Wednesday, September 22, 2021

A Reflection by Rev Douglas Galbraith for Sunday 4th July 2021

July 4, 2021 by  
Filed under Weekly Reflection

Ah kent yer faither!

This Sunday’s gospel reading is Mark 6:1-13. Nobody came out of it well. Even Jesus was wrong-footed, disconcerted. ‘He could do no deed of power there.’ He had arrived home after a long trip, where people thronged round him and marvelled at his work. According to Mark, there was the woman who could not stop bleeding and the little girl at the point of death, the daughter of a synagogue leader. A hero there, he returns to stony glares in his own local synagogue.

They say it about the Scots – but it is one of these things which can be true anywhere – the degrading put down that the successful achiever tends to get. ‘Ah kent yer faither’ means ‘You come from the same place as me so don’t act as if you are better than me’.

(‘Ken’, a familiar word for ‘know’, comes from the Old Norse kenna for ‘perceive’.)

The phrase crops up in a number of contexts. It was reported as a theme even in a recent event to promote Scottish companies where it was seen as something which inhibits innovation. We need to get rid of this old Scottish mentality, it was suggested. We need to stop warning people not to get above their station. We have to take risks and be ready to expose ourselves. It is an attitude to success which does us no favours in the wider commercial and business world.

It was not Jesus’ teaching that was wrong, it was his connections. Carpenter’s son, socially not one of the elite who read and studied. Who is he to tell us what to think, what to do? Jesus challenges social division based on status. He did not himself claim that status; it was the quality of his insight, the breadth of his compassion, that compelled people. This refusal to stand on ceremony is borne out in the later verses where he sends out his disciples in twos, and instructs them not to overload themselves with gear, nothing for their own security and comfort. ‘Take nothing for your journey.’

There is a sense in which the Christian must ‘travel light’, without undue reliance on the signals of status or the lure of comfortable living. These distractions can ‘inhibit innovation’ (to quote the business conference), the innovation that the Christian faith promises when it speaks of Christ as making all things new.

A Prayer
Living God,
in Christ you make all things new.
Transform the poverty of our nature
by the riches of your grace,
and in the renewal of our lives
show forth your glory;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,

Common Order 1994

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