Tag Archives: blessing

Be a blessing!

[many will be remembering Mary Magdalene, rather than using the Proper 11b readings this weekend, but for Mark 6:30ff . .]

Look at Mark telling us of Jesus popularity! (Mark 6:30-34 & 53-56). People wanted to see him and be with him; he was ready to teach them, and they to listen. There was healing, too. No doubt they talked most readily of losing illnesses and disabilities – but there must have been repaired relationships, and redirected lives, as well.

So why is it that Jesus later loses some of this, and today’s church is not hailed as a great place to enjoy, to learn, and to find wholeness?  The gospel will explain how opposition to Jesus developed into a plot to kill him, but I wonder if we fail to take seriously our call to be a blessing?  We are given so much, and – yes – chosen by God. What for? Because we are superior to others? Don’t fool yourself – there are many who work harder, deserve more, have greater potential.

We are given faith, to share and be a blessing. We are meant to be built into a living Church – always difficult because if involves personalities – a Church to set about God’s plans for our local community and its people. Welcome is not a Public Relations necessity for “successful” churches – it is part of faith!

When it works, it is lovely – the picture of people gladly welcoming Jesus, and enjoying the healing he brings, is not outdated. It remains difficult, because we so easily want to be “better”, because we find it so hard to be a blessing, and sometimes find it hard to see how to safeguard that from those who might spoil it.

The answer is not theoretical, but a commitment to follow Jesus. I don’t know fully what he wants me to do, but I’ll make a start on what I know. I don’t know how it will all work out, but I will trust that it does, and see hope and joy in that, better than any alternative.

 

What’s in a name? (Naming of Jesus)

(If you want to see how a dialogue sketch works on this theme and passage, go to Dialogue Sketch for the “Naming of Jesus” )

What’s in a name? Perhaps not a lot, in our Western society.  Names seem to be chosen much at random, from the celebrities of the day.  The meaning is something we have to look up – unless you have a “nickname”, which may be more descriptive.  On the other hand, people like me who find it difficult to remember many names quickly find how little people like their names being forgotten or confused.

In the ancient world, names were more important and powerful.  God reveals his name to Moses ( Exodus 3:11-15 ).  We find it hard to interpret “I am who I am”, but for Egyptian slaves, it was a free God, and to those who used magic and idols, perhaps a challenge from a God who created, and was not made by others.  Numbers 6:22-7 tells us to use the name of God in blessing – perhaps because we become like what we admire or worship, and to summarise our becoming more like God, and living in God’s power.

Then there is the name “Jesus”, given by the angel to Mary, and then given in obedience to Jesus at his circumcision ( Luke 1:28-38, Luke 2:21 ).  It means “saviour”, a reminder and summary of Jesus role, and is the same as “Joshua” (in both Hebrew and Greek).  As Jesus’ disciples, we also have a part to play in the saving of the world – a good thought to begin the New Year!