Going out from home

Mark 6.1-13

Margaret Thatcher famously said – home is where you go if you have nothing else to do! Well, you may agree with her on this matter or not as indeed on other issues as well. But there is a bitter-sweetness to this remark. For home is where we should feel most safe, most accepted and often most loved. No wonder many people are contented home-birds. Yet we also see the point of going out to do something. Much that is worthwhile needs us to go out – out physically, out using the phone or modern digital means and even paradoxically venturing out by inviting in.

And the reason for this moving outwards is perfectly illustrated by the story of Jesus return home. For, the crowds were firstly stunned by the temerity of one of their own saying such wonders; saying words that challenged them to look beyond their tight horizons. They were maybe a bit frightened by the most familiar becoming the most perplexing. In essence, they were not ready to move out with Christ. For that is to move from familiar impossibility to threatening possibility.

Now one of my favourite sayings is – it will all be the same in a hundred years. But like most clichés – it is only to some degree true. In fact, if we think about it, this off the tongue expression is a silent prayer for familiar continuity. Yet deep down today as maybe never before – we know it’s not true. The world is changing in ways we can’t yet foresee. Whilst in some aspects of life we see a return almost to the Victorian era and not necessarily in a good way, in others the future isn’t predictable at all.

How are we then each responding to this quantum leap in social, technological and environmental dimensions? How indeed do we get our head around what is happening to our personal faith, church community and our neighbours’ view of Christianity?

Well, Jesus must have found the experience as Nazareth a profoundly depressing experience. And, as a result, he felt hemmed around in what he could do. For, we heard, he could only do few healing miracles. Therefore, he must have quickly withdrawn, licked his wounds and taken stock. But then he threw off these negative thoughts. He started afresh. He looked for new way forward. And so he went out – out from his cosy home -out to where more receptive people were – he went out boldly to say the same but do differently. The outcome being he turned the seemingly impossible into the possible.

Today, committed Christians across Britain are looking at their spiritual home and realising that they need to go out. Not I rush to say, go out with the sandwich board proclaiming the end is nigh. Not also with the religious tract thrust into unwilling hands. Not possibly even with political and charitable action – worthy as these might. Instead go out by that paradoxical way – go out, by inviting in. Go out by going to where the people are culturally, socially and spiritually. Go out by throwing open the doors and saying Jesus can still do miracles in this age of zero-hour contracts, political and religious extremisms and personal digital laagers. Go out by trying something threateningly different yet promisingly refreshing.

So how did Christ actually do this going out thing?

There is a story that the wise men lost sight of the star as they crossed the desert. They wandered aimlessly, argued and then started to run out of water.
One night they stumbled on an oasis in the wilderness. Other travellers had already arrived and were gathered about a shallow well that had gone dry. The first arrivals had already used up the little water that was to be found at the bottom of the well, and were now waiting for either help or death. It was then that the Wise Men, with genuine altruism, brought out their water bags and emptied them into the well that the others might drink.
Suddenly, the bleak camp of despair became a place of hope, hospitality, and happiness. But the most miraculous thing of all was that, as they emptied their water bags into the well, they looking down into the water. It was there they saw the reflection of the star. Once again they found their way.

Jesus that day in Nazareth must have thought himself in a very dry despairing place. Then he found his oasis. He remembered his few followers and there was the star – the star of his mission again reflected. Therefore, he sent them out to a disbelieving, cynical and downtrodden world. He sent them out to risks but with the promise of turning the impossible to the possible. He sent them out to follow only his star and so they re-discovered their way, their truth and their life.
Next Sunday, we will be like those disciples going boldly into a little of the unknown. We will be taking a fresh path in following Jesus’ star. We will indeed being venturing a few new things, opening new doors and going from what is cosy to the miracles promised by God.

So come with us from the impossible to the possible. Come with us – out – out to do something – out to be something – out to be Christ’s bright reflection into future.

And so let us start now
By praying for ourselves…

God you are used to your people
complaining and grumbling
making idols
when it seems you are out of sight
We’ve done it all through the ages.

We remove ourselves from you
and then blame you
for not being around.

And there are all sorts of things
to take our attention,
to fill the spaces
All sorts of shiny distractions
that appease us for a while.

But none can take the place of your steadfast love
and your constant care.

So draw us back to you
the source of love and life everlasting.

Amen

 

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