Sermon St Peter and St Mary 18 July 2021 Year B Trinity7 P11 Retreat
(Jeremiah 23v1-6) (Psalm 23) Ephesians 2v11-22 Mark6v30-34, 53-56
Let us pray
Over the past few weeks we have been travelling with Jesus on his itinerant ministry around the towns and villages of the Galilee. Our Gospel reading today takes up the story from the time the disciples return after Jesus had sent them out with power to anoint and to heal the sick. To preach that the kingdom of God had come near and that all the people should repent.
On their return they shared their adventures enthusiastically with Jesus who then sought to take them away together on a retreat to some quiet and deserted place to recuperate, reflect and to pray. So getting into a boat this time they set out from Capernaum to move south, to a quiet place that Jesus had in mind further down the shore of the lake, but no such luck!
Many people of the town saw them depart, and quickly passed the word and journeyed the few miles south on foot, anticipating the place where Jesus may have gone. Thus when Jesus stepped ashore, instead of the quiet place he was looking for, he found it crowded with people desperate to hear his words and feel his touch upon their lives.
Jesus could see just how desperate and thirsty these people were for the good news of the kingdom that God had anointed him to bring, and could not but have great compassion for them, for they were like ‘sheep without a shepherd’.
And that to my mind, brothers and sisters, is also a most appropriate way to view and to describe our present generation. They do not see it, but they so need the words of light and life that the ‘good shepherd’ still has to bring for the release of all people today; to give them the joy and peace of the kingdom. And that message can only come to them through you and me, God’s ambassadors for his kingdom.
So instead of a time of quiet with his disciples, Jesus just had to teach them more about God’s grace and the coming of the kingdom; and the time grew late.
At this point the gospel inserts the account of the feeding of the five thousand with just five loaves and two fish, and a site on the shore still commemorates that marvellous miracle today, it is a site well visited by pilgrims.
Jesus then sends the disciple off in the boat, but this time in the direction of Bethsaida, a town located on the northern most shore of the lake. He stays to bless and dismisses the great crowd, who are now filled with the bread of life.
But the wind was against the disciples’ journey, and Jesus could see their struggle and distress, and so he came to them walking on the water during the night watches to help them make way. But the disciple’s boat had been so blown off its intended course that instead of arriving at Bethsaida up north, they were blown to the eastern shore and to Gennesaret.
You will remember that was where some time earlier Jesus had cast out the many demons from legion, the demoniac, and into a heard of pigs. The people of that pagan region, seeing that demonstration of power, and the loss of their livelihood, had then begged Jesus to depart, and Legion had asked to go back with the disciples. But what was Jesus response to him? He told Legion, now in his right mind, to remain and to tell the people of all that ‘God had done for him’, to give his testimony, and become the first evangelist to a pagan people.
So effective had been Legion’s testimony that as Jesus now returned and stepped ashore, he was recognised by the people, and they came from all around with their sick to be healed, they no longer wanted Jesus to depart.
And there is a lesson for all of us. A lesson that should encourage us not to be reticent in giving our testimony of all that God has done for us in our lives. We may never know down here just what God has done through our testimony as God seeks to further build His kingdom.
And we have so much to testify too as Saint Paul reminded us in the verses from his letter to the Ephesians. We were all once strangers and aliens, with no hope and without God in this world. But what now as we have become believers?
We have been brought near to God through the precious blood that Jesus shed for us on Calvary’s cross.
We now become part of God’s ‘new humanity’, a community of those who are blessed to have God’s peace, and the indwelling of His Holy Spirit to help us through the rest of our pilgrimage here below. To become His ambassadors in living out the life of the promised kingdom as citizens with all the saints and as members of the household of God.
May we take time to find a quiet place and reflect upon these few thoughts, and so refresh our souls and spirits to the glory of God, Father, Son and Holy SpiritAmen
So let us pray: The shorter Collect for this the 7th Sunday after Trinity
Generous God, you give us gifts and make them grow;
though our faith is as small as a mustard seed, by your Holy Spirit make it grow to your glory and the flourishing of your kingdom;
through Jesus Christ our Lord and Master. Amen