Readings: Lectionary Year B, Proper 9 (related)
Ezekiel 2.1-5 A prophet must speak God’s words, whether people listen or not.
2 Corinthians 12.2-10 God works not despite but by way of Paul’s weakness.
Mark 6.1-13 The disciples go out materially “weak” but with spiritual power.

Jesus sends out his disciples. St. James’ church, Newton in the Isle.
Do the disciples’ serious expressions mirror our worries about evangelism?

Some thoughts on the readings

– The three readings share a common thread of God’s power being independent of our human efforts: Ezekiel’s hearers may not listen, Paul’s physical weakness remains, the disciples are vulnerable and dependent on others, but in each case, God’s mission continues in God’s own power and authority.
– As part of that mission, we as God’s people must proclaim God’s word. Not everyone will listen, but it’s all right to move on. God will not give up: others will come, and the seed of truth we planted may bear fruit for someone else.
– Paul speaks of a “thorn in the flesh”: it’s clearly some sort of physical issue, possibly with his eyes (see Galatians 4:15). We don’t know for certain, but it shows God can work not just despite, but even through our weakness.
– Prophecy is not about “telling the future”, it’s about telling the present, and pointing out the consequences if things don’t change. It’s rarely popular.

Suggestions for further Bible reading

Isaiah 6:1-10 An astonishing vision of God’s glory begins Isaiah’s life as a prophet, and he’s eager to start, but God warns him that people won’t listen.
Hebrews 4:12 God’s word has the power, which human words often don’t, to get right to the heart of matters and change both people and situations.
Judges 6:11-16 Gideon hears God’s call to defeat Israel’s enemies, and protests his weakness and insignificance. He is told that God will supply the power.

What other passages come to mind when you read today’s readings?

Points for Prayer

– Give thanks for faithful prophets who speak God’s word into their situations, not worrying whether anyone is paying attention, but because God requires it.
– Pray for farmers struggling with the weather just now, and with an uncertain regulatory environment more widely: ask God to give them wisdom.
– In this season of fêtes and festivals, pray they will be occasions for building and strengthening relationships between neighbours and within communities.

Points for Action

– In this dry spell, think about your use of water – there are lots of tips from Anglia Water at https://www.anglianwater.co.uk/environment/how-you-can-help/using-water-wisely/summer-waterwise-tips.aspx
– Think of someone whose opinion you value on current affairs: let them know their influence on you, both to encourage them, and to remind you to listen.

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