Collect and Readings for the Ninth Sunday after Trinity – Isaiah 5.1-7, Jeremiah 23.23-29, Psalm 80.1-2,9-end, Psalm 82, Hebrews 11.29-12.2, Luke 12.49-56The Prayer for todayAlmighty God, who sent your Holy Spirit to be the life and light of your Church: open our hearts to the riches of your grace, that we may bring forth the fruit of the Spirit in love and joy and peace; 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.
Many parents have high hopes for their children. Musical toys are given encouragingly to offspring who start singing in tune before they can talk. Balls to kick around are bought partly for fun and partly to foster any latent talent. Financial sacrifices are made for children showing potential in particular sports or arts. It would be cynical to think that all this is 'pushy parent syndrome'; mostly it shows the natural pride and delight of parents in the children they love.
God, too, has high hopes for the children he loves. He delights in our progress and looks out for the seeds of the gifts he has given us to blossom; he loves to watch us using these gifts for the good of the world. Today we sense God's sadness as he looks for the good and wholesome lives which we are capable of living as his creation, and finds instead destructive selfishness, bloodshed and cries of distress. We all know the aching disappointment of an attempt which has failed in spite of the lavish care we have invested in it. Sadly, we have to recognise that sometimes our behaviour, both collectively and individually, disappoints our parent God.
Such behaviour and attitudes are a waste of our life. The writer of the letter to the Hebrews urges us to get rid of everything that hinders and entangles us, so that we can run the race more easily and comfortably. And the best way of doing that is by keeping our sights fixed on Jesus. It is noticeable throughout history that whenever people have done this, they have been enabled to bring about great good, both within the Church and in society. It is when their eyes swivel round to fix on other things that corruption, distortion of the truth, and injustice start taking over. Rather like bindweed, they can look attractive, but throttle the life out of whatever they climb over. And the roots need to be eradicated to prevent strong regrowth. Jesus warns his followers that the path of righting deep-rooted wrong will not be straightforward or without radical disturbance and upheaval, not only in individuals, but also in families and nations and church communities.
Some things to reflect on:
€ Why do we prefer to run cluttered lives when it would obviously be easier to be free?
€ If God is a God of peace, why is Jesus promising conflict?
God bless and stay safe and well.
Rev'd Fiona Robinson