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March 31, 2024
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This month’s Pastor’s Perspective is delivered by Father Andrew Rowell, Christchurch Anglican


Andrew-Rowell

I’ve had two passages from the Bible on my heart for the past few weeks. When read together, they offer a profound reminder that, on the one hand, we can do nothing without God’s help and, on the other, that God will take our meager offerings and do more with them than we could ask or imagine!

The first passage is from Mark chapter 9:14-29. Jesus, Peter, James, and John, just returning from the mountain on which Jesus had been transfigured, come upon the other nine disciples who were arguing with the scribes. The nine had failed to exorcise a demon, so we presume the argument was about the reasons why they had failed. Jesus arrives and not only casts out the demon, but, when the exorcism leaves the boy “like a corpse,” takes the boy by the hand and raises him back to fullness of life. The part of this story that has really struck me is the conversation that happens in the aftermath of Jesus’s mighty act. When the disciples ask why they had failed, Jesus replies, “This kind of demon can only be cast out by prayer.”

When I was younger, I used to think that this passage indicated that there must be “types of demons.” Perhaps some require fasting, others prayer, others yet other means. But I now realize that Jesus was not describing “types of demons,” but rather rebuking the disciples for relying on their own power and not His. In other words, there is no type of demon that isn’t cast out by prayer – for what is prayer but the reliance on God’s power and not our own? All the struggles in our lives – our addictions and our failures and our sorrows – they all require prayer to the only One Who can truly help us – the God Who heals, Who redeems, Who exchanges our mourning for the oil of gladness (Isaiah 61:3).

The second passage is the familiar story of the feeding of five thousand from Mark 6:30-44. In it, we find Jesus and His disciples intending to go to a remote location for some rest. Yet the crowds chase after Jesus, longing to hear more from Him. Jesus sees them, has compassion on them, for they were “like sheep without a shepherd,” and takes the time to teach them many things. When they grow weary and hungry from a long day of learning from the Teacher, Jesus, the Good Shepherd, has them sit down on the green grass (Mark 6:39; Ps. 23:2). He takes a lunch from a young boy (John 6:9) consisting of five small loaves and two tiny fish, blesses it, breaks it, and passes it out until, not only are five thousand men and untold women and children fed, but twelve baskets of leftovers remain.

When I was younger, I used to think that this passage was only about the power of Jesus to feed His flock, just as He did by providing manna in the desert to the fleeing people of Israel in Exodus 16. And, to be sure, it is about God’s mighty power to provide. But I’ve also come to see in that little boy’s actions a call to discipleship in my own life. He didn’t have much to offer. Yet he gave the Lord all that he had. And by God’s power his tiny sack lunch became more than enough to feed the hungry, comfort the suffering, and soothe the afflicted.

Some of you may know that Christchurch Anglican is acquiring the beautiful land and buildings of our next door neighbors, Southern Homes & Gardens. We could have never anticipated such a blessing coming our way, for it, indeed, came out of nowhere. It feels like the Lord has just plopped it into our laps and said, “Watch what I’m about to do!”

Will you pray for us as we discern next steps? As we ask God to guide us, we pray that He would guide you and your congregation as well. May Christians across the River Region, all of us saved by the mighty blood of Jesus, be found to be people of prayer, who rely on God’s power and not our own. May we all trust that God will take our offerings, however meager, bless them, break them, and do infinitely more with them than we could ever ask or imagine.

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