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Worship, Prayer and Bible Study Resources

Ordinary 14 - Year B

Liturgical Colour - Green

Opening Sentence http://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=54175 This Roman sandal, dated to 200 years after Christ, recalls Jesus' admonition to his disciples in Mark 6 to wear simple sandals, and to shake the dust off of their feet if ever they are unwelcome in a home where they seek shelter. Today we are made aware of the current symbolism of shoes, of the foot unshod, in the region where Jesus, Paul, and the early Christians lived, as we learn more about the values of cultures far from us in distance, but bridged by the gospel's cultural reminders.
Collect Prayer
First Reading:
Second Reading:
Gospel Reading
Post Communion Sentence
Commentary:
Meditation:
Hymns
Prayers for Sunday and the week ahead:
Intercessions from our Sunday worship
Sermons

Introduction

The passage from Mark today tells of the disturbing rejection of Jesus by his nearest neighbours, people who had seen him grow up in Nazareth. These people knew the brothers of Jesus  - James, Joseph, Judas and Simon and also his sisters. They were not prepared to consider that Jesus had anything profound to teach them, simply because they knew him too well.

Often people rely upon reputation, or qualifications to impress us, but we do well to remember that sometimes the very best things we can learn come from those who are closest to us.

We are taught to try to be successful at what we do, we all want to give of our best and hopefully be appreciated for what we do. Jesus did many amazing things, but he was not always appreciated, in fact the lesson today tells us that even his closest friends and family rejected Jesus and though he was getting to big for his boots.

Jesus knew what it was like to seem to fail in ministry. In his hometown of Nazareth he was just not able to make an impact, and he prepared his own disciples for failure when he sent them out on their own mission tour.

Is that what we should expect? When we follow Christ and do his will that we should be prepared for rejection and failure?


Opening Verse of Scripture

He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Collect Prayer for the Day

Servant Lord, grant us both the opportunity and the will to serve you day by day. May all that we do and how we bear each other's burdens be our offerings of love and service to the glory of your name.  Amen   Methodist Worship

Boundless, O God, is your saving power; your harvest reaches to the ends of the earth. Set our hearts on fire for your kingdom and put on our lips the good news of your peace. Grant us perseverance as heralds of your Gospel and joy as disciples of your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever.  Amen.  Methodist Worship

O God, the protector of all who trust in you, without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy: increase and multiply upon us your mercy; that with you as our ruler and guide we may so pass through things temporal that we lose not our hold on things eternal; grant this, heavenly Father, for our Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.   Common Worship

Gracious Father, by the obedience of Jesus you brought salvation to our wayward world: draw us into harmony with your will, that we may find all things restored in him, our saviour Jesus Christ.   CW Shorter Collect

First Bible Reading Ezekiel 2:1-5

The LORD said to me, "Son of man, stand up on your feet and I will speak to you." As he spoke, the Spirit came into me and raised me to my feet, and I heard him speaking to me. He said: "Son of man, I am sending you to the Israelites, to a rebellious nation that has rebelled against me; they and their fathers have been in revolt against me to this very day. The people to whom I am sending you are obstinate and stubborn. Say to them, 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says.' And whether they listen or fail to listen - for they are a rebellious house - they will know that a prophet has been among them.'

Second Reading 2 Corinthians 2:2-10

I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know--God knows. And I know that this man--whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows-- was caught up to paradise. He heard inexpressible things, things that man is not permitted to tell. I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses. Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say. To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Gospel Reading    Mark 6:1-13

Jesus went to his home town, accompanied by his disciples. When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed. "Where did this man get these things?" they asked. "What's this wisdom that has been given him, that he even does miracles! Isn't this the carpenter? Isn't this Mary's son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren't his sisters here with us?" And they took offence at him. Jesus said to them, "Only in his home town, among his relatives and in his own house is a prophet without honour." He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. And he was amazed at their lack of faith.

Then Jesus went round teaching from village to village. Calling the Twelve to him, he sent them out two by two and gave them authority over evil spirits. These were his instructions: "Take nothing for the journey except a staff - no bread, no bag, no money in your belts. Wear sandals but not an extra tunic. Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town. And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave, as a testimony against them." They went out and preached that people should repent. They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.

Post Communion Sentence

Eternal God, comfort of the afflicted and healer of the broken, you have fed us at the table of life and hope: teach us the ways of gentleness and peace, that all the world may acknowledge the kingdom of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

Commentary

The population of Bedford is about 150,000, yet I often think what a small place Bedford is. There are few secrets, everybody seems to know what is going on and you bump into people you know all over the place. At the time of Jesus Nazareth had a population of perhaps between 500 and 2,000 people. It is no surprise that everybody would know everybody else. They would know who was the child of who, who was married to somebody else. It is the same principle upon which the now ridiculous marriage banns operate.


It is to this small village of Nazareth that Jesus returns in the episode from St Mark. Over the last couple of weeks we have heard about the most amazing miracles of Jesus. He has been tremendously successful, he has stilled the storm and healed the demon-possessed man, he has also restored the daughter of Jairus to life. Jesus has shown his great power on both sides of the Sea of Galilee − the eastern Gentile side and the western Jewish side. It is following this that Jesus returns to his hometown of Nazareth, perhaps expecting a hero’s welcome. If he was then he would be disappointed. The passage today is quite remarkable, for Jesus is shown to fail in his ministry and he will later send his disciples out expecting them to fail also. The passage is often referred to as Jesus rejection at Nazareth.
 

In Nazareth Jesus went to teach at his home synagogue. The response of those who heard him had the potential to be deeply hurtful to Jesus. They know Jesus, they know he was a carpenter, his mother was Mary and his brothers were James and Joses and Judas and Simon. The crowd also knew sisters of Jesus. They knew that Jesus was an ordinary man, how could he teach them?
 

The use of the phrase "the son of Mary" (v. 3), is interesting. People would usually identify a man by his relationship with his father rather than his mother, and he is so identified in John 6:42. It is possible that Joseph is dead by this time, although we would expect people to identify Jesus by his father's name even after the father's death. This identification by Mary's name is probably intended as an insult and is perhaps a slur on the legitimacy of his birth.
 

There has been long-standing controversy over Jesus brothers and sisters. Catholics, favoring a doctrine of Mary's perpetual virginity, believe that these are Jesus' half-brothers and sisters − perhaps the children of Joseph by an earlier marriage. Protestants believe that they are the natural children of Joseph and Mary.
 

For all of his success Jesus was not unused to failure. In Mark 3:21, we are told that his family thought that he was out of his mind and tried to restrain him. In Mark 3:31, his mother and brothers and sisters try again to remove him from his teaching ministry. It is against this background of rejection by those who were nearest and dearest to him that Jesus speaks the famous words

"Prophets are not without honour, except in their hometown,
and among their own kin, and in their own house."
 

Following his own complete rejection Jesus then gives to his disciples their task of ministry. He tells them that they should go two by two into the countryside preaching and casting out unclean spirits. He advises them to travel lightly taking nothing but a staff. They are to carry no bread, no bag, and no money in their belts. They are to wear sandals and not even take an extra tunic. Yet Jesus prepares the disciples in advance for the failure which lies ahead of them also. In verse 11, Jesus says, "If any place will not welcome you and they refuse to hear you, as you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them." Jesus makes it clear that they will not be insulated from failure just because they are going in his name.

 
Jesus knows that failure will come and so they are to be prepared with a predetermined response - shaking the dust off their feet. It is not that Jesus is sending the disciples out to fail. Rather, he is showing them how to carry on in the face of failure. The failure should not come as a surprise, or catch them off guard. Forewarned is forearmed, so that we are empowered to carry on when we fail.
 

It is important for us to understand that we can fail even when we are doing everything in our power to serve Christ. In a generation in which it is common to hear that faithfulness to Christ will be rewarded with all manner of success, this is an important message. Jesus warns us to expect the same kind of rejection that he experienced, so we should not be surprised that that almost all of the first twelve disciples suffered martyrdom for Christ. It is appropriate therefore that immediately following this passage Mark will tell us of the death of John the Baptist. The greatest servant is willing to suffer and die for the master. Charles Royden
 

Meditation

At different times of our lives we can all discover what it feels like to be rejected. At such times it might help to know that you are not alone. We all know that Jesus was eventually crucified, a most complete rejection, but he also knew what it was like to be abandoned by those who were his own friends and family. Perhaps it was because he was so badly treated and experienced such incredible rejection that he was able to be so compassionate towards those who were on the fringes of society. He went out of His way to meet a lonely 'foreign' woman who no-one else had time for. He touched people who dreaded skin diseased which made them outcasts. He knew how important it is to give time to those who feel rejected or bullied. When being executed, Jesus was rejected by society and was abandoned by many of His friends. He even cried out that he was 'God forsaken'! Jesus fully understands what it's like to be alone and can help us when we feel isolated unwanted or unloved.

Somebody asked me this week if I knew a good carpenter. They are not easy to find and they are not cheap! These days carpenters are skilled people, who can command a good price if you are lucky enough to find one. The reading from mark today is the only place where we learn that Jesus was a carpenter. However in his day carpenters were not regarded too highly. They ranked below the peasant farmer. Furthermore, to call Jesus "son of Mary" is a possible slur upon Jesus' questionable parentage. The normal reference would be to the father, not the mother. Jesus however will not be held back by the things others say about him, or the way they categorise him. If people have a problem then he will move on. Prophets are generally honoured, he says, but not in their hometown, nor among their clan, or even in their own house! Jesus leaves his hometown and continues his mission among the other rural villages of Galilee.

Jesus sends the disciples out two-by-two. They are allowed means of travel (staff, sandals), but not means of day-to-day nourishment (bread, money). They will be entirely dependent on the hospitality of those they encounter. They will go into houses, some houses, however, would not be safe because the people there would neither "receive" nor "hear" them. In that case, the disciples are to "shake off the dust under the feet as a witness against them." Opponents are not to be fought but rather avoided and left to their own devices--"shake off the dust"--and let it be known that they are opponents.

It is interesting that three of the four brothers of Jesus named in this lection also share the names of three of the twelve disciples. Some think that these three were members of the Twelve, in which case one-fourth of the original inner circle of 12 would have come from Jesus' own family. After Jesus death, his brother, James, headed the church from Jerusalem until his own death in AD 62 (or AD 69). On the other hand, these names were all relatively common at the time. In fact, outside of James, and rather remarkably, none of the other siblings of Jesus appear to have been active in the early church.

 

Hymns

  1. Ye servants of God Tune Hanover

  2. Thank you Jesus

  3. The Church of Christ in every age Tune Heronsgate

  4. When our confidence is shaken Tune Rhuddlan

  5. Father hear the prayer Tune Sussex
     

 

Prayers for Sunday and the week ahead

Prayer encouragement in the Christian life

Prayer is a plant, the seed of which is sown in the heart of every Christian,
if it is well cultivated and nourished it will produce fruit, but if it is neglected, it will wither and die

Lord God, Father of all, you have made of one blood all the nations to dwell on the face of this earth. Pour down your spirit of peace, that we may learn to love each other as you have first loved us. Give us tolerance and understanding towards those who are different from us. Shed your love abroad in our hearts that we might break down the walls of partition that divide your people from each other; until all men and women are brought into unity with each other and with you. That all nations and kindreds and tongues, may with one mouth glorify you. Amen

Grant that it may be our meat and drink to do the will of our Father in heaven. Grant unto us to take up whatever cross is laid upon us and gallantly and gladly to carry it. Grant that as we may share his cross, so we may share his crown; as we share his death, so we may share his life. And so grant that having suffered with him, we may also reign with him. This we ask for your love’s sake. Amen.

Prayers for Baptism. Creator Spirit, who in the beginning hovered over the waters, who at Jesus’ baptism descended in the form of a dove, and who at Pentecost was poured out in fire and rushing wind: come to us, open our hearts and minds so that we may hear the life giving word and be renewed by your power. Amen

We pray for those who are to be baptised today, into the family of this church and of all believers. Help us to nurture and encourage them, and help us to be renewed in our own baptismal promises. For the sake of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Lord God, our Father most loving, we would not even if we could, conceal anything for you, but rejoice rather that you know us as we are and see every desire and every motive of our hearts. Help us, Lord, to strip off every mask and veil when we come into your presence, and to spread before you every thought and every secret of our being, that they may be forgiven purified, amended and blessed by you, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen



Additional Material

Verse from scripture

‘I lift up my eyes to you, to you whose throne is in heaven.’ Psalm 123

Collect Prayer

Almighty God, you have broken the tyranny of sin and have sent the Spirit of your Son into our hearts whereby we call you Father: give us grace to dedicate our freedom to your service, that we and all creation may be brought to the glorious liberty of the children of God; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Commentary

Welcoming ...

In the reading from Mark today, Jesus sends out the disciples to go and preach and teach about him, calling others to share in the good news of the kingdom of God. In our services at both churches today, we will be welcoming new members into the family of our church through Baptism. This is, as it should be, a very special and joyous occasion. For the family bringing their child to be baptised, it is a time for thanks-giving for the gift of that new life. At the same time they are claiming for their child his or her part in Jesus’ promises to His church, that through Baptism the child will gain their place in the Kingdom of God. For the church that welcomes the newly baptised person, adult or child, it is not merely that they have gained a new member. The Church collectively takes on the responsibility of the task of encouraging the new member in faith.

Spirituality is a process, a journey upon which we change and develop. All of us find the spiritual journey difficult at times and we need the love and encouragement of other Christians to help us on our way. Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan to remind us that we all have responsibility to love and care for the stranger as well as the friend. Our Lord’s teaching was about taking practical care of the stranger, but how careful are we of their spiritual well-being? How often to we take the right moment to share what we believe ? To invite along to church a friend who does not normally come? Might we not be missing a God-sent opportunity by being shy about making spiritual contact with a new person?

Finally, how welcoming are we in our church? Are new people forced to sit alone and ignored? Is it possible to come to our church and walk away without being greeted? If the Church is to be modelled upon the teachings and actions of Jesus then it has a duty to be welcoming, generous and loving to the familiar friend and the unknown newcomer alike. Joan Crossley

Prophecy and the role of the Prophet

The theme which links all three of today's lectionary lessons is that of prophecy, with the emphasis on the role of the prophet.

Ezekiel, who lived somewhere about 585 BC, is sent to a “people who are obstinate and stubborn”, his own people, probably in exile. His message was not popular or comforting, and they might “listen or fail to listen”, but that was not an issue for him. His task was to convey God’s word faithfully in a situation where he would not necessarily be welcomed. Prophecy is not some inspired crystal ball gazing, but rather a look at the world through the eyes of God, a task which is not confined to Old Testament times, and which remains as a challenge for us today.

Moving chronologically, we turn to the gospel in which Mark reminds us that Jesus was not always valued and especially not among the people among whom He had grown up. You can almost hear people saying “Who does He think He is? Jumped up so-and-so”. And his work was stultified as a result. The second part of the reading contrasts Jesus’ “failure” with the success of the Twelve as they go out preaching and teaching – not quite what one might have expected. There is some question about the chronology, and it may be that Mark is actually bringing together two stories, the second of which actually happened after Jesus’ ascension, so as to emphasise the point about Jesus’ weakness. Be that as it may, what is important for us is, I think, that Jesus proclaimed the good news fearlessly and was not fazed by lack of success. If you think of it, he had already turned down the spectacular and crowd pulling when he had rejected the temptations in the wilderness. We need not be surprised in our own day if people do not listen – even the healing of a few sick people in his home town did not dispel the cynicism which his fellow townsfolk directed towards Jesus, the prophet without honour in his own country. By any objective standard His whole life appeared to be heading towards failure culminating with His death on a cross. But we know that the outcome was ultimately triumphant.

Paul, in the letter to the church at Corinth, begins paradoxically by saying he does not want to boast, while doing just that! He is making it clear that in any “I’m better than you” game, he is likely to win but that is not his real concern. Set alongside his boasting, he puts another picture of himself. Earlier in the letter he says that while his letters may be weighty, “in person he is unimpressive and his speaking amounts to nothing” (Chapter 10 v 10). Not quite the sort of person one might have expected. And to add to this he has the “thorn in the flesh” which constantly torments him. We do not know what that thorn is – any suggestion is ultimately guess work. What is key to his life and work is found in verse 9 – God says “my power is made perfect in weakness”. And for that God’s grace is sufficient for Paul. So what is the message these readings give us? Based on a cry in the Old Testament “would that all God’s people were prophets”, we are challenged to prophesy, to look at what is wrong in the world, and to do something about it. It will not be easy and we may often be afraid, but the example of the three lives we have looked at is that what is required of us is faithfulness in that task, and the power to do it will come from God himself. A friend of mine once said “when something is really important, the Holy Spirit won’t let us fail”. And as Paul reminds us at the beginning of the previous letter ( 1 Cor.l v 27) “God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise: God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong”. To be part of the foolish things of the world is both our challenge, our promise and our strength. John Stubbs

Hymn for this Sunday

  1. Morning has broken
  2. Jubilate
  3. Father hear the prayer
  4. I rejoiced to hear them say
  5. Guide me, O thou great Jehovah
  6. Immortal, Invisible
  7. Give me joy
  8. Great is thy faithfulness

Meditation

How many people do you know at Church? If the answer is “lots”, then you could stop reading this. If the answer is “hardly anyone”, then we need to do better. When I was in America a few years ago, I was struck by the way we were greeted in the churches by people introducing themselves with out-stretched hands and friendly smiles! Now that is not the traditional English way. Many people are shy, but that can be mistaken for being distant and unfriendly by strangers. Why not make a point of speaking to someone new over the next few weeks? Perhaps you have once known their name and can’t admit to having forgotten! We all of us in the Church bear our part in representing the Lord Jesus, so why not be brave and greet those around you ? Joan Crossley

From the Gospel reading of Mark

  • We need to carry things ourselves and not expect somebody else to carry them for us.
  • We can all learn to live with a lot less, we know we don’t need most things, they certainly won’t make us happier. However, it is easier to decide that that we don’t need things when we do so voluntarily, not because we are poor and haven’t got anything. It is good to shake the shoes and leave things behind
  • Sometimes are heads are busy thinking about the past instead of the future. There is a story about a couple who would go on holiday, they would be 1 mile, 5 miles, more miles away from home when the wife would say "I don't remember if I switched off the iron. We have to go back and check." And home they would go. Finally one year, the conversation began "I don't remember if I switched off the iron..." and the husband stopped the car and went to the boot and returned with the iron. Some times the excess with which we travel is in our heads.

Prayers for NCH Sunday

Loving Lord, you placed children at the centre of your work and ministry; made each one welcome, let them know they were special, wanted and loved. You challenged the tradition that their value is as tomorrow’s people, that their place is to listen and learn; when it is we who can listen and learn from them a pattern for discipleship today. We pray for children and young people who have been left on the fringes of decisions that affect their lives. For those who feel powerless, frustrated and hopeless; those who are confused and hurt, caught in the middle of adults’ battles, and for those who are the centre only of unwelcome attention. You said it would be better to die than to harm a child; that to understand you we must understand children. So when we look at children and young people help us to see your face looking back at us. Amen.

Intercession
In these prayers, remember particularly the children, young people and families that NCH works with, as well as the staff and volunteers in our projects.

Creator God, parent of all, who knows and loves each one of us; hear our prayers for those of your children who are too easily forgotten. For children and young people who care for their parent, grandparent, brother or sister; carrying the responsibilities of an adult on the shoulders of a child.
For children and young people whose parents are separated or divorced their world turned upside down; their fear of changes that the future may bring the anger and guilt they feel at what has gone wrong. Help them to understand that it’s not their fault.

For children and young people who cannot live with their own families, all those who are looked after in foster homes and residential are. For those who feel betrayed, confused or rejected, unsure of who they are or where they belong. We pray for carers and independent visitors who can restore confidence and self worth and help to rebuild trust and hope for the future.

We pray for all these children and young people, whose childhood disappears too quickly. Help us to make sure that they and their families re loved and supported in our churches and our community. ‘Whoever welcomes one such child in my name, welcomes me’. Amen

The NCH Prayer for Sunday

Lord Jesus, you showed us how to put the child at the centre when they were pushed to one side to be seen but not heard. You were encouraging, positive, gentle generous with your time patient in your listening and loving in your response. Let us put children at the centre and give them safe space and boundaries to grow and develop a sense of themselves of others and the world. Let us give them courage when they need it freedom to play, laugh and cry and above all, let us give them the same endless love that you offer each one of us. Help us to find the child in ourselves and put them at the centre of who we are so that we rediscover the trust, honesty and vulnerability in our relationship with you and so come closer to seeing and bringing about your kingdom. Amen

A meditation for NCH this week

He had no wife, no family, he had no children of his own;
he once had been a refugee, despised but never left alone.
To all the widowed and the fatherless he showed the love that none had shown.

He liked to watch as children played and knew the lyrics of their song;
he cared for those that lived at risk, the ones whose rights had all gone wrong.
The plight of helpless and homeless folk would always in his heart belong.

He had no job to pay the rent, but women gave him house and food;
they saw in him no hidden threat, his singleness was safe and good.
And those whom no one ever listened to discovered that he understood.

He chose to eat in simple style beside the wounded, hurt and poor;
he told them tales to make them laugh and, for their stigma, was their cure.
In crowds and circles of rejected folk his generosity was sure.

Those whom he calls his family are this through love and not reward:
sisters and brothers we can be, if we but take him at his word.
And so we join to celebrate the life of Jesus Christ, our friend and Lord.
Present on earth, Wild Goose Resource Group, 2002