Mark 6:30-34, 53-56


Try posting this note on your office door / Facebook / Twitter / blog / voice mail / memo to your Board: "Gone to the fields to be lovely. / Be back when I'm through with blooming." And say a grateful, gleeful prayer of thanks all the while for the poetry of Lynn Ungar.

Year B

Sunday between July 17 and July 23 inclusive

Proper 11, Ordinary Time 16

Read the passage at the bottom of this post: Mark 6:30-34, 53-56 The Message   or   Mark 6:30-34, 53-56, The New Revised Standard Version (NRSV).

Permission is granted for non-profit use of these materials. Acknowledgement in oral presentations is not required. Otherwise, please acknowledge source as, "David Ewart,"


I'm tempted to rant once again about the unhelpful choices - from a preacher's point of view - of the Revised Common Lectionary. Why are the verses 6:30-34 not part of the reading two weeks ago as they are the conclusion of that story? And why are we skipping over the wonderful stories of the feeding of the 5,000 (Verses 35-44), and of Jesus walking on water (Verses 45-52)? Sigh.

Verses 30-32 are a wonderful lesson for the start of the summer season here in the Northern Hemisphere. Especially Jesus' invitation in Verse 31:

Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.

Thank you Jesus.

Recently, the past Moderator of the United Church of Canada, The Right Reverend Dr. Peter Short, read a beautiful poem to our Conference:

Camas Lilies

Consider the lilies of the field,
the blue banks of camas opening
into acres of sky along the road.
Would the longing to lie down
and be washed by that beauty
abate if you knew their usefulness,
how the natives ground bulbs
for flour, how the settler's hogs
uprooted them, grunting in gleeful
oblivion as the flowers fell?

And you, what of your rushed and
useful life? Imagine setting it all down
papers, plans, appointments, everything,

leaving only a note: Gone to the fields
to be lovely. Be back when I'm through
with blooming.

Even now, unneeded and uneaten,
the camas lilies gaze out above the grass
from their tender blue eyes.
Even in sleep your life will shine.
Make no mistake.
Of course, your work will always matter.
Yet Solomon in all his glory
was not arrayed like one of these.

Lynn Ungar from What We Share (Collected Meditations, Volume 2)

Try posting this note on your office door / Facebook / Twitter / blog / voice mail / memo to your Board:

Gone to the fields to be lovely.
Be back when I'm through with blooming.

Too bad that Jesus never took the mandatory course in "Personal Self-Care 101." 'Cause the whole retreat thing gets ruined in Verse 34. Does the man have no sense of personal boundaries? Has he never read about co-dependence? If there is only one verse that could be nailed as the evil core of clergy burn-out, Mark 6:34 is my candidate.

I'm trying not to rant about the Lectionary, but why not just leave out Verses 33-34 and the rest? There is a beautiful and needful sermon in 30-32 alone.

David Ewart,,
Short, easy to use, faith inspiring explanations of the meaning of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John for your sermon, homily, bible study, or reflection.

Note: Historical background information in this post is drawn primarily from Bruce Malina and Richard Rohrbaugh, Social-Science Commentary on the Synoptic Gospels, pages 171-174; and the writings of Amy-Jill Levine, et. al.

Mark 6:30-34, 53-56 (NRSV)

   30 The apostles gathered around Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught. 31 He said to them, "Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while." For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. 32 And they went away in the boat to a deserted place by themselves. 33 Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they hurried there on foot from all the towns and arrived ahead of them. 34 As he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.

   53 When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and moored the boat. 54 When they got out of the boat, people at once recognized him, 55 and rushed about that whole region and began to bring the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was. 56 And wherever he went, into villages or cities or farms, they laid the sick in the marketplaces, and begged him that they might touch even the fringe of his cloak; and all who touched it were healed. 

New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Mark 6:30-34, 53-56 (The Message)

   30 The apostles then rendezvoused with Jesus and reported on all that they had done and taught. 31 Jesus said, "Come off by yourselves; let's take a break and get a little rest." For there was constant coming and going. They didn't even have time to eat.

   32 So they got in the boat and went off to a remote place by themselves. 33 Someone saw them going and the word got around. From the surrounding towns people went out on foot, running, and got there ahead of them. 34 When Jesus arrived, he saw this huge crowd. At the sight of them, his heart broke—like sheep with no shepherd they were. He went right to work teaching them.

   53 They beached the boat at Gennesaret and tied up at the landing. 54 As soon as they got out of the boat, word got around fast. 55 People ran this way and that, bringing their sick on stretchers to where they heard he was. 56 Wherever he went, village or town or country crossroads, they brought their sick to the marketplace and begged him to let them touch the edge of his coat—that's all. 

Scripture quotations from THE MESSAGE. Copyright © by Eugene H. Peterson 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.

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