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MK 6: 30-34 & 53-56
6th Sunday after Pentecost

The story of JB has interrupted that of Jesus & the mission he gives 'The Twelve' in 7-13. 35-52 crop up next week in a Johannine version, so aren't allowed to interrupt here. We need to know how the disciples 'got on'. Not that we're told much here, though a glance back at 12-13 gives a positive slant. Jesus, who doesn't miss much, sees they're exhausted, & need a 'Retreat'. Been in parish life too long! His 'being moved in his guts' for his friends is balanced by the same compassion for the crowd? It's a bind! We all need faithful shepherding if we're to be faithful shepherds ourselves. It only works as a concentric exercise of compassion; rarely on the old failed hierarchical model.

Phrenetic-ness { [a] Oxford preferred spelling, though I confess to the suffix!; [b] related to frantic, delirium, madness!}often passes for 'parish life'. Bears no relation to compassionate shepherding. Much of what we're on about is a kind of delirium & madness & needs its own particular healing at Jesus' hand. And who's going to be that healing, shepherding hand today if it's not us? We expect Jesus not to miss the diverse needs people have, but how good are we, his friends now at recognizing each other burning out one way or another? Including those being run off their feet by processes we set in motion? How many of these same processes bear much resemblance to the mission Jesus gives his friends back then? Honestly, now!

If we audited our congregation, who'd be on the list of those needing a break? I'm on about this because I can see it happening under my nose in two local congregations with which I'm connected. Amazing what you can see when you're 'retired' that you may not see when you're on the 'active list'!

Do we have a spot to 'retreat' to? Is it so far away we don't get there often? No matter how often we promise ourselves we will? So close we're always being over-run by others when we don't need that? Does it need to be a physical spot? How can we create enough sacred space to re-shape us in Christ's image to keep us coping? No, not just coping! Moving on. In Jesus' footsteps, not our own old footprints of programmes, committees, study groups,..........

How positive a report could we give Jesus in our own report back / audit? How much 'wholeness' are people receiving at our ministering hands, & we at theirs? 'Hands' being those of the Body of the Christ who has no hands but ours.