Sunday 3rd October


We live in times of great change, and change worries us. We fear change. And although change is happening all around us, all the time, we still struggle to manage it, to adjust and adapt to it. And yet, one of the secrets to a happy life and a strong faith is how we manage change – how we deal with the demons and the unclean spirits that reveal themselves when faced with change.

Mark tells us another story about change: Jesus returns home, at the beginning of his ministry, and his friends and neighbours, rather than welcome him, reject him – and the reason is? “Well, HE’S changed.” “Who does he think he is?!”

In fact, Jesus hadn’t changed at all – sure, he’d grown up, matured and accepted God’s call on his life, but he hadn’t CHANGED. If anything, he was more himself than he had ever been. What had changed, was their preconceptions of Jesus – he’d gone, in their minds, from the thoughtful, diligent local kid to the outspoken preacher, healer and potential troublemaker, challenging the hypocrites and those abusing their power and privilege… He wasn’t who they THOUGHT he was, he wasn’t who they WANTED him to be, he had burst out of the box in which they thought they had him contained. Just by being true to himself and true to God he had shattered their preconceived ideas…and they felt threatened.

Little did they know what was to come! Those who chose to follow him and put their faith into action soon discovered that fighting for change can be very dangerous indeed. One of the hardest things, today, is to be honest and open, and brave enough to preach the Kingdom, because to preach the Kingdom is to preach CHANGE. To pray “Thy Kingdom Come” is to pray “God, CHANGE Everything!” A vital part of our ministry together is about embracing change and not being afraid of it …

Facing their rejection, their insults, and their prejudice, what did Jesus do? He blessed them with the gift of perspective. He opened their eyes to a bigger picture – a bigger God, with these wonderful words: “Prophets are not without honour, except in their hometown”. Or to put it another way – “Prophets are respected and accepted everywhere else but right here!” Jesus made it clear that he is NOT just a local boy trying his hand at preaching, he is placing himself in a long line of radical thinkers, movers and shakers. Prophets – who see the world as it really is, grasp God’s vision of how it could be, and then dare to show how one can become the other… heaven on earth …the Kingdom come. How? Through change. Drastic, dramatic change. Transformation.

So, Jesus graciously embraced their criticism and seemed to be saying “say what you like about by family, my origins, even my legitimacy, reject me if you must, but you’re missing the point. You’re so caught up in your own prejudices that you’re overlooking what God has in store for you!”

There is another, deeper teaching here too: If people are rejecting you for speaking the truth, for having integrity and standing up for justice, compassion, truth and love… you must be doing something right!

Revd. Martin John Nicholls
Chaplain of Point in View Chapel, Exmouth 07801 055995