All we need is a rucksack!
Mark 6: 6-13
We almost always reminisce on the time we shared a flat many years ago when I talk with my best friend. He recalls leaving home with all his belongings in a rucksack, but when he moved home recently he filled three furniture vans!
We fill the furniture vans with the things that we want, but what we need will still pack into a rucksack. As teenagers leaving home we started with what we needed, then, over the years we accumulate things that we want. Toothbrush, toothpaste and soap for good hygiene; a few clothes to keep us warm and look respectable and a pillow for our head with a couple of sheets and a blanket snatched from our bed before leaving home. What more did we need?
We had our dreams and ambitions for what we WANTED but in the rucksack was all we NEEDED as we left home on this new adventure of independence. When the 12 are sent out on their first mission I can imagine Jesus telling them to pack a rucksack and no more because that’s all they need. The most comfortable way to travel is with a little and light because the lot we want is too heavy to carry. When we haven’t got a lot it’s easier to pack up and follow Jesus, but we can accumulate too much to move or to change! We like what we’ve got too much.
We rightly talk about wanting to follow the light to escape the darkness, and we are certainly praying we can do that through the Covid lockdown. How much light do we need though? If we don’t experience a bit of darkness, can we appreciate how good the light is? I was encouraged by the words of Isaiah (9:2) on Friday and with a small edit (forgive me please) heard God saying:
“The people walking in darkness will see a great light.
On those living in great crisis a new opportunity will dawn!”
If we believe we are a light for the world we can’t hide it for ourselves (Matthew 5: 14-16) and are called to go back into the darkness where we can be seen. We start our journey with all we NEED, but grow to like what we receive and WANT more, or, at least, keep what we have accumulated. When the 12 were sent some were part of a family fishing business and had families and homes, but Jesus told them to pack a rucksack because that’s all they needed. Our challenge can be to leave behind, or sacrifice, what we WANT so we can share what others NEED!
We WANT to keep what is familiar and provides us with our light, but Jesus calls us to look into the darkness and see what is NEEDED — and then help provide it. That means there will be some things we might have to give up as individuals or as a Church. We are called, like the 12, to pack our rucksack, but what are we going to do with all those precious things that need three furniture vans to move?
Is the way we have done things over the years what we WANT to continue when, if God’s will is to be done on earth as in heaven, we NEED to be different? Our light can be the good things we want for ourselves, but we need a bit of darkness to appreciate what we have! How can we make a difference if we are not prepared to be different?
So do we WANT to take more than we NEED as Jesus sends us out to share the good news and our progress is hindered by the weight of our past which is too good to leave behind. It’s not always bad things that we need to leave behind because we can like who we are, where we are and what we do — but that doesn’t make it right. A couple of Gospel readings below challenge us to thin how we can change:
Is what we’ve got everything that we WANT
or do we have more than we NEED to be Kingdom people? (Mark 10: 17-31)
Is what we’ve got the fruit that we WANT
or do we NEED to be pruned to be a more fruitful church? (John 15: 1-2)
It wasn’t a surprise when my office collapsed in the storm because it wasn’t built on solid ground! It was, of course, my garden office beneath a gazebo that finally submitted to the weather and we had to remove the roof in the pouring rain so now have a broken metal frame to dismantle and dispose of. If anyone wants to go into the garden and take it away for scrap metal or solder a broken leg you are welcome to do what is needed. It was a great meeting place while it lasted and we were able to meet people at a social distance, but last week was one storm too many!
I am encouraged when I hear celebrities showing their faith to the public. Yesterday tennis player Venus Williams said in a newspaper magazine that her most treasured possession is her BIBLE but, more importantly, went on to say that the single thing that would most improve the quality of her life would be: “Taking time every day to read the bible!” She was also asked what has been her biggest disappointment and said: “Any lost match is, of course, disappointing, but every loss is a lesson to be learned!” If someone who has won 23 grand slam title and four Olympic gold medals is still learning we have a lot to learn from our disappointments, don’t we?
The lectionary reading for next Sunday invites us to reflect on John 1: 1-14 which is many people’s favourite gospel reading so that’s what we will do on Friday evening. So think about what the reading says to you and join us at 6pm on Friday.
I won’t get into the politics but I had an email from a party saying that “the government this week decided that volunteers aren’t allowed to deliver leaflets. However, it is apparently okay to pay people to deliver those same leaflets”. I am sure there is a sensible, logical reason behind such a policy and I am just showing my ignorance again! If someone wants to give me a call and give me the simple answer I will appreciate it.
Pray for the Elders as they meet this afternoon and continue to consider the future ministry of Broadway United Reformed Church and reflect on discussions from the recent Church meeting.
Please pray for our future ministry and for me and Virginia as we seek God’s guidance through this year.
Pray for the people who are considering whether they are called to be Elders in the Church.
Also continue to pray that someone will feel called to take over as Church Secretary in March when Michael retires.
Pray for John Graham Vicki Pam Peters Kath Hancock Michael Eden June and John Frank and Christine Shirley Caddy Susan Nuttall
Please pray for Emma, Margaret’s granddaughter, who has Covid and her mother Sara.
And I am sure you are praying for so many people during the pandemic — those losing their jobs; those risking their lives in the caring professions; teachers and children; parents who are having to teach; the isolated and lonely — your neighbours who need your love! Keep praying; keep caring; keep loving! Amen.
God Bless, Richard