Collect and Readings for The Fifth Sunday after Trinity 4th July Year B – Ezekiel 2:1-5, Psalm 123, 2 Corinthians 12:2-10, Mark 6:1-13;
The Prayer for today Almighty and everlasting God, by whose Spirit the whole body of the Church is governed and sanctified: hear our prayer which we offer for all your faithful people, that in their vocation and ministry they may serve you in holiness and truth to the glory of your name; through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Discreet rebellion does not go unoticed by God. Whatever we proclaim with our lips, whatever we claim to believe, and however cleverly we disguise our rebellion from others, God sees and knows where our hearts really are, and which way we are really facing. This isn't something to make us scared of approaching God. It's actually quite a relief to find that there's no point in pretending or trying to impress him. Those who, like me, tend to live in a certain amount of clutter, know there are some people whose visits spur us into a spate of frantic tidying, and others who know us so well that this isn't really necessary – they know and love us well exactly as we are, warts and all.
When God has something to say to us which may involve opening us up more to his grace, challenging a fixed or central attitude or behaviour, or a little spiritual growing-up, then he will tell us. But if we aren't ready or prepared to hear what he has to say, then there's no way we'll hear it. Later we might look back and wonder why we couldn't see the obvious! But at the time we're far more likely to react with hostility and defensiveness, rather like those in Jesus' home town. We can hear their indignant, self-righteous wounded egos as they mutter their complaints about Jesus. When they look at the facts, he's not even on a level with them for background; so what right has he to be displaying more wisdom and miracle-working than any of them? It is quite usual to resent holiness, or any other gift, in those close to us – holiness in strangers is far easier to cope with as we don't take that as personal criticism.
When Jesus sends out his disciples it is in the support of pairs, and, like Ezekiel, they are to preach repentance, whether the people are ready to listen or not. God had prepared Ezekiel for the likelihood of stubborn rebellious natures not taking kindly to the challenge, and now Jesus prepares his disciples in a similar way.
Brushing the dust from their feet is not a vindictive move, but a visual sign – a testimony – that the Gospel of repentance has been offered and refused. It is also important from the disciples' point of view, and ours. There are times when it is right to move on and leave the Holy Spirit to continue working in people's hearts through subsequent events and converstaions, without feeling weighed down by rejection.
Some questions for you to reflect on:
Are there times when you have judged a person on the first impression and later been proved to be completely wrong?
Have you ever been told that you will never have the ability to do something but you work really hard to prove that person wrong and achieve incredible things?
Will you listen to the Holy Spirit and see what God can do in your life?
God bless and stay safe and well.
Rev'd Fiona Robinson