author: Elizabeth G. Bryson
title: Sermon for the 7th Sunday of Trinity
date: 18th July 2021
May the words of my mouth and the thoughts of all our hearts be now and always acceptable in your sight, O Lord our strength and our Redeemer’ Amen
*Jeremiah 23: 1-6, Ephesians 2: 11-22, Mark 6: 30-34, 53-56*
## ‘Come away and rest a while’ (Mark 6: 31)
The apostles returned from their mission to share the good news, telling Jesus about when they ‘went out and preached that people should repent. They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.’ (Mark 6: 12-13) Jesus knew that after that busy time of ministry the apostles needed time to **‘Come away and rest a while’** (Mark 6: 31).
Jesus is the Good Shepherd. (John 10) Jesus cares for the sheep having compassion for them; giving rest, food and healing. We heard today that Jesus ‘saw a great crowd and had compassion on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things (v.34). Jesus the Good Shepherd healed the sick, just as a good shepherd tended the wounds of the sheep. There is such a sense of excitement at the end of our Gospel reading with people bringing the sick for Jesus to heal. How amazing that ‘wherever he went, into villages, cities or farms, they laid the sick in the market places, and begged him that they might touch even the fringe of his cloak; and all who touched it were healed’ (Mark 6:56). All those people received the healing love of Jesus.
Jesus fulfils the prophecy of Jeremiah as He is ‘the righteous Branch’; ‘The Lord our righteousness’ and the Good Shepherd. Jeremiah prophesied that the Lord will ‘gather the remnant of his flock and bring them back to their fold and they shall be fruitful and multiply.’ This reminds us of the parable of the Lost Sheep (Luke 15: 1-7) showing the Good Shepherd searching for the lost sheep and bringing them back to the fold. We can be thankful for the people in our lives who helped us come to know, love and follow Jesus. We can continue to show ‘shepherding’ kindness to members of our Church family by praying for them and phoning them to assure them we care and value them. When going through times of suffering it is good to know others are praying for us.
The Epistle explains that ‘now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ…. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near’ (Ephesians 2: 12, 17). Gentiles as well the Jews can be sheep together in the fold of the Church because God’s plan was that Christ ‘might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross… for through him both of us have access in one Spirit to the Father (v.16, 18). How wonderful that the blood of Jesus cleanses us from sin (1 John 1:7) so we can all draw near to God.
On my walks in the countryside I sometimes walk by fields of sheep. Sheep are almost always feeding on the grass. We need to keep feeding spiritually by reading the Bible and by receiving Holy Communion. Do you read the Bible every day? What has the Lord shown you recently when you have read the Bible? It is good to talk to family and friends about how the Lord has spoken to us through our Bible reading.
The Psalm set for today is Psalm 23 reminding us that: ‘The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me **lie down** in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.’ (Psalm 23: 1-6)
For those of us who are now in ‘the valley of the shadow of death’ we can know the Lord is with us, giving comfort to us in our sorrow, sadness and loss. Sheep need time to rest ‘in green pastures’. Jesus our Good Shepherd calls us to **‘Come away and rest a while’** in green pastures beside quiet waters and He restores our souls by feeding us through the Bible, at Holy Communion and this morning with Benediction.
In Benediction we can **‘Come away and rest a while’** in the sacramental presence of Jesus. This morning we have the spiritual treat of Benediction, when we can draw close to our risen and ascended Lord while we meet Him in this holy moment when we are blessed with the sacramental presence of Jesus. The Walsingham Manual (p.67) explains that ‘having recognised Jesus in the breaking of bread in the Eucharist, we recognise again his presence with us in the bread which is his body… Here we are blessed with Jesus, the bread of life.’ Benediction is a wonderful time to be still in the Lord’s presence and meet with Him in a special way. In Benediction we meet with Jesus in the peace, because we are blessed with ‘the bread which is his body.’ We come to draw near to the Lord and be strengthened and refreshed by this special Service of Blessing. We can linger in the presence of Jesus when we **‘Come away and rest a while’**.
Then all of us, children and adults leave ready and equipped to go out and share the love of Jesus with family and friends and people we meet. Jesus wants us to help more people come to believe, know, love and follow Jesus. Jeremiah prophesied that the Lord’s sheep ‘shall be fruitful and multiply’ (v.3). Our Church needs to continue to be a growing congregation as more people come to know, love and follow Jesus and want to become a part of our Church family. We should continue to pray for people we know, who do not yet believe, so they come to know Jesus. Let us be ready to talk to them about how our faith in Jesus sustains and helps us.
> Through all the changing scenes of life, in trouble and in joy,
> The praises of my God shall still my heart and tongue employ. Amen