Wednesday, May 7, 2014

"Not Welcome in one Place, go to another Place"

I was reading the Gospel of Mark this afternoon and came upon Jesus' saying on how his disciples should react when they are not welcome in a particular place. Perhaps I have often assumed that if the city does not welcome you, you move on to another city according to Matthew's Gospel. Mark's Gospel has the word, topos which is a slightly different reading from the other gospels. Jesus' disciples just needed to move from one place to another, but not necessarily leave the city when they are rejected in one particular location. I think in big cities of the world today, one may find a section of the city unwelcoming but a move to another section of the city might bring a welcome change. As for me, for the past six years during which I have been a College lecturer, I have seldom ventured outside the College compounds except on Sundays when I travel to different parts of Singapore to preach. Until last week, I have never entered an HDB flat (yes, 6 years!!).
I have not been invited into a HDB flat where more than 80% of Singaporeans live. I have gone into a couple of condos or private apartments and a few bungalows beside to minister in home groups and New Year celebrations. But unless I live in an HDB flat it is unlikely I can really connect with the vast majority of Singaporeans. It's time to leave the holy ground. It's time to leave the mountain top and come down to the plain. It's time to move to another place where people may welcome you for as the Lord says, "A prophet is not without honour except in his own hometown, among his relatives and in his household." (Mark 6:11). I was greatly comforted by this Markan saying this afternoon when I reflect on how difficult it had been to reach out to those closest to me, those dearest in my heart but yet unyielding and far away.

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