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Showing posts from August, 2013

Wonderful Promises

Genesis 15.1-6, Luke 12.32-40 Today's reading from Genesis contains a wonderful promise of God's graciousness. Abraham has already been blessed by Melchizedek, King of Jerusalem, in a mysterious ritual including bread and wine, and he has already been promised that he will be the father of a great nation and that his descendants will be more numerous than the dust and will inherit the land of Canaan. Now he is promised that God will be his shield and will give him a great reward. Despite all of the promises that have already been showered on him, Abraham is sceptical. Like Sarah, he's very conscious that he is getting on in years. According to one of the traditions which Genesis is following, he was 75 years old and Sarah was no longer able to bear children. We may suspect that the story tellers were exaggerating. Sarah was still young enough to have been coveted by the Egyptian pharaoh as one of his wives, but it's clear that the cards were stacked against them. Abraham …

Crossing Boundaries, Challenging Conventions

Genesis 18.1-15, Colossians 1.15-28, Luke 10.38-42

In our Old Testament reading God reveals to Abraham and Sarah that he is able to sit light to the normal rules of nature. Sarah is 'advanced in years', which is the Bible's way of saying that she had passed the menopause. She laughs at the suggestion that - in nine months' time - she will have a baby. But God is able to do things which to us seem impossible. Now, of course, neither Abraham nor Sarah realise that they have been entertaining God's messengers unawares. They have simply been following the rules of hospitality and offering food to travellers in the desert. Sarah is embarrassed when the stranger tells her that he has heard her laughing. Again it is discourteous to laugh at a stranger, however ludicrous their comments might seem. Our Gospel reading is also about offering hospitality, but this time not to strangers. One of Jesus’ disciples, Martha, invites him to her home. Like any good host she then gets bus…

The Challenge to Be Different

2 Kings 5.1-16, Luke 10.1-20 Our two Bible readings today are about people who were prepared to break the rules of their society in order to do what they felt was necessary. Naaman was persuaded by his wife’s slave girl to go on a madcap mission to see the famous Israelite prophet, Elisha.  Fortunately, he enjoyed the high favour of his master, the king of Syria, who was only too happy to write him letters of safe conduct. To him this seemed like an example of positive rule breaking. Normally he wouldn’t expect his generals to fraternise with the enemy but, on this occasion, only positive change could come of it. To the king of Israel, however, the mission seemed to be a devious attempt to pick a quarrel and reopen the festering conflict between the two countries. But then Elisha heard about Naaman and recognised that God sometimes uses rule breakers, or unconventional methods, to achieve his own greater good. So for example, the editor of the story - following Elisha’s example - notes …