Reflection: "A Kingdom Built By Love"
Our reading from the Psalms this morning reminds us that we are happiest when we put our trust in the Lord.
We know that he has provided a great earth for us to live in and that he watches over those who keep the faith.
All throughout the ministry of Jesus, he talked about the “Kingdom”.
Sometimes this was referred to as the Kingdom of God and sometimes it as referred to as the Kingdom of Heaven.
To me, the latter title can lead us to believe that we can only enter that Kingdom when we die and go to be with the Lord, but many other passages in the New Testament tell us that the Kingdom is here now, and we can be part of it.
The book of Revelation even tells us that God will bring the heaven to earth to create the New Jerusalem, so those who believe that the Kingdom is only a place “up there”, that we call Heaven, appear to be a bit misinformed.
Wherever it is, and whatever it’s called, this Kingdom sounds like it’s the place we should all be striving to be in.
In today’s reading from Mark, he recounts the story of when Jesus was in Jerusalem, discussing some important points with the priests, scribes and elders of the temple.
Jesus amplifies the fact that love is the cornerstone of the greatest commandment.
He lists love as the prime mark of the Kingdom of God.
In delineating this truth, he breaks it down, based on the traditional explications of the Hebrew Bible – what we now know as the sacred texts of the Old Testament.
Jesus refers them back to the passage in Deuteronomy when he states that the greatest commandment is:
“Shema Israel” (which means "Hear, O Israel") “The Lord our God is one.”
Here, he’s trying to capture the attention of the whole nation regardless of their tribal affiliations, age, gender, class, or religious grouping - a universal demand on the nation of Israel, clarifying the fact that when it comes to paying a loving allegiance to the Lord our God, there is no distinction that stands out as a mark of division.
The unity emerges out of the assertion that there is only one God and this one God should be the object of our love in its entirety and our subjection in loving allegiance.
He then continues, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.”
It was and is very unusual for a divine and superior supernatural God to aspire love as a mark of relationship.
In most cases, deities expect their subjects or followers absolute and uncompromising obedience or allegiance mostly marked by sacrifices, gifts, and offerings.
In a completely opposite manner, our God speaks about loving relationship on the basis of the gift and the offering that he brings to the altar.
It was unheard of for a deity to bring a sacrifice to the altar as atonement, which was a means of bringing oneness between himself and his followers.
As we receive God's best, we need to be prepared to offer our best in exchange.
That is the innate nature of a working love relationship.
“Love your neighbour as yourself.”
Love of a neighbour flows out of us living the loving relationship we already have with God.
When we love God, that love takes the love of self out of the mix.
It is holistic - in the true sense of the word - therefore, when we give our all to God, without keeping anything for ourselves, the fullness of God's love dwells in the centre of our souls.
By then, loving our neighbours as ourselves, becomes natural.
After all, it's no more “I” that lives, but rather it's Christ who lives in us; therefore, sharing our new identity with others becomes our challenge, by the virtue of our new identity.
Christ lived in this world to give away everything within him - his time, resources, body, blood, spirit, soul, and even breath - was to be given away.The kingdom of God is built and maintained by this kind of love.
In history, great empires come and go and great leaders rise and fall.
Wealth, power and fame and might are proven to be transient in nature and there is no permanency in their nature. The only power that is proven to be permanent is the power of love.
1 Corinthians 13 reinforces this thought when it declares clearly "Love never fails."
I read recently of an American Lutheran minister, Reverend Gemechis Buba who had been born in Africa.
He said: “Terms such as peace, love, honour, stability, relationships, and care are very catchy to someone like me. They are catchy to someone born and brought up in a country where peaceful relationship is a rarity. Given its political history, east Africa and its adjacent region of the Middle East are known throughout the history of humanity by unstable systems of governance.
I was born and brought up in a country called Ethiopia in the eastern part of Africa. This is a country which claims to have a history of 3,000 years. In reality, its modern empire state is just about 100 years old, consolidated under the emperor Minilike by colonizing the southern kingdoms and regional states. In both historical accounts, meaning in the account of the Ethiopian chroniclers attributing 3,000 years of national history, or in the factual 100 years of national statehood consolidated by Minilike, one fact stands out very clearly: This country has never seen a single day without war until today. War has been the national trademark, part of the national news, and it is always included in daily talks on the streets of the nation.
However, we know that hatred breeds hatred, bloodshed breeds bloodshed, violence produces violence and Injustice begets misery and lawlessness. When children are born and brought up in such a place, they tend to believe that this is just something to be seen as a viable option and as a normal pattern of relationship for people to engage in. Violence seems to be the way to go, even a justifiable way of settling differences by securing superior status over the one on the other side of the fence. This is the way I was brought up into mature manhood. It is more than likely that I was, of course, impacted by such an enormous contextual reality in which I am placed. My thinking, reflections, opinion, and reaction to different circumstances are derived from things in my background that provided the holistic fibres by which I was wired.”
Today millions of children across the continent of Africa, the Middle Eastern region, across Eastern Europe and within the inner cities of western Metropolitan cities of western nations, are being brought up to become mature men and women under the direct influence of cultures of violence and dysfunctional social structures.
These environments are populating our world with citizens characterized by embedded hostility and innate inclinations towards invoking violence as a viable means of resolving differences.
In most cases, heads of states, governments, and community leaders are very hesitant and extra cautious in summoning religious communities into the mix to bring about a peaceful ending to the whole process. Fundamentalism, religious radicalism, and religiously instigated clashes are mushrooming.
In such times, where media is pulling the whole world very close to each other through multitudes of communication media, it is rather ironic for humanity to find itself back in the ditches of mistrust and mutual mistreatment.
In other words, religions are losing their relevance in making a credible difference within the actual lives of the global community.”
However, I believe that only through our faith - our love of God and for our fellow man - can we build up God’s kingdom here on earth - it’s up to us to work out ways that we can be a part of this kingdom and to determine what practical steps we can take to show love to our fellow man.
It may be as simple as saying a kind word to someone who is going through a rough time, or by praying for, or supporting, agencies that are providing assistance and comfort to those in need.
As individuals, we don’t need to solve all the world problems in this coming week, but we do need to take some positive steps towards making the world a better place – one where all God’s creatures can live together in peace and harmony – in love.
Together, I believe that we can make a real difference in the Kingdom.
In his service……………..Pastor Rick
Reflection: "Our Faith Makes Us Well"
What a wonderful story we have this week from the Gospel of Mark!
The short form is: a blind man, forced to beg because of his disability, hears that Jesus is coming.
He has faith and he shouts out, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!"
Jesus hears him, calls him, heals him and immediately, the man regains his sight and follows Jesus.
Isn't that just the best story you've ever heard - a story of restored sight, of one who advocates for himself despite all the naysayers, a story of one who finds community in the companionship of Jesus' followers?
"Let me see again!" the blind man says and Jesus ensures that he does.
So, here's my question: Is seeing all it's cracked up to be?
I only ask because of what's been happening with Jesus' disciples to this point.
After half-healing another blind man on the first attempt a couple of chapters earlier (it actually took two attempts to restore that person's sight), Jesus works just as hard to open the eyes of the disciples.
When they were in Caesarea Philippi, he tells them that "the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the religious authorities, and be killed, and after 3 days, rise again."
Upon hearing this, Peter rebukes Jesus., because Peter’s faith is weak – he’s not well - he cannot see.
Then, when they were passing on through Galilee, Jesus tells the disciples again that the Son of Man will be betrayed, killed, and will rise from the dead.
"But," Mark tells us, "they did not understand and were afraid to ask him."
They still couldn’t see.
Yet again, as they are going up to Jerusalem - where he will be betrayed and killed - Jesus tries one last time to show the disciples what is about to transpire: The Son of Man will be handed over, be killed and rise from the dead.
In an odd response to Jesus' words, the brothers James and John ask him for the honoured positions, the right- and left-hand seats, when Jesus comes into his glory.
You can almost hear Jesus sighing, because James and John still don't get it – they don’t see.
It's easy to criticize the disciples for their inability to understand the things Jesus is showing them.
But the things he's showing them aren't easy concepts to grasp.
Suffering? Betrayal? Death?
That’s not what’s supposed to happen to the warrior Messiah, the one who’s come to save Israel.
They were at a loss to understand what Jesus was telling them.
Come to think of it, what might any of us do if our beloved teacher told us these things?
Some things are just too hard to grasp and are better left alone - so sometimes seeing isn't all it's cracked up to be.
That's especially true in our life of faith, isn't it?
It's much easier to focus only on the happy parts of faith - God's love for everyone, God's desire for our well-being.
But faith doesn't involve only the happy parts, does it?
A mature faith also engages the hard things...things like suffering, betrayal, and death, poverty, human trafficking, corporate corruption, climate change, hunger and domestic violence, etc.
All types of faith can look on just the happy parts of life, but a mature faith dares to look at the hard parts, too.
But really seeing the hard parts of life exacts a price on us, doesn't it?
When we see the world's brokenness, we lose some of our innocence, we suffer and don’t feel well.
When we see the world's brokenness, we feel compelled to do something about it.
The Gospels depict Jesus as having spent a large proportion of his time healing people.
Although, like the author of Job in the Old Testament, Jesus specifically rejected the widely held Jewish belief that sickness was God's way of getting even with sinners.
He nonetheless seems to suggest a connection between sickness and sin, seeing seen sin as a kind of sickness.
"Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick;” he said.
"I came not to call the righteous, but sinners." (Mark 2:17)
Ever since the time of Jesus, healing has been part of the Christian tradition.
It's easy for us to criticize the' disciples for not seeing the truth that Jesus was showing them...but maybe their NOT seeing was a protective mechanism, a defence.
Maybe deep down they knew that once they really saw what Jesus was showing them, they wouldn't be able to unsee it again.
Once they understood what he was saying about the reality of the world, their lives were going to have to change.
Once they understood that following Jesus would lead them to suffering, betrayal, and death - then their rose-tinted glasses style of faith would no longer sustain them.
Maybe the disciples avoided seeing what Jesus was showing them because they knew that it can be dangerous.
Yes, seeing can be dangerous - it can call into question everything we've ever believed.
It can dismantle our faith, our theology, our worldview - seeing has the potential to devastate us.
And yet, a big part of following Jesus is seeing things as they really are.
Why else would he show his disciples not once, not twice, but three times, what was going to happen in Jerusalem?
Seeing must be important to the life of faith.
But if seeing is important to the life of faith and it also has the potential to devastate us, what are we to do?
Do we keep our hearts open, but our eyes closed - or our eyes open, but our hearts closed?
Is there some way as a person of faith to keep both our eyes and our hearts open?
What I'm asking is, "How do we survive seeing?"
Well, here's how I believe that Bartimaeus survived it: he started with Jesus.
He said "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!"
First and foremost, Bartimaeus acknowledges Jesus and then he’s healed.
First of all, Bartimaeus trusts in Jesus and then he sees.
Before Bartimaeus looks at anything, Jesus becomes the context for everything he will see.
After his healing, Bartimaeus won't see anything without thinking of the one who healed him: Jesus.
Before the first ray of light hits the first molecule of either retina, Jesus becomes the context in which Bartimaeus will see everything.
So, what does it mean to see everything in the context of Jesus?
When we look at the world in the context of Jesus, it's true – we’ll see suffering, we'll see betrayal and we'll see death - it's unavoidable.
The world is broken in so many places and a mature faith will look at those places, seeing them for what they are.
But, as Jesus tried to show his disciples time and time again, when you look at the world - even at its ugliest, hardest, and most fragile - when you see the world in the context of him, you also see the power of his resurrection.
Ok, you might have to look at the ugly, hard, fragile things for a long time before it happens, but eventually, always in the context of Jesus, you will see the resurrection of our Lord.
How do we, people of faith, survive seeing the world as it is?
I believe that we must follow the example of Bartimaeus:
We have to begin with Jesus and we have to have faith that he will make us well again.
Reflection: "Not to be Served, but to Serve"
The sign outside the church asked:
“LOOKING FOR PEACE IN LIFE?
WORRIED ABOUT THE FUTURE?”
And underneath the questions, the author, probably the local minister, had written:
“JESUS IS THE ANSWER”
So often, in today’s hectic world, this is the predominate presentation of the Christian message.
We all have some sort of wants and needs - perhaps it’s for peace in a troubled life, or for greater hope and confidence in the future - and we’re told that Jesus is the answer.
This style of ministry is called "evangelism" and it’s an attempt to draw people toward the gospel, to win people to Christ, by putting forth all the benefits of following Jesus.
Looking for meaning in life?
“Jesus has got it for you.”
A sense of serenity and hope in an often difficult and demanding world
“Jesus has got you covered.”
Years ago, I heard of a church who hired a consultant to teach the ministry team how they could grow their congregation and he advised:
"First find where people itch; then find a way for the church to scratch that itch."
"The church is here to meet people's wants and needs," he said.
In today’s reading from Mark's gospel, we see that Mark certainly wants to reach people with the message of Christ.
It begins with the words:
"Here is the good news of Jesus Christ"
- often called the gospel of Jesus.
Remarkably, when compared with the way we talk about Jesus today, Mark has little to say about our wants and needs, our struggles and our difficulties.
Mark mainly just talks about Jesus - and when he talks about Jesus, it's not about Jesus as the answer to our problems, but rather Jesus as an enigmatic and demanding Lord.
We read that, as the disciples walk along with Jesus, a couple of them say,
“Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.”
They knew that those who sit next to the boss are those who share power with him.
In other words, "Jesus, when we get you elected Messiah and your Kingdom is here, we want to sit on your inner Cabinet – and at the top seats, no less!"
It’s an understandable request for the disciples to make of Jesus.
After all, they were the ones who’d left everything they had, to follow him, to walk with him along his way.
Do you ever wonder why it was that they committed to following Jesus?
Well, unlike a lot of people of the time, they probably believed that Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah, the great leader who would come in, probably raise an army, kick out the Romans out of Judea and set up Israel again as the most powerful nation in the world.
It hadn’t been easy for them, following Jesus all over Judea, so, their request was really quite understandable:
"Lord, when you finally get everything together and win your kingdom, let us sit beside you and rule with you."
Maybe what they should have said was:
“Lord, when at last you bring peace on earth, let that peace first be in my heart, in my marriage, in my family.”
But they didn’t.
And Jesus replied to their perfectly understandable request by saying:
"You don't know what you're asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink? Are you able to be baptised with the baptism that I am baptised with?"
With hindsight, we know that the disciples didn't really have a clue about what Jesus was actually saying.
The road that Jesus walked is a road that leads to torture and death on a cross.
The "cup" that Jesus would drink, was the cup of his horrible death.
The "baptism" that would drown him, is the baptism of his death as he suffocates on the cross.
The disciples show how clueless they are, when they respond:
We can do that!
We’re able to drink your cup and be baptised with your baptism!
At times, I think that we’re a bit like those "sturdy dreamers".
Are we able to receive the peace, the benefits, the joy, the sense of deeper meaning and the reassurance of God?
"Oh, sure! We’re able!" we enthusiastically answer.
Are we able to be crucified like Jesus was crucified, suffer, be rejected and disappointed like he was?
And we reply,
"Sure! We can do that!"
I guess, deep down, we expect Jesus to say, "You idiots! Here we are, a fair way down the road, in the middle of Mark’s gospel and you’re still clueless. You show by your response that you don't have the foggiest idea of what I've been talking about all along the road, do you?"
And maybe Jesus was thinking that, but what he actually said was,
“The cup that I drink, you will drink; and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized.”
Jesus doesn’t promise his disciples that they’ll be in glory with him, rewarded and happy.
He promises that if they follow him, they’ll share with him in his sufferings and challenges.
Two of the disciples ask to sit next to Jesus in his glory, one on his right, one on his left.
In actual fact, when Jesus came into his "glory", it wasn’t on a throne - it was on a cross, and the two people on his right, and on his left, were not disciples, but common criminals, thieves.
This is the message that contemporary followers of Jesus have been reluctant to proclaim to the world, perhaps because we're reluctant to hear this message ourselves!
Jesus isn’t a technique for getting what we want out of God; Jesus is God's way of getting what God wants out of us.
God wants a world, a world redeemed, restored to him and the way God gets that, is with ordinary people like you and me, who are willing to walk like Jesus, talk like Jesus, and yes, even, to suffer like him, if needs be.
I've always thought it would have been enough of a challenge if Jesus had only said,
"Even though I’m the Messiah, the Son of God, Saviour of the world, I’m still going to be nailed to a cross and killed."
But, unfortunately for us, Jesus also said,
“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, to give his life a ransom for many.”
And there it is - that's the real gospel, the Good News, the real, honest to goodness, Good News.
Is that the sort of Good News that you’re looking for?
Are you willing to follow Jesus through all his trials and tribulations and suffer them yourself, devoting your life to serving, rather than bring served?
It certainly isn’t an easy life, but we’re assured that the rewards are out of this world.
Reflection: "A Wake-up Call For Our Souls"
In today’s Gospel lesson, Jesus is just about to set out on a trip when he’s stopped by a man with a question.
How tempting it must have been for Jesus to push the question aside - after all, there were other villages and other people waiting to hear his message - but Jesus, in his usually caring way, stopped and answered the man.
Unlike us - who are too often caught up in the big picture, Jesus saw each person as a precious creation of God.
We can imagine that the man had already been listening to Jesus teach and that’s why he approached Jesus.
He’d probably been a part of the crowd that had listened to this new rabbi, perhaps amazed at the authority with which Jesus taught, or at least the fresh approach that he was offering on life and faith.
But now that he saw Jesus was about to leave, he wanted him to get to the bottom line.
What was the key part of these teachings that he could take with him and to live in a new and powerful way?
He wanted to get to the heart of what the Gospel was about, so he asked,
"Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?"
Maybe the man was thinking, what MORE do I have to do?
After all, I'm a good person, I know the rules, the commandments and I’ve faithfully kept them.
I’m a good neighbour and do the thoughtful thing, but something’s missing, so what do I have to do?
No one can just approach Jesus and interrupt him, without expecting to be challenged.
In addition, let me give you all a word of caution, don't go to God in prayer and not expect a challenge, a push to grow or change in our faith journey.
And the risk, as it was for the man in the Gospel, is a wake-up call for the soul.
What we had understood as being sufficient, is only the beginning of something greater.
The point is that the man hadn’t done anything wrong.
In fact, Mark tells us that Jesus loved the man, who was what we’d call a good and decent man.
Jesus turned the flattery that the man had tried to use to get his attention, back on the man.
The man had called him "Good Teacher", but Jesus replied, "No one is good but God alone."
Jesus wanted the man to see that goodness is not something to obtain, or possess, but rather, a goal to seek.
He challenged this law-abiding man, saying that he could never be good enough - exposing the man's pride.
It appears that Jesus didn't want him to repeat the same mistake - of thinking that he’d done enough.
Perhaps, Jesus saw that the man was just feeling invincible, that he was in control of his life and didn’t have to entrust that control to God.
His mistake was by asking what HE COULD do, instead of asking what GOD WOULD do in, and through, him.
When Jesus got to the bottom line, with love and compassion, he told the man that he was only one step away - but the man couldn't, or wouldn’t, take that step.
He couldn't trust God enough to give up all he had been blessed with and to give his life to follow Jesus.
Let me tell you a story.
A backpacker met up with a monk and the monk offered to show him around the monastery.
They came to the monk's room and the tourist noticed no TV - only one change of clothes, a towel and a blanket.
He asked, "How do you live so simply?"
To which the monk answered, "I noticed you have only enough things to fill a backpack; why do you live so simply?"
The tourist replied, "But I'm just a tourist, I'm only traveling through."
The monk then said, "So am I, my son, so am I."
Things we think we HAVE to have, necessities we think we can’t live without, do we own them, or do they own us?
I’ve noticed that a lot of yesterday's luxuries tend to become today's necessities.
Our possessions, our wealth, our things, can all be obstacles between us and God.
Good advice for the traveller is "If you want to get away from it all, don't take it all with you."
But it’s hard to let go of what we depend upon, let go of what we think we need, and then trust in God's grace.
At the very beginning of the book of Genesis, the story of the beginning of all creation, there’s a story of Adam and Eve and the serpent, where Eve is tempted by the serpent to eat the one fruit in the garden, that was forbidden.
The promise was, that if she ate it, she’d be as wise as God - she even sold Adam on the same idea.
Since the very beginning of the human race, we’ve been looking for a shortcut, an easy way out.
It didn't work in the Garden of Eden, it didn't work for the man who approached Jesus, and it won’t work for us.
Another word of caution in this story of the talking serpent is that we should be very cautious about the source of any advice that there is an easy, not-so-costly, way to completeness in our life and faith.
Even to this day we often try the easy way, even though we suspect that it’s too good to be true.
There’s no other way around being faced with a wake-up call for our souls.
God doesn't want to be an afterthought in our lives; he wants us to love him with all our hearts, souls, and minds.
To lead us to grow in our faith, God challenges each of us at the very point we hold dearest in our lives.
The man who had approached Jesus couldn't let go of what he possessed in order to be possessed by God.
He might have pleaded, "Why so much Lord?"
Why can’t we simply say a kind word, instead of having to actually DO something to help another?
Why not allow each of us simply to put our name on a list, saying that we’re for God, instead of actually being involved in activities for God?
Why can't God build his kingdom on good intentions?
Why can’t the hungry feed themselves, the lonely care for themselves, the children and youth learn their faith from someone else, or those burdened by life simply lift themselves up?
We ask, "Why do I have to be involved?
If I’m already doing my part, why do I have to do the part of another?"
The man who had felt so much urgency in asking Jesus for the insight he thought would be easy, the man who had just received "wake-up call" for his answer, probably walked away heartbroken, with his head bowed in sorrow.
He’d come so close, but he’d missed the opportunity.
Don't let the "wake-up call" keep you from discovering the joy and peace that comes into your life by letting Jesus Christ be your Lord and Saviour.
Have you ever noticed how the more you have, the greater the danger is of being selfish, the greater the risk is of letting God be in charge?
When Jesus saw what was happening with the man who had been so eager and was now turning away, he warned the disciples of this danger.
He warned them that it’s difficult for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.
And as you’re reading this message, you might not realise that you’re among the rich elite of this world, so take warning to ensure that your possessions don't possess you.
Jesus spoke of it being easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than a rich person to enter the kingdom.
We don't know what happened to the man who turned away from Jesus; we don't even know his name.
If he had accepted the challenge Jesus gave him, he might have been there at Pentecost to stand with Peter,
he might have written a Gospel like Mark or Luke,
he might have been an evangelist like Andrew or a missionary like Paul,
but he faded away in history because he couldn’t take that final step.
And before you, too, are taken aback by the wake-up call for your soul, listen again to the promise that Jesus makes to us all.
"For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God, all things are possible."
Whatever holds us back from making a total commitment to God, let us be willing to deal with it and take that final step to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength.
Let us pray that our Gracious God is listening to our supplications, because we are eager.
We all need more of his love and grace in our lives, so let’s drop what holds us back from accepting these precious gifts and find the courage to follow him, now and into the future.
Reflection: "The Majesty of God"
“O Lord, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth!”
So begins, and concludes, the reading from Psalm 8.
If you believe in God, then your idea of a great human being will closely resemble the kind of God you worship.
For example, if your God is the supreme Enforcer, then it’s more likely you’ll become like your God and the more you will try to push others around.
Or if, for example, your God is vengeful, so will you probably be.
It’s natural for any devotee to strive to become like their God.
We try to behave like that which we believe in.
Therefore, the doctrines we believe, the creeds we say, really matter.
The true believers will be shaped by their God.
For some people God is the absolute Individualist, the autocratic Dominator.
This represents a strong stream of thought, which we find in the Jewish religion, in some classical Greek philosophy, in Islam and also in at least one strand of Christianity.
For them, God is the ultimate soloist, the true absolute Monarch, lofty, utterly self-sufficient and not needing any other being for company.
For better or worse, this God is usually depicted as masculine.
His more fervent worshippers would get very hot under the collar if it were suggested the solo God could be anything but male - he is God the male dominator.
If people have this kind of a God, it should not be a surprise to discover that those who are the powerful individualists are seen as most successful.
The strong, determined, solo performer is highly admired.
In a tennis analogy, the popularity of singles players outranks doubles players, and for many players (thankfully not all) a victory in the team matches of Davis Cup competition ranks nowhere as high as a Grand Slam singles victory.
The God who is a dominator is mirrored by -
With these sorts of people, any open display of emotion (except that of excited self-congratulation when they win an Oscar, or an election) is frowned upon.
No weakness is ever admitted, no sincere apology likely to be made.
Public tears are the ultimate sign of character weakness.
Yet the bible presents a different view of God.
It’s a Trinitarian formula, which insists that the nature of God is closer to a loving community than to a lofty individuality.
The highest form of existence, of personal being, is communal.
God is communal and a choir singing at perfect pitch and in perfect harmony is closer to a definition of God than a lone soloist singing their heart out.
This communal being is the God we worship and true greatness lies in the direction of community rather than in self-sufficient individuality.
We will find the true meaning of being a person in fellowship.
The church community reflects God far better than a lone minister or priest, no matter how gifted that pastor may happen to be.
Individualism is the way of limitation, diminishment, and death.
Growth takes place when we live in harmony with others and when we give to others and receive from others.
When we know we need them as much as they need us.
That’s certainly a world that I believe God wants us to live in.
As we live our individual existence through these months of lockdown, don’t we yearn for the times of sharing and fellowship that encapsulated our lives pre-COVID?
Thanks to the love and leading of our majestic and ever-loving God, it seems like we are pulling together as a community by getting vaccinated at an amazing rate, thus allowing the health officials to recommend to the government that we can come out of our isolation and once again be the loving, caring community that God envisaged when he created us.
The COVID 19 vaccines that have been developed and tested (in an amazingly short time) can also be seen as a gift from the God who cares for his people.
Some people are still hesitant to get vaccinated and we pray that they will come to understand that any risks are infinitesimally small and by being fully vaccinated, they will not only protect themselves from the virus, but also keep their loved ones and the community safer, as well.
I look forward to being able to safely welcome you all to church in a very short time, when we are able to worship together as the community of God in Lane Cove.
“God, may we be sensitive to the isolation of so many of us.
May we seek to build bridges between human beings close by and far away.
May we seek ways of living in harmony with all of creation.
May we open ourselves to the truth that you are all around us,
……..always alongside us and continually within us.” Amen