September - Minister's letter

Dear friends.

It was my birthday in August and my sister gave me the most wonderful present – a day out sailing the Broads on a Wherry Yacht. It was a glorious, relaxing day and the other passengers were excellent company too. It was a special occasion for both Wendy and myself, as a distant relative of ours was a wherry captain, so I was especially lucky to be allowed to steer for a while by the skilled and friendly skipper.

Another highlight of the day was when we stopped for lunch. Everyone had brought items to share, and we all enjoyed a terrific meal.

Thinking back over the day it reminded me of an occasion where the disciples were on a boat with Jesus and had forgotten the lunch and could only find one bread roll. The story is in Mark 8: 14-21 and follows on from the feeding of the four thousand. Having just seen what faith could do Jesus challenges them over their concerns; “Why are you talking about not having any bread? Don’t you understand?”

Putting the issue about bread to one side, I find this and several other passages in the Gospels quite reassuring, because if even the disciples didn’t always understand – then that gives all of us hope. Searching for meaning is a part of our faith because that is how these ancient stories become relevant for us in the here and now. And it’s perfectly ok that we may not always understand what’s going on – this is part of human nature.

I think Jesus knew this too, as the writer of a daily devotional wisely commented on this passage recently – look at the words of Jesus in a different light. How about, instead of reading His words a rebuke, what about reframing them with a smile instead. Then the comments come over as a bit of ribbing and encouragement. It’s quite natural not to always ‘get it’ first time when we turn to a Bible passage, we may not quite understand a piece of teaching first time, but I rather like the idea of Jesus, with a smile on His face, encouraging us to try.