Rejected! Ignored!

4 Jul 2021 by Neil Menger in: Sermons

Welcome to the Church

Call to Worship

We come together in this place
where the ordinary becomes sanctified
and the familiar is made new.
Make us mindful, O Prophetic One,
of your call on our lives
and of the Spirit’s power.
Fill us with holy imagination and vision
as we gather up the courage
to live as your people in this world.

Hymn TiS 154: Great is Your Faithfulness

Prayer of Adoration

How great is your name, Lord our God, through all the earth!
Your majesty is praised above the heavens.
            When we see the vastness of space, all of your making,
            the galaxies and stars you have arranged,
            we are amazed that you keep us in mind,
            that you care for us mortal humans.

Yet, you made us in your image;
            you have Jesus Christ to appear among us,
            and we are crowned with glory and honour because of his suffering and death.
            You have put all things under his feet.

We thank you, God, for bringing humankind to its destined greatness through Jesus Christ.

How great is your name, Lord our God, through all the earth!

Glory to you, for ever.


Prayer of Confession

Embracing God, you have adopted us into your family and freely given to us the life-giving salvation of Jesus Christ.  Yet we have neglected our own families, in our homes and throughout the world.
For the times when we have neglected our own families, preferring selfish pursuits, God have mercy.

For the members of our family who have hurt and wronged us, for the times when we have endured life-destroying language and embraced life-damaging relationships, God have mercy.

For the sins of the past, for the times when we have harboured ill will against our families and for the times when we have wronged them, God have mercy.

For the ways that our world limits what a family can be, and for the times we have preferred the comfort of tradition rather than the complexity of love, God have mercy.

For the struggling families of our world, families that are parented by children who have no other option, families that struggle for the basic necessities of life, families that are separated by our immigration policies, God have mercy.

For the ways that our Christian tradition has usurped the traditions of other communities of faith, limiting our family to those who profess the same things that we profess, and for the ways that we interpret God’s word so that it blesses only us, God have mercy.

God, forgive us.


Declaration of Forgiveness

Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
God is love.
Through Christ your sins are forgiven.
Take hold of this forgiveness
And live your life in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Thanks be to God.

Hymn TiS 595: O Jesus I have promised

Bible Reading: Mark 6: 1-13

Prophet Without Honour

6 Jesus left there and went to his hometown, accompanied by his disciples. 2 When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed.

“Where did this man get these things?” they asked. “What’s this wisdom that has been given him? What are these remarkable miracles he is performing? 3 Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.

4 Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honour except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.” 5 He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. 6 He was amazed at their lack of faith.

Jesus Sends Out the Twelve

Then Jesus went around teaching from village to village. 7 Calling the Twelve to him, he began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over impure spirits.

8 These were his instructions: “Take nothing for the journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in your belts. 9 Wear sandals but not an extra shirt. 10 Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town. 11 And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, leave that place and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.”

12 They went out and preached that people should repent. 13 They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.

Rejected!  Ignored!

I want to tell you about a bloke whose role in Australian psychological research and treatment was largely overlooked for many years.  I will call him John.

John was born in Victoria between the two World Wars.  Like so many other young men and women, he enlisted in the Army in 1941.  Even though he had trained as a psychiatrist, he worked mainly as a surgeon.  From February 1942 to September 1945 he was a prisoner-of-war in the infamous Changi Prison in Singapore.  It was during this time he made observations on various forms of mania.

On his return to Australia he stepped up his studies on these observations at a Repatriation Hospital in Melbourne.  His studies on the use of lithium were published in the Medical Journal of Australia in 1949.  These studies had arguably the most far-reaching effects of any discovery in psychological medicine made by an Australian.

Continual study enabled the use of lithium to be refined in the treatment of manic-depressive, or bi-polar, disorders from the 1960s.  However, it was not until 1970 that he gained international recognition being awarded multiple prizes and honours.   Today, this illness is more regularly called Bi-polar Disorder.

So, who is this person?

Most of us have heard of Dr Howard Florey, one of the developers of penicillin.  In contrast, most of us have probably never heard of Dr John Cade, the developer of the most widespread treatment for Bi-polar Disorder ever developed; a treatment that remains pre-eminent in psychiatry hospitals to this day.

It is sad that such an important contributor to the treatment of the world’s mental health remains virtually unknown today.

In some senses, Jesus was a bit like John Cade.

In the case of Jesus, Mark tells us how the people of his hometown were embarrassed by him while people in nearby towns were praising him.  I am not wanting us to think that John Cade was an embarrassment to the Melbourne medical research fraternity.  Nor am I suggesting that he was snubbed overseas.  Rather, it was the case that he worked quietly without fanfare, achieving great results, without appropriate recognition.

Today’s text contrasts the people of Nazareth with the people of the neighbouring villages.


Well, Jesus had demonstrated his power over evil spirits, sickness, nature, uncleanness, the Sabbath and sin.  These events occurred on both sides of the Sea of Galilee, areas populated in large measure by the Gentiles on the eastern side and the Jews on the western side.  Irrespective of where these events took place, those who witnessed them were amazed.

So, when he arrived back in his hometown, it is reasonable to conclude that the local residents would have heard of these miraculous events.

You would think the people of his home town, Nazareth, would have every reason to be proud.  If this happened in Sydney today, we would likely be rolling out the red carpet on the Sydney Town Hall steps and Jesus would be accorded the Keys of the City of Sydney.  Maybe he would be feted with a ticker tape parade.

But Jesus?  -- no, they don’t!  He is openly disparaged.

Did his neighbours see him as some sort of charlatan?  A witch doctor? 
Or perhaps they didn’t want their little village to be overrun by miracle-tourists?

Whilst these events occurred in his hometown of Nazareth, we can see from the first six chapters of Mark that Jesus also lived in Capernaum (on the shores of the Sea of Galilee) but the major part of his life was in Nazareth (about 1 hour by road south-west of Capernaum). 

For Jesus, Nazareth is the place he grew up; the place where his family lives and the place he would be expected to return to when he wanted to revisit his roots.   It was his place of comfort, of relaxation, of catching up with family and friends.

So, having lived in Nazareth, played and studied with other town folk and having attended the synagogue regularly, it is reasonable to conclude that he was known. You see, Nazareth was not a big town.  Maybe 500 – 1,000 people.

But on this occasion, he didn’t return for a casual visit.  No, something significant was different.  He was accompanied by his disciples, which in Jewish society meant that he was a rabbi.  Luke tells us something that the Gospel of Mark omits.  That was, Luke tells us, Jesus read from the prophet Isaiah and then stated that he was the fulfilment of the Messianic prophecy that he had just read!.

Where did this happen?

In the synagogue which is central to the religious and social life of the community.  People were always either in, or around, the synagogue, the centre of Jewish ministry and teaching.  And how about this for gratitude, having taken the pulpit to bring teaching to the people of Nazareth, he finds himself being mocked:

“Where did he get this knowledge and understanding?”

“He didn’t learn that here”.

And so on.

Because Jesus had not done any powerful deeds at Nazareth, the locals argued, the stories coming from neighbouring towns and villages must be false, or just hearsay.  How dumb is this?

So, just because Jesus was one of them, he was not well-received.  Even as a resident of some 20 years in Nazareth, some objected to his authoritative manner of teaching. 

You can imagine the scene.  Some asked: “Who does he think he is?”  Others question his authority by saying that he is not a priest, or a recognised teacher, or even a village scribe. 

Some responded: “He is a carpenter, the son of Mary.”

Why Mary?  You know as well as I do, that people are usually identified by their relationship to their father, rather than their mother!

Now, I accept that it is possible that Joseph is dead by this time, but this wouldn’t stop him being identified as Joseph’s son.

There is also a school of thought that suggests that identifying Jesus as Mary’s son may be intended as a slur on the legitimacy of his birth.

So, by identifying Jesus as a carpenter, rather than a rabbi, the local people turn against Jesus because he didn’t have the formal training required for rabbis.  The simple excuse they grasped onto was: he lacks the credentials of a teacher.  It didn’t matter what he said; he didn’t have the necessary piece of paper!  He must be a “quack”, a fake, a fraud, a scoundrel!

But this visit was also significant in another way.  This is the last time Jesus teaches in a synagogue.  From this point on, he teaches in homes and villages.  In effect, he becomes an itinerant preacher.

How poor would our society be today if every person needed to walk around with a piece of paper around their neck identifying their qualifications before they were allowed to start work on whatever. 

In verse 3 we are told “and they (the people of Nazareth) took offense at him”.  This is the first time that Jesus experiences rejection, or a lack of recognition, by ordinary Jewish people.  It may have been the first time, but it would not be the last!

We have probably heard the old saying about a prophet not being accepted in his own home town.  Well, in this reading we see Jesus taking the proverb further by including the country, his relatives and his own house.

By applying this proverb to himself, Jesus is announcing to the world that he is, indeed, a prophet, and that the people of Nazareth are guilty of rejecting him just like the people of Israel had rejected prophets so often in earlier times. 

Verse 2 tells us how he was amazed at their unbelief, yet the people, despite being fully aware of Jesus’ wisdom and mighty works, just cannot bring themselves to believe – even in spite of everything they have seen and heard.

(And we still see this happening today.)

In the case of the people of Nazareth, if the on-the-spot witnesses cannot convince them, it is hard to imagine what it would take for them to give Jesus his due.

As Jesus’ disciples today, we (personally and collectively), continue to meet rejection or being ignored, by those who hear us.

There are any number of surveys pointing to the decline and relevance of the church today in people’s lives.  The secularisation of our society appears to be accelerating as the influence of the church declines.  The Census tells us that many people have rejected the church, or just ignore it.

We are tempted to find the easiest path, but we still need Jesus!  Like Jesus, we must do what we can and continue moving forward.

This reminds me of the message delivered by Ian Robinson in February.  Simon Peter’s mother-in-law was ill and Jesus healed her.  The following morning, as was his practice, Jesus went to a deserted place to pray.  Simon Peter went looking and found him.  “Come back down to the village and do more good works!” he pleaded. But what was Jesus’ response?  “NO! we need to go forward to the neighbouring towns to share the Good News there.  So are you coming with me? Or are you going back down from whence we came?”

In other words: are you going to continue finding new ways to spread the Good News? Or return back down the hill and continue doing the same old thing (the business-as-usual model)?

This is the situation we are confronted with here in Carlingford, right now!

Are we exploring new ways to be God’s people in this area?
Or is it going to be business-as-usual? 

Are we willing, or prepared, to restructure our church so that it reflects the local community?  Be that ethnically, or reflecting the dominant age grouping?

Given the impact of the Covid pandemic on church attendance – are we comfortable with the thought that approximately 20-30 per cent of our pre‑Covid congregation did not return to in-person worship?

Given those people we think we want to fill the pews of our church each week are all younger than us, and importantly, communicate in different ways to us – are we prepared to spend time and money in designing and implementing, for example, new web portals?

Younger generations (Millennials, Gen X, Gen Z – for example) live on the computer or similar device – are we addressing the opportunity this presents?  Let’s not kid ourselves, these folks will check out our church on-line before even making a bee-line for this site.

Are we prepared to develop worship based on contemporary technology and a focus on being transformative rather than “maintaining the status quo”? 

Jesus made it clear to Simon that the “business-as-usual” model no longer works (even 2,000 years ago!).  And so it is today.  The business-as-usual model is damaged and in need of major repair, or replacement.  As our church, be it the Synod, the Presbytery or our congregation, is confronted by the new world order, how will we respond? 

Will we continue as an attractional church (whereby we continue with the “four hymn sandwich” worship service – the “business as usual” model), or re‑invent ourselves as a more expressive church better communicating with young families and youth?  How adaptable are we prepared to be? 

We are starting to see (perhaps belatedly) that God doesn’t want pew warmers; He wants passionate people who are keen to serve in the mission of the church.

More specifically, as our Church Council and the Joint Nominating Committee seek God’s guidance as to the way ahead for this congregation, will we listen to them?  Will we support them?  Will we be contributing to the discussion when the opportunities arise?  Will we be responsive to their recommendations? 

As we address the serious questions before us, let us take heed of the example given by Jesus.

Even though Jesus experienced rejection (or being ignored) in his hometown, he kept moving forward.  May that be our attitude as the Church Council and the Joint Nominating Committee seek to identify the way ahead.  

Let us give ourselves over to God’s leading into the brave new world of being church in the 3rd decade of this 21st century.  Let us take heart that no matter how challenging the moment, God is there.  God Lives!


Hymn The Source 54: Blessing and Honour

Prayer of Intercession and Lord’s Prayer

Holy and loving God, “You are our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble”.

Lord God we feel deeply that much of our world is still in trouble with the spread of the COVID 19, and we recognise a sense of fear and anxiety about the future.

As we contend with the new outbreak in many states in Australia, we ask that we place our faith in you. We believe you care deeply about all those who are affected by this pandemic. In these troubling times teach us how to be agents of peace and carriers of compassion. We pray for all who are on the front line of this battle; our medical teams, health professionals and for their patients. 

We pray for our political leaders, national and state that you would give them wisdom and insight. We pray for all who have lost loved ones to this virus, grant them comfort and courage. We pray for all who have lost their jobs or their businesses, grant them the help they need. 

We pray for all Australians that you will help us to replace fear with faith, despair with hope and kindness.  Please bring out the best in us as we face the challenge of these days,

Let us trust God. We know that he is always within reach.  He is never far away. He is close. He is with us. He cares. He heals. He restores.

We pray for those who are vulnerable and marginalised; for those whose lives have been profoundly disrupted; that through this crisis our societies may especially care for them.

God of compassion, be with us in these times of uncertainty.

In our separation, may we find connection, with you and with each other. Remind us that even when we cannot gather, we are your people, the body of Christ together. May we take up your call to be the church in your world, caring for the vulnerable, feeding the hungry, showing love and compassion and kindness to those around us.

 We know you want us to be dispersed, sent out into your world to be your church in new ways. If we are resistant to this change Lord, give us patience and resilience, for we are committed to care for each other as we care for ourselves.

We pray for families separated, and the anxiety of being unable to support or help loved ones, and for those in our own families that have had, or are having health problems, and need your loving hands laid upon them.

We pray for those we know who are sick and not well within our Church family, for those who have had recent operations, may they have a speedy recovery.  We pray for Gail, who is leading or Church till the end of October. Be with her and her studies and activities that she has planned for us in the next months.

We commend to you Father, ourselves and each other, our families, our mainly music families and our WOW families.  We may not be able to see our own families, those far away at the moment, but give us patience to look after each other in these uncertain times.  Enable us by your Spirit to live in love for one another and for you.

During this time of upheaval, we also remember those whose groups who meet in our buildings that are no longer available to them. Be with them all in these uncertain times. We remember planned baptisms and weddings, and pray times for rejoicing will not be too far away.

God, we ask these prayers in your name, and through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Let us join together where ever we are, in the prayer that God has taught us:


Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven.  Give us today our daily bread.

Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours now and for ever.  AMEN 

Offering Prayer

Lord Jesus Christ, you were rich,
Yet for our sake you became poor,
So that through your poverty we might become rich.
Accept this offering as a token of our gratitude
For all you have done.

Hymn TiS 779: May the Feet of God Walk With You


God has spoken,
“I am sending you in love –
Imagine the possibilities.
My love is all you need.
Colour the world with it,
Spread it throughout your speaking,
Honour it within your living.
Go now, for God has called you,
Christ has sent you,
And the Spirit has empowered you.”


Now may the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all.

Lectionary Readings
2 Sm 5:1-5, 9-10, Ps 48, 2 Cor 12: 2-10, Mk 6:1-13