At the 2018 General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Canada, held in Waterloo, Ontario, Rev. Germaine Lovelace, a member of Renewal Fellowship’s Board of Directors, delivered a powerful message to the church, based on Mark 6:6-13, at the opening worship on Wednesday, June 6, the final day of General Assembly 2018. In a time such as this, we are called to go into the world with a message of hope. “What God is calling us as Presbyterians is to take nothing with us. Go in faith and God is with you. Go in faith knowing that the God of grace will go with you. Jesus loves you just the way you are. He comes so that we may have life and have it abundantly.”
Here is a transcription of his opening words.
Scripture: Mark 6: 6b-13
Then Jesus went from village to village, teaching the people. And he called his twelve disciples together and began sending them out two by two, giving them authority to cast out evil spirits. He told them to take nothing for their journey except a walking stick — no food, no traveler’s bag, no money. He allowed them to wear sandals but not to take a change of clothes. “Wherever you go,” he said, “stay in the same house until you leave town. But if any place refuses to welcome you or listen to you, shake its dust from your feet as you leave to show that you have abandoned those people to their fate.” So the disciples went out, telling everyone they met to repent of their sins and turn to God. And they cast out many demons and healed many sick people, anointing them with olive oil.
Message: What is God’s word for us at this time in our ministry in the life of our church? What has God called us to do, as his people and his servants, at such a time as this?
For the first time in Mark’s gospel, Jesus enters a synagogue in his hometown, Nazareth. Prior to this, Jesus was a superstar. Everything he touched turned to gold. Everywhere he went, he had crowds following him. In every town that he went, he touched people’s lives; people were held spellbound. What kind of man is this?
Then he went to his hometown and he lost his reputation. In Nazareth, they began to ask all sorts of questions. Isn’t this Mary and Joseph’s little boy? They laughed at him. They mocked him, Jesus in his own hometown — the place where he grew up, the place where he lived and spent much of his time.
He now was being put to scorn. Jesus in Nazareth, the place where probably he should have been revered, where people should have been gladly welcoming him and sitting at his feet.
But, they showed him no respect. My sisters and brothers, in Nazareth, Jesus’ hometown, he lost his reputation.
This is a resemblance to the church today. The church in this age, the church in today’s society in Canada, has pretty much lost its reputation.
There are many who are laughing at the church, who when they hear that you go to church, they think of you as a nerd. There are many who hear that you are a Christian, and they look at you in scorn. They think there is something highly incredible about us when they learn that we are Christian.
But look what Jesus did. The rejection he faced at Nazareth made him uncomfortable. Jesus could have spent some time and said: I’m going back to the drawing board; he could have quit he could have put it aside and said I’m not into this saving of lives. But no, my sisters and brothers, he got up and straight from there, he went and started to fulfill the task that God had called him to do.
Jesus knew what was at stake. Do we know what is at stake, in the world to which we are called to witness? Jesus knew what was at stake. There are people who are dying in sin, there are people out there in the world. There are many who are lost. Many are dying to hear a message of hope.