From the Curate…..

“Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering.” (Mark 8:31)

Did you ever have a truly inspiring teacher when you were at school? Someone who really made a subject come alive? A teacher who embodied the excitement and appeal of a subject so that you could feel it too? Perhaps the science teacher whose practical experiments were inspirational and fun. The swimming tutor who jumped in the water and showed you how to do the stroke. The drama teacher who got the best out of every student by taking each role in turn.

The same applies to those of us without the formal title of teacher, but who still teach about life and about faith – in the practical example of our own faithful lives.

God the teacher knows the value of the practical example. In Jesus, God gave us the supreme example of divine love for human beings, by becoming human. By getting in the water, joining in the game, showing us exactly how the part should be played. Both teacher and example, the embodiment of the lesson, making it come alive.

Some lessons are easier to learn than others. Peter accepted that Jesus was the Messiah. What he found more difficult to understand was the kind of Messiah Jesus was. In fact, all the disciples around Jesus found it very hard to absorb their teacher’s difficult lessons. Lessons about suffering and redemption. Lessons about humility and forgiveness. Lessons about the nature of God, and of the Messiah. Jesus knew that he would have to show, rather than tell. He would have to do, not just say.

Mark’s Gospel is very much about Jesus doing. There are no long teaching passages, no direct parallels to Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount or Luke’s Sermon on the Plain. But Mark’s Jesus does employ one obvious technique of a teacher – repetition. Three times in three chapters, to hammer the point home, beginning with Mark chapter 8, Jesus speaks about his coming death.

On the 14th September the Church celebrates Holy Cross Day. A day which honours and commemorates the sacrifice that Jesus Christ made on the cross for our salvation. The cross is the focus of Mark’s Gospel, more so even than the others. The cross, the ultimate example, the teaching aid beyond comparison. Jesus didn’t just say, “Love God with all your heart,” he showed his own love for his heavenly Father by accepting his destiny on the cross. Jesus didn’t just say, “Love your neighbours,” he laid down his life for them. Jesus didn’t just say, “Love your enemies,” on the cross he forgave them and prayed for them. Jesus lived and died the lesson of love, to open a new and living way into God’s presence. And he asks us to take up our own cross, to follow him, to be prepared to make sacrifices in the name of the one who made the greatest sacrifice of all.

Jesus is still teaching today and teaching through us. We all have a teaching ministry, and in a sense, we are all on teaching practice. We are called to share with others what we profess in church. We are called to live out in the week and in the world what we believe is the Good News. We are to follow the supreme example of a teacher who put his words into action.

If we’re to witness faithfully to Jesus and take up our cross, if we’re to bring the good news of Jesus to others, it’s no good talking the talk if we don’t also walk the walk! Our diocesan vison, “Vision 2026” calls us to do just that! Those of us who are baptised members of God’s family have a job to do.

If it feels like a daunting task, pray this prayer with me: -

Heavenly Father, we embrace Your call for us to make disciples, to be witnesses and to grow leaders. Give us eyes to see Your vision, ears to hear the prompting of Your Spirit and courage to follow in the footsteps of your Son, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

May God equip us to be the people he needs us to be.

Carolyn Leitch

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