I’m just a soul whose intentions are good!
O Lord, please don’t let me be mis-understood.
We only have one television at the Vicarage, which means that from time to time concessions have to be made as to our contrasting viewing preferences.
With my day off now changed to a Saturday, I have come face to face with one of the most laborious, time wasting, and infuriating programmes on the entire network.
I refer, of course, to the dreadful Saturday Morning Kitchen!
Have you ever seen it?
It goes on for hours and hours and the obviously talented chef and genial host James Martin – has the ability to knock up some recipe whilst at the same time interviewing a celebrity guest that I have rarely heard of.
Then the celebrity eats the food and is always rendered speechless with the magnificence of what is set before them.
I long just once for someone to say “Oh no, sorry, tastes like cardboard!”
And then this is the thing, when the meal is ready to present to the celebrity – our chef invites applause and cheering from the assembled gathering in the studio and sometimes the meal is so plain and ordinary. Fish and chips it was a while back and then a couple of weeks later – and I promise you this is true – with a great flourish ladies and gentlemen – Mushrooms on Toast!
And they all clapped and cheered for mushrooms on toast!
Well, that left me snorting with derision I can tell you – to which Alison said
“If you’d been watching properly you’d have realised that this is not just any old mushrooms on toast”
Can we leap away from all that nonsense to Capernaum two thousand years ago and the beginning of Jesus’s ministry at the lakeside although sadly things are not going so well.
Here is Jesus just setting out and he’s not being greeted with the euphoria you might have expected – but rather there is a lot of chuntering going on – concern, doubt and derision.
Jesus had only just chosen his disciples but they were nowhere to be seen at this encounter.
His family, once so proud and blessed, are standing on the edge of things fussing and fretting.
Crowds press in upon him – but not so much to hear his teaching as for what they might get out of him by way of miracle cures.
And the scribes – feathers ruffled sufficiently so as to come all the way from Jerusalem to meet him – are mounting their opposition even now, and this is only chapter 3.
He is a disappointment – this is not the carpenter’s son of his family’s expectations, this is not the sort of Messiah figure that religious leaders had been hoping for, in fact they were already reaching the conclusion that this was not the Son of God but more like the Son of the Devil.
I picture Jesus in some sort of market square here and all around him the opposition, name calling and closing in.
I’m just a soul whose intentions are good, O Lord please don’t let me be mis-understood.
But that is precisely what is happening here.
Has this ever happened to you? Where people have come to the wrong conclusion about you. Completely got the wrong end of the stick.
And how hard it is to break the mould when once it has been set.
Why do you think they were so opposed to Jesus so quickly?
I think it was because he appeared so ordinary yet said and did the most extraordinary things. He had nothing in common with other holy and learned men of his time for whom the outward appearance meant everything.
And so they quickly turned against Him.
Increasingly the reality of Christian witness today begins with shattering the illusion of what people think God might be about and that his healing hands take their place most readily in the realm of unexplained human suffering, that his words of hope ring at their truest where injustice rears its ugly head most loudly.
There is a power in what Jesus is all about which is to be nurtured most strongly in the ordinary things of daily living – not the set aside in the place where a tamed faith might be content to sit.
When Paul writes to the church in Corinth – he invites us not to lose heart. He invites us to see that whilst our outer nature is wasting away, the outward show becomes less and less convincing – so that is being replaced with something new inside, which is described beautifully in that passage, as an eternal weight of glory beyond comparison.
A calling to look beyond that which is seen to that which is not seen. In ourselves and in others, and in the way we perceive of our God.
Back in our market square scene of cat calling and conflict – let’s take Jesus out of the equation and put in ourselves – for quite often we stand on the edge of something vital and transforming, but we don’t take our place in it – because the cat calling from the side lines tends to win the day. Voices in our head and the assumptions of others that hold us back.
A notion of God as being so very different to ourselves that we can only ever hold him at arms length.
A notion of ourselves as not really being up to very much – so that all we can do is hold fast to the things with which we had always felt secure.
To settle for a mushrooms on toast sort of discipleship – but if you had really been looking and listening – you would know that its so much more than that.
Because we can reach into the experiences of each day of our lives and find him – right there in the mundane and the ordinary – both beyond us and within us – bringing new flavours and possibilities to what we had previously categorised as nothing.
And causing the angels of heaven to burst out in wild applause when we dare to offer our ordinariness into His extraordinariness.
O taste and see how gracious the Lord is, blessed is the one who trusteth in him.
Where is it you might have just mis understood the implications of the Gospel for your own life and find its glory right under your nose, realising that the Son of God who takes bread and wine and breathes himself through it for us, might just be able to do the same with the mushrooms on toast offering of your life and mine.
So have you ever thought about just offering your life on a plate. For he can work with that!
MARK 3: 20-END
2 COR 4: 13-5:1
I’m just a soul whose intentions are good!