Communicating what our belief means to us

Mary Copping, 4 July 2021

Ezekiel 2: 1–5; Mark 6: 1–13

On Thursday, I came home and plugged my phone in, because it was very low on charge. Nothing happened. Then I thought, blow into it, maybe there’s dust in the socket. Plugged it in. Nothing happened. So I phoned someone, and they said, it’s alright, use a cocktail stick to get the dust out of the socket. So I used that, plugged it in, nothing. So I thought, I’ve got to go and get a new charger. So I drove off to Tesco and bought a charger, and the young man there, who sold me the charger, told me, you might have to put the phone in for repair, and I was thinking, oh my goodness, no. That’s the only communication I have, especially if I’m at home. Very worried. So I thought, right, this charger’s got to be the answer. So I came back home, plugged it in, nothing.

So, one minute later, the boiler flared into action, a light came on –there’d been a power cut! You couldn’t make it up, could you? This got me thinking about communication or lack of it.

We thank God for all the ways we have been able to communicate over this pandemic – phone, text, email, live-streaming, filming, FaceTime, Zoom – so many ways we’ve been able to communicate. And we’ve been so good in our churches at communicating with each other, and that has been a real blessing. But of course that doesn’t make up for meeting other people, does it? It’s so lovely to be able to meet in this church today.

In our reading, Jesus is sending the disciples out to tell people the good news of the kingdom. He tells them not to take anything with them except a staff. In fact, in Matthew and Luke, they say don’t take a staff either. So the disciples didn’t take their Torah, they didn’t take an instruction book on the faith, on the good news, just themselves – to communicate with the people and to tell them the good news.

I then thought about how we communicate the good news of Jesus to others. A well-known quote widely attributed to St Francis is: ‘Preach the gospel at all times and, if necessary, use words’. The emphasis here is that our loving actions to family, friends and neighbours often communicate God’s love far more than words.

Yet a verse from 1 Peter 3: 15 says, ‘Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.’ I wonder what we say to people if they ask, why do you go to church? Why are you a Christian? Isn’t it just a crutch for those who need it?

At another church I went to we were encouraged to think about some things we might say if asked these questions. This focused us on actually thinking why we’re Christians, what does our belief mean to us as individuals? It really helped us, as we wrote these things, to value our faith afresh. I wonder if at some point we might each think again, perhaps write down, what our faith means to us and how we might explain that to others if the situation arose. And if you were happy to email it to me I’d love to read it.

I thank God for the person who took the courage to say to me, when I visited her as a social worker, ‘Jesus loves you, you know’. She felt that this was what God wanted her to say to me, and she said it. At this I felt God’s love, and that was the beginning of my Christian journey. And in fact a year later when I was going past her house I went in and said, thank you so much for saying that to me all that time ago. I wonder if God is asking you to speak to anyone, or go out of your way to help anyone, to communicate his love to them.

And back to my phone. It needs power for me to be able to communicate with others and we also need power, connection with God through the Eucharist, through his word, through prayer, to communicate his love to others.

I will finish by singing a verse from a hymn:

God forgave my sin in Jesus’ name.
I’ve been born again in Jesus’ name.
And in Jesus’ name I come to you
to share his love as he told me to.
He said: ‘Freely, freely you have received;
freely, freely give.
Go in my name, and because you believe,
others will know that I live.’

[Carol Owens © 1972 Bud John Songs/EMI Christian Music Publishing, adm. CopyCare]