The right thing

Epiphany 6b – Sunday 12th February 2012
Mark 1: 40-45

Doesn’t it annoy you when people don’t do what you say? It does me.

You tell them, when you’re using the photocopier only do 19 copies in sort mode as it causes a log jam anything over 20. Then there you are, in the middle of your sermon, or worse, watching a football match, and your phone goes. It Agnes from the Bible Group: “Just trying to do 30 copies of the order of service for the Summer Bible Revival Meeting and the photocopier’s jammed. Can you sort it?” AHHHHHHHH!

But, on the other hand, how good do you feel when someone does exactly what you ask. It’s Youth Club Friday night. The following day it’s the Monthly Coffee Morning. Even though you’ve asked the Youth Club to tidy up after themselves you know it’s going to look like a bomb site. Then when you get there – can you believe it – it’s spotless! How good is that feeling?

Harry Hill says fightWhich one do you like the best? (At this point Harry Hill would shout ‘FIGHT!’)

I ask that because both those scenario’s occurred in today’s gospel reading.

A leper came to him, begging on his knees, “If you want to, you can cleanse me.” Deeply moved, Jesus put out his hand, touched him, and said, “I want to. Be clean.”

Jesus dismissed him with strict orders: “Say nothing to anyone.” But as soon as the man was out of earshot, he told everyone he met what had happened, spreading the news all over town.

In many ways this reading blows me away. Because here I discover the God who wants to do miraculous things in my life. And yet… What about those times when I want God to do something and nothing materialises? Am I not asking the right way? Am I not asking for the right thing? Am I not moving Jesus compassionately enough? Is my faith not sufficient? Why? How many people have been there and got the tee shirt?

In a moment of humility I suppose I ought to say what about the other way round? What about those times when God wants me to do something and nothing materialises? Guilty as charged, your honour. Bind up the broken-hearted, strengthen the weak, feed the hungry, welcome the stranger – who me? That’s my job? Thought it was the looking pious/reading Bible job description I’d chosen.

And rippling under the surface of both those scenario’s I can hear God saying, ‘My grace is sufficient’. But I’m weak and sometimes that doesn’t seem enough.

On those occasions when I am able to see his grace working in my life, to see the miraculous at first hand, what then? Am I a blabber-mouth? Do I shout it from the roof tops? Can I get it into 140 characters to put on Twitter? Does God have to go into hiding because I’ve made him so popular? Let me think… erm, no.

Amen!But the miraculous does happen. Can I hear an Amen?! In fact, every day is a miracle. Every day I meet with God’s amazing resurrection power – in my family, in my friends, in the beauty of the world all around me. I see his healing. I see his forgiveness. I see his love. I see his grace. And often in the most unexpected places, in the most unusual ways.

We often long for the spectacular, for the loaves-and-fishes type of miracle touch upon our lives. I reckon that blinds us to the way that God silently and gently works in us everyday. Oh yes, and another thing. The leper said, “If you want to, you can cleanse me.”Sometimes I get a sneaking suspicion that I prefer to be a sinner, rather than a saint. I ask for a miracle, but deep down I fear one happening. Wouldn’t God expect something of me in return? Could I give him that? Or is that what grace really and truly is? Amazing grace.

Happy days

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About Neil Chappell

Husband, father, Congregational Minister and football fan all rolled into one convenient package.
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