The third sermon in our 'I will tell' series was preached by Angie Milne, the newest member of the Living Brook ministry team, on the first two Sundays in February 2019.
Julia and Steve have already started our Sermon Series with the theme of I Will Tell.
I – meaning each of us
Will- doing something even if it feels a little uncomfortable
Tell- tell the story of Jesus and all his wonderful deeds
Julia spoke to us about her meeting with the distressed young man in the park that led to a journey of faith for him. And Steve spoke about the Monk and his retreat and how rather than shouting about his faith he developed a quieter existence that drew people to him.
So where do I begin…..I Will Tell started long before Jesus arrived. A few weeks ago, a reading from the book of prophets Isaiah chapter 62 started “I will not keep silent”, what was Isaiah refereeing to? Isaiah chapter 35 verse 4 tells us “be strong do not fear, your God will come to save you. Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped”. Was this the talk of a Messiah that will come.
Mark shares with us in his gospel the wonderful miracles and deeds carried out by Jesus in his early days of ministry, Jesus’ disciples witness his miracles and listen to his wisdom and correctly identify him as the messiah.
Healing the deaf and mute man just as predicted by Isaiah. The gospel of Mark chapter 7 verses 31-37 tells us ‘Jesus left the vicinity of Tyre and went into the region of Decapolis. There some people brought to him a man who was deaf and could hardly talk, and begged for Jesus to place his hand on him.
Jesus took the man aside away from the crowds, Jesus put his fingers into his ears. Then spat and touched the man’s tongue. He looked up to heaven with a deep sigh said to him ‘Ephphatha’ which means BE OPEN. The man’s ears opened his tongue loosened and he began to speak plainly.
Jesus commanded them not to tell anyone, but the more he did, the more they kept talking about it. People were overwhelmed with amazement. He has done everything well they said. He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak’.
Why did Jesus command them not to tell, was it because he did not want to draw attention to himself with large crowds forming around him having just arrived in a new region, he didn’t want to cause trouble, especially with the leaders of Jerusalem. Was Jesus worried, that the messages about his miracles would somehow change and not be accepted for the miracles that they were. But how could they not tell of Jesus’s good deeds, they had just witnessed something amazing they were overwhelmed, why would they not share this news? Why would they not BE OPEN.
Perhaps Jesus asking them not to talk was a way of getting them to talk more, you know it’s one of those occasion’s, when your best friend calls you to one side and says, ‘I’ve got something really important to tell you but you’ve got to promise me you won’t tell anyone else’ what goes through your head … who can I tell first or perhaps I won’t tell them all of it, just a bit of the story. Whilst you listen as the story unfolds, in your head you decide if you should keep it quiet to yourself or tell everyone else. There’s always that person you know that if the story is told to them then everyone will hear about it. We are all very good at spreading the news about something amazing that we’ve seen or heard.
So why should spreading the news of Jesus be any different? We are all disciples called to spread the good news, are we sometimes embarrassed about our faith or is it that some people just don’t get it, how can they after all we didn’t witness these miracles? Every week when you come to church and listen to the readings, gospel and sermon your ears are being opened to the teachings of God sometimes, there is a message in them that really affects you, it may be a word, a sentence but something. Do you then go home and talk about that message and how it affected you. Or is it that you’ve never spoken about your faith or shared it, are you by not sharing denying everyone of this amazing relationship that you have. What I’m asking you to do is BE OPEN at home, at work, with friends, family with people you meet. BE OPEN about the good deeds that Jesus did but also about your relationship with Jesus. When was the last time you asked a friend to come along to a service with you, maybe they are just waiting for you to ask? I’m sure we all ask friends to come along and support our amazing church events and cream teas but how about a service?
In our Gospel reading Luke chapter 5 verses 1-11 Luke tells us - Jesus was in the fishing boats with Simon Peter preaching just from the edge of the shore. When he had finished he said “put into deep water and let down your nets”. When the nets were cast and a bounty of fish was caught, Simon Peter was amazed. He fell at Jesus’s knees and said ‘go away from me Lord I am a sinful man’– but Jesus said don’t be afraid, from now on you will fish for people.
A few weeks ago in a Sermon from Beverley she asked us to choose slips of paper with words on – mine was COURAGE – Well I believe that’s what we all need, the courage to BE OPEN speak and share the news about Jesus, there are some people that won’t listen, some that will question you and that’s fine. We have to trust in all the stories in the bible, even though we didn’t hear or see them unlike Simon Peter but he also needed courage to BE OPEN and follow Jesus. If our ears are opened to the teachings of God will our tongues be loosened to share them…will you have the courage to BE OPEN?
Jesus is sometimes called Immanuel – God with us, that’s what God had in mind for Jesus to be with us and that’s what he has in mind for us – to just be with other people and talk, BE OPEN and have the courage to tell. So, when you’re standing in the queue at the shop or in the school playground that might just be the place where God need’s you to be and start talking, sometimes it’s just about what’s in your basket or the weather but occasionally the conversation goes a bit further…. maybe it’s the day that you talk to that person and it’s the spark or invitation they needed.
So that’s what I’m asking you to think about and do – BE OPEN – about your faith and your relationship with God – BE OPEN to Jesus – and tell. Tell the good news of Jesus.
So what’s my story……..
My best friend has two daughters neither have been baptised my friend wanted her children to choose, she comes from a semi practising catholic background and her husband is Church of England. As families we go on holidays and camping trips together and whilst the men sit around drinking and playing music us ladies and children tend to go off to the local towns for coffee and always a visit to the local churches- they call that part the Angie pilgrimage. My friend has always been aware of my faith and the children are just beginning to recognise it. They have started to question me about bits in the bible and things we see on our visits to the churches, wow Lucky for me my work with Gill and the school’s team has helped me to remember a few bits from around the church I’ve even impressed myself!!!!
Her eldest daughter is now at university, we don’t see her as often. We met for coffee during the Christmas holidays where she couldn’t wait to tell me about a trip, for her mum’s birthday. A 3-day Angie style pilgrimage to Rome. To explore and learn more about her faith ……. And when she’s home she want’s to come to an Elevenses service.
So the message I would like to leave you all with today is