Hand to the Plough

This homily is for a very short 8 o’clock service before we go off to the Ordination as Deacon of the latest curate to join the benefice. 

May the words of my mouth and the thoughts of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight o Lord our strength and our redeemer. Amen.

Just a few words about this morning’s Gospel reading – and it’s a hard one, with overtones of rejection, of unworthiness, of death.  An entire village rejects Jesus, and Jesus tells us quite clearly to focus on him and on the Kingdom of God – at some considerable cost to us – following Christ is, according to this verse, more important than paying our respects to our loved ones who have died, more important even than our living family. That’s a very hard thing to hear. This passage, is for me, one of the hardest sayings of Jesus in the Bible.

But although it contains the imperative of what we must do “Go and preach the Kingdom of God”, it contains glimmers of light. Jesus had messengers he sent ahead to the village – ‘fixers’, ‘guides’, ‘tour leaders’ call them what you will. The people whose job it was to make the practical stuff happen so that Jesus was free to carry out his work.  And later, the dead are not to remain unburied – others will do that work for the grieving son. Perhaps those who are left at home, with no farewell, will support each other.

We all have our calling, our vocation, our imperative. Some people are called to a very public ministry, and our thoughts and prayers are with Hilary as she is ordained Deacon later today at the start of a new phase of her life and her ministry. Others are called to do the work behind the scenes, the unglamorous, the necessary, the dirty, the stuff of daily life (and every ordained minister is called to all those things too!).  We are all vital to the Kingdom of God. We all put our hands to the plough in different ways, and we all rely on support, human and spiritual, as we fix our eyes on God.

May the furrows we plough be straight and to the greater Glory of God who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.


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