Last week in worship here at Mount Hebron Presbyterian we were thinking about “Jesus the Healer.” This week we'll be taking a look at Mark 6:1-13, a passage in which Jesus preaches to His home crowd... and does not receive a good reception. The text tells us that He could do no “works of power” among them and that “He was amazed at their unbelief.”
There is a saying that “Familiarity breeds contempt.” The oldest known use of the phrase comes in 'The Tale of Melibee' one of 'The Canterbury Tales' written by Geoffrey Chaucer around 1386. Over the years the phrase has had a number of applications.
The most common one is when we don't recognize what an amazing person somebody is, because we happen to see them every day. Such a sentiment can even apply to things we own. Our close acquaintance blinds us to the value of what we have. As Jesus explains in our passage from Mark, “A prophet is not without honor, except in his own country.”
When applied to things we own, such as tools, or engaging in dangerous activities, we discount the danger, because we are used to it. We fail to remain safe by forgetting to be respectful of the harm that can come from our familiar tools or our familiar activities.
An example I read about was the farmer who raises corn and shreds it before blowing it up into the top of the silo. The shredder frequently gets jammed. Routinely un-jamming it every day makes the farmer careless, until they, or one of their worker,s gets a hand caught and shredded. Apparently in rural communities this is not a rare occurrence. Over-familiarity can be dangerous.
If a boss is over-familiar with his workers, (or vice versa) they may lose the necessary degree of respect that makes the working environment work! In Nazareth that day, Jesus could not do the work He was called to do among the people. They dismiss His authority by saying, “Is this not the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James....(and all the rest of the family)?
Maybe the most dismissive place of all to place limits on what God can do, is the arena of our own lives. We simply can't believe that God do anything wonderful in the heartlands of our daily activities. We limit the work of God's Spirit because we dismiss the possibility of any real change happening in such a familiar place as our every day experience.
Because of familiarity, Jesus was not accepted in His homelands. He couldn't work wonders because they assumed that nothing good ever happened in their neighborhood. Let us try not to make the same mistake in our own lives. Let us be open to the possibilities that exist, even in the midst of the familiar. Let us not dismiss our lives, our families, our church, or our community as being a place where Jesus can work the miracle of Kingdom building.
For some music Hawk Nelson sing “He Still Does (Miracles)”
Note: Blog is taking a months vacation. Musings will resume in August
The Reverend Adrian J Pratt B.D.