Sermon 4 July 2021
2 Samuel 5:1-5, 9-10, Psalm 48, 2 Corinthians 12:2-10, Mark 6:1-13
Jesus went about from place to place sharing the good news of the kingdom, visiting synagogues and preaching. Sometimes he was received with kindness, but other times people stumbled at Jesus knowledge and wisdom. ‘Is this not the carpenter’s son, is he not the son of Mary, the brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, are not all his sisters here too?’ In his home town, Jesus was not accepted. Yet, Jesus still chose to speak in his home town in the synagogue. The mission of God was so important that Jesus would not allow even those of his own family to put him off the work of God.
Believing in the task set before him, even though Jesus knew that he would face various challenges, nevertheless, forged on. But the key verse in this passage in is verse 1 of chapter 6 of Mark’s gospel. Jesus left that place, where he had healed the Jairus’ daughter and healed the woman with the haemorrhage, and came to his home town and his disciples followed him. Jesus disciples were faithful in following Jesus, wherever Jesus went, they followed.
Following Jesus no matter what. The disciples saw all that Jesus went through before his arrest. They looked on when others despised Jesus, or when the Pharisees or Chief Priests tried to catch him out, and when Jesus family and fellow townspeople criticised Jesus, the disciples were there to witness the struggles Jesus faced. But they also witnessed the way Jesus handled such situations. The disciples witnessed how Jesus could only heal a few people of their diseases in his home time.
Jesus modelled to the disciples the way he wanted them to go and share the good news of the gospel. He sent the twelve out in pairs, two by two. Instructing them to take nothing with them except a staff, sandals and one tunic. The disciples were to stay with those who welcomed them. Eastern hospitality was such that if you were welcomed by a family to eat with them or stay with them, you accepted humbly. However the opposite is true to. Jesus commands the disciples to shake off the dust from their feet from those who rejected their preaching of the good news.
The disciples gave themselves wholly to the task Jesus sent them on, they healed the sick, cast out demons, proclaiming repentance to all they met in the villages they went to. The disciples followed Jesus in word and deed. They believed in the authority that Jesus had given them, the authority to heal the sick, to anoint with oil those who needed it and to preach repentance. The disciples were not only willing to follow Jesus, going from place to place with Jesus, they also embraced the call to do what Jesus commanded them to do in word, in deed, and in action. That to me is the mark of true discipleship. The twelve who went on to be Apostles, except for Judas, had experienced not only Jesus ministry to the people of Israel, but they also experienced it for themselves and I am sure it changed their lives dramatically.
In verse 30 of chapter 6, Mark’s gospel calls the disciples, Apostles. That Jesus gathered the twelve to him and they shared with Jesus all that they had done and taught. I find this chapter quite remarkable. At the beginning of chapter 6 in Mark, those who follow Jesus are called disciples but near the end of the chapter, the writer of Mark call’s them Apostles. What happened between the beginning of the chapter and verse 30? The twelve who had followed Jesus thus far, watching, and taking in all that Jesus said and did changed. Jesus gives authority to the twelve so that they could go and do what he did for people, healing the sick, praying for people, preach repentance, and teaching the people. This is what made this group of twelve men change from mere disciples to Apostles. They took on the authority given to them by Jesus to do the work that he had shown them to do throughout his ministry thus far.
This place reminds me so much of what Jesus did with the disciples. He enabled them to take up the call of God with the gifts that they were given. The accepted wholeheartedly to do what God called them to do. So many of you do the work of God in this place perhaps without realising how significant it is what you contribute. Whether it is offering cups of tea and coffee, or welcoming people on Sunday or preparing flowers, or cleaning the brass, or preparing the services for worship, or mowing lawns, or plant sales, or setting up tables for functions, or assisting at all the special moments that take place at St Aidan’s, you all have a ministry of love and kindness. I could list other functions in this place, but you get the gist of what I am saying. To me the gift of God you share so generously here at St Aidan’s is the gift of hospitality. Jesus said to the disciples to stay where they were welcomed in, stay where generous hospitality was given. So as I prepare to leave St Aidan’s to take up the next part of my journey serving God where I am called, I want to encourage you. Continue to be a place of generous and genuine hospitality. For God has called each one of us to share the gift of God, the love and compassion that God has shown each one of us that you continue to pass it on in this community. Whether you are making cups of tea, or a welcomer, or growing plants for plant stalls or running the Trivia Night, or assisting as a Lay Server, a Warden, on Parish Council, or care for the grounds of the church, or play music, and operate technology here, all of you have a part in the Kingdom of God, to which I am so thankful to God for.
The disciples became Apostles because they took on the mantle of Jesus, they went about doing the works of Jesus in their communities. Here you are the body of Christ, each one given gifts that God uses in the work of the Kingdom. You may not be great in numbers but you are great in your love for one another, and that to me is a mark of the Kingdom of God.
Let us pray….