Skip to main content

Reflecting On This Week's Bible Readings

Habbakuk1.1-4, 2.1-4
The Prophet reflects that his readers, or hearers, are living in dangerous and violent times. The righteous feel surrounded by wickedness. Justice doesn't seem to be done. He could be describing our world - the war on terrorism, global warming, violent crime, a legal system that many people cannot afford to resort to when things go wrong.


But, lest we're attempted to abandon hope, the Prophet says that God still has a vision for a better world which we are called to share and hold on to. It will be realised at the appointed time and if it seems a long while coming that is no reason to despair. We must be patient. For, whereas people who have no problems - and seem to be enjoying life - are often living just for the moment, the righteous - that is those who are right with God - live by faith. They share a vision which keeps them faithful and trusting, even when things get really tough They are always on the lookout for something better.

Are we obviously 'faithful' people? Is our outlook characterised by faith? Do we have a clear vision of better times to come? Are we working for a new kind of world?


2 Thessalonians 1.1-4, 11-12
Paul takes up the same theme in his second letter to the church at Thessalonica. The congregation there was also suffering from persecution and affliction and, like the Prophet Habbakuk, Paul urges his readers to be steadfast, faithful and full of good resolve. Again, God's grace will give them the strength they need.

Do we ask God for the strength to persevere and keep the faith in difficult times?

Luke 19.1-10
As is so often the case, the Gospel reading in the lectionary has little connection with the other passages. It is yet another of Luke's stories about someone whose actions go against type. Sometimes Luke relays parables and stories about people who appear to be good but are actually very bad. Here he narrates the story of someone with a deservedly bad reputation who undergoes a surprising change of heart and turns out not to be so bad after all. It is an example of the transforming power of an encounter with Jesus. If we meet him in the right frame of mind, with enough self-understanding to recognise our need to change and be changed, and if we respond to Jesus' offer of friendship in faith and with true conviction, even the worst of us can turn over a new leaf and be transformed.

Not long ago I found myself, as part of a team-building day, dangling thirty feet from the ground in the canopy of some of the large pine trees in part of the Forestry Commission's plantation at Sherwood Forest. Scaling those dizzy heights, and just for fun, takes some resolution but I was quite happy to do it because I was attached to a safety line. Imagine the resolution which Zacchaeus needed, not just to climb a tree but to do so in front of a crowd of people. It was the sort of resolution which he also needed to accept the challenge to turn his whole life around and dismantle his considerable fortune.

Are we that ready to be transformed?


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

I don't believe in an interventionist God

Matthew 28.1-10, 1 Corinthians 15.1-11 I like Nick Cave’s song because of its audacious first line: ‘I don’t believe in an interventionist God’. What an unlikely way to begin a love song! He once explained that he wrote the song while sitting at the back of an Anglican church where he had gone with his wife Susie, who presumably does believe in an interventionist God - at least that’s what the song says. Actually Cave has always been very interested in religion. Sometimes he calls himself a Christian, sometimes he doesn’t, depending on how the mood takes him. He once said, ‘I believe in God in spite of religion, not because of it.’ But his lyrics often include religious themes and he has also said that any true love song is a song for God. So maybe it’s no coincidence that he began this song in such an unlikely way, although he says the inspiration came to him during the sermon. The vicar was droning on about something when the first line of the song just popped into his head. I suspect …

True Love

Mark 12:28-34 In 1981 Prince Charles was put on the spot during a television interview with Lady Diana Spencer, his new fiancee. The interviewer asked them if they were in love. Lady Diana’s instant response was , ‘Of course!,’ but Prince Charles replied, ‘Whatever “in love” means.’ Now in case you think Prince Charles is just a bit of a cold fish, on National Poetry Day 2015 he read a poem on Radio 4, ‘My love is like a red, red rose’ by Robbie Burns. I thought, ‘This is going to be a bit wooden,’ but I was wrong. He read the poem so movingly that Clarence House has made it available on YouTube and Twitter. Listening to him it was impossible to escape the conclusion that he now knows what being “in love” means. O my Love is like a red, red rose, That's newly sprung in June: O my Love is like the melody, That's sweetly played in tune. As fair art thou, my bonnie lass, So deep in love am I; And I will love thee still, my dear, Till a' the seas gang dry. But what does being “in …

Why are good people tempted to do wrong?

Deuteronomy 30.15-20, Psalm 119.1-8, 1 Corinthians 3.1-4, Matthew 5.21-37 Why are good people tempted to do wrong? Sometimes we just fall from the straight and narrow and do mean, selfish or spiteful things. But sometimes we convince ourselves that we’re still good people even though we’re doing something wrong. We tell ourselves that there are some people whose motives are totally wicked or self-regarding: criminals, liars, cheats, two-timers, fraudsters, and so on, but we are not that kind of person. We’re basically good people who just indulge in an occasional misdemeanour. So, for example, there’s Noble Cause Corruption, a phrase first coined apparently in 1992 to explain why police officers, judges, politicians, managers, teachers, social workers and so on sometimes get sucked into justifying actions which are really totally wrong, but on the grounds that they are doing them for a very good reason. A famous instance of noble cause corruption is the statement, by the late Lord Denni…