Pentecost 6 July 4th 2021

The Linkage 

                        The Scottish Episcopal Church

St Mary’s Aberfoyle,

St Andrew’s Callander

The Reverend Canon Dr Alison Peden – Interim Pastor

01877 330448

‘To you I lift up my eyes, to you enthroned in the heavens.’  (Ps.123:1)

Preparation: Almighty God, to whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hidden: cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name; through Christ our Lord.  Amen

Psalm 123

To you I lift up my eyes, O you who are enthroned in the heavens!
As the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master,
and as the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress,
so our eyes look to the Lord our God, until he has mercy upon us.

Our eyes look to the Lord our God,
until he shows us his mercy.

Have mercy upon us, O Lord, have mercy upon us,
   for we have had more than enough of contempt.
Our soul has had more than its fill
   of the scorn of those who are at ease,
   of the contempt of the proud.

Our eyes look to the Lord our God,
until he shows us his mercy.

Collect:   Almighty God, your Son Jesus Christ has taught us that what we do for the least of your children we do also for him.  Give us the will to serve others as he was the servant of all, who gave up his life and died for us, but lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen

Reading:   Ezekiel 2:1-5
The heavens were opened and I saw visions of God. When I sae this, I fell on my face and I heard the voice of someone speaking. He said to me: O mortal, stand up on your feet, and I will speak with you. And when he spoke to me, a spirit entered into me and set me on my feet; and I heard him speaking to me. He said to me, Mortal, I am sending you to the people of Israel, to a nation of rebels who have rebelled against me; they and their ancestors have transgressed against me to this very day. The descendants are impudent and stubborn. I am sending you to them, and you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God.’ Whether they hear or refuse to hear (for they are a rebellious house), they shall know that there has been a prophet among them. 

Gospel:  Mark 6:1-13
Jesus left that place and came to his home town, and his disciples followed him. 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! 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. Then Jesus said to them, ‘Prophets are not without honour, except in their home town, and among their own kin, and in their own house.’ 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.
Then Jesus went about among the villages teaching. He called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. He ordered them to take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts; but to wear sandals and not to put on two tunics. He said to them, ‘Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave the place. If 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.’ So they went out and proclaimed that all should repent. They cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.

Reflection:
It’s odd that in what we like to think of as a society of equality and democracy, there is a trend to ‘presidential’ authority that places so much focus and power in the hands of the leader of government, or in specialists of one kind or another. Our world has become so complex and uncertain that we have lost confidence in our own ability to change and improve the world.

Jesus sent the disciples out two by two, in a simple way with minimal resources. They had been following him and observing him as he went round the villages, teaching and healing.  They had seen that people were amazed over and over again by his deeds of power and that evil spirits had loudly recognised him as the Son of God, the Messiah.  

Yet Jesus did not send the disciples out to preach about him, or recount the deeds of power to those who had not yet heard of them, or to gather up a following for him as the Messiah.  They were not his election agents or his social media champions.  In fact, Jesus often tried to silence those who would proclaim him ‘Messiah’ publicly.

Instead, Jesus gave his disciples authority over evil spirits, and they called people to turn their lives around, and they healed the sick. It was what he had called the apostles for: ‘to be sent out to proclaim the message’. (Mark 3:14) They were sharing Jesus’ own mission to demonstrate that the Reign (Kingdom) of God was here, healing and saving God’s people.  The focus was all on what God’s Spirit was doing in the world, not on Jesus himself.

So the disciples realised – or began to realise – that they could never leave it all to Jesus.  Following him meant sharing in his work, participating in the Reign of God, even embodying it as they were empowered to deliver people from evil forces.  We too, as disciples of Christ, are here to share Jesus’ work, confident in the Spirit’s power within us, not too troubled by success or failure, aware that we are joining in – in a simple way with minimal resources – the great enterprise of love that is God’s purpose for the world.

Mark 6:1-13  by Bruce Prewer, an Australian minister (d.2018)

Not the wise, not the skilled,

neither scholars, nor saints;

     mere ordinary folk,

     warts-and-all characters,

     and that Peter bloke;

caught up in the freedom of Jesus.

Authority: called and empowered

to release the bedevilled;

     the diseased and the lame,

     the crazy and the lost,

     the soul filled with shame;

caught up in the love of Jesus.

Not cluttered with possessions,

free as the wind of heaven;

     inviting the crowd,

     anointing the sick,

     rebuking the proud;

caught up in the spirit of Jesus.

Prayers of Intercession:
Father, we pray for the holy catholic Church in all the world
that we all may be one.

Grant that every member of the church, called as your disciples, 
may truly and humbly serve you;
that your name may be glorified by all people.

We pray for all ministers of the gospel; especially those to be ordained at this time;
that they may faithfully proclaim your Word
and administer your holy sacraments.

We pray for all who govern and hold authority
in the nations of the world;
that there may be justice and peace on the earth.

Give us grace to do your will in all that we undertake in your name;
that our works may find favour in your sight.

Have compassion on those who suffer
from any grief or trouble, especially …
that they may be delivered from their distress.

We praise you for your saints who have entered into joy …
may we also come to share in your heavenly kingdom.

We commit to you our community, the life and worship of this congregation and those whose needs are known to us…..

Holy God, remove the veil from our eyes and grant us the light of the Spirit; that we may learn to recognise your glory in the humility of your Son, and experience in the weakness of our own human nature the surpassing power of his resurrection. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen 

The Lord’s Prayer:   
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come, thy will be done;  on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day 
our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive 
those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but 
deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever.  Amen

Closing Prayer:   The peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord;   and the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, be among us and remain with us always. Amen.

You can find this hymn sung at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vqCOqgQhFyo

1. The kingdom of God is justice and joy, 
For Jesus restores what sin would destroy; 
God’s power and glory in Jesus we know, 
And here and hereafter the kingdom shall grow. 

2. The kingdom of God is mercy and grace, 
The lepers are cleansed, the sinners find place, 
The outcast are welcomed God’s banquet to share, 
And hope is awakened in place of despair. 

3. The kingdom of God is challenge and choice, 
Believe the Good News, repent and rejoice! 
His love for us sinners brought Christ to his cross, 
Our crisis of judgement for gain or for loss. 

4. The kingdom is come, the gift and the goal, 
In Jesus begun, in heaven made whole; 
The heirs of the kingdom shall answer his call, 
And all things cry glory to God all in all!