These are my very initial thoughts on our RCL readings for October 4. Again, others will be preaching so this will be it from me.
Today we are invited to consider how we read scripture. Do
we read it to confirm our beliefs and find support for both our understanding
of God and how we are to live that out? Or are we constantly invited to have a
deeper and larger vision of who God is; to let go of our preconceived notions
of who we are and find new ways of being loyal and fruitful followers of God.
Today’s readings are all about the second way.
The God of Job simply refuses to be defined. When
catastrophe happens, Job’s friends use their theological models to help Job
confess his great and manifold sin. But Job refuses and calls God to account.
In the end both Job and his friends are held to account. God is so much bigger
than all we can imagine and will not be confined by our theology.
Jesus too lovingly invites both the rich young man and us to
a bigger view of what it means to follow God. The rich man believes he has
obeyed the commandments (fat chance) and hopes that will be enough to gain
eternal life. One thing he lacks, compassion and generosity towards the poor.
Today we mark the life of Saint Francis. He let go of his
preconceived notions of God and immersed himself in God’s love. He embraced his
own poverty and lived a generous and compassionate life. He saw all creation as
God’s beloved gift. I wonder if we are able to follow in his footsteps and find
the crucified and risen Christ in ALL we meet, and in all creation?
week we heard a passage from Proverbs 31:10-31 that
many of us read as extolling very traditional roles for women. And it is not
unknown for women in particular to not want to read it.There is in fact no getting away from fact
that those traditional roles are an important part of that reading. But I also
suggested that it is more than that. The women described in this reading were
not mousey submissive chattels. They were strong women who ran their households
with imagination, and flair, and generosity. It is I think an invitation for
men to choose their wives carefully, and to not just look for what their
society deemed to be important, and for women to be more than they were traditionally
described. And so some read it as championing traditional roles, and others as championing
woman taking more significant roles both in their household and in their communities.
This week we hear the story Esther, a story of the kind of strong woman
proverbs refers to. It is an interesting story – it does not directly mention
God once! This young woman, chosen for her beauty, uses all her cunning to save
her people from plans of murderous Babylonian Prime Minister, Haman, who ends
up hung on his own gallows by his own schemes.
reading from Proverbs is an example of how we are too often tempted read
scripture as a conservative moral voice that either seeks to preserve the status
quo, or take us back to the good old days. And we miss how much of it is this
radical voice that invites us take much bigger view of world and God’s desire
for that world; including strong women.
In fact, I wonder what the story of Ester might say to us about how we see and
treat immigrants and refugees.
is also what is going on in Marks gospel. The Jesus presented in Mark’s Gospel
just keeps pushing for a much bigger view of what reign of God entails, and
what our role is in it as loyal and fruitful followers. Sadly, too often we are
still with the disciples still missing the point, lost on conversations about who
is in and who is out and who is at the top of the pecking order. Still stuck
with the same questions and concerns that our society revolves around.
Last week we hear Jesus talking
about leaders being servants and then embracing a child and saying,
“Whoever welcome/embraces one
such as this child welcome/embraces me, and whoever welcome/embraces me
welcome/embraces not me but the one who sent me!”
To which John replies this
“Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried
to stop him, because he was not following us.”
Straight back to
the big questions of who is in and who is not and how to keep all this under
control. John, and sometimes (a lot of the time) we, are not hearing radical nature of what Jesus
is on about. What stops us hearing? What do we need to let go of that we really
can we “welcome/embraces one such as this child.”
My passion is for a church that takes young people and youth ministry seriously. I am looking for how that might be.
I am a Third Order Franciscan and a Priest in the Anglican Church in Aotearoa - New Zealand. I have been involved in ministry among young people for the last 23 years. I am now a vicar of a small parish on a very historic site here in Tauranga, trying to live out all I have learnt about faith, life and ministry.
I am married with three great children.