Pause for Thought

7th July :Mark 6 v. 1 – 6:  Trinity 6

Jesus went on from there and came to His hometown, accompanied by His disciples.  When the Sabbath came, He began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard Him were astonished. “Where did this man get these ideas?” they asked. “What is this wisdom He has been given? And how can He perform such miracles?  Isn’t this the carpenter, the son of Mary and the brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? Aren’t His sisters here with us as well?” And they took offense at Him. Then Jesus said to them, “Only in his hometown, among his relatives, and in his own household is a prophet without honour.”  So He could not perform any miracles there, except to lay His hands on a few of the sick and heal them.  And He was amazed at their unbelief. And He went around from village to village, teaching the people.

' Homecoming ' is a word which should bring forward feelings of warmth and a sense of belonging for everyone. Sadly, when Jesus returned home after a period of Ministry, it was not a happy experience. He faced rejection from those who should have given Him the warmest welcome. Making someone feel rejected and excluded is now termed as abuse. Making someone feel welcome and included in a group is part of loving our neighbour as Jesus commanded us to do.

Is there someone in your local community who appears to be feeling 'on the edge' ? If so, what could you do to reach out and help?


14th July Mark 6 v. 14 – 29 Trinity 7

Now King Herod heard about this, for Jesus’ name had become well known, and people were saying, “John the Baptist has risen from the dead! That is why miraculous powers are at work in him.”  Others were saying, “He is Elijah,” and still others, “He is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old.” But when Herod heard this, he said, “John, whom I beheaded, has risen from the dead!”  For Herod himself had ordered that John be arrested and bound and imprisoned, on account of his brother Philip’s wife Herodias, whom Herod had married.  For John had been telling Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife!” So Herodias held a grudge against John and wanted to kill him. But she had been unable,  because Herod feared John and protected him, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man. When he heard John’s words, he was greatly perplexed; yet he listened to him gladly. On Herod’s birthday, her opportunity arose. Herod held a banquet for his nobles and military commanders and the leading men of Galilee.  When the daughter of Herodias came and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests, and the king said to the girl, “Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will give it to you.”  And he swore to her, “Whatever you ask of me, I will give you, up to half my kingdom!” Then she went out and asked her mother, “What should I request?” And her mother answered, “The head of John the Baptist.” At once the girl hurried back to the king with her request: “I want you to give me the head of John the Baptist on a platter immediately.” The king was consumed with sorrow, but because of his oaths and his guests, he did not want to refuse her.  So without delay, the king commanded that John’s head be brought in. He sent an executioner, who went and beheaded him in the prison.  The man brought John’s head on a platter and presented it to the girl, who gave it to her mother. When John’s disciples heard about this, they came and took his body and placed it in a tomb.

When the people heard Jesus preaching, they described Him as a prophet. All the boys in Israel learned the Old Testament prophets when they learned to read. ( There were no books produced specially to teach children to read as there are now! ) Prophets preached hard lessons – as probably some modern preachers do today and most of us feel uncomfortable when faced with truths about ourselves! The most famous preacher in the time of Jesus was John the Baptist. His preaching had touched the conscience of King Herod and he had responded in the wrong way by having John put to death to appease his current wife, Herodias. Despite that, Herod had listened to John and had wanted to hear more of his message.

How do we react when we are faced with something we have done wrong? The easiest and the best thing to do is to pray to God to forgive us.


21st July:  Trinity 8 : Mark 6 v. 30 – 34,53 – end

Meanwhile, the apostles gathered around Jesus and brought Him news of all they had done and taught.  And He said to them, “Come with Me privately to a solitary place, and let us rest for a while.” For many people were coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat. So they went away in a boat by themselves to a solitary place.  But many people saw them leaving and recognized them. They ran together on foot from all the towns and arrived before them.  When Jesus stepped ashore and saw a large crowd, He had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And He began to teach them many things. When they had crossed over, they landed at Gennesaret and moored the boat.  As soon as they got out of the boat, the people recognized Jesus and ran through that whole region, carrying the sick on mats to wherever they heard He was.  And wherever He went—villages and towns and countrysides—they laid the sick in the marketplaces and begged Him just to let them touch the fringe of His cloak. And all who touched Him were healed.

Jesus and His disciples were tired. Talking to the crowds and answering their questions as they pushed nearer and nearer had been exhausting. So they went to the other side of the lake for a rest but the people followed them to hear more of Jesus' teaching and His compassion led Him to respond. God has given us the darkness of night as the usual time for our rest but sometimes we know that it is not always possible. We realise that someone needs help, or just a person to listen. If we respond, to their need, God will give us the strength and the patience to do His Will for that person.

We must pray that God will give us the sensitivity to become aware of people's needs and guidance as we respond to the need.


28th July: John 6 1-14:  Trinity 9

After this, Jesus crossed to the other side of the Sea of Galilee (that is, the Sea of Tiberias).  A large crowd followed Him because they saw the signs He was performing on the sick.  Then Jesus went up on the mountain and sat down with His disciples Now the Jewish Feast of the Passover was near.  When Jesus looked up and saw a large crowd coming toward Him, He said to Philip, “Where can we buy bread for these people to eat?”  But He was asking this to test him, for He knew what He was about to do. Philip answered, “Two hundred denarii would not buy enough bread for each of them to have a small piece.” One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to Him,  “Here is a boy with five barley loaves and two small fish. But what difference will these make among so many?”  “Have the people sit down,” Jesus said. Now there was plenty of grass in that place, so the men sat down, about five thousand of them. Then Jesus took the loaves and the fish, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. And when everyone was full, He said to His disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over, so that nothing will be wasted.” So they collected them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten. When the people saw the sign that Jesus had performed, they began to say, “Truly this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.”

 That story is often called The Feeding of the five thousand and you may know it well. All the Bible stories still have something to teach us in the 21st century. Once again, we read that Jesus responds to the needs of people. His story is interesting, though, because we see that He begins to involve His disciples in His Ministry. He knows that, one day, He will return to His Father in Heaven, leaving His friends to continue His work. First He asks them how they would solve the problem before them. Then He gets them actively involved in sharing the food among the people so that no one goes without.  This story shows us that He wants us to become actively involved in His work. What a privilege that is!

Let us pray that God will show us where there is a need to do His work here, and guide us as we respond.


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