Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives May you never give up praying. When you pray, may you keep alert and be thankful. Pray that together we may make the message of the mystery of Christ as clear as possible. Amen (Based on Colossians 3 and 4)
Nature played a big part in our greeting each other this morning. Everything is unseasonably green, and the fields are covered in colour. Some spoke of the exuberance of nature and how it fights back. Some came with questions about suffering. We reflected that the name Israel means to struggle: life often doesn’t make sense but we can believe in God, follow him and meet life head on knowing that wrapped up in the joy of life is a struggle; we can sit with the questions knowing that the questions are valuable and yesterday’s answers are not today’s. Our faith in God is a call to action, to wrestle with life and God and learn empathy, compassion and generosity.
Some scriptures that might help us to fathom the lectionary readings are: on the faith of the woman; in Isaiah 6:1 we hear of the lord sitting in his temple and the hem of his garment filling the temple and in Malachi 4:2 that the sun of righteousness will arise with healing in his wings, where wings can also be translated hem of his garment, the sun of righteousness being maybe a metaphor for the one who saves. Also if we have problems with God being angry then we can see the scripture as a wrestling with God over his nature as evidenced in the way the community moved from attributing David’s sin to God (2: Samuel 24:1) to attributing it to Satan (1 Chronicles 21:1) as they fathomed the nature of God. As the scriptures progress the wrath of God also becomes more nuanced which, lets face it, it needs to be in our understanding of God in our lives.
Lamentations 3:22-33 …The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the soul that seeks him. …. Although he causes grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love; for he does not willingly afflict or grieve anyone.
…Hear, O LORD, and be gracious to me! O LORD, be my helper!”
You have turned my mourning into dancing; you have taken off my sackcloth and clothed me
2 Corinthians 8:7-15 …but it is a question of a fair balance between your present abundance and their need, so that their abundance may be for your need, in order that there may be a fair balance. As it is written, “The one who had much did not have too much, and the one who had little did not have too little.”
Mark 5:21-43 …Then one of the leaders of the synagogue named Jairus came and, when he saw him, fell at his feet and begged him repeatedly, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well, and live.” So he went with him. And a large crowd followed him and pressed in on him. Now there was a woman who had been suffering from haemorrhages for twelve years. … She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, for she said, “If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.” Immediately her haemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. … he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.” While he was still speaking, some people came from the leader’s house to say, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the teacher any further?” But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the leader of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.” … he took the child’s father and mother and those who were with him, and went in where the child was. He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha cum,” which means, “Little girl, get up!” And immediately the girl got up and began to walk about (she was twelve years of age). …
We come to Christianity with a lot of baggage: do we call God Father, Master, Lord or perceiving the face of God do we simply say here am I. We cry out from the depths of our need; to know the transformation of our lack into blessing. The Spirit’s cleansing work is what makes sense of our wounds and shortcomings. To find God in the midst of the storms and the raging waters is the gift of peace found in Jesus. We do suffer in who we are, who we aim to be and how we experience life, but each experience could leave us bitter and broken or broken and lifted up to new life. Life can be very tough, and the promise in Jesus is new life, where the wind of the Spirit sustains us and sends us out, not to condemn but to heal; not to exclude but to welcome all in so that we might love one another and show that we are true followers of Christ.
Isaiah 6:1-8 … “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I; send me!”
Ascribe to the LORD, O heavenly beings, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.
Ascribe to the LORD the glory of his name; worship the LORD in holy splendour…
May the LORD give strength to his people! May the LORD bless his people with peace!
Romans 8:12-…. When we cry, “Abba! Father!” it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ–if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him. John 3:1-17 …”Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen… God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
Read the scriptures below and you can imagine our conversation was interesting. How do these stories impact our lives?
Well, they fuel our imaginations.
They tell us that natural disasters are summoned to administer God’s judgement or certainly that is what the Psalmist found consolation in.
Surely these readings make it hard to enter into the good news of the good news of Jesus that we are loved, forgiven and empowered to love our enemies and forgive not judging our neighbours.
The Corinthians reading calls us to be transformed in our view of Jesus and names the condition of those who are finding it hard to trust: perishing and blinded by the god of this world. But, ‘For it is the God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.’
It is the light in each person’s heart that reveals who Jesus is.
This revelation in your heart now will open up the scriptures for you and empower you to live life today, forgiven. It won’t be a dry argument with facts that removes the veil of not being able to trust and take refuge in the person of Jesus. Expect that throughout your life you will be challenged to look again and really see. Jesus calls you through the light in your heart to trust him and find refuge in him. Allow him to be your teacher and see what he does with these scriptures. If you are able, we are glad to share this enterprise with you.
Allegory of the Transfiguration: sculptures of Moses and Elijah, Guatemala, contemporary.
2 Kings 2:1-12
Now when the LORD was about to take Elijah up to heaven by a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal … Then Elijah took his mantle and rolled it up, and struck the water; the water was parted to the one side and to the other, until the two of them crossed on dry ground…As they continued walking and talking, a chariot of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them, and Elijah ascended in a whirlwind into heaven…
The mighty one, God the LORD, speaks and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to its setting.
Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God shines forth.
Our God comes and does not keep silence, before him is a devouring fire, and a mighty tempest all around him.
He calls to the heavens above and to the earth, that he may judge his people:
“Gather to me my faithful ones, who made a covenant with me by sacrifice!”
The heavens declare his righteousness, for God himself is judge. Selah
2 Corinthians 4:3-6
And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not proclaim ourselves; we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus’ sake. For it is the God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus. … Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!” …he ordered them to tell no one about what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead.
“But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.””
One of the (several) highly contentious issues in the Church of England at the moment is the question of racism, its extent in the Church, and appropriate and effective responses to it. It has long been a question of interest to me, since soon after coming to faith I felt that God might be calling me to inner-city, multicultural ministry—a call which has not […]