Sunday 27 September 2009
Reading Numbers 11.4-6,10-16,24-29
4The rabble among the people had a strong craving; and the Israelites also wept again, and said, ‘If only we had meat to eat! 5We remember the fish we used to eat in Egypt for nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic; 6but now our strength is dried up, and there is nothing at all but this manna to look at.’
10Moses heard the people weeping throughout their families, all at the entrances of their tents. Then the LORD became very angry, and Moses was displeased. 11So Moses said to the LORD, ‘Why have you treated your servant so badly? Why have I not found favour in your sight, that you lay the burden of all this people on me? 12Did I conceive all this people? Did I give birth to them, that you should say to me, “Carry them in your bosom, as a nurse carries a sucking child,” to the land that you promised on oath to their ancestors? 13Where am I to get meat to give to all this people? For they come weeping to me and say, “Give us meat to eat!” 14I am not able to carry all this people alone, for they are too heavy for me. 15If this is the way you are going to treat me, put me to death at once – if I have found favour in your sight – and do not let me see my misery.’
16So the LORD said to Moses, ‘Gather for me seventy of the elders of Israel, whom you know to be the elders of the people and officers over them; bring them to the tent of meeting, and have them take their place there with you.’
24So Moses went out and told the people the words of the LORD; and he gathered seventy elders of the people, and placed them all around the tent. 25Then the LORD came down in the cloud and spoke to him, and took some of the spirit that was on him and put it on the seventy elders; and when the spirit rested upon them, they prophesied. But they did not do so again.
26Two men remained in the camp, one named Eldad, and the other named Medad, and the spirit rested on them; they were among those registered, but they had not gone out to the tent, and so they prophesied in the camp. 27And a young man ran and told Moses, ‘Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp.’ 28And Joshua son of Nun, the assistant of Moses, one of his chosen men, said, ‘My lord Moses, stop them!’ 29But Moses said to him, ‘Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the LORD’s people were prophets, and that the LORD would put his spirit on them!’
Gospel Mark 9.38-50
38John said to Jesus, ‘Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.’ 39But Jesus said, ‘Do not stop him; for no one who does a deed of power in my name will be able soon afterwards to speak evil of me. 40Whoever is not against us is for us. 41For truly I tell you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ will by no means lose the reward.
42If any of you put a stumbling-block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea. 43If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than to have two hands and to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. 45And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame than to have two feet and to be thrown into hell. 47And if your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and to be thrown into hell, 48where their worm never dies, and the fire is never quenched.
49For everyone will be salted with fire. 50Salt is good; but if salt has lost its saltiness, how can you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.’
- Ever had your computer go wrong?
- Screen all messes up
- Won’t connect to the Net
- Won’t do what it did perfectly well before
- Ever come home and found your TV recorder did not start, or recorded another channel?
- Ever tried to reset time on microwave or cooker after a Cheddington mini power cut?
- Not like a washing machine that floods or
- Burglar alarm that goes off in the night
- Car that breaks down
- In this case you call in an expert
- Some things you are expected to do yourself
- Read instruction book?
- Call helpline in Mumbai?
- Retry, cancel or abort!
- Many people resort to 14-year old next door
- You can’t see how they fix it
- Fingers move too quickly
- Still powerless next time
- We all want to be in control
- Take charge
- Feel we can cope whatever happens
- Get upset and angry when things go wrong
- Want to do everything ourselves
- Bad for us
- Bad for those who are learning
- Some of us think only they can do things properly
- So they try and do everything themselves
- High standards
- Poor leaders who don’t motivate others
- Moses not a natural leader
- Called by God
- Could not speak
- Needed Aaron
- Panicked easily
- Could not let go
- Thought he had to do everything himself
- Children of Israel had been wandering round Sinai 40 years complaining
- About to enter promised land
- Led by pillar of cloud and fire
- Fed with Manna and water
- Now had a strong craving
- Would trade freedom for meat and fish
- Hankered after cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, garlic
- Bit like a Jamie Oliver programme
- Criticised look of Manna – like gum resin
- All Moses could hear was weeping and complaining
13Where am I to get meat to give to all this people? For they come weeping to me and say, “Give us meat to eat!” 14I am not able to carry all this people alone, for they are too heavy for me. 15If this is the way you are going to treat me, put me to death at once
- Did he ask God to provide?
- No, he felt the entire burden fell on him
- When Moses succumbed to his misery, God stepped in
- God did two things (note the order)
- Forced Moses to delegate – nominated 70 elders who could help – called them to a meeting
- Provided quails for people to eat
- In today’s gospel from Mark, disciples complain about others who are healing in Jesus' name but not from their own group
- They tried in vain to stop them
- Jesus replied:
‘Do not stop him; for no one who does a deed of power in my name will be able soon afterwards to speak evil of me. 40Whoever is not against us is for us.
- Language used by Jesus shows us how important is this aspect of our faith
- If we can’t let go
- If we have to do everything ourselves
- If we believe there is only one way things have to be done – our way
- What message does this give to those who are more impressionable, younger or still seeking for the truth?
- What did Jesus say to those disciples who wanted to put a stop others teaching and healing in his name?
42If any of you put a stumbling-block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea.
- Language gets even more dramatic:
If your hand or foot causes you to stumble, cut it off. If your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out.
- Then Jesus goes on to talk about salt. What does he mean?
49For everyone will be salted with fire.
- No one knows for sure
- What does it say to you?
- Fire burns – salt seasons
- Today we have baptism of Alex Humble
- This is one occasion where I will not be letting go
- Also First Communion
- As we pray for Alex + family + visitors
- And those taking communion for first time
- Let’s remember dramatic words of Christ
- Not act as a stumbling block
- Support and empower those who work with children and young people
- Let go of our cherished ways of doing things and help those seeking after truth.