Collect and Readings for The Nineteenth Sunday after Trinity, Job 23:1-9, Amos 5:6-7, 10-15, Psalm 22:1-15 and 90:12-17, Hebrews 4:12-16, Mark 10:17-31
The Prayer for todayO God, forasmuch as without you we are not able to please you; mercifully grant that your Holy Spirit may in all things direct and rule our hearts; 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.
The prophet Amos urges his hearers to seek the Lord and live, implying that unless they actively seek God and his goodness, truth, and justice, they will find themselves unable to inherit God's blessing in their lives or their nation. The alternative Old Testament reading from Job shows us in contrast a God-fearing upright man who is steadfastly seeking God with all his heart, even though he feels surrounded by thick darkness and unable to fund him. Even in the darkness and silence, Job continues to seek, trusting that God knows where he is and will eventually reveal himself.
Seeking God is a quest that alters our whole outlook on life. It isn't a casual hobby, or a weekend interest. While we actively seek God, we will be listening and looking attentively, and this will move us to question our own motives for doing things, and the way we behave. We cannot be seeking God, for instance, if we are trampling on all that is right and good, despising those who tell the truth and crushing the poor. If we are honest and serious in our search, the very seeking will begin to change us, by changing our hearts.
The writer of Hebrews has obviously seen and experienced this process and likens the power of the word of God to a sharp sword – or perhaps for us the image of a surgeon's scalpel – with it's precise, clean cit, enabling the healing work to be done. Once the thoughts and attitudes of our hearts are being transformed, through God's power, then the impossible business of conquering sin becomes a distinct possibility; hope is in sight for us at last!
The young man in today's Gospel is keen. He comes running up to Jesus, wanting to know how he can inherit eternal life. Typically, Jesus doesn't answer directly, but picks up on the young man's thinking, as shown in calling Jesus 'good. His seeking has already led him to recognise goodness in this preacher, and Jesus helps him further along, to look at what God's ideas of goodness are, and where that challenges the young man's life. When he moves away frowning, it isn't that he disagrees with Jesus, but that he has just realised that he is right.
Like the young man, we who seek will find Jesus challenging us and then we have to choose whether to go on with the search, or press cancel.
Some things to reflect on:
How can we help one another through the dark times when God does not seem to be answering us or making himself known?
What makes it so incredibly worthwhile to follow Jesus, in spite of the difficulties?
When have we been challenged and face the decision of do we go on or press cancel?
God bless and stay safe and well.
Rev'd Fiona Robinson