Monday, 17 July 2017

Sermon Sunday 17th July: How are we remembered?

There are many people, indeed most, that we do not know, but there are some people we have all heard of!  One of these is Mark, the writer of the second gospel. This was probably the first to be written; some suggest that it might have been Peter's gospel, Mark acting more as his scribe.  Apart from the gospel, there is very little that we know of Mark, but what we know can encourage us.

The first reference is an embarrassing incident (Mk 14:51), where most think that the young man who ran away naked was Mark himself.  Definitely an embarrassment, but then all the disciples should have been upset by Gethsemane - they all failed!  And that applies to us as well, as it was our sin that took Jesus there and to the cross.  Incidentally, it was right for Mark to leave his clothes, right to avoid unnecessary suffering.  If he had held he would have been arrested.  Is that us?            Do not be captured by possessions!  They can easily hinder our service, possess us and not we them.  "The love of money is the root of all evil" (1 Tim 6:10).

The second reference is another embarrassment (Acts 15:36).  Paul and Barnabas fell out over Mark, who had let them down.  He was then rejected by Paul, who quarrelled with Barnabas and separated from him.  There was a "sharp contention", surely wrong? And indeed Paul later specifically rejects contention (1 Cor 13:5).  Indeed later, Paul changed his mind (2 Tim 4:12).  We should be willing to admit mistakes.  We should just note that Mark's weakness was even after seeing the cross and a miracle (Acts 12:12).  Faith comes from more than even wonderful experiences such as this, but is God's gift to us.

After that experience, Mark was taken on by Barnabas, his uncle (Col 4:10).  Barnabas' name means "son of encouragement", and he lived up to it.  We should encourage our children, and especially our children in the Lord, seeking to build them up, and accepting that all fail from time to time.  The Holy Spirit, the comforter, works through us.

Mark was one who knew failure - like each of us, but then, like all of us, including Paul, found the power of Christ over weakness (2 Cor 12:9).

Mark then became a great disciple, as a great helper!  He was not one of the twelve, but did a wonderful service.  Not all are called to lead, not all are called to preach; the church is a "body" (1 Cor 12:4f), made up of people with many different inter-relating ministries.  Mark found his ministry in writing, and as such is still helping us and the Church as a whole.

In that he was guided by the Holy Spirit in inspiration.  He left a legacy and possibly even more; there is a tradition that he was the originator of the Coptic church, very strong in Egypt and surrounding countries.

How are we remembered?

Prof David T Williams