June 2018

Sunday 3rd June: Trinity 1: Mark 2 23-3 v6

The Pharisees were always trying to catch Jesus out and prove that what he was doing was wrong.  On these occasions, in their view he was breaking their strict laws and they challenged him.  Jesus’ reply showed them, and the people listening, that he was a man of compassion, rather than one who came just to obey the archaic laws. Yes, it is important to obey the laws of the land, but in Jesus’ life the love of people came first and he was quick to heal on the Sabbath the man who needed help.

Do we sometimes put things off, crying a need to maintain standards, or practices long established?  Is it easier to stick to old ways rather than responding quickly in love to a request from a friend for help by stepping outside the box as it were?  Is there someone you know who could do with your help and support right now?

One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and as his disciples walked along, they began to pick some heads of grain.  The Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?” He answered, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need?  In the days of Abiathar the high priest, he entered the house of God and ate the consecrated bread, which is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions.” Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.  So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” Another time Jesus went into the synagogue, and a man with a shrivelled hand was there.  Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath.  Jesus said to the man with the shrivelled hand, “Stand up in front of everyone.” Then Jesus asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they remained silent. He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored.  Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus.

 

Sunday 10th June: Trinity 2:  Mark 3: 20-35

Jesus calls us to follow his way of life and do his will – and sometimes this means our doing things which are so challenging and different that others will try and stop us.  History has many instances where committed Christians have stood up against popular belief and done things which seemed outrageous at the time, but which they felt they were being called to do.  For example, Albert Schweitzer, who gave up an honoured life of scholastic and artistic talent to found and run a hospital for lepers; Gladys Aylward who funded her own journey to China and ran a Mission Centre, rescuing over 100 orphans when the country was over-run by the Japanese; Father Kolbe who took someone else’s place and died in the gas chambers of Auschwitz.

We are not all called to make such enormous sacrifices – but we are called to love each other in Jesus’ name and be prepared to be there for them when they need us.  Is someone needing a smile from you today – a word of encouragement – a hand of friendship?

Then Jesus entered a house, and again a crowd gathered, so that he and his disciples were not even able to eat.  When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.” And the teachers of the law who came down from Jerusalem said, “He is possessed by Beelzebul! By the prince of demons he is driving out demons.” So Jesus called them over to him and began to speak to them in parables: “How can Satan drive out Satan?  If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.  If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.  And if Satan opposes himself and is divided, he cannot stand; his end has come.  In fact, no one can enter a strong man’s house without first tying him up. Then he can plunder the strong man’s house.  Truly I tell you, people can be forgiven all their sins and every slander they utter,  but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; they are guilty of an eternal sin.” He said this because they were saying, “He has an impure spirit.” Then Jesus’ mother and brothers arrived. Standing outside, they sent someone in to call him.  A crowd was sitting around him, and they told him, “Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you.”  “Who are my mother and my brothers?” he asked. Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, “Here are my mother and my brothers!  Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”

 

Sunday 17th June: Trinity 3: Mark 4: 26-34

Jesus taught his disciples and the people who came to listen by parables – stories that they would understand.  Here he is describing the kingdom of God – God’s world – where the smallest of seeds can become one of the largest of trees.  Sometimes we feel that the little we can do on earth just isn’t enough – it isn’t getting us or our family anywhere, we cannot see the benefit of all the hard work.  Yet God is at hand in everything we do, and our little can become something great with his help

Are you feeling despondent at the result of your hard work at the moment, seeing little point in it?  Think of God as working with you every day, enlarging all you do, so that the results will be greater than you can ever imagine.  Doesn’t this give us the encouragement and enthusiasm for keeping going where he leads us?

He also said, “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.” Again he said, “What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest of all seeds on earth. Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds can perch in its shade.” ….

 

Sunday 24th June: St. John the Baptist: Luke 1: 57-66

The birth of John the Baptist was all part of God’s plan as he was sent to tell people that God’s own son was coming into the world.  It must have been strange for Zechariah and Elizabeth to be told before John’s birth what they were to call him – but they had faith and did what they were told, thus playing an important part in God’s overall plan.

Sometimes we are called to do things which seem surprisingly unusual or different from our normal way of life – but we need to trust in God when he calls us, knowing that he will be there with us to help us be part of his larger picture.  Can we be ready to act when he calls us?

When it was time for Elizabeth to have her baby, she gave birth to a son.  Her neighbours and relatives heard that the Lord had shown her great mercy, and they shared her joy. On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him after his father Zechariah, but his mother spoke up and said, “No! He is to be called John.” They said to her, “There is no one among your relatives who has that name.” Then they made signs to his father, to find out what he would like to name the child.  He asked for a writing tablet, and to everyone’s astonishment he wrote, “His name is John.”  Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue set free, and he began to speak, praising God.  All the neighbours were filled with awe, and throughout the hill country of Judea people were talking about all these things.  Everyone who heard this wondered about it, asking, “What then is this child going to be?” For the Lord’s hand was with him.

 




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