Materials for Worship in 4th July, 2021

Jeanette writes: There are times for all of us when God has something to say to us that may involve opening us up more to God’s love in our lives and hearts. Perhaps we need to have some of our fixed or self-centred attitudes or behaviour chal¬lenged, or to do some spiritual growing-up. At these times God will tell us. But if we aren’t ready to hear, or prepared to hear, what is being said to us, then we just won’t hear it. Often, we won’t even notice God is speaking to us. Later we might look back and wonder why we couldn’t see the obvious, but at the time we’re far more likely to either completely ignore what God is saying or to react with hostility and defensive¬ness, rather like the people did in Jesus’ hometown.

Read Mark 6: 1 – 13.

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; he’s only a carpenter’s son, so who does he think he is? He’s just an upstart who’s far too big for his boots. What right has he to be displaying more wisdom and miracle working than any of them can do? Sadly, it is not unusual to resent holi¬ness, or any other gift, in those close to us, those we want to be ordinary like us, not to set us an example which makes us feel inadequate — holi¬ness in strangers is far easier to cope with as we don’t tend to take that as a personal criticism.

But any rebellion on our part, any defensiveness or hostility, however discreet, does not go unnoticed by God. Whatever we proclaim with our lips, whatever we claim that we believe, and however cleverly we disguise our rebellion from other people, God sees and knows exactly where our hearts really are, and which way we are really facing. It simply isn’t possible for us to pull the wool over God’s eyes. This however isn’t something that should make us scared of approaching God. It’s actually quite a relief to find there’s no point in pretending or try¬ing to impress the God we worship.

If you are like me, there are some people who, when they come to visit have me checking the house to make sure everything is spick and span, as I’d hate them to find me in a girdle. It usually results in a spate of frantic tidying. There are others who know me so well, and who I trust not to judge me but to love me and accept me as I am, so that I don’t have to rush around — they know and love me whatever the house looks like! I don’t have to try and impress them – they’d see though it anyway! Thank God, God’s one of them!

When Jesus sends out his disciples, it is in pairs so that they can support each other, and they are to preach the Gospel of repentance and God’s forgiveness, whether the people are ready to listen or not. Jesus prepares his disciples for the like¬lihood that there will be people who are stubbornly resistant or rebellious and not take kindly to their challenge. He helps them to be ready to face rejections. He knows that some people will be like the people of his own town and not be ready or want to listen to what they have to say.

Brushing the dust from their feet is not a vindic¬tive move, but a visual sign — a testimony — that the Gospel of repentance has been offered to them and has been refused. It is also important from the disciples’ point of view, and from ours too. There are times for all of us when we fail, times when it is right for us to put the failure behind us and to move on, leaving the Holy Spirit to continue working in people’s hearts and minds, and for us not to wallow in failure, or be overwhelmed and bogged down by the rejection we feel at the time. Things happen in God’s time not ours. God knows we will fail in some of the things we try to do. Sometimes he plans it that way so that we can learn and grow.

This too comes down to a matter of trust; faith and trust in the God who loves us, longs for our good and longs for us to show the world how much it is loved by God and God’s people.

Let’s pray

Loving God, there are times when we do not want to hear what you want us to know, about how we can serve you better and become more faithful disciples. Open our hearts and minds so that we can hear you and listen to you, knowing that whatever you say to us is said in love for our learning and wellbeing.

We pray for a fair and just distribution of the Covid vaccines. And we pray that all those who need the vaccine will have access to it, whether they can pay for it or not.

We pray for countries where people are still dying in huge numbers from Covid.

We pray for the peoples of the west coast of North America, as they struggle with temperatures of almost 50 degrees Celsius, many have already died.

Finally, we pray for Dunblane, and its community. For all those who are struggling, for whatever reason. For its churches and the work they do in supporting the community. Amen.