Sunday 21st October 2018

Psalm 104

 

…O LORD, how manifold are your works!

In wisdom you have made them all;

the earth is full of your creatures.

 

Praise the LORD!

 

Hebrews 5:1-10 

Every high priest …is able to deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is subject to weakness; and because of this he must offer sacrifice for his own sins as well as for those of the people.

… Christ did not glorify himself in becoming a high priest,…

Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered; and having been made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him, having been designated by God a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.

Mark 10:35-45 

… “The cup that I drink you will drink; and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized; but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.”

When the ten heard this, they began to be angry with James and John. So Jesus called them and said to them,

“You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”

The meeting today was, as usual inspired by the many voices of wisdom brought to us through those gathered. Sounds a bit pompous, but honestly Jesus speaks through the experiences and failings of people who are enabled to be heard.

After wondering at the seeming arrogance of the disciples and the import of Jesus’ answer for them, we explored what our tyranny might be and where prayer may lead us. Surely the context of the suffering Jesus prophesied for his followers is the context of Hebrews. In our relative comfort we cannot know what terrors they were to experience, but the onslaught of life can take away the truth of a life devoted to Jesus and the new order he brings.

Some of us live with the daily reality of extreme anxiety that convinces us we are on the point of death, genetic disease and ongoing abuse by others, and some of us are fortunate in only hearing about this. For some of us it is our daily work to deal with these tough circumstances. Our faith isn’t under political threat, but it must hope in the teeth of many devastating imponderables.

Starting from the position that Jesus is saying that his and our lives are to be a ransom for many and in us others are to find Jesus, the source of eternal salvation, how are we to see ourselves. Christianity sometimes seem mired in self-assertion and quarrels about who’s right. We then not only judge our brothers and sisters and put them down, we then move on to others and put them outside the house of God. In our assertions of authority, we set aside God’s grace and his authority, placing ourselves at the right and left side of God.

One shared that in suffering we find Jesus’ mercy for the day, for the moment, for the life we need to live. We find Jesus showing us the way and in love we obey, not because Jesus exerts authority but because Jesus is there with us and offers the way of life. It is in his suffering with us that we find his authority. Each person’s circumstances have a history and even though each person’s suffering may look the same, how they got there is their story and their solution is unique. Our revelation as Christians is that Jesus is there, and he speaks to each of us; his truth sets us free. This is true for everyone, of whatever creed or life circumstance and we water down the salvation Jesus offers if we consign it to the administration of our priesthood. The high priesthood of Christ is of another order beyond the confines of our religion.

One shared, we would like to think that there was a form we could offer for all ills. Fill in this form and all your troubles will be solved. Prayer can become this. But prayer acknowledges the uniqueness of the condition of each individual and in faith hopes for the outcome compassion presents. It’s more than words: it is the standing against spiritual adversaries, showing kindness, laying on of hands and anointing; it’s perseverance; it’s hoping beyond reason. We can be certain, prayer is heard, and Jesus saves but our work is to be single minded in hope.

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