"Consider this ...." by Canon Denise
Years ago I came across a poem which basically said – the more you learn makes you realise how little you know! Becoming a Christian is the first step of an eternal learning journey.
With the Holy Spirit’s guidance along the way one learns new things about oneself, about God and about others. We may outgrow some of the things we learned in the past as we grow closer to God through faith in Christ.
Faith is not static – and there are many things which we are called to think upon as we journey. 1 John 4 v1 says to test the spirits in order to recognise the Spirit of God.
During Denise’s absence, Campbell and Janice will contribute some thoughts each week.
So as we journey together let’s make time and space to consider this …….
The Eighteenth Sunday after Trinity
Almighty and everlasting God:
Increase in us your gift of faith
that, forsaking what lies behind,
we may run the way of your commandments
and win the crown of everlasting joy;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
The First Reading - Job 1: 1, 2: 1-10 or Genesis 2:18-24
The Psalm - Psalm 26
The Second Reading - Hebrews 1: 1-4, 2: 5-12
The Gospel Reading - Mark 10: 2-16
Click here to view the readings via the oremus Bible Browser website
Post Communion Prayer
All praise and thanks, O Christ,
for this sacred banquet,
in which by faith we receive you,
the memory of your passion is renewed,
our lives are filled with grace,
and a pledge of future glory given,
to feast at that table where you reign
with all your saints for ever. Amen
The Epistle or Letter to the Hebrews can cause us to scratch our heads and ask 'what is this all about'!
True contrasting Jesus with the various references in the Epistle to the role and purposes of High Priests, prophets, blood sacrifices, the first covenant and tabernacle and much, much more, from what we call 'the Old Testament' can be somewhat confusing!
So we can justifiably ask why and the reason is quite simple. The letter or epistle was directed mainly, it is thought, to a group of Jewish Christians, probably living in Rome, who were having a hard time, suffering fierce persecution - personal attacks, attacks on their homes imprisoned, ridiculed, insulted and so on, simply because of their faith. Now whilst many actually accepted their persecution joyfully some were discouraged and disillusioned, some were thinking about turning back, turning back to their old way of living, turning back to their former religious practices.
So the writer reminds them about who Jesus was and what he had accomplished, to encourage them and to build up their faith. Jesus he argued is the 'exact imprint of God's being' - to understand Jesus is to understand God! 'He (Jesus) is the reflection of God's glory and the exact imprint of God's very being.'
Perhaps when you or I get a bit down, or feel the world is against us, or wonder why bad things happen to good people, or when God doesn't make sense, or when others without fear of God or man seem to prosper, we might remind ourselves of what Jesus has done for each of us. Let's 'Consider him who endured such hostility against himself from sinners, so that you may not grow weary or lose heart.' Heb 12:3
I was with a group recently at Corrymeela and because it was such a lovely sunny day our afternoon session was held in a section of the grounds overlooking the sea. In the middle of the lawn was a large cross and beside it a garden bench on which a couple of my colleagues were sitting during our deliberations.
After our discussions, and as we left the area, I looked back and noticed that the shadow of the cross had been covering the exact place where one of my colleagues was sitting. The image stuck with me because I knew that my colleague was having a 'hard time' because of concern for someone very dear to her - and she had been sitting all afternoon under the shadow of the cross!
It made me thing of those words by Elizabeth C Clephone
Beneath the cross of Jesus
I fain would take my stand,
The shadow of a mighty Rock
Within a weary land;
A home within the wilderness,
A rest upon the way,
From the burning of the noontide heat,
And the burden of the day.
The little group of Christians, to whom the epistle of Hebrews was directed, needed encouragement and reassurance in the 'wilderness and burning of the noontide heat' and in the burden of their day and I guess that happens to us all now and again. It's great, isn't it, to be sheltered in the shadow of the One who 'endured such hostility himself so that we may not grow weary or lose hope'.
Father hear the prayer we offer:
Not for eased that prayer shall be,
But for strength that we may ever,
Live our lives courageously.
Be our strength in hours of weakness,
In our wanderings be our guide;
Through endeavour, failure, danger,
Father, ever be thou at our side.
Rev Campbell Dixon MBE