Homily Notes: Ordinary 14 Year B Mark 6:1-6 – “I am getting old”

  • I am definitely getting old.
  • Although last weekend marked the 13th  anniversary of my Priesting, I have now spent so long in ministry that I am starting to reap the rewards of that length of ministry:
    • I now find myself marrying off former members of my Youth Group
    • I find myself being asked to baptise their children
    • In my personal life:
      • I regularly now enjoying going to the Pub with the young man now taller than me, whose nappies (terry nappies, of course!) I used to change
      • Only this week I celebrated with my middle daughter her 21st Birthday with a dinner out with her and her fiancé, for she too has graduated and is now engaged.
    • And yes, it makes me feel old.
    • Perhaps it seems a little strange to you, to be ministered to by a man who is, in many cases for you, the same age as your children (and I’m firmly in my mid-forties, slightly amused by constantly being referred to as a young clergyman)
    • I remember inviting a friend to come and house sit for us at our last Vicarage whilst we went to the Greenbelt festival, and I was anxious that Katrina would be alright in the house. She was after all, someone who I had known from youth club: gangly, self-conscious, but with a deep and profound faith. It was Lou who reminded me that
      • a) she was now 24
      • b) married (and I married them)
      • c) bringing her baby to stay
      • Maybe she would be alright after all!
    • But I couldn’t let go! I couldn’t forget the teenager, and allow the adult to show.
    • How often are the young, or the new to faith, or those who have experienced challenge in their lives disempowered by a simple phrase:
      • “I remember you when…”
    • In God’s grace, people grow, learn, develop, shape
    • God forgives (for if he didn’t, where would any of us be?)
    • So should we.
    • One of the most telling things a young person said to me was “the problem with being a young person is that no-one takes my faith seriously. They assume that I don’t have a relationship with God. They patronise me”.
      • That man is now a Baptist Minister leading a Church in Yeovil.
    • Forget the past (for God surely does)
    • Look to the future.
    • We should ask NOT “what was this church like in the past” and rest on the laurels of that, for the past in the Church was always somuch better wasn’t it?
    • Instead we should be asking
      • “what will this church look like?”
      • “what can we do when the Holy Spirit works within us?”
      • NOT “what did we used to do? (and seemingly don’t do anymore)”
      • BUT “what will we do now, where and to whom does God call us to minister?”
    • The text of Mark goes on further to describe the sending out of the disciples on their first mission, a mission that we share in.
    • They ventured out to minister empowered by the hope of the future, for there was no past, only a message of forgiveness, healing and grace and a call to respond seriously to that.
    • They were not custodians or guardians of a heritage, but bearers of a gift.
    • Just as you are.
    • The twelve sent out today do not represent the Clergy, or the Churchwardens or even the choir; but all of us
      • Each and every one.
      • We are all sent as missionaries, fed at this altar for the road, and later today or tomorrow you will encounter someone who needs God
      • Will you shake the dust off your feet before them and ignore their cry?
      • Or will you be a blessing to them?
        • By your presence
        • By your kindness
        • By your prayer
      • The gift which is within each and everyone gathered here today is the most powerful gift in the world
        • A gift to change our community
        • A gift to change the world
      • It does not matter whether some will want to hold you back, remind you of your past, your exuberant youth, your occasional (or in my case) frequent mistakes
      • The Gospel message has no need of the past
      • The Good News takes us into the future with hope.

Amen