine what he really
could be. Jesus has to walk away from them and go to other
places where his message would be received, and where he could
be what he was meant to be.

In our journey of faith we have to deal with how we relate to
our families; when we have to leave and when we have to stay.
It is refreshing, somehow, to know that Jesus' family was as
tricky as our own can be.

But perhaps the scariest, harshest aspect of Mark's message is
when we apply it to ourselves as 'The Family of God'.
Do we lack the imagination to nurture God's message when it
appears within our midst?

Is it possible that we can take new ideas and people so far,
and then we take offence at what seems to get out of hands
and out of our scope?

God forbid Jesus would have to get up and walk away from us
because we simply cannot imagine that he could be something
so wonderful.
Are we, as a family of God in this time and place,
able to imagine all of what Jesus can be to this community?
Let's pray, as the family of God, we could have the courage
to be the best that it is possible for us to be.



To Summarise

Families can be contradictory things -
places of nurture and support,
but also places where growth and imagination are stifled.
Mark writes candidly about Jesus' own contradictory experience
of his family.
In the end Jesus has to move on to where his ministry is
recognised and accepted.
As the family of God, we need to think carefully about our own
behaviour, and to nourish the capacity to accept the newness
of the Gospel message when it is presented to us
in a new and unexpected way.



Our Blessing


May you go into the world
taking with you the words Christ has spoken to you
and may you know the power of God's Spirit to put
those words into action.

And the blessing of God almighty......


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