Message from our Vicar
To everyone at St John’s, Gowerton and St Barnabas, Waunarlwydd,
For 1st Sunday after Trinity
6th June, (D-Day) St John’s
Gospel: Mark chapter 3 verses 20-35
May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be now and always acceptable in thy sight. O Lord our strength and our redeemer. AMEN
Before I share my text with you this morning I want you to fix in your minds a box of biscuits - not packet but a box – and I’ll come back to this in a moment.
My text is Mark chapter 3 verses 20 and 21:
“Then he went home; and the crowd came together again, so that they could not even eat. And when his family heard it, they went out to seize him, for people were saying, “He is beside himself.””
In today’s gospel Jesus’ family waited outside and had to send a message to him; they were not within the circle of his new community. Some of them were hurt by his response; some, who probably thought he should never have left, wanted to take him home by force; but his mother understood. She remembered his delight and joy in the love and caring of their nuclear family – and he wanted that experience for everyone, to extend it till it encompassed all people. Calling the Church the family of God may cause difficulties for some, especially those whose own family experience is painful, but what other description will serve better when God is Abba?
Ken Taylor puts it like this: “God is our brother, and he gives us to each other to enjoy each other’s lives and grow through each other’s love.”
It’s not always like that: some funny people go to church, few are saints, all are sinners; you may even manage to get in and out without anyone speaking to you! He expects his Church to be a community of love. In our reading from Corinthians we heard,
“Since we have the same spirit of faith”.
The family of the Church is, of course, based on love, and also more importantly, faith; and this family should allow diversity and offer protection. From our gospel reading this morning comes a warning,
“If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand.”
“Internal conflicts, which are inevitable, must be resolved lovingly, and with prayer and guidance of the Holy Spirit, “otherwise our family will disintegrate and fail to be a centre of hope in our communities.
Back to my box of biscuits. I don’t know which ones you were thinking of, but mine was ‘Family Circle’; my research tells me it comprises of shortbread, crunch oat, custard creams, bourbons- mmmmmmmmm- happy faces, milk chocolate digestives , chocolate fingers, Nice and chocolate chip cookies. A diverse and very different selection yet all in one box, all unique and all integral to the product, a good example to us all in our church families.
The signing choir will know the sign for ’family’ – a circular motion of the signed letter ‘F’ which is the index and middle finger together put on top of the index and middle fingers of the other hand perpendicularly and rotated in a circular direction (it doesn’t matter in which direction!)
We are a family of believers, and our circle must be flexible, must have points of entrance to allow new people to join us, yet it must also be strong enough to withstand internal and external issues, and this can only be achieved if the centre of our circle is occupied by Jesus our Saviour and redeemer.
I’d like to finish with a little prayer that I found in the front of a second hand prayer book I acquired recently:
Make the door of this church wide enough
to receive all who need human love and
narrow enough to shut out all envy, pride and strife.
Make its threshold smooth enough
to be no stumbling block to children,
nor to straying feet,
but rugged and strong
to turn back the tempter’s power.
Make the doorway of this house
The entrance to your eternal kingdom.