Rev. Alex Wilson
September 9, 2018
Rev. Alex Wilson

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Mark 7: 24-37

There is that familiar smell in the air again. That fresh, crisp, newness that comes with the start of a new school year. That feeling of the unknown as kids move into new classrooms, select new courses, as we try new things, and look back longingly at a summer which felt like it was full of freedom and never ending fun. Now there is a sense of having to get down to business and accomplish something, but what are we here to accomplish? I wonder if it is less about accomplishing something, and more about being present to the moment which the start of fall brings to us. The changing of seasons, colours, smells, needs, the world changes and we change with it. I wonder if fall is more than just the start of new programs, but the beginning of our re-orientation to the Holy in our everyday lives; something our gospel challenges us today with.

Mark's Gospel, being our earliest one, is abrupt in its content and style. As we continue to hear over these last few weeks, there is little detail in Marks account of Christs life beyond the necessary details. Jesus did this, said this, went there. Details matter and Mark is pointing us back into the deeper relationship his readers would have had with scripture. Mark you see is reminding us that what he is writing is a story with which we would be intimately aware of because we have been to these places. The gospel isn’t about something far gone, rather it is about a witness of life which is our life. While we may not live in the same way Jesus did, as humans who share the same flesh as Jesus, our concerns and worries are recognizable. Jesus today is doing something we are familiar with in terms of his actions. He is healing and visiting with people. These are things he does alot for us in scripture, so why is today any different? We are different today because there is an invitation to re-orientation to this story which comes from an unusual source.

Think about it for a moment, here is Jesus doing his normal rounds of healings and signs showing us that he really is the Messiah, and we maybe kinda start to think its true. Suddenly among us is a woman who is clearly not one of us, demanding Jesus heal her just like the rest of us. She is challenging the conventions of her time to stay silent, keep her head down, and don’t make waves. Now in our midst she both dares to ask for what she needs, as well as reminds Jesus that her humanity will not be cast aside by his dismissive comments. In our midst, she is daring to re-orient her life to engage with the holy. She has not lived a life of perfect piety, she has not followed all the rules- but she knows that she belongs as much as the others, and reminds Jesus that she wants to feel and be in the same way the others in her midst are. This movement to the fullness of her desire to live a faithful life which is capable of reaching for the holy in her everyday gives us pause to think about our own re-orientions and how we might start our fall together?

To faithfully engage with the holy in our everyday lives, to re-orient or turn towards the holy, takes time and lots of practice. Indeed, that is why our liturgy exists in the same format. Rather than bore us into our afterlife, it is a frame from which we are able to hang our lives greatest questions and space to practice this thing called a Christian Life. In the rhythm of our common life together here as Christians, our liturgy is a source of reaching out to God while being met by a god who is reaching out to us via the scriptures, prayers, and Eucharist. Yet for the woman in our Gospel, her life was not remembered for her sunday attendance or her piety. Her importance was the way in which she wanted to orient her everyday life- which is to Jesus. This fall, we have a number of ways for us to, like her, continue to practice our re-orientation our re-turning to Jesus:

  • I invite you this fall to join a life group, we will be running Pilgrim again, continuing our Rosary group, and digging into the bible with a study group. Come out and learn more about the faith we share in Jesus, so that we can share that faith with those we know and love.
  • I invite you this fall to join in the work of ministry here in this parish via the neighbourhood ministry, as a server, or reader, or greeter, or choir member. Consider offering your talents and time to the Glory of God in our neighbourhood.
  • I invite you this fall to join in our collaborative ministry with our sister parishes as we offer a joint Evensong with St. Mary’s Kerrisdale, or a shared bible study with Uhill United.

This fall we begin again the work of stretching out our hands, grounded in the Eucharist, to touch the purpose of our lives which is Jesus. This fall we again have many opportunities to  practice our re-orientation to Jesus in order to continue living in faithful witness to his centrality in our everyday lives as Christians. Jesus is calling you and I to faithfully engage the holy in our everyday lives together in our world beyond Sunday morning. How will you respond?