Reflection for Friday 24th September 2021

The Rev’d Derek Arnold

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DAILY REFLECTION 24 September 2021

Today’s reflection is by our Team Rector, Rev’d Derek Arnold and can be heard on the Website http://tcmc.church

READING Luke 9.18-22

Once when Jesus was praying in private and his disciples were with him, he asked them, “Who do the crowds say I am?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, that one of the prophets of long ago has come back to life.” “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Peter answered, “God’s Messiah.” Jesus strictly warned them not to tell this to anyone. And he said, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.”

REFLECTION

Faith goes beyond knowing what others believe, it requires us to hold beliefs for ourselves. When Jesus asks, “Who do you say I am?” he is expecting a response. He wants us to proclaim our faith.

All of us want to know the answers to some important questions, so that we can also make a positive response. How will my children turn out? Will I stay healthy? What will tomorrow bring? I guess these are some of the questions that we ask ourselves, at some point in our lives.

There are also those questions concerning our spiritual life? Does God exist or not, is perhaps, at the top of our list? And why is there so much suffering in the world is probably the next. And the list could go on and on, but I think it is important to question some things, so that we can get a better understanding about what is important.

As we heard in our reading from Luke and the same sort of questioning can also be heard in Matthew’s gospel. Jesus asks the disciples two questions. “Who do the crowds say I am?” and “Who do you say I am?”

Simon Peter’s response, that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, is a confession of faith about what Peter thinks and is prepared to say about Jesus. He believes that Jesus is more than John the Baptist, more than a prophet like Elijah; in fact, Peter believes he is connected to God himself.

Peter knew that Jesus was more than just a man with dusty feet and dirty clothes. Jesus was unique! This man, who was at the same time God, had changed him; changed him for the better. Peter was beginning to trust and believe in Jesus more and more. Peter saw beyond the man and glimpsed the divine.

I guess for that expression of faith, Jesus handed him the keys to the Kingdom. The opportunity to bring people to the Kingdom of heaven by presenting them with the message of salvation found in God’s word.

I wonder how many of us truly see and feel the divinity of Christ today? How many of us can cry out “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”? And how many of us miss Jesus, all together because we get caught in the exterior stuff of our faith that we cannot see the God that lies beyond; that is the God who is active, living, and interested in us. ‘Who do you say that I am?’ asks Jesus. Only we can answer that question for ourselves?

THE COLLECT
Lord of creation,
whose glory is around and within us:
open our eyes to your wonders,
that we may serve you with reverence
and know your peace at our lives’ end,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Reflection for Thursday 23rd September 2021

Nigel Price

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Luke 9:7-9 (NIV)

Now Herod the tetrarch heard about all that was going on. And he was perplexed because some were saying that John had been raised from the dead, others that Elijah had appeared, and still others that one of the prophets of long ago had come back to life. But Herod said, “I beheaded John. Who, then, is this I hear such things about?” And he tried to see him.

Reflection

Things take on an ominous tone.  Herod will eventually have his wish fulfilled, after the arrest of Jesus, but for now his efforts were in vain.  ‘Who is this?’ recalls the same question posed by John in the previous chapter.  John sends some of his followers off to ask Jesus, ‘are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?’  Jesus doesn’t give a direct answer, he just tells them to go and tell John what you have seen.  You see, it doesn’t much matter who he is, but what he is doing.

Similarly, Herod is trying to work out who this person is.  He has heard people saying it is Elijah who has returned from the dead, or perhaps John, or maybe some other ancient prophet.  There is a comfort in familiarity – we have seen or read about these people, so it is as if they have returned rather than someone new coming along.

Herod is not sure – he knows that John has been beheaded, so it surely cannot be him back again. But who is this person?  No wonder he wishes to meet him. But what are his motives?

And for us?  Are we perplexed about those who bring good news or healing to us?  Do we need to know who they are, where they have come from?  Or do we just accept them for the good they have done for us?

So we pray:

The Collect

Lord of creation,
whose glory is around and within us:
open our eyes to your wonders,
that we may serve you with reverence
and know your peace at our lives’ end,
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

Reflection for Wednesday 22nd September 2021

The Rev’d Roger Elks

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When is it time to leave? Time to leave a party when it’s getting a bit rowdy; or time to leave an organization when the values that you hold are very different from the organization’s; time to leave a relationship when a friend is no longer a friend? Jesus says there is a time to leave.

Reading from Luke Chapter 9 (NIV).

Jesus sends out the Twelve

9 When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, 2 and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal those who were ill. 3 He told them: ‘Take nothing for the journey – no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra shirt. 4 Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that town. 5 If people do not welcome you, leave their town and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.’ 6 So they set out and went from village to village, proclaiming the good news and healing people everywhere.

Well, this little phrase shaking the dust off your feet has been something that I’ve always wondered about as I’ve read this passage over the years. And so this is an opportunity to have a little look at it and there are seem to be two explanations from those who have thought about it. One is that the disciples were to leave the village quickly and so quickly that the dust flies off their feet. So it’s about getting out quick. Another understanding is that it means to actually stop and take your sandals off and shake them as a symbol to say, “I want nothing more to do with this village. I don’t even want your dust on my feet”. So it’s probably a bit of both.

Now we meet people who don’t accept our Christian faith, and we also meet people who actively reject it, either by words or by action. It’s possible to live alongside people who don’t hold our faith and our values. But sometimes it is impossible to work and to live alongside people who are so antagonistic to what we believe and what we stand for. You see, faith comes with a belief, but also with values and lifestyle. Some people can be very Christian in their lifestyle and their values without acknowledging Christ.

I remember somebody saying, if you take Christ out of the word Christian, you’re left with Ian; I.a.n. And I guess Ian could be a good guy. But it’s a lot easier to accept that a lot of these values that we hold in this society have come from many years of Christian input and teaching.

If the lifestyle of the people we’re with is so very different; in their language, in their attitude, in their faithfulness, in their honesty; if it is so very different that it undermines who we are and rejects the Christ that we seek to follow, then there might be a time when we need to leave and to leave completely. To shake the dust off our feet, to leave the organization or the relationship or the party.

Now more positively, let me summarise: Make more time for the people who bring the best out of you and show some healthy neglect of those who reject what you and I believe and stand for.

The Collect. God of creation, whose glory is around and within us, open our eyes to your wonders, but we may serve you with reverence and to know your peace at our lives end, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Reflection for Tuesday 21st September 2021

Jon Ellis

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Reflection Matthew 9: 9-13 Tuesday Sep 21
9 ¶ As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.
10 While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and “sinners” came and ate with him and his disciples.
11 When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and ‘sinners’?”
12 On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.
13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

REFLECTION
Here is Matthew sitting in his booth collecting money. I wonder what was going through his mind. Was he a kind tax collector who cared about the people he was taking money from? Was he honest, or did he think that taking a little extra for himself was all right because everyone he knew did it?

Then a group of people come past. One is looking at him. We can imagine the eyes that Matthew saw looking at him. Piercing but also caring eyes. Someone who knew Matthew even before he came past on that day. “Follow me,” Jesus says. In other words, I have something to tell you. Something very intriguing. So intriguing that Matthew could not resist coming along. And not only to follow, but then inviting Jesus, and all his followers, to eat with him.

I remember when, in her gap year, my daughter joined various Christian organisations. She didn’t let on exactly what she was doing until afterwards when she said that one involved taking packages to a foreign country and they were not allowed to know what was in them. I was horrified. What were they? Drugs? “No,” she said, “they were Bibles.” Then she recounted how at one point they had stood around waiting for someone to take them in for the night. Again, my alarm bells were ringing. But it was an example of how it is, in their culture, to invite people in, to look after them. It was a lesson for me to register that our culture does not naturally invite strangers in, and we can learn much from other countries.

If we had been a fly on the wall of Matthew’s house, we would have heard Jesus, quietly talking with the tax collectors and “sinners”. Pricking their consciences with his knowing questions. Changing lives for ever.

But yet again, the Pharisees can only see that this doesn’t fit with what a godly Jew should be doing. He shouldn’t be mixing with bad influences. They might affect him, whereas in fact, it was exactly the opposite, Jesus affected them.

Verse 12: Jesus says, “It’s not the healthy who need a doctor, it is the sick.”
It makes me think of one Spike Milligan poems.
Doctor O’Dell, fell down the well, and broke his collar bone.
Doctors should attend the sick, and leave the well alone!

One of the themes to come from the pandemic is that we, as the church, need to ensure we are looking outwards and consider what we are doing in addition to church services and fund raising. Who are the sick that Jesus is talking about? Those who don’t know the Jesus that changes lives, just as he did for Matthew.
The Epistle for today, 2 Corinthians chapter 4, has these lines:
5 For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.
6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.

COLLECT
O Lord, we beseech you mercifully to hear the prayers
of your people who call upon you;
and grant that they may both perceive and know
what things they ought to do,
and also may have grace and power faithfully to fulfil them;
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.

Reflection for Monday 20th September 2021

The Rev’d Penny Body

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Reflection 20th September 2021
Luke 8.16-18
16 ‘No one after lighting a lamp hides it under a jar, or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a lampstand, so that those who enter may see the light. 17For nothing is hidden that will not be disclosed, nor is anything secret that will not become known and come to light. 18Then pay attention to how you listen; for to those who have, more will be given; and from those who do not have, even what they seem to have will be taken away.’

Reflection

Three verses – three ideas.
In her sermon at her licensing last Wednesday, our new archdeacon, Verena, spoke about the light. The light that shines in and dispels the darkness. She spoke about the different types of light, ranging from the beacon on the hill sending huge messages of celebration to the thousands of tiny candles lighting the small space around them. And she spoke about how we all shine with the luminosity of the light that we are – a big church, a tiny rural one – or somewhere in between. We are not asked to shine more than we can – but not less either, she said. It was an immensely encouraging and hopeful sermon. May all of us proudly shine with the light of Christ that is within us – so that all may see the light. And if we should ever feel afraid of shining out – for whatever reason – then instead of hiding our light may we rely instead on the constant strengthening presence within us of the Holy Spirit – and the fact that we never shine alone but together shine brightly as the Son.
Then there is the idea that there is nothing that is hidden that will not eventually come to light. We sometimes try to hide away from the truth – or show a different side of ourselves to others – both of which are actions fraught with danger. But the one person we can never hide from – who knows the secrets of all our hearts – is God – our loving heavenly Father. I thank him so much that he knows me so well that not only is dissembling pointless – it is completely unnecessary. What a relief to be truly myself in his presence.
And then finally, the idea that to those who have, more will be given, and to those who do not, even what they have will be taken away. I have struggled with this saying – which appears in various contexts in the gospels – for years. I was thinking of it in terms of material poverty I think – and the idea that someone who was poor would become even poorer just didn’t sound like justice and our God of love. Now I understand it from a different point of view. If we think about it from the perspective of seeking after God – the more we seek – the more we find him in all people and places. The less we seek him – the less we will find him and eventually the less we will even remember him. This saying is about our attitude towards God and not his to us. He will always love us, and give us what we need – but the more and better we listen – the more we will hear – the hungrier and thirstier we are to know him, to serve his people, the more we will be able to do so. He calls – but it is up to us to answer – and a saying worth thinking about if we find ever ourselves drifting away on the tide of life – a swim to the shore of God’s love will save us from floating out to the darkness. Amen.

The Collect for the 16th Sunday after Trinity

Lord of creation,
whose glory is around and within us:
open our eyes to your wonders,
that we may serve you with reverence
and know your peace at our lives’ end,
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

Reflection for Friday 17th September 2021

The Rev’d Derek Arnold

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DAILY REFLECTION 17 September 2021
Today’s reflection is by our Team Rector, Rev’d Derek Arnold and can be heard on the Website http://tcmc.church

READING Luke 8.1-3
After this, Jesus travelled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him, and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out; Joanna the wife of Chuza, the manager of Herod’s household; Susanna; and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means.

REFLECTION
The text today is only three verses long, but it has an important message for us. It tells us about ministry and the important role of women in Jesus’ ministry.
The short reading begins with, ‘After this, Jesus travelled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God.’

Jesus had indicated early in his ministry that he was committed to going from one town and village to another preaching the good news of the gospel. He recognized that it was a vital part of his divine calling and commission. Even when the disciples urged him to return to the people who were waiting, he responded: ‘I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other town also, because that is why I was sent (Luke 4:43a).
In the early days of his ministry, it seems like Jesus either travelled alone, such as when he went to the synagogue in Nazareth, when none of his disciples are mentioned (Luke 4.16-30), or other times, when only some of his disciples were with him.

This story talks about the twelve, which must have been the disciples and according to the text that follows this passage, in addition to the disciples, there was a large crowd, and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases.

Three women are specifically named: Mary Magdalene (from whom the seven demons had been cast out), Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, who is not mentioned again in Scriptures. I think Luke identifies the three women by name so as to indicate how different they were. Jesus had miraculously healed each one of them from a condition for which there was no human cure.

There were also other woman, like Mary Magdalene, who had been delivered from demons. Others who were healed of sicknesses, diseases, and injuries. All were beyond human help but not beyond Jesus. All of those who had experienced his help in their lives went with Jesus to be of help to him.
We know that these women mentioned by Luke are the same women mentioned by Matthew and Mark as well. The had continued to follow Jesus, not only in Galilee, but also to Jerusalem. They are the women who stood with Jesus at the cross, and also the first to come to the empty tomb.

What a marvellous and wonderful group of women they were! These were faithful women, who met some of the financial needs of Jesus and his followers, who stood by him in times of danger, and remained even after his death. Indeed, they were among those present and praying at the time of Pentecost. How are we serving the Good News of the Gospel?

THE COLLECT
God, who in generous mercy sent the Holy Spirit
upon your Church in the burning fire of your love:
grant that your people may be fervent
in the fellowship of the gospel
that, always abiding in you,
they may be found steadfast in faith and active in service;
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.

Reflection for Thursday 16th September 2021

Nigel Price

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Isaiah 52:7-10 (NIV)

How beautiful on the mountains
are the feet of those who bring good news,
who proclaim peace,
who bring good tidings,
who proclaim salvation,
who say to Zion,
“Your God reigns!”

Listen! Your watchmen lift up their voices;
together they shout for joy.
When the LORD returns to Zion,
they will see it with their own eyes.

Burst into songs of joy together,
you ruins of Jerusalem,
for the LORD has comforted his people,
he has redeemed Jerusalem.

The LORD will lay bare his holy arm
in the sight of all the nations,
and all the ends of the earth will see
the salvation of our God.

Reflection

How lovely on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, good news, proclaiming peace, announcing news of happiness, our God reigns, our God reigns!

When our children were teenagers with a group of friends they used to camp in the New Forest each summer. But the campsite would not take groups of youths, so each year a token adult had to accompany them. It was actually quite good fun – they would go off to the beach during the day and I would drive into the local town to buy food and then rustle up dinner for all of us on the camping stoves.

On Sunday morning a small group from the local church did an open air service around the swimming pool and asking for hymn choices, as I looked around at the hills surrounding us, I chose ‘How lovely’. It seemed somehow appropriate. But they didn’t know it, so I had to lead off!

The hymn, of course, is based on this reading from Isaiah. And how appropriate it is to St Ninian whom we celebrate today.  British by birth, he was educated in Rome, settling in Galloway on his return to Britain. He evangelized the district beyond Hadrian’s Wall reaching right up into the region of the Picts. He also built the first stone church in Britain – in 397 – and he established a monastery in the area of Whithorn in Galloway. This became a base for study and spirituality for Irish and Welsh monks.

How fortunate we are when someone comes into our midst bringing the good news of the Gospel, for what better news could be brought to reassure us in the testing times that we face. Even in the worst of adversities there is much to be thankful for, so today we give thanks for all who preach and teach.

So we pray:

The Collect

Almighty and everlasting God,
who called your servant Ninian to preach the gospel
to the people of northern Britain:
raise up in this and every land
heralds and evangelists of your kingdom,
that your Church may make known the immeasurable riches
of your Son our Saviour Jesus Christ,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen

Reflection for Wednesday 15th September 2021

The Rev’d Roger Eks

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I remember seeing a sign on someone’s desk, a little motto, it said, “If you try to please all the people all the time, somebody won’t like it!”. And we all know, don’t we, that we can’t please all the people all the time? Jesus found it very hard to please some of the people of his time, particularly the leaders of the Jews and the Pharisees.

Today’s passage is from Luke chapter 7, beginning of verse 31, (NIV)

31 Jesus went on to say, ‘To what, then, can I compare the people of this generation? What are they like? 32 They are like children sitting in the market-place and calling out to each other:

‘“We played the pipe for you,

    and you did not dance;

we sang a dirge,

    and you did not cry.”

33 For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, “He has a demon.” 34 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, “Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.” 35 But wisdom is proved right by all her children.’

What Jesus is calling for in his hearers is an open-mindedness, an ability to hear what he’s saying beyond people’s own concerns, prejudices and biases. There was too much invested in the status quo at that time, and perhaps in all times. Human nature makes it that the people with power want to hold on to it, even though it’s not a perfect world.

We in our own little worlds hold on to what we have. It’s not a perfect world that we’ve created around ourselves, but it’s ours and we defend it from anything that we think that may threaten that; even threaten to make it better. Do you know, the story of the two caterpillars sitting on a leaf and they look up as a beautiful butterfly flies past, not trapped by the gravity of having to be on a leaf. And one caterpillar turns to the other and says, “You know, you’ll never catch me up in one of those”.

People are sometimes saved by Jesus Christ from a crisis. People turn to God when things are really difficult; when there is nowhere else to go and they find salvation and help, and they put their faith in God, and alleluia to that. But it’s much harder to be saved from mediocrity. Being saved from a crisis, well, that just makes sense. But being saved from mediocrity, well, that takes some thinking. I might be happy with being mediocre because I don’t actually have to risk anything. I’ve got, well, nearly everything that I need. It’s much harder to see God from that situation.

Jesus came and promised John 10:10. “I have come that they may have life and have it to the full”. He promises us more, but it will mean change. It will mean moving to a place of insecurity, of risk. One might say it means moving to a place of faith.

May God open our eyes to see beyond our own little worlds, that we may take a step of faith today and have life in all its fullness. Amen.

Our Collect. God, who in generous mercy sent the Holy Spirit upon your church and the burning fire of your love, grant that your people may be fervent in the fellowship of the Gospel, that always abiding in you, they may be found steadfast in the faith and active in service. So Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit. One God now and forever. Amen.

Reflection for Tuesday 14th September 2021

Jon Ellis

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Reflection Numbers 21:4-9 John 3 13-17 Tuesday 14 Sep 21

Numbers 21
4 ¶ They travelled from Mount Hor along the route to the Red Sea, to go round Edom. But the people grew impatient on the way;
5 they spoke against God and against Moses, and said, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the desert? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!”
6 Then the LORD sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died.
7 The people came to Moses and said, “We sinned when we spoke against the LORD and against you. Pray that the LORD will take the snakes away from us.” So Moses prayed for the people.
8 The LORD said to Moses, “Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.”
9 So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, he lived.

John 3
13 No-one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man.
14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up,
15 that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.
16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

REFLECTION
Here again we have the people grumbling. Why have you brought us here? There’s no bread, no water, we hate the food what food there is. Now to top it all, we are getting attacked by snakes. They hide in the ground and bite us and many of us have actually died.
It seems that finally this has brought some contrition. They realise that all this grumbling and lack of faith in God has resulted in their predicament. They go to Moses and ask him to pray for help. Moses prays and God gives him a plan using a pole with a bronze snake head.
We hear in John chapter three, how Jesus quotes this event from Numbers. The important reference is to how God told Moses to lift up the pole. God will lift up Jesus, the Son of Man, and all who believe in him will, just as the Israelites in the desert, be saved.
Peter Letford, a vicar in Clay Cross, witnessed to me and I came to faith when I was forty. He did a wonderful job and he led a group of us to go to various events to build up our faith. One of the main ones for me was going to the Billy Graham Crusade in Sheffield. There was a young musician on the stage who I was impressed with, a certain Graham Kendrick.
The reason I am mentioning this is because, Peter asked us to learn one verse to start our journey with Jesus. You’ve guessed it, John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only son, so that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
Later I learnt the importance of the next line too. It was the same in Numbers. God didn’t send Jesus to condemn us. He came to save us. Even though the Israelites stopped believing in God, when they turned back to him and confessed their mistake, he forgave them and gave them a way to overcome their problems.
That is true for us, when we realise how we have lost our way, and come back in prayer to God, we know that through the sacrifice that Jesus made for us on the cross, and how has been raised to life, as the Bible says, in Ephesians 3:20, “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”
Even when problems get on top of us, when we stop moaning, and start praying, God has given us “the pole with the bronze snake”, he sent us Jesus!

COLLECT
Lord God,
defend your Church from all false teaching
and give to your people knowledge of your truth,
that we may enjoy eternal life
in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

Reflection for Monday 13th September 2021

The Rev’d Penny Body

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Reflection 13th September 2021

The Gospel – Luke 7.1-10
7After Jesus had finished all his sayings in the hearing of the people, he entered Capernaum. 2A centurion there had a slave whom he valued highly, and who was ill and close to death. 3When he heard about Jesus, he sent some Jewish elders to him, asking him to come and heal his slave. 4When they came to Jesus, they appealed to him earnestly, saying, ‘He is worthy of having you do this for him, 5for he loves our people, and it is he who built our synagogue for us.’ 6And Jesus went with them, but when he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to say to him, ‘Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; 7therefore I did not presume to come to you. But only speak the word, and let my servant be healed. 8For I also am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to one, “Go”, and he goes, and to another, “Come”, and he comes, and to my slave, “Do this”, and the slave does it.’ 9When Jesus heard this he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, he said, ‘I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.’ 10When those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the slave in good health.

Reflection
I don’t know about you, but the centurion in this story is someone I immediately warm to and would love to meet. He cares deeply for his slave – when to most slaves were mere tools of work. Though a gentile, he has built the synagogue for the Jews and we read that he loves them. In loving the people and building the synagogue, we believe he has also come to love God. He is extremely humble, yet full of a deep assurance of faith. He knows a strict Jew could not enter the house of a gentile – or vice versa – and so he sends Jewish friends to ask Jesus for healing for his slave. And he explains his faith so simply yet surely – I am a man under authority and I have soldiers under me – I say Go – and he goes. Come and he comes. If people will obey under his authority – how much more will they – and all manner of things – be obedient to Jesus?
And of course – his words live on in our Holy Communion liturgy. “Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed”. And each time we pray those words, we can remember this gospel testimony and feel the quiet strength and faith of this man in our hearts. None of us are worthy – but through faith, and love, and humility – Jesus heals us, sharing with us his body and his blood.
I also always think of the centurion as the most wonderful example of “finding faith in unexpected places”. Jesus himself was amazed at the centurion – and the depth of his faith – saying that not even in Israel has he found such faith.
So the faith of the centurion reminds me to “tread softly” (in the words of WB Yeats) when I meet new people. Whatever someone’s situation, whether they are a member of a church or not, we can never assume we know what their understanding of God is – or even if they have a faith or not – because if we do we may run into the centurion and never share with him the joy of faith.
As Christians we are to proclaim the good news of God’s love – but we are also to listen for it and seek it – in people, situations and communities – so that when we find the centurions of our time we may joyously celebrate and help to bring together the children of God into one extended family of love. Amen.

Collect for the 15th Sunday after Trinity
God, who in generous mercy sent the Holy Spirit
upon your Church in the burning fire of your love:
grant that your people may be fervent
in the fellowship of the gospel
that, always abiding in you,
they may be found steadfast in faith and active in service;
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