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Stick at it

15 Oct

I am sure that you do some good deeds sometimes. You speak with someone you notice is ignored by people and looks lonely. This is good, but you may discover she is tiresome – maybe boring and not appreciative or too clingy and time-consuming. Is that not the time you might heed the Scriptures and the silent call of God to stick at it? Or maybe you donate to some good cause or needy person; and this is praiseworthy. But then you get bombarded with unwanted appeals and persistent begging letters; or you see no progress at all in the people you had helped. Is it then that you need to stick at it.

Perhaps, like me and all humans, you have some ‘bad’ habits; you may recognise them yourself otherwise just ask a good and honest friend to tell you. It is then that you must attempt to break your bad habit. It is not like breaking anything else – drop a glass and that’s it, betray a friend you’ve lost him. But breaking a bad habit that you have is a long uphill struggle. It’s then you need to be like a toddler learning to walk – you fall again and again but each time get up and carry on.

Think of your own examples in your own time, but God, we are told is timeless and perfect. What He wants of us, his creations, is something of this timelessness in our time of life – doing good and overcoming what is bad – the pursuance of persistence and perseverance.

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Don’t be too sure

8 Oct

In most of the Old Testament there is a stress on God as god of the ‘chosen people’ as they are called. The difficulty is that if you believe in a God as supreme and the creator of all, it follows that no other god is really a god. We always like to think that what we believe is true and consequently that other beliefs are false – in all things not just religion. This almost seemed emphasised for the early Christians because they we not just different from the ‘pagans’ among whom they lived, but sometimes even persecuted by them. The gospels however, although produced by these early Christians, do illustrate a different attitude of Jesus.

Jesus was a good religious Jew, but he was not subservient to rules or attitudes and ‘normal practices of the Jews. We see this with regard to lepers, Samaritans, even Romans. Should we not think critically about some of the rules, practices and customs of our own church!

Have faith in your…

1 Oct

I was going to say have faith in yourself but that sounded rather selfish and hence irreligious. However after considering the three readings (27th Sunday C) it seemed to me that the overall message of them was ‘have faith in yourself’ but the reason and basis for this faith is the relationship God has with us. I will explain with a parallel.

Think of a father or mother taking her small child into the park to go on the swings and the slide. If the child is neglecting the slide, perhaps being somewhat fearful of it, the adult may well have faith in the child and say ‘trust yourself – you can do it!’ and then the child might well have faith in themselves and do it – probably do it again and again with spirit and with joy – and even try it in other parks and steeper slides – full of daring and enjoyment.

God has faith in us – a faith which aims to engender faith in ourselves and lead us to an enthusiasm to do what secretly we all want for the world we live in – to make it good, to help its citizens and to rejoice in its beauty and be in awe of its mystery. Lets try it!   Perhaps I should have called this jotting “Dare to do what God wants of you!’

Rich and poor

24 Sep

Luke’s gospel was written about 50 years after Jesus’ death. It was at a time when there were communities of followers of Jesus (Christian churches) in and around Jerusalem but also beyond the Jewish enclave, in the wider Roman culture and with Gentiles as members too. Many of these communities had access to writings, including what we call the gospels of Mark and Mathew, as well as other such writings about Jesus (which are named Q by the scholars – meaning just ‘sources’). It was some of the mostly Gentile communities that had letters from Paul with whom Luke was probably associated. Luke was well-educated – maybe a doctor – and wrote his gospel as well as Acts mainly for the Gentile followers of Jesus. His gospel shows that he knew of Matthew and Mark’s writings as well as Q (which today we know only by deduction from the gospels). Luke’s works are well organised; his gospel includes unique content, including the infancy narrative, some parables, but also many meals of Jesus and interactions with women. Like other gospels Luke’s aims to aid people’s understanding and way of living appropriately as followers of Jesus. His unique parable of Dives and Lazarus is my interest here.

The rich man is sometimes named Dives, but this is just the Latin for rich man. Lazarus is a common name which in Hebrew is Eliezer (God helps). The parable doesn’t make explicit any wrong doing of the rich man yet there is no concern shown for the poor Lazarus at his gate. At death they both go into the afterlife – Hades, also called the bosom of Abraham – but with a reverse of their fortunes. The story concludes by making a reference to resurrection and to affirm that even resurrection wont convince folk – besides they have the way they should live expounded in their scriptures. And as well as the Jewish scriptures we also have the New Testament and the development of its teaching over the centuries – which seriously direct us in the way we live. So what are we supposed to learn?

Amos

17 Sep

I am quite attracted to the character of Amos, in so far as we know it. Although I am not, and never was, a countryside citizen, yet like him I love how I imagine it was. I see the beautiful hills of Scotland from the front of my house (and have spent many holidays there) and I have a woods and a burn just out of my back garden gate. I am not a poet like he shows himself to be in the words recorded in chapter 8 of his book in the bible, but I do occasionally produce an amateurish short poem. Though I think my similarity and admiration of him, arises from my dislike (to put it mildly) of many business tycoons and entroponeurs who seem to aim to make money out of the needs of ordinary and often poor citizens – a dislike Amos also showed in his ‘prophesying.’

It is quite a revelation and inspiration to think that a person with Amos’ antagonism towards some others can be chosen by God to deliver a message of condemnation of the unsuitable practices of ‘the better-off.’   Although we learn from Jesus to love other people, God probably can turn some of our ‘unfortunate’ attitudes to work for the good of others – even if it means telling off people we don’t really approve of, as long as it contributes to their betterment. What do you think?

Good News for us all

10 Sep

Hopefully everyone at some time or other has had something that could amount to being called good news – some joy, some uplift, some vision of a brighter future, some great opportunity, some benefit, some personal enrichment etc.

For Christians all good news is in some way related to and arising from the person and life of Jesus, and from the God He reveals. Good news is to do with love, ours for others, others for us. It is to do with life and its ‘enrichment,’ for us and for those we love. Good news is relief and hope for who we are and who we can become – it is life-changing.

When individuals experiences any of this, to some degree or other, they have to find words to express it. The message of Christianity, from the start and through to the present, when it is at its best, provides words and rituals to express this, and a language, and a community in which to celebrate and rejoice, and to encourage this experience of deep joy – the Good News!

Wisdom not rules!

3 Sep

Religious people, perhaps even more than others, seem to have rules about what you should and should not do. Some also have rituals and set prayers.   All these can help our frail humanity, can give us guidance. But they may ignore the mystery of living. For what it is to be fully human is not quite known to us; what we should do – how behave – is not fully known. Set practices and formulae at best can make us feel comfortable or proud. We need God in the form of Wisdom; and we have God but we must be attentive to what Wisdom wants of each of us; be attentive and do it!

I like this poetic rendering of the passage in the Book of Wisdom (9:13-18) – do you?

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