Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A wee thought for the day

it's great when a inspiriational thought pops into your head ... simply by accident, co-incident or maybe something to do with Holy Spirit. I am just working through a sermon for Sunday Evening but it really doesn't tie in with the passage I am working on so I thought I'll blog about it. It comes down to 3 questions all of which are linked.

The Three are

What are we doing?
What should we be doing ?
What is God calling us to do?

The first is a fairly common question - What am I doing?
It could be at superfical level, I am blogging, I am doing the dishes ... whatever
It could be taken at a deeper level serving God, not serving God ...

The second what should we be doing
at a daily level it depends on who your authority is - if it is your boss then surely it should be what they have given you to do,

What is God calling us to do?
to answer this we need to know who we are and what his word says, what we understand as the plan for our lives. If we don't know then we need to find out!, on smaller day to day issues - thats where prayer and Bible study comes into play.

The exciting, exhilarating time comes when all of these things line up and when you can honestly say

"I am doing what I should be doing because it is what God has called me to do."

And there is no other place I'd rather be than in that place :-)

The Good Samaritan

Sunday 12th July – 7:00

Luke 10:25-37

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be now and always acceptable in thy sight O Lord our strength and our redeemer.

Tonight’s gospel reading is one of the most familiar story’s in the gospel’s it is one which is a favourite among Sunday School’s it is one which is taught at school as well from the prospective that we must be helping our neighbour.

As we look at it afresh this evening let us approach it from the various characters who are described in the story.

Firstly it is a story which Jesus told to make a specific teaching point which could be understood in various ways

1. It could be understood as a sad story with a happy ending
2. It could be understood as a moral story as to what our response should be to those who are in need
3. It also could be a call to a radical lifestyle of living for the other, breaking down the barriers which society places to establish one group beyond others

Let us look at the text to see what it says.

The lawyer who stands up to test Jesus – this was not type of lawyer we have today in our courts, who studies civil law – this is someone who knows their Old Testament books inside out and back to front, it is someone who thinks they understand the ways God has revealed his will in the past. Someone who knows what it means to be a Jew in a Jewish culture. He knows what it means to be religious and knows what it takes to honour God.

He asks Jesus – “What must I do to inherit eternal life ?” Jesus knows who he is and fires back a question – “What is written in the Law? What do you read there?”

The Lawyer comes back at him with the most Jewish of statement – the shema – it is what every jew knows & hears from their earlist Childhood – that’s simple – its would be equalivent to our creed.

There you go says jesus – its that simple do that and you will live!

But like any lawyer today they want to question further so he goes on and asks who is my neighbour?

In a piece of Jewish Writing in the period between the old and new testament which give the prevailing view of the culture. Which is far from God’s Will for his people.

Give to the devout, but do not help the sinner.
Do good to the humble, but do not give to the ungodly.
Hold back their bread, and do not give it to them.
Or by means of it they may subdue you.

Which is when Jesus launches into the story which is familiar to us all. – The shock value may be blunted as we know the end of the story but let us take a look at it again.

Jesus' parable starts off with him telling of a vicious attack. They didn't just rob him, they left him for dead, which gives us an idea of just how horrible the attack would have been.
So this story starts off like a Crimewatch reconstruction; however foolish we may think the traveller was for attempting this journey himself, we can only feel compassion for him left alone and wounded.
On the arrival of the priest, perhaps those listeners would have thought things were going to look up. But priests were forbidden to touch a dead body otherwise they themselves became unclean for a time and so he would be excluded from the temple. He wasn't prepared to risk that, so he stays on the other side of the road.
The Levite teases us that he would be the hero, as he seems to come closer, but he too crosses over to the other side.

And then the Samaritan turns up. For the crowd listening, this would surely have been the arrival of the villain; as if the traveller's misfortunes were not enough, now this dangerous outsider had turned up.
And yet, so surprisingly for the crowd, this is the point where the traveller's fortunes start to look up. And in this briefest of tales we learn quite a lot about the character of the Samaritan.
The first thing he does is feel compassion for him. Well frankly, that's the easy bit - I'm sure the priest and the Levite would have felt a pang or two of compassion - no doubt they would have told their friends what an awful sight they'd seen on the road to Jericho last night.

The Samaritan, on the other hand, his first instinct is to see what he can do, to administer first aid to the badly beaten man. If he was conscious then surely he'd have been afraid and confused, feeling that uncomfortable mixture of emotions that victims of crime feel. And yet the Samaritan was able to take him to the nearest inn, so he must have found a way of calming him, of assuring him that he could be trusted and that he was safe. At the inn we learn more about the Samaritan, his credit is good, clearly the innkeeper was prepared to trust him. And then the story finishes as we hear that the Samaritan was prepared to come back and make sure the traveller was all right.
And so there we have it - shocking and controversial at the time and with such a clear message for the whole church and the world at large.

Surely then we have to see this story in the light of the opening up of the promises which Jesus has given. Could we read Jesus, himself into the parable.
Could we see him as the Samaritan – as the one who is able to help, to heal in the circumstances where people are hurting
Could we see him as the victim – which we are asked to help as our neighbour – elsewhere in the the gospel jesus states this explicitly … whatever you do for the least of these you do for me.

So what about us?
Surely if we see someone lying on the street, it is not safe to approach, we might be attacked. Certainly we need to be sensible – yes if you are wary – contact whoever could help but what if the neighbour is someone who is not dangerous, perhaps someone who is struggling with something, perhaps someone who just needs someone to listen, someone to chat through things with, someone who perhaps you have just come in contact with.
As we proclaim the name of Christian – we are all called to be mini-Christ’s. The question I would like to leave you with this evening.
On the dangerous road – out of your comfort zone – who do you come in contact with who needs to know the help of Christ this day, this week. Others have walked by, perhaps others who have more authority than you, more skills than you but you know that you could give a helping hand.

We need to be helpers, The world today is full of do-gooders, people who think they are helping but really are saying “sorry for your troubles” and moving on. If we are going to help, then let us really help.
We can leave this story as a nice wee sad story with a happy ending or as a moral teaching about helping others.

However I hope that as you look at it more in depth, the richness of it comes out – That it was breaking open mindsets in 1st Century Palestine of attitudes to the look beyond one own group and opening up the borders of our comfort zones.

As we look at the inclusivity of the Gospel, we need to look at all levels of our own spheres of influence and ask who is my neighbour?

In our family
In our work place
In the street
In Northern Ireland

The world today needs radical Samaritans who are prepared to step up and say – with my limited resources which I have with me I will help you, or do my best to.

There are too many in our community who take the view of the passage I read from Sirach

Give to the devout, but do not help the sinner.
Do good to the humble, but do not give to the ungodly.
Hold back their bread, and do not give it to them.
Or by means of it they may subdue you.

When we think about what has happened in our community over the last month – with the Romanian community. In Jesus’ day Sinner and ungodly were Samaritan.

Who do we identify with those labels and then what are we called to do?

It is a huge challenge yes! But it is the gospel imperative to love the sinner / the outsider.

Why – very simply because God loves each one of us. While we were still sinners Christ died for us!.

We love because he first loved us.

Recharge and Work ... A Sermon on Mark 6

A sermon preached on Sunday 19th at 9:30 Family Communion

Mark 6: 30-34, 53-56

30 The apostles gathered around Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught. 31He said to them, ‘Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.’ For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat.
 32And they went away in the boat to a deserted place by themselves. 33Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they hurried there on foot from all the towns and arrived ahead of them. 34As he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.
53 When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and moored the boat. 54When they got out of the boat, people at once recognized him, 55and rushed about that whole region and began to bring the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was.
 56And wherever he went, into villages or cities or farms, they laid the sick in the market-places, and begged him that they might touch even the fringe of his cloak; and all who touched it were healed.

Let us pray
Heavenly father,
I pray that my words would be acceptable in your sight, and that the mediations of our hearts would be to your honour and your glory
In Jesus Name

Looking Back
A couple of weeks ago – we read that Jesus had sent the disciples out with their L plates up to go around and do what he had been doing – today is the follow up session – The time when Jesus asked them – what had they achieved and how it had all gone. They were able to report back on all that they had said and all that they had done. What had had witnessed God doing in the lives of those whom they had touched.

From intense activity they now move into a time of relaxation, A time of re-couperation, a time re-creation. A time to simply be with Jesus, a time when they can re-charge the batteries.

Let us pause here for a moment – Being in Holiday season here – let us take a moment and ask a couple of questions.


In the workplace today there is a lot of emphasis on review, of looking back and asking
what did you do,
how well do you think you are doing it,
what can you do better,
what strategies are you going to put into place in the future?

I wonder if we were to look at our learning, our discipleship and what we had done over the last few months - were to come to Jesus as the disciples did that day – what could we report back. Not as an examination but as a chat to see where we go from here.

This is not a exercise to be critical and beating yourself up about but one in which we can learn from.

The disciples, those 12 were not people who were high flyers, Jesus didn't appoint them because they were the best – they were very ordinary people – people with ordinary jobs but who made themselves available to Jesus. Today, we need to be asking ourselves – what is Jesus calling me to do and how can I be faithful in fulfilling that calling.

We all are called to be discples wherever we find ourselves – be that bankers, carers, doctors, housewives, people who pray, parents … wherever we are we are called to be faithful with what God has called us to. In Jesus' Community there are none unemployed – each one of us are part of the body.

We are called to be disciples. We need to sit under the teacher, we need to be listening and learning from Jesus. The way we can do this is to leave time daily to pray, to read scripture, to have it explained if we don't know what it means. We also need to set aside time to be alone with God – whether that be away for a walk, or simply time to pray at home.

Time out with God.

Can you survive without that time in Bible Study and prayer … well many people do try.

But it is a bit like two mums chatting over coffee – one has a child who enjoys a very varied and healthy diet of all sorts of food. The other has a child who will only eat potato waffles, supernoodles, ice-cream and carrots. Perhaps the second child will survive but imagine what she is missing out on.

There are amazing riches which come from being with Jesus, from having the relationship with him, from allowing him to ask you difficult questions. From studying his word not simply for knowledge but for food / daily bread.

Jesus then took his disciples away from the crowds pressing in them to a desserted place – a place to be alone with them. Jesus was a people person, he loved being with people but he knew there was a time and place to withdraw to a solidarty place where he could be alone and draw upon the resources of the father. The offer is open to us as well, that we can do the same.

One of the Major points to note from this reading is Jesus feeling of compassion towards the crowds … it is noted that he had compassion on them … I am by no means a greek scholar but those who are tell me that the word which is used is not a simple compassion but a deep desire – right down in the guts – a compassion which moves us to action.

The whole of Jesus' ministry was a mix between what is seen of doing the work of God and also resting in the father's presence. In Church it is very easy to get caught up in always doing things. And of course we need to be doing things – but we also need times when we sit, be still and take time out in God's presence.

It is in his presence where we can find healing and where lives find fulfilment. This morning as we come to communion, as we remember what God has done for each one of us.

Let us remember that we not only can come and spend time with him but that we can run to him as abba, as daddy. As the shepherd, the one who when we are feeling harassed and helpless as sheep without a shepherd.

A few weeks ago, I was at an event where I was a member of team, where we were praying for people. At the team meeting the leader always started by saying - “Relax” really “relax” God is in control. He'll get us through today.

There are so many people who are worrying about so many things - there are so many issues, so many problems in all of our families but as Christians we have hope – We have victory.

Is any of you sick – Call the elders and they will pray for you?

As Christians we are called to pray for each other, we are called to help each other out.

In this parish family we have a team of people who would love to pray for your concerns – if there are people on your heart who needs prayer there is a box down at the back of church and we will pray for that person.

The clergy are always very happy to pray with you through your concerns and be a listening ear – simply give us a ring and we will call round.

Jesus ministry is a ministry of the whole person – We all need Time for reflection, time for action and time for meditation of God's word.

Let us remember that we are all simply learners and we need to take that time to learn.

Before I finish let us re- read the passage...

30 The apostles gathered around Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught.
What have we been doing?, what have we been learning about God?

 31He said to them, ‘Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.’ For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat.
Do we need to get away to a place where we can be alone with Jesus. Where would that place be?
 32And they went away in the boat to a deserted place by themselves. 33Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they hurried there on foot from all the towns and arrived ahead of them. 34As he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.

What harrasses us – what do we need to put into place to stop that harrassing, do we need to know the compassion of the good shepherd?

53 When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and moored the boat. 54When they got out of the boat, people at once recognized him, 55and rushed about that whole region and began to bring the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was.
 56And wherever he went, into villages or cities or farms, they laid the sick in the market-places, and begged him that they might touch even the fringe of his cloak; and all who touched it were healed.
What healing do we need in our lives?
Let us pray.
Heavenly father, we pray that what we read in your word this day would take root in our hearts and show forth as fruit in our daily lives. This we pray in the name of your son

The Lords' Prayer ... Sunday 26th July (pm)

Luke 11:1-113 - A sermon preached at St. Columba's Parish Church Knock

Heavenly father, take my words and speak through them, take our minds and think through them, take our hearts and set them on fire with love for you. In jesus Name we pray – Amen.

The Lord's Prayer

In tonight's gospel reading we have heard how Jesus went about teaching by his example as well as by his words. His life modelled his prayer. Take a look at the scene from where we get the Lords prayer. The disciples saw jesus praying and they said teach us to pray.

These men were Jews, they knew the Jewish customs but what Jesus was doing was sufficently different that they wanted to be a part of it, they desired to know more about what prayer was and how to pray more effectively. Jesus was praying more intimately, doing things differently than they had ever heard or seen before.

A praying people.

The topic of prayer … I wonder what you think of prayer …
Is it something you do only in church, only when the minister comes round, is it grace at meal times , as you pray for a parking space, or in a difficult time. Or maybe you are an avid prayer-er.

As we look at the topic of prayer questions may well arise in us

Natural questions – issues around Unanswered prayer, does God really listen to prayer?, how do I know if prayer really works?

I'm not sure if you have ever seen Bruce Almighty, it is a comedy movie staring Jim Carey whose character gets empowered with the powers of God and has to do what God does. He one evening begins to hear the voices of people praying and decides to put them onto postit notes which fills the room, then decides to get all the prayers delivered as email messages to his inbox with millions of requests coming in he decides to answer all the requests yes.- millions of people win the lottery, the place goes to pieces.

Does God really hear us when we pray … the simple answer is Yes. We believe in God who is a personal and relational God who created us all uniquely and who wants a relationship with you and me. The way this relationship is built up is through prayer, through Bible study and through living out what he commands us to do.

In this passage we see Jesus teaching on prayer – The disciples were learners they were ready to ask Jesus the questions which might sound a bit crazy to us. How often have we seen someone doing something but afraid to ask them what they were doing and why? The disciples did not have this reservation – they were open to asking why and how?

The disciple comes up and asks Jesus to teach them how to pray.

Jesus gives them an outlined structure: which we have become familiar with as the Lord's prayer
Father, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread.
And forgive us our sins,
for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us.
And do not bring us to the time of trial.’

Within those 6 lines you have everything you need as an outline for what to pray

Addressed to the father, The prayer is not mere empty words but always active

Hallowed be your name – Honoring and glorifying God's name
Your kingdom come ... do we really mean that? That's a really really big statement which is praying that God's rule, his laws, his ways would be the norm – revolutionary.

Our daily bread – Praying for our needs day in, day out. Asking for this afresh every morning.

Forgive us our sins ... we pray for this every sunday and recieve assurance of us that our sins are forgiven.

But then we are also called not to be forgiven but also to be the forgivers. This might be a difficulty in certain circumstances but it is a gospel imperitive that we should be forgiving each other

and lead us from the time of trial.

The Lords prayer as we have it today is an extremely challenging prayer. We do learn it off rote and many can say it without really thinking about it – It is our example prayer. But we must remember the context that it was taught in. Lord Teach us to pray.

One author has described the Lord's prayer extremely comprehensively as

Whether we want to begin to learn to pray or to go deeper in prayer, there is no greater resource than this. In its simplicity, it is a truly universal prayer, capable of being understood by the youngest. In its profundity, it is a prayer, capable of inexhaustible depths. In its sparse poetry, it is a prayer of great beauty, without a single word or phrase that is superficial or surplus to requirements. The prayer of the master is the unsurpassabble prayer of prayers, the everest of Christian spirituality... It is the prayer of all times and every person. From the towering heights of Manhattan to the mud huts of a primitive tribe, from the youngest children with the power of speech to the great grandparents on their death bed, the timeless words of Jesus express more richly than any others the longings, hopes and fears of men and women before the living God

What do we believe about prayer

Firstly Prayer is fundalmental to Christian Life

Over the centuries many have written much about prayer but as we look at what Jesus said about prayer.

It is personal – In Matthew's gospel we are called to not to worry but to pray, to go into our rooms, shut the door and pray to God in private. Being Fundalmental to our personal Christian life – If we are not praying, it is very difficult to Grow as a christian.

It is corporate – At each church service we have various prayers, each of which have a purpose. As you look through the various prayers in our prayer book we typically have

Prayer of confession – This is an individual prayer which each makes for themselves – saying that we have sinned and we turn from those sins.
Prayer of praise – We pray through the psalms – which are ancient prayers of all types.
Prayers of intercession – We pray for a wealth of different people / issues at each of our services.

As Christians – prayer is fundalmental to our christian life both individually and corporately as a church.

Secondly Prayer changes things

This we need to believe – if we don't it will be very difficult to pray.

Sometimes it can be very difficult when we pray for a sick person to be made well and then their condition worsens or even the person dies. We pray for good exam results but then we fail. Situations like this do make us question whether God is there or not.

Around the world at the moment there is a movement which is aiming to have prayer twenty- four hours a day and 7 days a week. This movement has seen some absolutely amazing answers to prayer over the last number of years – it is dependant upon people committed to coming into church for an hour and praying. Simply praying.

Places I have seen prayer change things have been in schools, workplaces, churches when groups as small as 2-3 get together and pray & read the Bible together, pray for each other and for the needs of that place. People who pray together share their faith with others.

When we pray we can simply sitdown and pray in silence, speak our prayers out. One way I have found very effective is to write my prayers out in a notebook. Especially at times of big things . If we enjoy art, painting is another way I know friends find helpful when praying.

We are quite good at praying out prayers but also it is important to encourage each other when prayers are answered to praise God. Praying for someone to be healed, to come through surgery when they do let's praise God that he is a faithful God and does answer that prayer.

Finally prayer needs worked at.

Prayer is not easy, it is not natural to us.
As we grow up, we are taught that we need to do things in our own strength. In our modern world we are materialistic in our outlook, we are very good at getting things done ourselves. Prayer is probably the last thing many of us would turn to except in extreme conditions. Holding our hands up and saying O God, help me is usually a cry of surrender at the end of our thether. But I wonder if we were to dream for a moment and surrender everything to God at the start of the day, how would our outlook be changed.

I know I don't know everything there is to know about prayer, I don't know why God answers one prayer with a yes and another seems to be a no except to say that he is soverign and has a plan for each of us but from experiences I have had I know God does answer prayer in the most amazing way.

It is not natural in our understanding of the world but on the other hand we are created to have a relationship with God and therefore paradoxically prayer should be the most natural of actions we do. As natural as breathing.

So to recap –
prayer is fundalmental to our Christian life
Prayer does changes things
Prayer needs worked on.

The challenge this evening to us is to allow our prayer life to grow.

Where can we fit prayer into our weekly routine?,
what could we ask for prayer for?
What do we find difficult about prayer?

We are called to be a praying people – a daily praying people. Are we expectant that God will aswer our prayers?

If we are looking to grow as Christians we need to feed our minds on Scripture daily, we need to be a praying people.

Prayer is one of the areas of the Christian faith I am passionate about as I have seen it change so many people's relationship with God. From being stale to being vibrant, I know I don't have all the answers but I do know that as we take our issues to God in prayer he is faithful and does answer.

It is my prayer that we would explore the riches of the prayer and integrate it into our daily lives. I am still learning and hopefully will never stop learning what it means to be a praying person and as we become praying people I pray that we would continue to grow as praying congregation.

Sermon burst...

Over the last few weeks, with parish visiting, sermon prep and everything else that has been going, I have been neglecting the blogging ... but in one fell swoop sermons will now appear.

Evening Sermons over the last couple of weeks have been looking at discipleship and the variety of things disciples should be doing. As the 12 look to Jesus for their example, they are not afraid to ask questions about what Jesus was doing when it came to prayer.

I began preaching on the Good Samaritan which broke the frame of reference from a purely Jewish mindset to a universal mission - The samaritan was the neighbour to the man, then the practical is informed by sitting at feet of Jesus but we are not simply called to sit but also called to go and do. The source of what we do as Christians must be informed by what Jesus Praised Mary for, and then of course we do need to be Martha's. Then last Sunday we were encouraged to be challenged about prayer - What are our problems with prayer and what is the Lord's prayer about?

The text for most of these sermons will now appear on the blog ...

Friday, July 17, 2009

In theory ...

Well there you go then ... 8:30 this morning and I was sitting another exam. This time it was the Driving Theory Test.

It is a bizarre test. Last night saw me swotting up on things and trying to remember stopping distances in Dry, wet and icy conditions, the legal minimum depth of tyre treads and trying to find out what the hazard Perception test was all about.

But its now done and dusted and most importantly PASSED - Yeah!

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Mark 6 - Reject & Disciple

Below is the text of the sermon prepared for the all-age Service in St. Columba's Parish Church on sunday 5th July 2009. 10:30 Service.

Bible passage

Mark 6: 1-13

6He left that place and came to his home town, and his disciples followed him. 2On the sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astounded. They said, ‘Where did this man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been given to him? What deeds of power are being done by his hands! 3Is not this the carpenter, the son of Maryson of the carpenter and of Mary');" onmouseout="return nd();" style="text-decoration: none; color: rgb(0, 0, 187); ">* and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?’ And they took offencestumbled');" onmouseout="return nd();" style="text-decoration: none; color: rgb(0, 0, 187); ">* at him. 4Then Jesus said to them, ‘Prophets are not without honour, except in their home town, and among their own kin, and in their own house.’ 5And he could do no deed of power there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them. 6And he was amazed at their unbelief.

Then he went about among the villages teaching. 7He called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. 8He ordered them to take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts; 9but to wear sandals and not to put on two tunics. 10He said to them, ‘Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave the place. 11If any place will not welcome you and they refuse to hear you, as you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.’ 12So they went out and proclaimed that all should repent. 13They cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.


May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be now and always acceptable in thy sight, O Lord our strength and our redeemer. Amen.

Now that we have reached July, in the church’s year we are in ordinary time which runs from trinity Sunday right up to just before advent. The colour displayed is green indicating growth and pastoral topics. It is a time when we reflect on our own Christian Journeys and walk through various books of the Bible. In the next few weeks we are looking particularly in our Gospel readings Mark and Epistle readings will be from Ephesians which is a great book of encouragement and challenge to us as we continue to learn more about living the Christian faith.

In today’s reading we have two stories which on the face of it look quite unconnected.


The first, Jesus is rejected by his own people, people who have seen him grow up, people perhaps who have come in and out of the carpenters shop, perhaps people who had given a clip around the ear down the street when he was younger.

It is not difficult to imagine a scene where a group of people are together for worship and from within their number someone stands up, walks forward and begins to teach. Tongues begin to wag, people look at each other with questioning glances “where did this man get all of this?” We know where he came from, he’s mary’s son – and they took offence at him

It is after all very natural thing – home grown, knowing more than the elders of local community, doing things unexpected, outside the status of his position in society which after all acts on norms and attaching roles to individuals. It was a scandal.

Why so shocking?

What was so shocking about Jesus’ message that day?

Unfortunately, we do not have the script of his sermon, but we know from elsewhere in the gospel that he challenged the status quo, that he was not afraid to speak the truth. In the account of this story in Lukes Gospel we do see that what he said was extremely strong … he took the words from the Isaiah prophecy

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour

And related those words back to himself

This was the first scene. – Jesus amazed at their unbelief

The second Scene

Mark, in his characteristic impulsive short snappy style moves on from this scene of tension and questioning of the elders within the synagogue with his own people to “the villages” and we see him sending out the twelve disciples, giving them the authority which he has – and outlining the task which lies ahead.

It is shocking what they are not to take with them – no food, no rucsac, no money- no extra clothes – in short they are not to be dependant upon the extra – they are simply out for the journey, what they need will be provided. But they were evidently successful in what they were doing. Look what they accomplished. They cast out many demons, anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.


The question I would like to ask this morning, and the question which we should be asking from every sermon is what does this text mean for me and my discipleship?

Jesus’ commission to the first disciples was to go and make disciples, the church is a community of disciples. The word disciple, is quite a Christian term but at its very basic means learner, someone who has their L plates up – take your L plates down and you cease to be a learner.

In baptism after the child receives the sign of the cross the charge is

  • Live as a disciple of Christ,
  • Fight the good fight
  • Finish the race, keep the faith

All of us are called to be disciples.

Life long learning

Those of us who have been involved in education over the last few years will know about the idea that we need to be developing in children and young people Skills for life long learning. The Christian mission, the life of Christian discipleship is a life of learning. None of us stop learning, no matter what age we are. In Church as a place of discipleship, we need to be constantly learning, constantly challenged.

In this passage this morning when we look at the disciples, Jesus didn’t send the 12 to university to study for a doctorate in ancient near east studies – He used the apprentice model. In Marks Gospel we see jesus going round healing and teaching. By the time we get to chapter 6 the disciples have seen the power that is in Jesus’ words.

  • He is able to teach with authority (Those in his local synagogue recognised that even though they wonder how!),
  • He is able to heal disease
  • He is able to drive out evil

As disciples from the youngest to the oldest gathered here in St. Columba’s Knock this morning. Are we ready, not simply for the theory, but also to put Jesus’ teaching into practice?

L plates

This morning, I am sending out a warning to all those on the roads of East Belfast, Not only is Jullian Simmons from UTV on the roads – learning to drive. I too have my L plates up as I learn to drive over the summer months.

To learn to drive, is dangerous but for me needs to be done. There is no point in me sitting down behind my desk and reading, reading & reading how to do it. It needs to be done practically as well.

Our Christian lives are the same, we can go to university and study theology, come to church and listen to sermons and read from scripture. At the heart of all of this is the exciting, exhilarating call of disciples and apostles.

We are called to be disciples – those with L plates always up – learning more and apostles sent out into the world to preach, to teach, to heal, to transform communities and situations which we find ourselves. You don’t need to be standing up in a pulpit to be a disciple, wherever you are during the week Monday to Friday can be a place where you can show the Love of Christ to those around you.

Let us pray

Heavenly Father

Help us as we learn more about your word & your example to put into practice the words which we hear this day, in order that your kingdom may be built and your name Glorified.

In Jesus name we pray