URC Daily Devotion Saturday 20th January 2024

Saturday 20th January 2024

St Mark 2: 13 – 17

Jesus went out again beside the lake; the whole crowd gathered around him, and he taught them.  As he was walking along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, ‘Follow me.’ And he got up and followed him. And as he sat at dinner  in Levi’s  house, many tax-collectors and sinners were also sitting with Jesus and his disciples—for there were many who followed him.  When the scribes of the Pharisees saw that he was eating with sinners and tax-collectors, they said to his disciples, ‘Why does he eat with tax-collectors and sinners?’  When Jesus heard this, he said to them, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.’


Many years ago I met regularly with a Roman Catholic spiritual director who commented to me on one occasion that the problem with many of the Protestant churches is that they are too respectable.  Not in the sense of any formal rules as such but the sense that if you pass many chapel buildings as folk are going into or coming out of the service you will see a collection of middle class, older, professional or managerial types.  In short, who many might label the middle classes!  

Shortly after that conversation I attended a big Catholic parish church for its Holy Week and Easter services.  I looked around at the other attendees and reflected on whether there were the sort of folk there who I would be likely to see at a similar set of services in a URC, Anglican or Methodist congregation.  It is hard to make a tidy comparison since several hundred people were present at the Catholic services compared with tens at the most elsewhere.  I did observe a wider range of people at the Good Friday liturgy – folk I had seen at the homeless shelter, more people who were unkempt – as much as one can tell in a large group of folk dressed in the British uniform of jeans and t-shirts, trainers and jackets – but perhaps this was it.  Of course we should be careful about making judgements but there is a sense that it can be possible to recognise social background by what someone looks like.  

There are other factors at play as to who is likely to turn up in the services of one denomination compared to another.  Saying that though I have always been intrigued by encounters I have had with folk over the years who have said something along the lines of “I’m not good enough for church”.  People who perceive that that church is for good folk and for whatever reason they are not that.  I have always found such conversations to be incredibly sad, and for the reasons that Jesus refers in this passage.  Discipleship is about living towards life in all its fullness and inviting others to live the same.  It’s never about who is good enough.    


Inclusive God, 
we remember those 
who for whatever reason 
feel or think that they are not 
good enough.  
Not good enough for church, 
for community, 
for you.  
Pour out your blessing 
upon them. 

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