God’s incredible risk, us

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May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight – Our strength, our redeemer, our Lord – Amen

Once upon a time in a town not too far from here, lived a pretty average guy.

            He grew up much like most of his neighbours

                        Played sports, went to school, at least the minimum required amount of time…

                                    Enjoyed spending time with friends and family

                                                He had one older sister, who was typically a little on the bossy side

And a younger brother, who was a little on the spoilt side

His dad was a teacher and his mother a geriatric nurse

Like his friends he didn’t grow up as the perfect child

He got mostly B’s in school, some A’s in the subjects that he liked the best, like gym and art and math and some C’s in the subjects that he liked the least like French or his mother tongue – English

He got caught skipping school one day, by his mother, as she had come home early from work and watched as he and a friend where bringing back a canoe across the front lawn, as they had spend a day fishing

            But he had also his redeeming points as well

                        In general a pretty average guy

Well, if you haven’t guessed already, that average guy was me

And if you were to ask many of my childhood friends – particularly my high-school or college friends – asked them what they thought about me being a Priest….

They have - and probably would start off by saying something like… Oh I could tell you stories…

They generally don’t tell any of those stories – because in telling them they incriminate themselves as well…

And the truth is, that much of the content of the stories would not be all that unusual to the average life of a teenager or college student

            All the same – they remember me in certain light

Most of my high school friends are generally distant memories – and memories have a way of keeping us frozen in time

            Once a ….whatever, always a whatever

This is true on a bigger scale as well

Have you ever noticed that people that immigrated to Canada, hold on to their culture in much the same way as at the time when they left

My mother is English, and growing up she would often comment that ex-patriot brits were more British than the British

They came to Canada 30-40-50 years ago and they held on to the best of their culture, meanwhile back in England time moves on and the has a way of changing things

This is true in language as well

Last year, at St Luke’s as part of the men’s group, we would have speakers come in a talk about a variety of subjects

            One time we had the “Canada’s word lady” – Katherine Barber

You may be familiar with her from CBC radio, where she does a regular thing of explaining the origin of words in a very interesting way

Well, she went about explaining that Quebec French is actually an older style of French language then that presently used in France

In France as time rolls on, the language has adapted and changed in ways far greater than it has in Canada

Like myself, or long standing immigrants to Canada, or language itself

Memories of what something or someone was, have a strong power over our way of seeing the world.

            It has been said that most people don’t like change

                        More specifically what people don’t like about change, is their lack of control

In the case of people who change, (which is everyone) it is the change of understanding – or our shortcuts in thinking

Our sense of control, is rooted in our ability to understand – our shortcuts of thinking we know who someone is by what we understood them to be

When we don’t see someone for a long-time – the change is of course more dramatic and therefore more threatening

This is where we enter into our Gospel passage for today

Jesus is on a whirlwind tour of Israel – preaching to large crowds, masses following Him wherever he goes

Healing many, many people – healing so dramatic, as we heard last week of the woman who was haemorrhaging for a dozen years, and in the touch of His robe and the faith that that will heal her – she is miraculously healed

Or of Jairus’ daughter – thought to be dead and with a word, is healed and gets up walking

All the time as Jesus is traveling through – proclaiming the Gospel message by teaching – in word, and healing – in deed – His fame is getting bigger and bigger

And then He makes a humbling visit to his home town

            At first, he continues His success

On 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!”

            Jesus is given the role of honour in the synagogue – to be the guest preacher

Further, they were astounded – they marvelled at his wisdom and his deeds – they are thinking - this guy is crazy smart!

And then, doubt starts to creep in

            Then people start to recognize Him for who He was


3Is not this the carpenter, they say – this is a veiled insult – no longer is He the most revered role in Hebrew culture – the Rabbi – but now they identify Him as the a carpenter / a labourer

They question His linage; they say is not this the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?” – They don’t identify Him through his father, as would have been the custom, in fact Jesus would more typically be named Jesus bar Joseph – instead there is some implied question about His legitimacy

And they took offence at him.

Jesus has come home and despite His mounting fame and reputation, despite how He astounded them with His teaching and healing and His crazy smarts

Now they are only looking at Him through the lenses that they have always known Him through – and He is seen as just crazy

You might be wondering why, why do we have this story

Why is the Lord, our God – incarnate – come in the flesh – why do we have a story about His failure?

And then, immediately following this story, we have the account of Jesus empowering the disciples and sending them out two by two to teach and perform miracles

            The contrast is so great, Jesus – Hometown hero, yet once home – a failure

                        And the disciples, healing wonders

I believe we have the this contrasted account, not so much to tell us about God, but more importantly to tell us about ourselves

We are given a window from the personal diary of Jesus

And he could do no deed of power there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them.

… And he was amazed at their unbelief

Our Lord God – who was there in the beginning of all creation, who had a hand in creating all that there ever was and all that is around us today

            Was amazed at their unbelief

                        This speaks volumes about us

                                    This tells us that our belief is part of God’s plan for salvation

                                                Our God is not some spy in the sky

                                                            Watching over us – ready to zap us when we walk out of line

But in fact, came as one of us, for the whole of the gospel message and was amazed at unbelief

            And it is unbelief that rendered Him powerless

Again, we have a role…A part in our own salvation

Without faith, all God’s miraculous work, counts for those individuals …as nothing

            We are invited to the banquet – but it is only a banquet for us if we enter in faith

Our God has not made us as some wind up toys – created and set in motion and in some non-thinking robotic way

            But in fact we are part God’s plan

Each, individually, we are called by God, and provided salvation only when we step out from our old memories of they way things were

We must make the leap of faith to accept our role as `the new creation`, the new gospel message that Jesus represents… and proclaims… and lives out… for us

            St. Paul writes in Galatians 6:15 – `the new creation is everything``

All of Mark’s Gospel is said to be written to prove the open verse

            The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

                        All of Mark’s gospel account is the proof of who Jesus is…

Our passage today is no different – in fact it practically screams the message out from the doubting questions of His hometown people

Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offence at him.

            As Eugene Peterson’s translates the passage in the `Message`

                        Who do you think you are`


We are faced both with the question who is Jesus…

But more importantly for us, today…

Who is Jesus… to us?

Someone to have faith in – and thus salvation

– Good news to a people perishing

                        Or is the faith in Jesus - foolishness

                                    We, like the people that Jesus grew up with – are not robots

                                                But people with free-will

Free-will to choose the victor over death and all that is death

And free-will not to have faith in Jesus and all that He is and presents

The incredible truth of the Gospel – is that God risks everything… on   our   faith   in   Him

-          May you hear the Gospel, and believe in it

-          May you accept the teachings of Jesus and see them for the crazy smart wisdom that they are

-          May you accept the accounts of His healing miracles and the healing miracles that have been done empowered by Him …May they be accepted in faith

-          May His victory over death and all that is death be your victory also

-          May your faith be lived out

-          May you be the new creation that God desires for all of us

-          May you, too, proclaim in word and deed the Gospel of our Lord

-          May your life attract others to freely choose Jesus

In the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit - Amen

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