Tag Archives: disciples

Raking in the Front Yard, Shovelling in the Back!

Raking in the front yard, shovelling in the back

Here I am! Stuck in the middle again…

It’s like summer and winter out there!  Actually, in my yard that is how spring works.  My front yard clears of snow fairly quickly while the back the yard is still covered with snow.  After church today, I raked up doggie ‘left-overs’ in the front yard and then grabbed my shovel and went to get rid of the last of the snow on the back deck.  Then, after a trudge through the snow, I dug out the door to the shed and brought up the deck chairs.  This accomplished I took a rest in the bright sunshine, overlooking our winter back yard.


Life is full of contrasts like this.  Today in church the minister spoke about the apostle Thomas.  You know the one, the doubter right?  Thomas is only part of a couple of stories in the New Testament and is, by far, best known for his refusal to believe in the risen Christ until seeing and touching the wounds himself.  That was not, however, the story in today’s reading. 


Today we read about the death of Jesus’ friend Lazarus.  Jesus was sent word about his friend’s impending death and when he decided, several days later, to go back to the home of Mary, Martha and Lazarus his disciples pointed out how dangerous this would be for him.  People in that area were just waiting for a chance to kill him.  While all the other disciples were urging caution, Thomas said they should go with him and die with him.  Thomas was so far from doubting that he was willing to die for Jesus!  That, the minister pointed out, should earn Thomas the name of Brave Thomas!


The chores I did today in the front and the back yards, though very different in nature, were both headed in the same direction which is getting the yard ready for summer.  Likewise there are various chores, seemingly very different, which are needed to prepare for the coming of the kingdom of God.  Thomas the Brave went on in his life to bring the Gospel to people as far from Israel as India and his life ended in martyrdom.  He did, as he had offered that day when headed out to see Lazarus, literally die for Christ.  This is one of the things that was needed for the furtherance of the Kingdom.  There need to be people who love Christ so much that they are willing to die for him!


I can’t know my future situations and reaction, but I think I am unlikely to truly put my life on the line in the way Thomas did.  In fact, this is not in any way likely to happen to those of us in North America, nor anywhere in the developed world.  Luckily for us, we don’t need to die for Christ, we are also called to live for him.  So get out your rakes, your shovels, and whatever other tools you are called to use and get to work preparing the yard for the kingdom.

Choose Now Part 2

Think about the images of Jesus that we in Canada have seen most.  Jesus holding a lamb, Jesus welcoming the little children, Jesus the kind, the gentle, the welcoming.  Did you know that this is not how Jesus is pictured elsewhere in the world?  Images of suffering, of pain, these are the images of Jesus most common in Central and South America and other cultures which have had to deal with great suffering.  The gentle, mild Jesus is easy to follow.  But the bloody Jesus, the suffering Jesus, the abuse and ridicule and physical pain Jesus went through, this is not so easy for us.  Jesus tells the disciples that to choose Him is to choose this  far more difficult road. The road to the cross.


I have never imagined disciples leaving Jesus.  In my mind they followed and they all stayed with him until the end.  I don’t know why I didn’t recognize the all too human tendency to lose interest, to quit when things get tough.  Still, with Jesus’ real, human and immediate presence, how could you walk away and go back to your old life?  Well, that is exactly what many people did in this story.  The disciples said that what he was presenting to them was too difficult and many left him at that time.  After being part of such a radical, exciting and successful ministry, being busy every moment of the day and never really knowing where you were headed next or what the next miracle you witness might be, imagine returning to your work-a-day life.  As they walked away they must have felt a great let-down, and yet they knew that they were not ready for what Jesus required of them.   How sad!


Jesus challenged those who stayed with him, wanting to be sure that they really understood what they were getting into. “Do you also want to go away?”  How discouraging it must have been for him to see so few remain faithful.  Even though he knew that not all would believe and that one would even betray him. These people had been following him, listening and learning, how could they fail to understand?


As I said earlier, it is very hard for me to imagine walking out on Jesus.  Simon Peter wraps it all up for us I believe, when he says, “Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life.  We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”  There is no better place to be, no better one to follow, than God in Jesus Christ.  So we have chosen.  We choose the one true God!


The Ephesians reading addresses the nitty-gritty of the question.  I would paraphrase this one as, if you choose God then you need to be prepared to stand firm.  God provides us with all we need to stand firm in the “armor of God”.  What is our armor to be? “Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness.   As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace.  With all of these, take the shield of faith…Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (14-17)  In Canada these days I believe talking in terms of putting on armour for the fight is a bit of a touchy subject.  As citizens we see our troops deployed in far off lands, in harm’s way.  Many questions arise which challenge the faithful.  Is this a “just war”?  What justification can there be for war when Jesus taught peace and turning the other cheek?  This is not an easy area and not really the point of our readings today, however it needs to be noted that the question of fidelity to either God or worldly rulers is not clear-cut.  We are indeed subjects of human government.  It is in questions like this that we most need our armor.  The truth that Jesus was God, doing our best to do what is right, reliance on the sacrifice of Jesus for our salvation, believing when it is not easy, and allowing the spirit of God to open His holy word to us in our time are the tools that we need to make our way through this tricky world.


I would like to close with a simple song that we taught the children at our Vacation Bible School at St. James.


I will follow Jesus Christ

I will serve Him with my life

I have courage I have strength

I will choose Him every day


I am ready for the call of Jesus, ready for the call

Ready for the call of Jesus Christ

I am ready for the call of Jesus, ready for the call

Ready for the call of Jesus Christ!


Are we ready for the call?  Do we have the courage and the strength?  At the beginning of  every new day, whom will you choose?

Aug 27, 2006 Stanley



Old Testament-   Joshua 24:1-2a, 14-18

Responsive Reading-   Psalm 84


New Testament-  Ephesians 6:10-20

Gospel Mark – John 6:56-69