Pause for Thought

6th June             Mark 3 v. 31 – end              Trinity 1

Then Jesus’ mother and brothers came and stood outside. They sent someone in to summon Him, and a crowd was sitting around Him. “Look,” He was told, “Your mother and brothers are outside, asking for You.” But Jesus replied, “Who are My mother and My brothers?” Looking at those seated in a circle around Him, He said, “Here are My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of God is My brother and sister and mother.”

Jesus' teaching had upset some of the crowds and they began to say He came from the devil.  His family were obviously concerned and came to find Him.  Jesus, however was intent on putting His message across and His reply would not have sounded rude as it does to us!  He wanted the people to understand that relationships were not just a matter of having the same blood.  The people were beginning to like His preaching and wanted to hear more.  He explained that our relationships with each other and with God could be much closer than just sharing the same blood.  Our relationship with God is to be based on shared experiences, better understanding,  common goals and the same obedience to those standards.

What ideas, aims and values do you share with your Christian friends?  How can you support each other as you face the values of the world together?

 

13th June                Mark 4 v.30 – 33                          Trinity 2                                                                                                                       

Then He asked, “To what can we compare the kingdom of God? With what parable shall we present it? It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest of all seeds sown upon the earth. But after it is planted, it grows to be the largest of all garden plants and puts forth great branches, so that the birds of the air nest in its shade.” With many such parables Jesus spoke the word to them, to the extent that they could understand. He did not tell them anything without using a parable. But privately He explained everything to His own disciples.

Jesus often used the things around Him to help people to understand His message.  They were all used to seeing the local farmer sowing seeds.  When the seeds are first planted, they seem to be doing nothing for some time.  Then they show signs of growth as the shoots appear in the ground.  This is so often true of what we see happen in the Church.  A Minister often leaves a Parish for a new job without seeing much growth in the spirituality, understanding and effort in his congregation!  However, seeds have been sown, and if he could meet that Church Family in years to come, he would realise that his seeds had begun to bear fruit.  We don't always know the results of what we say or do as we try to proclaim Jesus to those we meet but this should not discourage us from reaching out to people with the Good News that Jesus loves them and wants them to get to know Him.

Can you remember something said to you years ago, which later bore fruit in your life?  Can you think of someone to whom you have spoken begin to respond later?

 

20th June                    Mark 4 v. 35 – 41                       Trinity 3

When that evening came, He said to His disciples, “Let us cross to the other side.”  After they had dismissed the crowd, they took Jesus with them, since He was already in the boat. And there were other boats with Him. Soon a violent windstorm came up, and the waves were breaking over the boat, so that it was being swamped.  But Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on the cushion. So they woke Him and said, “Teacher, don’t You care that we are perishing?” Then Jesus got up and rebuked the wind and the sea. “Silence!” He    commanded. “Be still!” And the wind died down, and it was perfectly calm.  “Why are you so afraid?” He asked. “Do you still have no faith?” Overwhelmed with fear, they asked one another, “Who is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?”

Both Matthew and Luke told this story in their Gospels, but there is something special about how Mark has written it.  He tells it so beautifully we can  almost feel that we are there in that boat with Jesus and His disciples. In his writing, too, Mark sometimes adds little details that he observed.  There is one in this story.  Mark says that the sleeping Jesus had his head on a pillow.  (Look out for little touches as we read from St. Mark this year )  As Jesus makes clear at the end, the story is about faith  -  totally trusting in the love and power of God.  The past year has really emphasised the truth of this teaching.  Life has seemed to have become out of control and it is only by trusting in God through regular prayer that Christians have had the support we have needed so much.  Jesus asked why His disciples were afraid.  There are many references in the Bible where those who believe and trust in God need never be afraid.

Can you think of a reason why Mark might have told us that the exhausted Jesus was asleep on a pillow?  The one way we can deepen our faith in God is regular contact with Him through prayer.  Pray that your faith may continue to deepen.   Pray for any you know to be afraid at this time for any reason.

 

27th June                           Mark 5 v. 25 -34               Trinity 4

And a woman was there who had suffered from bleeding for twelve years. She had borne much agony under the care of many physicians and had spent all she had, but to no avail. Instead, her condition had only grown worse. When the woman heard about Jesus, she came up through the crowd behind Him and touched His cloak. For she kept saying, “If only I touch His garments, I will be healed.” Immediately her bleeding stopped, and she sensed in her body that she was healed of her affliction. At once Jesus was aware that power had gone out from Him. Turning to the crowd, He asked, “Who touched my garments?” His disciples  answered, “You can see the crowd pressing in on You, and yet You ask, ‘Who touched me?’” But He kept   looking around to see who had done this. Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell down before Him trembling in fear, and she told Him the whole truth. “Daughter,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be free of your affliction.”

Jesus was on His way to the sick daughter of Jairus.  Jairus held an important position in the community but had asked Jesus for help.  He was interrupted by a woman with a long-standing medical condition who was desperate.  She didn't even call out to Him but just touched His garment – such was her faith. Jesus didn't brush her aside as we might have done on our way to an important commitment.  He stopped, listened and responded to her need before continuing on His way.  The woman's faith leading her just to touch Jesus was impressive and it was that action which had already healed her but Jesus stopped and gave her the time and attention she needed after 12 years of anxiety and frustration for her.  Sometimes the time and care we give to someone is even more important than what we actually say or do for them. We live in a very busy world but that is a very important lesson for people who are trying to live following Jesus' example of loving and caring

How do you feel if someone interrupts you when you are intent on doing something you believe to be right?  Irritated? Possibly - but the interruption may just be a nudge from God reminding you that you have got your priorities wrong!  It's worth thinking about!




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