Collect and Readings for The Fifteenth Sunday after Trinity, Proverbs 1:20-33, Isaiah 50:4-9a, Psalm 19 and 116:1-8, Wisdom of Solomon 7:26-8:1, James 3:1-12, Mark 8:27-38;
The Prayer for today God, who in generous mercy sent the Holy Spirit upon your Church in the burning fire of your love: grant that your people may be fervent in the fellowship of the gospel that, always abiding in you, they may be found steadfast in faith and active in service; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Obedience is currently rather a despised quality, and certainly not one which most people would strive to develop. Rather the opposite since it has connotations for us being somewhat immature and not yet our own independent person if we claim to place any store by it. Not surprisingly, children pick this up in adults and copy it. Children learn discipline and self-control from disciplined, self-controlled adults, who value obedience themselves.
The reading from Proverbs speaks of wisdom being the willingness to listen to advice and take it, and to accept rebuke so as to learn. That is all part of obedience, the getting into a position where we can hear and accept a superior's teaching. Those who refuse the offer are considered simple and foolish in terms of eternity.
As the prophet in the book of Isaiah speaks of the figure of the servant in complete loving obedience to God, his hearers would understand that here is someone of perfect wisdom and harmony with God, humble and courageous enough to do what is required as Saviour, whatever the personal cost. Though the people might well rebel in full-blooded human style, they recognise the importance and good sense of obedience.
In the letter of James the early church is well chastised by the exasperated elder who has presumably come across yet another disaster caused by ill-disciplined tongues! And he's right – that small organ is capable of so much harm, and we'd do well to reflect on James' passionate outburst and think about how often what we say hurts others and reflects poorly on us as Christians. Again, it's our dislike of living obediently. If only God would turn his back for a minute while we say or do what we know he'd tell us not to!
But our example is Jesus, and so we in our Gospel reading meet him at the point when his disciples are beginning to get who he is, so he starts to explain what this will involve. But it's too much for his friends. If Jesus isn't going to protest, then they will. Thankfully Jesus stands firm, and lays out the obedience needed for all potential followers.
Some things to reflect on:
Are we prepared to take Jesus up on his offer?
When have we done or said things which we wouldn't have wanted God to see or hear?
How do you feel about being obedient?
Do you like to break the boundaries and rebel?
God bless and stay safe and well
Rev'd Fiona Robinson