Anne Currie
5th July 2015
Travelling Home

Preaching in front of your family for the first time is something of an ordeal.

I remember one of the first times for me. My Mum had obtained an invitation from her church for me to go there and preach one Sunday morning.

Of course I was rather chuffed about that, but also somewhat apprehensive…. how would they see me…. the onetime teenager who used to sit on the church wall or hang around the village hall in the evenings? Local girl made good or would they think who does she think she is?

Needless to say my mum had also invited some relations along… not to mention rounding up all her mates from the WI! All sat there waiting in anticipation for what I wonder?

So what do you do…. give chocolate of course… congregational pass the parcel… it’s what they remembered anyway. And hopefully they took something away about the gospel too.

I wonder if Jesus felt that same nervousness. In your home town are the people who know you best of all, the ones you were brought up amongst. My mum was very fond of saying to people – I knew you when you were still in nappies! in other words… there’s nothing new about you that you can tell me… which kind of sums it up really.

Mark doesn’t tell us why Jesus came back to his home town, Nazareth. Perhaps his Mum had persuaded him, wanting to show him off to relatives and community alike.

For by then he had an ever growing following. His reputation would go before him as a great preacher and a powerful healer.

So, sitting in that synagogue on that day would have been some who waited with almost bated breath to see what he would do…. some great teaching point of powerful and inspiring preaching…. maybe some healing or even drive out a demon or two? Had he not just done that down the road just outside Decapolis. Or would he raise someone from the dead…. just like that Centurion’s Daughter up the coast.

Some people there would, as Mark records, been quite cynical about it all… how on earth could this man do such things. They remember him as a small boy, playing in the dirt with the other children. What trickery had made him so famous that he thought he could come here and boast of his accomplishments to them?

But of course, Jesus had not come to boast at all…. and it seems he didn’t live up to their expectations either…. as according to Mark he could only lay his hands on people and heal them, but do no deed of power. I don’t know about you, but I find that pretty powerful. And does that say something about our own expectations of God’s presence amongst us… have we stopped looking for the miracles?

St Paul is another one who did not care to brag and boast of himself… especially of that one life changing encounter with God on the Damascus road. He refers to it here very obliquely… as if it had happened to someone else entirely.

What is important to Paul is the spreading of that message that came to him through his encounter. That Paul was to go out into the world with new eyes to see much further than he had before, and to bring the gospel good news to not just the Jewish people but to all the non-Jews he could possibly find.

A great part of a call to ministry is that sense of needing to go out and do something… to tell all about it… in the best way that you can…. for God uses us… he uses all of us… to spread the knowledge of the gospel and the reality of his love.

However, a vocational call is a restless thing that will not go away. It is – as a priest once put to me -a theological itch that must be attended to. Which is how any one of us gets started on this road to being licensed or ordained.

This text from Mark is particularly apt for this time of year around the end of June…. Ordinations and Priestings abound throughout the land…. Cathedrals and churches in every diocese are resounding with joy as “#newrevs” are stepping out from the laity and into clerical orders, and year old deacons are priested forward into the next step of their journey.

For the deacons (the newly ordained) this is very much for them a time of being sent out into the world.

They have to leave the parish that they have been part of for some time, maybe since birth – which has nurtured their vocational calling, cradled them through their training, and cheered them on at their Ordination.

And then – they are sent out from this home, the place of safety… they take nothing with them… except prayers and everything they were taught. Ok they take their belonging etc. too… but in a metaphorical sense this is Christ sending them out into the world….

So off they go , into a community about whom they may know nothing at all…. it could be many miles away from their sending parish. But of course, the one thing they do take with them is Christ’s presence at all times. Listening, leading and lending an ear.

So over the next weeks and months, pray for all the newly ordained… but especially Martha Mutikani and David Newton, as they find their feet and settle into their home for the next three years at least.

The people of God are always travelling… right from the beginning when a small insignificant tribe came down out of the hills bringing their one and only true God with them. Jesus never stayed anywhere for long….. he said “ the son of man has no place to lay his head”.

St Paul, like Jesus was always travelling somewhere….and Paul, like Jesus disappointed many, including the Corinthians here, who were looking for the Davidic model of a leader. Someone like King David who could fight battles and keep entire armies of enemies at arm’s length…

And Paul has discovered that, in fact, God works very well, and chooses to do so, using people who may not at first glance, because of the relatively humble position… itinerate preacher for example… appear to hold any power at all.

In our modern times who do we look up to and remember as someone who has done God’s work during their lifetime? I’m sure you can all name at least one person among your acquaintances.. and then there are those who have become famous for their humility…. Mother Teresa for example. Who found such strength in her weakness, that enabled her to go on caring for those in her charge.

In our world where image and influence are all powerful, those of a humble disposition often get pushed aside as being irrelevant.

Jesus, and Paul and many other characters in the Bible… turn the model of strength through a position of power on its head.

When we do God’s work…. we walk in the footsteps of Christ… all our trappings of wealth and position don’t count…. we are, like the twelve, sent out in the power of the spirit, to live and work to his praise and glory.

2 Corinthians 12.2-20
Mark 6.1-13