6th Sunday after Pentecost 2015

Sermon Title: 6th Sunday after Pentecost 2015

Preacher: Rev’d Susanne Chambers

Date: 5th July 2015

Church Calendar Date: 6th Sunday after Pentecost

Lectionary Reading: 2 Samuel 5:1-5, 9-10 Psalm 48, 2 Corinthians 12:2-10, Mark 6:1-13

About 14 years ago, my step son came to visit. He was very nervous and we didn’t know what was wrong.  We sat down in the lounge room and he told us that he was gay. He wasn’t sure of our response. As we know many families have rejected their son or daughter for being gay…for being different.

Our response was to cry with him and give him hugs saying nothing will change how we feel about him.

Ben got engaged two years ago to a lovely fella called Tony.  When will they marry, I don’t know.

As you know America has said yes to gay marriages and also the Episcopal Church in the US.  So it’s quite topical at the moment and I’m sure will be debated in the not too distant future in our parliament and in our churches.

Two people of the same sex to marry is quite challenging as to how we see ‘marriage’.

My calling to be a priest was unwelcome with some of my family and friends. They were disappointed/confused about my decision to leave nursing and be ordained.  I had really wrestled with this decision with God.

This was certainly not something I entered into lightly.  In the early days and even still today, the role of priest is seen as only for the male. So it has been quite challenging to accept women as a priests for many people.

What does it mean for you and me to be a disciple of Jesus when we are challenged by different views and opinions from other people, and for ourselves to be challenged to change our view and opinions and live with a view which maybe outside the ‘norm’ of what we grew up with?

The gospel passage today we may find helpful.

We heard of those in the synagogue taking offence at Jesus. Isn’t he the carpenter, the son of Mary and his brothers, James, Joses, Judas and Simon and sisters we know…how can he teach like this? Where does this wisdom come from?

Jesus has just been out and about, away from his village, healing the sick, teaching, stilling the storm, gathering disciples who want to hear and know more about his way of seeing the world and people, and yet, at his home town, they found it really difficult to think of him as anything other than a carpenter and known through his family.

“Jesus wasn’t what they expected a prophet, let alone a Messiah, to look like. And to accept him as such was to call into question much of what they thought they knew about the world and about people and about themselves.

Isn’t that also what is so difficult when we talk about perceptions of those who are different from us?  Whether they are different in terms of their age or occupation or economic status or race or ethnicity or sexual orientation, we tend to have a construct about how people should be and when we meet someone who differs from that we often find it threatening.” [i]

Jesus wasn’t different from his home town folk or family, it was more that he was different to what a prophet should be like.  So they take offence rather than think through their expectations of a prophet.

Those who are different from us or our concept of certain roles, like a prophet or a priest or a doctor or marriage, do challenge us.

Why would a woman want to be a doctor? Why would a man want to be a nurse?  These roles are more acceptable now aren’t they but we had to think through some of our prejudices to say ‘why not’.

I’m not exempt from any prejudice myself and sometimes I am  brought up short by a comment which shows up some bias of what I have been brought up to believe to be true or I haven’t really thought through why I thought like that about someone or about an issue.

After Jesus had been rejected in his home town where they took offence at him and would not accept who he had become (a healer, teacher, prophet- not only able to do carpentry!), he then called his disciples and sent them out two by two and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. He sent them to announce the kingdom and to share God’s love. I do wonder then whether the unclean spirits were those things that were not of Jesus kingdom: unclean spirits of prejudice, racism, sexism etc.

How amazing for Jesus to send out his disciples to share God’s love and acceptance after he himself had been rejected and not for the last time!

Jesus words always seem to challenge me about how I see the world and people and myself.

These are thought provoking times with many changes in our society on issues such as: single parenting, gay couples with children, refugee and asylum seekers, gay marriage.

How we come to any decision or understanding is to do a number of things.

Firstly and always pray.  Whatever are your thoughts or feelings be honest to God.  Sit in silence.  Contemplate.  Read the scriptures and see what they say to you.

Talk with people about the issues.  Have healthy discussions through listening to differing points of view.

These are not topics that we can make decisions about overnight.

At least for me, it takes time to reflect, to look honestly at my own assumptions that I have made, be willing to change them or maybe not.

At least when we do this, we have made informed decisions.

And keep wrestling with God…talking to God and listen to that still small voice of love.

St Peter’s Eastern Hill is having a Parish Mission later this month and this following prayer is one I feel is what I need to pray regularly and I hope you do to.

Gracious God,

make my life a sign of your engaging love:

may my heart be penitent,

my actions generous,

my words sensitive.

Fill me with longing to share with others

the good news I have received, and anoint

my life with your Spirit that Jesus may be

formed in me:

his tongue to speak in me,

his hands to work in me,

his heart to beat in me.

and so through all I do, and all I am,

and with the people where you call me

to witness, may Jesus be known and his

kingdom established.

For your love’s sake. Amen

 

The Lord be with you

[i]  In the Meantime:  David Lose website