Collect and Readings for The Twentieth Sunday after Trinity, Job 38:1-7, 34-41, Isaiah 53:4-12, Psalm 104:1-9, 24, 35c and 91:9-16, Hebrews 5:1-10, Mark 10:35-45
The Prayer for today God, the giver of life, whose Holy Spirit wells up within your Church: by the Spirit's gifts equip us to live the gospel of Christ and make us eager to do your will, that we may share with the whole creation the joys of eternal life; 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.
Job has continued to seek God through the bleakness and silence, and now it is as if God suddenly throws open the door so wide that Job almost falls over. With the joy of an answer comes the humbling question of what right any of us have, to expect to understand, or to challenge the great Creator of the universe, the One, who is the ground of our being.
In the Isaiah reading we have one of the extraordinary prophecies about God's suffering servant, which we, in the light of the Gospels, see as so perceptive in grasping the inevitable suffering of God's Saviour, Jesus. The writer of Hebrews helps us to understand it. Although the Messiah figure for many was seen as a national leader who would establish his reign and drive out oppressors, the more spiritual Messianic dream was that he would be a priestly king, mystically anointed with the power of Yaweh himself, taking on the suffering of the people with God's blessing, so that they may be saved.
Humans find it so hard to break away from the power and hierarchy models of thinking. Even though James and John have spent two or three years living and working with Jesus, have gone out on mission preaching the kingdom and experiencing many miracles, being dragged off to meals with rich and poor, socially elite and social outcasts alike, they are still thinking in worldly terms of greatness and status.
I suspect they might, at the time, have protested at that, and believed they were asking to sit at Jesus' right and left for noble reasons, like feeling themselves so close to their master, and wanting that to continue for ever. Who knows, Jesus is wonderfully forgiving for their inane suggestion, so alien to all he is. We can imagine him shaking his head helplessly as he says, 'You don't know what you're asking!' James and John are like so many of us, arrogant in our ignorant enthusiasm.
Today's message is really to do with that humble obedience which comes through suffering and persevering when the going is tough, and eventually makes us wise enough to listen with our hearts to what is really important.
Some things to reflect on:
God bless and stay safe and well.
Rev'd Fiona Robinson