by Revd Denise Kelsall
Sunday 5th July 2015 (9.30 am Service)
Mark 6: 1-13

Sometimes when beginning to write a sermon I think around the odd quote or truism to inspire me. Today or more correctly earlier this week after examining today’s readings, I kept coming back to the word change. And so I googled the images for change – pages of them on posters, lampposts, on all sorts of amazing backgrounds, familiar and often true words or sayings in their hundreds came up,  A few…

The only thing constant in life is change ——-who hasn’t heard that one!

If you do not create change, change will create you. (business quote?)

You change your life by changing your heart (and in reverse? what comes first?)

Life can change in a blink of an eye

Every new day is a chance to change your life

Changing is difficult, not changing is fatal.

Change is a process, not an event (both)

Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change

Change your thinking, change your life.

Our gospel today is all about change – the fear of change – and the excitement creativity and unknown-ness of change.

Jesus lived in an ‘honour and shame’ society much more like that of the middle- east today – think Afghanistan, Pakistan, Palestine……. Honour was primary and social classes determined by birth and purity laws. Jesus is in his hometown Nazareth – where people know his birth status and his honour rating. Why he was just a kid not so long ago!

At first they were ‘astounded’ at his teaching, his authority, his power…..and then they (synagogue leaders) ask – who is he really and they look to what counts in their society – family origin, blood relations, honour rank. In asking they attempt to discredit him – he is only the craftsman’s son. Who does he think he is?

Jesus tells them and us and that his own home town doesn’t want to listen and learn. Perhaps ‘familiarity breeds contempt’ – and that there are people elsewhere who are open do want to listen learn and be transformed.

The conclusion tells us that the ability of Jesus to perform great works requires faith. That the participation of the people in their work and life through their faith, is strategic to Jesus’ ability to transform people – lives – situations – it is a two way street – the people are participants, not observers. (and that applies to us too)

Their rejection of Jesus results in their rejection of what he is capable of doing in their midst.

It follows that Jesus sends the disciples out 2 by 2. Travelling in pairs was common in antiquity, travel was dangerous. They healed the sick, cast out demons, taught the faith. They were received openly, enthusiastically, and were able to work the transformation they had come to do. They were, therefore, the exact opposite to the people of Jesus hometown Nazareth.

These two parallel stories in today’s text are ostensibly about the receptivity or rejection of Christ. Yes or no to him and his message. But it’s much more than that too. Jesus challenges the political-economic-religious system of Israel and its leaders, the status quo, making powerful enemies. He is revolutionary – and dangerous. He wants change things radically.

Jesus ministry scandalised the people of his town. It threatened them – and his extended family.

They were afraid they would be implicated, tainted by his actions, his ministry. They looked for ways to dismiss him – belittling his lack of education, making light of his lowly occupation as a carpenter. They distanced themselves and would not believe him – all of them.

So Jesus must create a new family, a new kin-ship. He is a ‘disowned prophet without honour, he withdraws from his past to create a new community, a new family in God that we are part of, a new political- social-economic order called ‘the kingdom of God.’

Among strangers Jesus will build his alternative community to that of Israel, a community not without conflict, with tragedies and pain and fear as well as victories, great love and great change.

Change wrought in the hearts and minds of people as they open to what Jesus offers them. To shake off the fear of the past, to leave it behind as their hearts and their lives change, as their vision of what life is and can be changes.

Transformation, relationship, new eyes, good company, a thirst to understand, a lifelong attempt to love madly and deeply, walking and striving to follow this man, this divine God-man, Jesus, this person in whom they see and find what God intends for them.

We might ask what we see or find God wants for us. We might ask or see what changes we might need to make or address – in our lives, our faith and our way of being in the world.

I believe it’s a process. A moveable feast if you like.

A bit about me – not quite a testimony but a glimpse……. raised Anglican singing in Sunday school – ‘I’m in the Lord’s Arm-ee’ –                           SING…..and act out?

I may never march in the infantry,

Ride in the cavalry,

Shoot the artillery.

I may never fly o’er the enemy,

But I’m in the Lord’s ar-my. (yes, sir!)

I’m in the Lord’s ar-my, (yes, sir!)

I’m in the Lord’s ar-my, (yes, sir!)

I may never march in the infantry,

Ride in the Calvary,

Shoot the artillery.

I may never fly o’er the enemy,

But I’m in the Lord’s ar-my. (yes, sir!)

I am sure some of you remember it!

Such fun – all the kids with make-believe guns marching up and down eagerly – and swooping around with arms outstretched as aeroplanes and maybe giving a salute at the end – yes sir! The clatter of feet and exuberant yelling that was heard in church.

Gosh we say – rather militaristic and not very PC in this peace longing desperately needing in this world of ours. From there to a Christian rally in my teens where with beating heart I went forward and got a terminal jab of the reality of God of Jesus in my life – my parents suffered with ‘you’ll burn ……if you don’t” – good OT fundy stuff that amazed even me and thankfully not lasting long – off on OE and London, parties, boys, exploring and back to NZ. Married I took my children to Sunday School, my faith rekindling, maturing and growing – shifting my knowledge and perceptions of the world and how it should be.

Your story might be similar – and still I/we continue to change and gain new insights perspectives into what we believe we are called to be and do as Christians in this world. Our faith journey within waxes and wanes sometimes, our beliefs can be challenged and they can change. We hide and we struggle with our world. God is not static, yet constant.

In this story today Jesus is telling us that our social perceptions and our need for approval limit us and our vision, capture our spirit and make us fearful. We buy into our current wildly rapidly changing culture – or not – it’s difficult and can be dangerous to change.

Jesus is asking us to leave behind our fears of change and difference, to leave behind our perceived need for lots of stuff, our media fed desire for accumulation, our predilection for pretty lives, indeed – to shake these off as foreign dust and to walk freely into a world that God wishes and wants for us.

It’s not an easy task, one that asks us to constantly re-evaluate, to walk with others in our spiritual quest, to be open to the prompting of that still small voice within that with courage and honesty changes our actions our way of being, our faith. It’s a revolutionary way this way of Jesus – it demands much. It is ours.

Thanks be to God


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