Collect and Readings for the Eleventh Sunday after Trinity – Jeremiah 2.4-13, Ecclesiasticus 10.12-18, Proverbs 25.6-7, Psalm 81.1-end, Psalm 112, Hebrews 13.1-8, 15-16, Luke 14.1, 7-14The Prayer for today O God, you declare your almighty power most chiefly in showing mercy and pity: mercifully grant to us such a measure of your grace, that we, running the way of your commandments, may receive your gracious promises, and be made partakers of your heavenly treasure; 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.
In the reading from Jeremiah there is a powerful image of a broken, leaking well. God grieves because his people have chosen to reject the life-giving springs of his pure water which never dry up and decided instead to do their own thing and build these wells which are cracked, so any water they collect quickly runs away. The wells of their own making are vastly inferior and they don't work; yet still the people choose to trust these rather than God's blatantly superior offer.
Often when people are first converted, they are bursting to tell people about the God they have just discovered and can't understand how anyone could not want what they have found, even though for years they themselves have also been struggling with leaking wells without realising the reality of God's alternative. The more Christians there are gossiping the good news among their own contacts in a regular, informed and friendly way, the more chance there is of people hearing about God's offer at the point when their hearts are ready to listen.
It was as one of the guests at a 'Sunday dinner' equivalent, that Jesus brought the conversation round to what people needed to hear, spoken anecdotally and through the after-dinner stories. They described a way of thinking that was quite radical, turning accepted values upside-down and suggesting a way of living which could liberate people and transform them.
The reading from Hebrews provides us with some good, practical guidelines for living God's way, both as individuals and as a community. All the behaviour described is a natural result of loving one another as brothers and sisters – as 'family'. We are advised to pray imaginatively for prisoners and all those who suffer – 'as if you are there with them'. There is a great sense of the importance of community again, and recognition that in God's way of living, individuals have a calling and a responsibility to be members of a corporate unit of loving: the Church of God.
Some things to reflect on:
What attitudes and behaviour of our church, our society and our families could be described as constructing wells that leak?
How do the practical hints for Godly living in Hebrews help our spiritual development and prayer life?
God bless and stay safe and well.
Rev'd Fiona Robinson