Collect and Readings for The Eighteenth Sunday after Trinity, Job 1:1, 2:1-10, Genesis 2:18-24, Psalm 26 and 8, Hebrews 1:1-4: 2:5-12, Mark 10:2-16The Prayer for today Almighty and everlasting God, increase in us your gift of faith that, forsaking what lies behind and reaching out to that which is before, we may run the way of your commandments and win the crown of everlasting joy; 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.
You probably don't know much about Job. In our reading we are shown a man who recognises and accepts his place under God, and who will not be persuaded to curse his creator on account of his sufferings. To Job they, as well as the joys of life, are part of the deal and we have no right to accept all sunshine.
In the Genesis reading we look at the more ancient and primitive of the creation stories, with Adam being taken around the freshly made world, naming the animals and therefore being established as responsible for the care of creation. No animal being a suitable helpmate, woman is created from Adam, though for this birthing Adam is anaesthetised and spared the pain! (Floating ribs would have become separated in skeletons seen around the times of writing, possibly giving rise to the idea of woman being created from a spare rib).
The deep truth of the story lies in God creating people who are given responsibility while remaining subject to God, their creator. The 'God with man and woman' teamwork is established right at the start of history. It is just fresh and definite now, and we must not shirk that responsibility, under God, to care for the universe we inhabit. We are not called to dominate it and squeeze it dry for our own short-sighted indulgence, but to be careful stewards of every generation.
The careful stewardship extends to our own lives as well, and all our relationships, particularly marriage. Choosing life partners is a serious matter for God and us to consider carefully together, and the upholding of marriage is the responsibility of the whole community. Jesus takes his disciples back to this basic established pattern when he reinforces the importance of lifelong faithfulness in marriage. We cannot tear these verses out of the Gospel simply because they are at variance with society's norms. Jesus is describing God's good intention for those called to marriage to live in the security and comfort of lifelong partnership under his banner of love.
Of course there will be cases, and I know from personal experience, for a number of reasons, maybe hardness of heart or wrong choices or other pressures, the ideal falters and relationships break down irreparably. Those are occasions of deep sadness for the whole community, for recognition of our brokenness, for repentance and forgiveness. Despite this they do not alter the wonderful provision that God has made for us or the need for us to treasure our wonderful world and our relationships.
Some things to reflect on:
God bless and stay safe and well.
Rev'd Fiona Robinson