This blog will include the sermons I have preached as a lay minister with the Anglican Parish of South Queens in the Diocese of NS and PEI in the Anglican Church of Canada. Because my preaching schedule varies, the frequency of postings will vary.
I hope that these sermons will enrich your spiritual life as much as they have enriched mine.
Saturday, 18 July 2015
Mark 6:30-34,53-56 The Compassion of Christ
How many of you have had days
where you’re rushing from one appointment, event or chore to another without
having time to get rest or have a decent meal? How many of you have had days
that have been so busy that you didn’t have time to cook and instead went to a
fast food restaurant? It’s not surprising, especially considering our
fast-paced, hectic lifestyles.
For example, in his book,
“Fast Food Nation: the Dark Side of the All American Meal,” New York Times
reporter Eric Schlosser wrote the following:
“Over the last three decades,
fast food has infiltrated every nook and cranny of American Society…..in 1970,
Americans spent about $6 billion on fast food; in 2000, they spent more than
$110 billion. Americans now spend more money on fast food than on higher education,
personal computers, computer software or new cars.”
Fast food restaurants have an
impact on our lives that is hard to overstate. In fact, someone once said that
the Golden Arches of McDonald’s are more widely recognized than the Christian
cross. Part of the problem is that we have trouble setting boundaries in our
Jesus set an example for
setting boundaries and limits. He said yes many times, but he also said no many
times. When the demands on him became too great and he found himself physically
and spiritually exhausted, he withdrew to a private place. He recognized that
he needed time to stop, reflect, pray and nourish his inner life. After all, he
was God, but he was also human, and along with that came the physical needs of
nourishment and rest.
There is an uneasy balance
between retreat and meeting people’s needs. If we want to be like Jesus we have
to be moved by people’s pain and do what we can to ease their pain. At the same
time, we must educate them with a clear explanation of the Gospel. How we do
this is a question each of us has to answer for ourselves because the answer
will be different for each of us. The answer will depend on the gifts God has
Jesus displayed his concern
for practical matters. Despite the fact that he was tired, he ministered to the
needy souls because they needed spiritual leadership. Jesus showed compassion
by staying to teach them. Compassion
arises within Jesus when he sees the same sign in the crowd that he sees in a
flock of sheep without a shepherd. They were lost, hysterical, wandering
aimlessly and hopeless. Jesus understood their needs and responded in
compassion. We are the same. On our own, we are defenseless. We are not united.
Each and every one of us tries to do our own thing. We are vulnerable just like
sheep are vulnerable without a shepherd.
Jesus chose to help the people
without taking advantage of them. He helped them by teaching them, organizing
them, speaking for them and feeding them. He taught them many things to build
the foundation of truth that would sustain them when life was hard and he was
not with them in person.
The people wanted miracles
because they believed they could not meet their own needs, but Jesus kept
asking them to feed each other. He kept telling them they could meet their own
needs in one another and find the fullness of life they sought in one another.
They needed to believe in themselves.
We also want miracles today.
Sometimes we believe that we can’t meet our own needs, but in reality we can
meet our own needs in each other. We can find fullness of life when we come
together in fellowship and worship. We can believe in ourselves. As the late
Pastor Robert H. Schuller once said, “If you can dream it, you can do it.”
Jesus doesn’t discriminate
when it comes to healing. He doesn’t sort out easy diseases or desirable
people. What he does look for is a show of faith and determination. He does not
force healing on anyone nor does he reward those who play games. He even healed
the thankless, the hardened and the selfish. Remember the story of the ten
lepers? Jesus healed all of them, but only one returned and gave thanks to
Jesus. Jesus set the example for caring and we as members of the church need to
follow this example. The church needs to have the same reputation today. The
church needs to address both the spiritual and the physical needs of the
people. The church needs to be a servant church.
If we want to lead like Jesus,
we have to touch and change the lives of those around us. We have to be aware
of the needs of those around us and use our resources to meet their needs. We
need to have compassion for other people. We must not see people as an
interruption. We must see them as an opportunity to reveal God’s loving care
and compassion to meet their needs. We have to see people as God sees
them-sheep who need a shepherd. The best way to know that we’re looking at life
the way God does is to consider how we see other people. That’s the true test
of our spiritual maturity.
Jesus had compassion for the
crowd, but he also had compassion for his disciples. His disciples had just
returned from a long and exhausting ministry trip, so he told them to come and
rest awhile. They didn’t have time to eat. Discipleship has to strike a balance
between service and renewal. Without this balance, the stress can be
All of us need time alone with
Christ. Only he can heal and renew our tired bodies. This is especially true
because of modern technology. We have instant access to one another, but we
can’t escape this access. We need to take a Sabbath or a sabbatical from
technology just like we need to take a Sabbath and spend time with God. Our
Christian life is a marathon, not a sprint. We need to have endurance to reach
our heavenly rest. We need diligence in serving the Lord and diligence in
taking time to rest. If we don’t take time to rest, we will come apart
physically. Medicine tells us that many of our physical problems are a result
of the lack of rest. We will also come apart spiritually if we don’t take time
for spiritual renewal and time with God.
When we come away to our own
deserted places, we are renewed and refreshed by God’s love. God is with us in
our joys and our trials. God will be with us to the end. Jesus looks on us with
compassion as he teaches us that we belong to him. We can go on in our daily
lives and share God’s love and truth.
Jesus means compassion. He
knows what we need. We need Jesus to save us from ourselves. We need Jesus to
save us from evil. We need Jesus to do more for us than what we hope or imagine
that he ought to do in any given situation. Jesus’ compassion and authority will
help us to get through the storms of life. They will also cast out our
sin-filled nature. We will be cleansed and made pure, and we will have access
to a God that loves us very much. Jesus is available. His presence is sure. His
strength is positive. He fills the emptiness of our lives. We serve a
When we come to a deserted
place, God welcomes us with his healing grace and peace. He renews us and sends
us out to share his gifts with the world. When we get tired, we come to God for
rest and refreshment, and then the cycle continues. Churches are called on to
be those deserted places where we can find the rest and refreshment God wants
to give us. The church provides an experience of God’s grace, peace and
healing. When we are renewed by the church, we can go out into the world and
show God’s love and compassion to a hurting world.
1.Jeremiah, David: The Jeremiah Study Bible, NKJV (Brentwood,
TN: Worthy Publishing; 2013)
2.McKenna, D.L. &
Ogilvie, L.J.: The Preacher’s Commentary
Series, Vol 25: Mark (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc.; 1982)