Reflection for Thursday 12th November 2020

Nigel

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Luke 17.20-25 (The Message)

Jesus, grilled by the Pharisees on when the kingdom of God would come, answered, “The kingdom of God doesn’t come by counting the days on the calendar. Nor when someone says, ‘Look here!’ or, ‘There it is!’ And why? Because God’s kingdom is already among you.”
He went on to say to his disciples, “The days are coming when you are going to be desperately homesick for just a glimpse of one of the days of the Son of Man, and you won’t see a thing. And they’ll say to you, ‘Look over there!’ or, ‘Look here!’ Don’t fall for any of that nonsense. The arrival of the Son of Man is not something you go out to see. He simply comes.
“You know how the whole sky lights up from a single flash of lightning? That’s how it will be on the Day of the Son of Man. But first it’s necessary that he suffer many things and be turned down by the people of today.

Reflection

There is a great danger in taking a few verses out of the Bible, on their own and out of context.  The Bible is intended to be viewed as a whole not as isolated fragments.  Today’s little excerpt of five verses itself is usually taken with the remainder of the chapter, but you have to wait until tomorrow to hear the rest and it is not for me to steal someone else’s thunder.

So, at least speaking for me, these daily reflections are not so much an exposition of the particular verses, but a series of thoughts inspired by the words.  Last Sunday, in the parable of the ten bridesmaids, we heard that ‘we know neither the day nor the hour’ and we were urged to stay alert.  Here Jesus faces an outright question of when does the Kingdom of God come?

Theologians love to ponder deeply on phrases and their meaning, and a lot of attention has been given to the sentence shown above as, Because God’s Kingdom is already among you. Some translations say, ‘within you’.  And so, some argue, the kingdom is a spiritual, private, interior relationship with God.  But Jesus never uses ‘Kingdom of God’ in that fashion.

Others say that it means the Kingdom is present, but hidden, secret and waiting to be discovered.  That is better, but perhaps the best way to look at it is not that it is there just passively waiting, but that it is tantalisingly close.  All you have to do is reach out and grasp it.  It is not the sort of thing to sit back and wait and watch – you have to do something about it.  You have to sign up for it.

The Kingdom is here among us – have you signed up?

The Collect

Almighty Father,
whose will is to restore all things in your beloved Son, the King of all:
govern the hearts and minds of those in authority,
and bring the families of the nations,
divided and torn apart by the ravages of sin,
to be subject to his just and gentle rule;
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Reflection for Wednesday 11th November 2020

The Rev’d Roger Elks

Click here for the text of the reflection

Hello, I recognise that many people who might be watching these daily reflections are in isolation and as the second wave goes through the world and through our community, I can understand the fear of those who have to protect themselves from illness. Won’t it be great when we are on the other side of this crisis, when we can get back to normal living, when we can be protected by an efficient vaccine and perhaps living with some precautions as well?

What an exciting thing to be free from the things that trap us. Well, the story today from Luke’s gospel, chapter 17, beginning of verse 11, is of someone who was ill and who was trapped, but put Jesus first before his healing. I read from Luke 17, verse 11.

11 Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus travelled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance 13 and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!” 14 When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed. 15 One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. 16 He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan. 17 Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? 18 Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”

An interesting story, isn’t it? And of course, you may know that the reason they had to go and show themselves the priest, was that part of the priest’s duty was to assess health and to proclaim whether someone had leprosy and therefore should be excluded from the community or had been healed from leprosy and therefore could be welcomed back into the community. And these ten Samaritans were on an exciting journey to be released from all the difficulties of social distancing and exclusion that they faced. They’re on their way to find the priests so that they can be declared clean. And as they go, they are healed and as they realize that they were healed their pace probably quickens; they realize that they’re going not as they were, but as Jesus has made them.

So what stops one of them getting this healing and declaration, this clean bill of health, straight away? Why doesn’t he rush to get the thing that he’s been longing for that allows him back into society and back into his family and back into normal living? What stops him? Well, what stops him is his recognition that Jesus is to be worshipped. And he turns and he delays his visit to the priest in order to fall at Jesus’ feet and to thank him. He might even be running the risk that the healing may not be permanent and that the priest may not be able to declare he’s been healed. But his priority is Jesus. First, he goes and worships Jesus.

So what is it that you and I really want? What could distract us from grabbing it? Maybe if we were to be offered the opportunity to meet up with a long lost member of our family or someone we have loved but lost, or as we hear from those who have been adopted, looking for their birth parents, and after a search, they have discovered them or siblings that they did not know they have or perhaps even a child that has been adopted. And you have this opportunity to go and meet them. What could stop you from that journey and delay you doing that? Or perhaps if you do the lottery and you have a claim to make a huge amount of money, it’s going to change your life. What would stop you on your way to claiming that or to even make the phone call? Or perhaps you’re rushing back to watch the last episode of Strictly Come Dancing, which you’ve watched religiously for many years, and it is the last episode this year and you desperately want to get there and see it. What could stop you getting to the TV?

We know, don’t we, from our Sunday liturgy, the greatest commandment is this: “Love the Lord, your God with all your heart”. It’s a commandment, it’s not just a feeling of love It is a command that we are to put God first. We know this and this commandment is put to the test every day in our lives, particularly at moments of crises like watching the last episode of Strictly or perhaps a crisis of health and an opportunity for healing, which is what happened to the leper. The test is whether that becomes more important than worshipping Jesus, because worshipping Jesus and loving God is the first commandment. That’s what we’re commanded to do first.

So these crises put us to the test. But every day we have little opportunities as well to remember that the things that are before us come second to our love of God: giving thanks every day, just saying grace before a meal, stopping even if we are hungry (and don’t we get hungry when food is put before us? I get ‘hangry’ when food is put before we the family know that). But we need the discipline of saying, “OK, I’m just not going to eat straight away. I’m going to spend just a few moments to say thank you to God who provides all the good things”.

Or waking up each morning and thanking God for the night that has passed, even if we haven’t slept very well, we can still be thankful that we have a morning and a new day, perhaps even before he first cup of coffee. Or putting our heads on our pillows, and before we go to sleep, before we’re even too tired to pray, to thank God for the day that has happened and to remember that it’s come because of his goodness.

It’s rare, isn’t it, to find people who are willing to put into second place the things that they really want and to put in first place, worshipping Jesus.  In fact, 1 in 10 is the ratio here in this story from Luke. But maybe after this story had happened, this incident, and the disciples would have witnessed it, maybe there was more than 1 in 10 of the audience at that time. Maybe more people were brought to remember, to thank Jesus, to thank our God for all that he provides. And my prayer is that this passage, as we’ve read it, and this example can help us to give thanks to Jesus before we receive the good things that he gives. And that our example may lead others also to put God first Amen.

Almighty Father,
whose will is to restore all things
in your beloved Son, the King of all:
govern the hearts and minds of those in authority,
and bring the families of the nations,
divided and torn apart by the ravages of sin,
to be subject to his just and gentle rule;
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen

And thank you, Jesus, for all that you gave us.

Reflection for Tuesday 10th November 2020

Jon Ellis

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Reflection Luke 17:7-10

Jesus said, “Suppose one of you had a servant ploughing or looking after the sheep. Would he say to the servant when he comes in from the field, ‘Come along now and sit down to eat’? Would he not rather say, ‘Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink’? Would he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do? So, you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’”

Reflection

This parable appears to have been spoken with reference to the rewards that the disciples were expecting in the Jesus’ kingdom. It is not clear when this conversation happened as it does not seem to have any particular connection with the previous verses. The disciples appear to be impatient to have the kingdom restored to Israel {#Ac 1:6} over which the Messiah would assume his kingly power, and that they were impatient in the delay, and anxious to have the rewards which they expected, and which they probably were expecting because of their commitment to following him.


In answer to these expectations, Jesus spoke this parable, showing them:
Firstly, that they should be rewarded in the same way that a servant would be provided for;
Secondly, that this was not the first thing; there was a proper order, a servant’s reward might be delayed, and the servant would be provided for at the time when the master decided;
Thirdly, this reward was not to be expected because they were worthy, but would be given from God’s grace, not that they were hard working servants.

The master would not as soon as he returned from the field, direct the servants to eat and drink. Hungry and weary as the servant might be, it would be expected that he first to attend to his master’s needs. So the apostles were not to be impatient because they did not at once receive the reward they were looking for.

This parable tells us our position as believers; we are here as servants. It is not the time for feasting yet. Whatever work we have done, even if it is getting towards the evening of our life, we must not think of sitting down yet, and expecting our Master to wait on us. No, we must go on with our service, and still consider it to be our highest privilege to work for Jesus, and wait on him. This is not the place of resting or of feasting; now is the time when we are serving our God. Let us work on, ploughing while we have strength for it; and when the sun goes down in the evening, then waiting like servants at the table of their lord.

Jesus was asking them, “Would you say to a servant, ‘I am very grateful to you for doing your duty.’?” No. And so even when we serve God best, should we expect honour as his due? No, we will have honour because of the grace of our Master; but it is not our place to look for it, much less is it right for us to expect it as our due.

And who will praise us for that? The most self-denying servant of the Saviour, the most hard-working labourer for the Lord, will expect nothing of God except to be blessed by God’s abounding grace. What can we deserve from the wonderful hands of him who bought us with his sacrifice on the cross? Are we not the bonded servants of Christ? “You are not your own; you are bought with a price.” Therefore, whatever service you can give is due to him; and to him let it be freely given without one thought of self-praise or pride because we have done well.

Collect
God of glory,
touch our lips with the fire of your Spirit,
that we with all creation
may rejoice to sing your praise;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

Reflection for Monday 9th November 2020

The Rev’d Derek Arnold

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READING Luke 17.1-6 (NIV)

Jesus said to his disciples: “Things that cause people to stumble are bound to come, but woe to anyone through whom they come. It would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck than to cause one of these little ones to stumble. So watch yourselves.

“If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.” The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”

He replied, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.

REFLECTION

This part of scripture from Luke gospel focusses on Sin, Faith and Duty. One day the apostles said to Jesus, we need more faith; tell us how to get it. The disciples request was genuine, they wanted the faith necessary for such radical forgiveness that Jesus was talking about. But I guess that the desire for greater faith might actually be a misunderstanding of faith and what it is and that it is more about the genuineness of our faith. The amount of faith isn’t important, it is more about the right kind of faith. The story of the mustard seed and the mulberry tree suggests that faith doesn’t have to be huge to make a difference!

And could it be that Jesus is not so much concerned with the disciples’ desire for more faith so they can work and perform miracles, as he is that they serve faithfully, which is far more important. Remember the story recorded in John 13 during the Last Supper when Jesus wrapped a towel around his waist, took a basin of water, and went around the table washing the feet of his disciples? After having washed their feet he asked them, “Do you understand what I was doing? Since I, the Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet… a servant is not greater than his master.”

The disciples wanted more faith, but Jesus says, “…the servant does what he is supposed to do.” And maybe the life of faith is not so much about spectacular demonstrations of faith as it is about duty and living faithfully.

Even though we all like to be appreciated, the simple fact of the matter is this: We don’t always get thanked when we do good things. We aren’t always appreciated when we do our duty. But, Jesus says, “We still do our duty because it’s the right thing to do when you live the life of faith.”

THE COLLECT
Almighty Father,
whose will is to restore all things
in your beloved Son, the King of all:
govern the hearts and minds of those in authority,
and bring the families of the nations,
divided and torn apart by the ravages of sin,
to be subject to his just and gentle rule;
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

Reflection for Friday 6th November

The Rev’d Sandra Juniper

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READING Luke 16.1-8 (NIV)

The Parable of the Shrewd Manager

Jesus told his disciples: “There was a rich man whose manager was accused of wasting his possessions. So he called him in and asked him, ‘What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your management because you cannot be manager any longer.’

“The manager said to himself, ‘What shall I do now? My master is taking away my job. I’m not strong enough to dig, and I’m ashamed to beg—I know what I’ll do so that, when I lose my job here, people will welcome me into their houses.’ “So he called in each one of his master’s debtors. He asked the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ “‘Nine hundred gallons of olive oil,’ he replied. “The manager told him, ‘Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it four hundred and fifty.’ “Then he asked the second, ‘And how much do you owe?’

“‘A thousand bushels of wheat,’ he replied. “He told him, ‘Take your bill and make it eight hundred.’ “The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly. For the people of this world are shrewder in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light.

REFLECTION

This is a challenging and somewhat uncomfortable piece of scripture for us to weave our way through.  The parable in today’s Gospel, Jesus says, “For the children of this world are shrewder in dealing with their own kind than the children of light.” It’s a good point, isn’t it?
Ask yourself, how inventive, determined, and resourceful are you when a contract you’re trying to acquire seems to be slipping out of your grasp?

Are you as intense, as inventive, as determined when you’re pursuing a spiritual value? Jesus is saying, “be as resourceful, as inventive and as intense in your pursuit of spiritual values as the servant in the parable was in his attempt to safeguard his future material welfare.”
In our society, the pursuit of material values is of major importance. We want our children to get into the best schools, so they can get into the best colleges, so they can get into university, so they can get the best jobs and live in luxury for the rest of their lives. To this end we bend all our considerable talents imagination and determination.
And yet for many of us, we somehow neglect our spiritual lives, confining for the most part to about an hour every Saturday or Sunday. Perhaps it’s time to consider and address the imbalance.

PRAYER

Lord, all that we have is a gift from you. May we love you freely and generously with all that we possess. Help us to be wise and faithful stewards of our time, finances, and possessions. May we regard all that we have as yours. Free from greed and possessiveness and fill us with generosity in giving liberally to others, especially those in need, and to the work of the gospel.” Amen

Reflection for Thursday 5th November 2020

Nigel

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Luke 15.1-10 (The Message)

THE STORY OF THE LOST SHEEP
By this time a lot of men and women of doubtful reputation were hanging around Jesus, listening intently. The Pharisees and religion scholars were not pleased, not at all pleased. They growled, “He takes in sinners and eats meals with them, treating them like old friends.” Their grumbling triggered this story.
“Suppose one of you had a hundred sheep and lost one. Wouldn’t you leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the lost one until you found it? When found, you can be sure you would put it across your shoulders, rejoicing, and when you got home call in your friends and neighbours, saying, ‘Celebrate with me! I’ve found my lost sheep!’ Count on it—there’s more joy in heaven over one sinner’s rescued life than over ninety-nine good people in no need of rescue.


THE STORY OF THE LOST COIN
“Or imagine a woman who has ten coins and loses one. Won’t she light a lamp and scour the house, looking in every nook and cranny until she finds it? And when she finds it you can be sure she’ll call her friends and neighbours: ‘Celebrate with me! I found my lost coin!’ Count on it—that’s the kind of party God’s angels throw every time one lost soul turns to God.”

Reflection

As I record this reflection, the results of the American election are coming in.  So far it is too close to call and it may still not be certain by the time you hear this!  Although that has not stopped one candidate from declaring victory, in the manner of an optimistic football supporter leaving the game ten minutes early to avoid the queues in the car park, thinking that the win is safe.  The most puzzling thing about the American election, much the same as four years ago, is that with all the millions of Americans in the country are these two candidates really the best people that could be found!

Today sees the start of National Lockdown version 2.  It is also the 5th of November – Guy Fawkes Day – when for some obscure reason we celebrate the monumental failure of a plot to blow up Parliament.  One wonders if someone somewhere in government is having a bit of a chuckle by stopping people congregating on such an explosive day!

The two stories above give reasons why we might celebrate, although for a month at least we won’t be able to call in our neighbours and friends.  The stories are told because there is grumbling about Jesus partying with the ‘wrong sort’ of people.  In many translations they are described as tax collectors – no-one cared for them because they were collecting money either for Herod or the Romans, or siphoning it off for themselves.

But there are two things we ought to take note of.  Jesus does not say that the sheep or the coin that were found are special; they are no different from the other 99 or 9.  The only thing that marks them out is that they were lost and now they are found.  And the other thing that is not being said is that the sinners and disreputable people are accepted as they stand.  They are lost and have to be found; sinners must repent.

The problem for the Pharisees and Scholars was that their interpretation of repentance was not the same as Jesus.  Nothing short of adopting their standards of purity and law-observance was going to cut it.  But for Jesus, repentance was achieved by following him and his way – partying with him. There can surely be no better reason for a party!

So as we lockdown and restrict our social interaction with the world, there does remain one with whom we can meet and party at will – Jesus, redeemer of the world.  Stay in, stay safe, and party with Jesus!

The Collect for All Saints Day

Almighty God,
you have knit together your elect
in one communion and fellowship
in the mystical body of your Son Christ our Lord:
grant us grace so to follow your blessed saints
in all virtuous and godly living
that we may come to those inexpressible joys
that you have prepared for those who truly love you;
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.

Reflection for Wednesday 4th November 2020

The Rev’d Roger Elks

Click here for the text of the reflection

Hello, welcome to Roger with the new lock-down haircut! I managed to get to the barbers this morning before they closed.

On the 13th of May 1940, Winston Churchill said this in the House of Commons.”

“I would say to the House, as I said to those who have joined this government: I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat. We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many long months of struggle and of suffering. You ask, what is our policy? I can say: It is to wage war, by sea, land and air, with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us”

And so he continued, I wonder what his hearers thought? Could they have foreseen the suffering that was ahead? On Sunday, we will remember those who served and particularly those who gave their lives during the two great world wars and other wars. I wonder if Churchill’s hearers would have been so keen and supportive had they known the suffering ahead. I think he knew. Apparently, he said to General Ismay after that speech, “Poor people, poor people, they trust me and I can give them nothing but disaster for quite a long time.”

Jesus had his own blood, sweat and tears speech, and it’s our reading today in Luke Chapter 14 and beginning to read at verse 25.

25 Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. 27 And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

28 “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? 29 For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, 30 saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’

31 “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32 If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. 33 In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.

So there is Jesus’ speech, and I wonder if you heard those words of Jesus, from the mouth of Jesus, would you follow him? Large crowds were following him at that point and many turned away because of the cost.

Today, they’re counting the votes in the election in the United States. And we here in Britain have had our fair share of elections and referenda. And most of the talk that I hear from the politicians and those who are seeking our support and wanting us to follow them tends to be about what is the gain for us; that if we vote for them, we’re going to get lower taxes and a better income and an easier life, and it’s going to be OK for me. There’s little talk about the downside; the cost of the policies that are going to be implemented by those who we wish or don’t wish to elect.

But this is an adult view of life. A two-year-old knows only that the world is all about them. And when any form of boundary, any form of suffering comes to them, they complain. Children can’t deal with that. That’s because they are only two. And our job as parents is to help them to grow up, to realize that there are things in life that are tough. There is a cost to being part of the adult world.

Scott Peck, in his famous book ‘A Road Less Travelled’, starts with these opening words: “Life is difficult”. He doesn’t want to be depressive, but he wants to be realistic. We know that there is suffering in the world. Here in the Western world we are mainly isolated from it. But it is a global village and we don’t have to look very far to find those who are suffering. Suffering actually isn’t very far away from us. And this pandemic of covid-19 brings that suffering very close to us, doesn’t it?

To follow Jesus is to see suffering as adults and yet have hope. There was joy and laughter and love in Jesus’ life. But of course, there was also both personal suffering for Jesus and engagement in the suffering of others. In Jesus we see an adult and we see reality, and we are called to follow Jesus in that same adult mind; childlike in our faith, but not childish in our attitude to the world that God loves. And as God has called us to follow Jesus and to love His world too.

I’m going to finish with the prayer which is attributed to St. Ignatius of Loyola.

Teach me, good Lord, to serve you as you deserve; to give and not to count the cost, to fight and not to heal the wounds, to toil and not to seek for rest, to labour and ask not for reward, save that of knowing that I do your most holy well. Amen.

And we continue with the collect for All Saints Day on Sunday as we go through this week:

Almighty God,
you have knit together your elect
in one communion and fellowship
in the mystical body of your Son Christ our Lord:
grant us grace so to follow your blessed saints
in all virtuous and godly living
that we may come to those inexpressible joys
that you have prepared for those who truly love you;
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.

Reflection for Tuesday 3rd November 2020

Jon Ellis

Click here to read the Reflection

Reflection Luke 14:15-24

15 ¶  When one of those at the table with him heard this, he said to Jesus, “Blessed is the man who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.”
16  Jesus replied: “A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests.
17  At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’
18  “But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, ‘I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.’
19  “Another said, ‘I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.’
20  “Still another said, ‘I have just got married, so I can’t come.’
21  “The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.’
22  “‘Sir,’ the servant said, ‘what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.’
23  “Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and make them come in, so that my house will be full.
24  I tell you, not one of those men who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.’”

Reflection

There are different ways of replying to the invitation of the gospel when you intend to refuse it. They may all be classed under one heading; for “they all of them began to make excuses”. Yet some are more politely worded than others, and have a greater show of reason about them. The first two sets of people, who were invited to the supper, said to the servant, apologetically, with some appearance of courtesy, “Please have me excused.”  But the third man did not beat around the bush at all, or ask to be excused; but he said tersely, bluntly, sharply, “I cannot come.”  This was a final reply; he did not intend, nor wish, to come to the supper. “I cannot come,” was a sharp word; but since he had married a wife, he thought the idea of his coming was utterly unreasonable, and he needed no kind of excuse.

Now, what did that mean? Well, it meant that he didn’t think much of the giver of the feast. He had no respect for this “certain man,” who had made a great supper. He had an opportunity of slighting him by refusing his invitation, and he did so outspokenly, saying, “I cannot come.” It also showed that he had a very low opinion of the supper itself. It might be a respectable meal, but he did not want it: he could have quite as good a supper at home.

There are many people in this world who do know Christ and have no love for God.  They think themselves good enough, and virtuous enough. Contempt for the great Feast Maker, and contempt for the feast itself: “I cannot come.” They are saying, “I cannot be saved. I must remain an unbeliever.”

Remember, if the invited guests did not come, and come at once, they could never come, for there was only that one supper, and not a series of banquets. The great man who made the feast did not intend to prepare another. There is only one Christ Jesus; there is no more sacrifice for sin. There is only one way of eternal love and mercy; this invitation is not to be ignored!

Collect

God of holiness,
your glory is proclaimed in every age:
as we rejoice in the faith of your saints,
inspire us to follow their example
with boldness and joy;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

Reflection for Friday 30th October 2020

The Rev’d Derek Arnold

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READING Luke 14.1-6 (NIV)

One Sabbath, when Jesus went to eat in the house of a prominent Pharisee, he was being carefully watched. There in front of him was a man suffering from dropsy. Jesus asked the Pharisees and experts in the law, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath or not?” But they remained silent. So taking hold of the man, he healed him and sent him on his way.

Then he asked them, “If one of you has a child or an ox that falls into a well on the Sabbath day, will you not immediately pull it out?” And they had nothing to say.

REFLECTION

Earlier in chapter 7, Jesus had been invited to a Pharisee’s home for a discussion. However, this time a prominent Pharisee had invited Jesus to his home with a specific motivate in mind and that was to trap him into saying or doing something which was not allowed and therefore get him arrested. It may be surprising to see Jesus on the Pharisee turf as he had denounced them so many times. But he was not afraid to face them, even though he knew that their purpose was to trick him into breaking the law.

As a physician, Luke identifies this man’s disease. He was suffering from dropsy, an abnormal accumulation of fluid in the bodily tissues and cavities. However, it wouldn’t have mattered what the man was suffering from, it was all about healing or doing certain things on the Sabbath. That is why Jesus puts two questions to them. First, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath or not?” and they were silent because yes would brand them as lawbreakers and no would expose their heartlessness.

So then he asks a second question, “If one of you has a child or an ox that falls into a well on the Sabbath day, will you not immediately pull it out?” And of course no one says a word. However Jesus would say that if it were their child or animal, the law of self-interest would take over. As I think on some occasions, it would also with us.

The Jews of Jesus’s day didn’t have the monopoly on inconsistent beliefs. Many people today talk about following the one from above whom they acknowledge but most of the time ignore. They will claim to be Christians until forces by circumstance or the situation to show their true colours and quite often fall down on the wrong side of the fence. How about us? Do we show our true colours when push comes to shove?

THE COLLECT
Merciful God,
teach us to be faithful in change and uncertainty,
that trusting in your word
and obeying your will
we may enter the unfailing joy of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

Reflection for Thursday 29th October 2020

Nigel

Click here to read the Reflection

Luke 13.31-end (NRSV)

The Lament over Jerusalem

At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to him, “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.”He said to them, “Go and tell that fox for me, ‘Listen, I am casting out demons and performing cures today and tomorrow, and on the third day I finish my work. Yet today, tomorrow, and the next day I must be on my way, because it is impossible for a prophet to be killed outside of Jerusalem.’ Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you. And I tell you, you will not see me until the time comes when you say, ‘Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.’”

Reflection

There is so much in this short passage that I will only be able to touch the surface in this reflection.  When I was a boy, at the bottom of our garden was a triangle of common land. In the summers – and childhood summers were always hot and warm, weren’t they? – there were often fires and being surrounded by houses it was really difficult for the fire engines to reach this patch of land. I remember one year our fence was destroyed and we were really worried that it would spread up the garden.

Fire is not mentioned in this passage but in the ancient world fire was an ever present danger. In the year 64 a fire in Rome lasted a week and destroyed half the city.  But in a farmyard it was perhaps even more terrifying, with the threat to the animals.  Some species have developed ways of protecting their young and here Jesus uses the picture of a hen gathering her chicks under her wing.  There have been stories of clearing up after farmyard fires and finding a dead hen, scorched and blackened, but with live chicks under her wings.  She had given her life that they might live.

Jesus longed to do this for Jerusalem – and thus all Israel.  But all he can see is chicks running off in all directions taking no notice of the smoke and flames that are gathering.

On the third day I finish my work.  If you read Luke’s Gospel carefully, you cannot fail to notice the connections. The boy Jesus found on the third day in the Temple and the risen Jesus alive again on the third day.

And so we see just what Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem will entail.  Israel’s greatest crisis is in the offing and Jesus offers a summons to repent and come to his kingdom in peace.  In obedience to his father he will go to Jerusalem and like a hen with her chicks he will take on himself the full force of the predicted disaster, giving his life to save the nation.  The ultimate sacrifice!

The Collect for the last Sunday after Trinity (Alternative version)

Merciful God, teach us to be faithful in change and uncertainty, that trusting in your word and obeying your will we may enter the unfailing joy of Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.