|Pen and Ink Reflections||
Today's passages invite us to use our imagination. To imagine what it would be like to have had everything we thought was important reduced to rubble. To imagine what God might do to transform our world. To imagine the temple that Jesus and his friends saw, and what it was like for that temple also to be destroyed. For these passages teach us that life is always being rebuilt, and that God is always doing something new. Our job is to be alert to what God is doing, and to make choices that help God transform the world...
“Follow me” - that is the challenge of today’s gospel. We need to understand what it means for us to hear those words for ourselves. Jesus was of course a most astute judge of personality and in this passage he actually provides an example of each of the main ways in which human beings can be drawn away from the commitment to follow. Each of us has, at the level of our ego, a key defence mechanism, adopted in early childhood that keeps us safe. It is not a bad thing. It gets us through our day. But in terms of the invitation to follow, to go more deeply, to become more fully alive, that defence mechanism can stand in our way. We see it at work in the conversations Jesus has in our reading today with three would-be followers.
I want to speak about three things which jump out from our Gospel reading today. I want to speak about fish, faith and forgiveness: about how fish flow out from faith; about how faith flows from forgiveness; and about how forgiveness flows from being a fish. First of all however, let me ask a question: where do you picture today’s Gospel story happening? What kind of a boat is it that sets out fishing? What do the people in the boat and on the shore look like? And what does the beach look like to you? Let us close our eyes for a moment and see if we can picture those elements of our story in our mind’s eye. Maybe we can also hear the sounds, and the smells, of the beach and the sea, the movement of the boat and the waves, the crackle of the fire, the voices of Jesus and the disciples. Let us stop for a moment and try to see, and feel…
Let me draw your attention to three wonderful themes in our gospel today - those of presence, peace and possibility, and to the physical expression of each of them...
For many centuries there has been a common understanding of the church as a ship - the later version of Noah's ark, carrying us to safety. I want to use this idea today as we look at the story of the stilling of the storm from the perspective of our current stewardship program.
It is very clear that these are difficult days for the Church in the western world. Changes in the patterns of family life and work, competing demands on a Sunday, arguments over matters theological, moral and scientific, developments in technology and social media, the scourge of sexual abuse and a host of other factors have all taken their toll on traditional congregations. In terms of today's story, they represent the 'storm' through which the ship of the church is presently making its way. It is not surprising in these circumstances that as disciples we sometimes feel not just buffeted but fearful for the well being of the ship and of ourselves. It is not surprising if we are inclined sometimes to question God and ask like those first disciples 'do you not care that we are perishing?'. Yet as the story makes very clear to do so is to miss the point...
sermons and reflections from Penny Jones & Jo Inkpin,