Sunday, 7 June 2015

Can't make it to church - 7 June 15

The Old Testament reading today highlights one of the predicaments of those who have both a faith and children in that whilst we can bring our kids up in the 'right' way, there comes a time when 'faith' needs to stop being inherited and become their own. This is an area that challenges many Christian parents because the look back at the sweet kid who recited the Lord's Prayer and had an apparently sound faith and wonder where it all went wrong. But it hasn't gone wrong at all.

Setting the conditions by which a life of faith is experienced is a great gift, but the day comes when the child becomes an adult and as such they need to live the faith of an adult and test the faith before them for themselves. Sometimes they will stray from the path and cross the lines, but this is part of the exploration and making life real for them. 

And with the Old Testament passage we see the beginning of the Rake's progress that leads some into secular ways as civilisation moves from The rule of God to man and downwards into republics and into doing whatever seems right in our own eyes. The rule of law is diminishing and the ability of some to hold awful, and awesome, power over others is before us. But we, like children, are perhaps just straying from the paths and crossing lines ourselves in our attempt to make life and belief (and belief is part of us all - even those who claim to have no belief) our own authentic reality.

The Gospel is a shot across the bows for those who would seek to deny the image of God in others, especially those who share the label 'Church' for indeed 'no house divided against itself can stand; and as the Corinthians passage reminds us, what we have now is but a temporary dwelling - son don't sell the farm for popularity or one's own way - live in unity, love and peace with all. Be patient with those who are seeking to understand what faith means and pray, and bless, all you encounter (but that doesn't mean you have to agree with the folly ;-)).

The Collect sums it all up for us today I guess:
God of truth, help us to keep your law of love and to walk in ways of wisdom, that we may find true life in Jesus Christ your Son. Amen.

1 Samuel 8.4-15
Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah, and said to him, ‘You are old and your sons do not follow in your ways; appoint for us, then, a king to govern us, like other nations.’ But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, ‘Give us a king to govern us.’ Samuel prayed to the Lord, and the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Listen to the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them. Just as they have done to me, from the day I brought them up out of Egypt to this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so also they are doing to you. Now then, listen to their voice; only—you shall solemnly warn them, and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them.’ So Samuel reported all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking him for a king.He said, ‘These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen, and to run before his chariots; and he will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and some to plough his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers.He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards and give them to his courtiers. He will take one-tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and his courtiers

2 Corinthians 4.13 - 5.1 
But just as we have the same spirit of faith that is in accordance with scripture—‘I believed, and so I spoke’—we also believe, and so we speak, because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus, and will bring us with you into his presence. Yes, everything is for your sake, so that grace, as it extends to more and more people, may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.

So we do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure, because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal. For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

Mark 3.20-3
and the crowd came together again, so that they could not even eat. When his family heard it, they went out to restrain him, for people were saying, ‘He has gone out of his mind.’ And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, ‘He has Beelzebul, and by the ruler of the demons he casts out demons.’ And he called them to him, and spoke to them in parables, ‘How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but his end has come. But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his property without first tying up the strong man; then indeed the house can be plundered. 

‘Truly I tell you, people will be forgiven for their sins and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit can never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin’ -  for they had said, ‘He has an unclean spirit.’

Then his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside, they sent to him and called him. A crowd was sitting around him; and they said to him, ‘Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside, asking for you.’ And he replied, ‘Who are my mother and my brothers?’ And looking at those who sat around him, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.’ 

Post Communion Prayer
Eternal Father, we thank you for nourishing us with these heavenly gifts: may our communion strengthen us in faith, build us up in hope, and make us grow in love; for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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