Thursday midweek communion at St Giles – 27 January 2011
Gospel Mark 4
Christ was revealed in flesh, proclaimed among the nations
and believed in throughout the world.
When the Gospel is announced the reader says
Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to N.
All Glory to you, O Lord.
A Lamp on a Stand
21 He said to them, “Do you bring in a lamp to put it under a bowl or a bed? Instead, don’t you put it on its stand? 22 For whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open. 23 If anyone has ears to hear, let them hear.”
24 “Consider carefully what you hear,” he continued. “With the measure you use, it will be measured to you—and even more. 25 Those who have will be given more; as for those who do not have, even what they have will be taken from them.”
This is the Gospel of the Lord.
All Praise to you, O Christ.
This one’s for Philip – who likes a simple gospel message every now and then. What could be simpler than the lampstand?
Sunday’s sermon was about the shining light. Not based on gospel, but Isaiah 9: The people walking in darkness have seen a great light. Prophecy referred to lands of Zebulun and Naphtali, who were prey to invasion and exploitation. Could not be protected by rest of Israel. Located at far north – Galilee.
Prophecy was that into their deep darkness of domination by foreign powers comes the shining light of the Messiah. To us, the interpretation is Jesus the Messiah, as a shining light coming into the world as an epiphany. God breaking into the world through the incarnation of Christ.
When Jesus talks of the light, he is referring to himself. The light of the gospel. The parable he tells is about those who have seen the light. They have accepted it. But instead of radiating the light to others, they hide the light under a bushel, as the AV says. They put it under the bed, or beneath a bucket rather than lifting it high onto a stand.
Why do they do this? Because they are ashamed of the light. It is for them, but not something they want to admit to others in case they are ridiculed or accused of preaching to them.
It’s all a misunderstanding of the nature of the gospel. Rarely are we asked to preach. Hardly ever do we have to justify our faith by what we say. When did you last enter into a theological discussion with anyone about religion?
No – we show forth the light by what we are, as much as what we say. How we act, especially towards others. If our light is held high, others will be able to see it. We don’t have to attach a loudspeaker to the light. What we are is normally sufficient.
But there may still come a time when we have to stand up and be counted. And we must be prepared to stick our necks out when that time arises. This is what the last part of the reading means.
Our response to the gospel should be whole hearted. We must not hold back. If an explanation of our faith is required, it must be a full one.
With the measure you use, it will be measured back to you – and even more. It’s a market analogy. If you shortchange someone in your dealings with them, you will get that reputation and you will be shortchanged in return. It’s a quid pro quo.
So in God’s eyes, those who have will be given more; as for those who do not have, even what they have will be taken away from them.
Transparency – that’s the modern term. It means nothing is hidden. All is clear. All is on display, and there’s nothing that is opaque in the gospel. But that carries a responsibility – the way we act and the way we explain must be like the light, clear for all to see and understand, not obscured or hidden.
Nothing can be clearer or simpler than that, Philip…