Matthew 10:24-39 + Jeremiah 20: 7-13
Apparently, Nancy Reagan once said – A woman is like a tea bag. It’s only when she is hot water that you realise how strong she is.
I’m sure this applies to men too, but you might want to agree with her???
In our Jeremiah reading he is having a moan … he had been asked by God to be a prophet and he is finding it tough, tougher than he thought perhaps, tougher than he thought was fair ….
Then in Matthew we see a similar theme – Jesus is talking to the 12 as he sends them out …. ‘it will be tough; you will meet opposition’ he is saying but ‘just keep in mind that I am the one sending you,so when this does happen, don’t take it personally it is Me & my Father they are objecting to.’
Jesus urges them to be bold and proclaim what He has been doing & telling them, to pass on what they have learned and experienced.
We know with hindsight that this was indeed going to be a challenging commission. The early church faced many difficulties and were scattered to far ends of the earth, mainly because of persecution. This was not the disaster they may have imaginedthough … it was instrumental in taking this new gospel out to others.
I can’t help but think perhaps this is what is happening today??
We are caught up in a time of unprecedented difficulty and we are being driven out too – out of our comfort zones of; meeting for Sunday worship, sticking to the same patterns, same methods, same patterns of worship, same liturgy, same activities.
This is not the disaster we imagine either ….
We are being called to think outside of the box, to look at what we are learning, that we might not normally have considered.
Called to a new way of working perhaps …
What might that look like? I think we are being dropped some large hints:
Some of us who are not key workers have more time on our hands – we have been able, forced maybe, to slow down.
When going to the supermarket – we have been reminded not to take anything for granted, i.e. flour. I don’t know about you? but this caused me to be more grateful for what I do have.
We have seen more people looking out for each other. Chatting ‘over the fence’ getting shopping. The local band of volunteers – Felixstowe Helping Hands & so much more.
We have found different ways of working as a church, ie Zoom, Radio, email and even snail mail – reaching more people, different people, some who would not normally go into any church. Not going to the far ends of the earth physically perhaps, but by technology.
Then there’s the little things – like a note of encouragement through the door, chatting to those we don’t know very well via Zoom coffee time.
This has been a steep learning curve for all of us – just as there was for the disciples in our reading but Jesus asks us to persevere, to learn from Him, knowing we don’t do any of this on our own.
We are precious to Him, & God notices even the little things, like 2 sparrows, we are so precious that He knows us through and through, right down to the number of hairs on our head.
Jesus says, ‘So don’t be afraid; you are worth many sparrows.’
It’s been a bumpy ride recently and the road ahead, as we find new ways of being church, may still be bumpy, but he walks with us.
Remember – it’s only when we are in hot water, we realise, with God’s help, how strong we are.
Prayer Poem by Nick Fawcett
Lord you don’t promise us comfort and wealth,
freedom from sickness, immaculate health:
faith brings no pledge of exemption from pain,
troubles oppress us again and again,
tragedies cause us to grieve and despair
sometimes their burden too painful to bear;
visions are shattered and hopes turned to dust,
prayer seems in vain, though we still try to trust.
Yet though such trials turn out to be true,
still I believe you will help me get through there by my side when I can’t carry on,
offering strength when all other has gone.
Even in sorrow you somehow bring joy
peace that no trials can ever destroy.
Light in the darkness continues to shine
turning the water of life into wine.