July 2015 — Nurturing disciples
The gospel of Mark quickly gets into the action and impact of Jesus Christ. Before the passages we are looking at during June and July, Jesus already has been proclaimed God’s beloved Son (1:11), withstood temptation by the Devil (1:12), and taught and healed many. As we pay careful attention to chapters 3-6, the detailed portrait of Jesus being presented should cause us all to ask: how do we rightly respond to His words, deeds and power?
5 July, Mark 6:1-13
We are a part of the holy, catholic and apostolic Church. In other words, the people of God who are set apart (holy) to follow Jesus as one universal (catholic) family with the purpose of being sent out (apostolic) to love and serve God in the name of The Christ.
In our passage, Jesus gave his crew their first work experience assignment and their first taste of being apostles (the sent-out ones), while still as disciples (learners). In various forms, this story of being sent out occurs in all the three synoptic gospels. They all share the common thread of being sent out on training missions, but with little in terms of material resources or belongings.
How does your congregation nurture disciples? How do you train people to be ready to be apostles in the world? How are you taking up the challenge of being formed in your discipleship? What opportunities and experiences are you seeking to develop your gifts and talents and hone your skills so you can use them in the loving service/ministry of others?
12 July, Mark 6:14-29
Irish writer and politician Edmund Burke famously noted: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good [people] to do nothing.”
Most of us in the Church will have heard the story of the death of John the Baptist. The story itself tells the well-worn truth that those who speak up against corruption and against the powers that be often pay a great price — often with their life or their job.
This is the reality of what Jesus meant when he called his followers to take up their cross and follow him in a few chapters time. (Mark 8:34)
How have you had to pay the price for being prophetic and speaking out against injustice and/or corruption? Share the questions and stories about this with people in your Congregation.
How have you and your Church been complicit in the evils of this world through inaction or apathy? Maybe spend some time looking into Fair Trade and why your congregation might consider becoming a Fair Trade place (if it isn’t already).
19 July, Mark 6:30-34, 53-56
Ministry – that is, the loving service of God and others – takes energy and can be draining. This is the challenge of ‘ordinary time’. God recognises this.
In the passage, the disciples return from their mission and tell Jesus about how things went. But people are coming and going, so Jesus takes them on a ‘retreat’. We need to recharge our batteries. But we also should note that, for Jesus and his disciples, the sacredness of self-renewal soon takes a back seat to the needs of people who find where they are and come in their neediness.
It is good to remember that ministry service is not just about us. It is not just about our needs, but is more about the needs of others. It is certainly not about what we bring, but is more about how God uses and enhances the little that we have to offer and share.
What might Jesus being saying to you about serving the people in your wider community? What are the gifts that you and your congregation have to meet the needs in your community?
26 July, John 6:1-21
This passage takes a little lectionary side-trip away from the synoptic gospels, as we spend a couple of weeks in John. In this first week of the series we explore once again the feeding of the five thousand. Most of us will be very familiar with this story, so it is good to read it all the more carefully. We may be incorrectly assuming that we know its details.
Take some time to read the various stories of Jesus feeding large groups of people in each of the gospels. Make a list to help you note the differences in the stories. Spend some time thinking about what the differences draw attention to and what that might be asking us to reflect upon.
These reflections for June and July were prepared by Rev. Jon Humphries, chaplain at Ravenswood School for Girls.