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Showing posts from August, 2008

The Moment of Decision

Exodus 1.8 - 2.10
Romans 12.1-8
Matthew 16.13-20

Today's Old Testament reading from Exodus seems to be a mixture of history and legend. On the one hand it says that the Israelite people were more numerous, or in danger of becoming more numerous, than their Egyptian hosts. On the other hand it says that there were only two Israelite midwives. Even if we take them to be the chief midwives of a nationwide team these two statements simply cannot be reconciled! Two people could not possibly have headed up the vast army of midwives which such a large population would have required, especially in the days before a modern health service.

Against this slightly muddled background, the charming story of Moses being rescued from the bulrushes helps to explain both his name and his origins, as an Egyptian prince of Hebrew descent. The story also explains how God is able to work through human history because human beings work alongside him to ensure that the right thing can happen. If Moses' mo…

Breaking out of the prison of the past

Genesis 45.1-15
Romans 11.1-2a & 29-32
Matthew 15.21-28

The writers of this passage wanted it to be clearly understood that God works in human lives and human history, and that events which seem tragic and troubling to us in the present moment are sometimes part of - or can be woven into - the longterm out-working of God's purposes for us. There is a danger here, of course. People of faith will always try their hardest to look back on what has happened and impose a pattern on random events so that they seem to make sense and prove that God was with us all of the time, shaping the way things turned out. But I think that is to misunderstand how God works through history. We cannot absolve ourselves of all responsibility when things go wrong simply by imagining that they are part of some grand scheme of which we are totally unaware - although they may be, and how else are we to make sense of the Cross? However, the truth is more complicated than that. God is like a master weaver, pa…

The Sound of Silence

1 Kings 19.9-13
Romans 10.5-11
Matthew 14.22-33

A few weeks ago the administration of a town somewhere in England changed from Labour to Liberal Democrat, and with the change of administration came a change for the voluntary and community sector, too. The new Council decided that, while community work is valuable it isn't an immediate priority. It was suggested that there was almost a surplus of community work going on in the town, made possible by the good times when the City benefited from a lot of grant funding. Now that the grants are being targeted elsewhere, it was suggested that the time might have come to let things return to normal and allow some of that community work to wither on the vine.

Coupled with endless delays and complications in releasing what little grant funding remains, and continued debate about what it can - or cannot - be spent on, this suggested that lean times might lie ahead. The only way that most community work can continue in these circumstances is if o…