Naked Gospel

July 22, 2012

Mark 6:33, 54

"Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they hurried there on foot from all the towns and arrived ahead of them . . . When they got out of the boat, people at once recognized him, and rushed about the whole region and began to bring the sick on mats . . ."

Reflection by Anthony B. Robinson

These verses are from the gospel reading for today, for this Sunday. What's abundantly clear here is the huge longing, the deep yearning, of the people to hear what Jesus had to say, to be touched by him, and to touch him themselves.

Jesus named this great longing when he spoke of the crowd as "sheep without a shepherd."

This longing, this deep yearning, is still with us today all these years later. Despite our relative affluence, the human heart is still hungry, still longing . . . in many ways, now more than ever.

Are we as churches, as pastors and teachers, really speaking to this longing? Are we speaking of God and God's power? Are we speaking gospel, good news, to today's sheep without a shepherd?

Often, it seems, we are speaking of many other things: endless announcements, predictable exhortations to be more of this or less of that, theological abstractions or cheery platitudes.

People are hungry for God. They are hungry for powerful good news of the God who has broken the powers of sin and death and makes new life possible here and now. They are hungry for naked gospel.

Let the church speak, speak the naked and urgent gospel. "Rise up O Church of God, have done with lesser things." For the people are as "sheep without a shepherd."

Prayer

We pray, dear God, that today you would use our church, our worship, our preaching and our prayers to speak gospel truth to the sheep who are without a shepherd. Amen.

About the Author
Anthony B. Robinson, a United Church of Christ minister, is a speaker, teacher and writer. His newest book is Called to Lead: Paul's Letters to Timothy for a New Day, and he is also the author of the just-published Book of Exodus: A God is still speaking Bible Study. Read his weekly reflections on the current lectionary texts at www.anthonybrobinson.com by clicking on Weekly Reading.

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