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Letting it all go,Considering the cost, Luke 14:25-33, Pentecost +16

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Reading:

Luke 14:25-33

NRSV –Luke 14:25 – 33 NRSV

The Message – Luke 14:25-33

I love building homes shows..  I love seeing what will happen and how their dreams and ideas come into reality.. The bible today says no-one builds a tower, or goes to war ,without first figuring out the cost..To take on both of these task requires a lot of committment.. Yet some people do.. When they begin the journey they have no idea what they are in for.. Some don’t even know how much it will cost they’ll just sort it out as they go along.. Even the best of planners usually blow the budget (which can be alot of money) by at least 10%.. I had no idea of what I would be in for when I decided to follow Jesus..

Today I have included 2 versions of the reading, the first so we can remember the heat and seriousness that Jesus was on about, the second, The Message  because I think it makes the point a little more clearly.. The beginning of the reading tells us there were a whole stack of people following Jesus, by now over half way through Luke, Jesus was getting to be popular.. I can understand his frustration at people wanting to be around him but not take him seriously or understanding what he was on about..  For some it may have looked like an easier option. Jesus was critical of the law and those who adhered to it too tightly or forgot that it really was all about loving God and your neighbour.. But for Jesus these were  radical costly  commitments, that would turn your family against you and could send you  broke..  Jesus was asking if you want to follow me are you willing to let go of everything you value?

For me following Jesus has been a very interesting and windy road. The love of God has got me through many  dark places and helped me to recover well from difficult circumstances.  My willingness to go wherever you lead, has meant I have worked with street kids, and the most wealthiest people, very small and large communities and I have been challenged to think deeply about my faith in ways not asked of by the church. All of which my life has been so much richer for.. But for this to work I had to hold lightly the things I value, I had to be willing to sit in a place of conflict at times with family, friends and the church. It means there are weeks I worry about money, yet choose to remain generous.

I love in the message how it says “Anyone who won’t shoulder his own cross and follow behind me can’t be my disciple.” I love the values and vision that God gives us through Jesus. It makes a difference in my life. I can see how it can and does make a difference in the world but for this to work requires that everyone shoulder their own cross to make it happen. We can’t rely on our parents, friends, missionaries or our faith communities to take our share of the load. If we do, it becomes unbalanced and falls over.. Jesus knew this and tried to help people understand..

My experience of faith is that I have not had to walk away from my family, but I have had to walk my own path in following Jesus. It has been in all areas of my life that the Jesus values is the filter of which I need to make sense of the rest of the world. Is this loving God? is this loving my neighbour as myself? So in doing the drawings today the questions came to me, what is it that I am still holding onto more tightly than my committment to God? Is it work, is it home, is it family’s opinion, is it success, is it money,is it a long life, is it following the dream? For the prayer of “your kingdom come” to work requires all of us to shoulder our own cross.. I pray for courage and strength  as you recheck your life, may your hands and heart be opened kindly this week.

 

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August 28th 2016,Pentecost+15, Luke 14:7-14

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Luke 14:7-14

7When he noticed how the guests chose the places of honor, he told them a parable. 8“When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not sit down at the place of honor, in case someone more distinguished than you has been invited by your host; 9and the host who invited both of you may come and say to you, ‘Give this person your place,’ and then in disgrace you would start to take the lowest place. 10But when you are invited, go and sit down at the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher’; then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at the table with you. 11For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” 12He said also to the one who had invited him, “When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid. 13But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. 14And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

This reading this week has created some very interesting discussions about how we relate to other people.. Who do we include or exclude? WHo are easy to relate to and who do we avoid? We were talking about how sometimes we try to look like we are make an effort but the reality is a very different thing.

The whole discussion today about sitting in the place of honour is an interesting one, there are things going on here that is assumed but is not overtly spoken about.. I have always thought about it in terms of wanting to sit with the cool or funky people, like having the chance to sit with a movie star.. But here, it is also about getting in the ear of the person who has power.. There were often bussiness transactions, family negotiation..

It made me think about the people we sit with and about who has our ear, or who do we listen to and who we have the ear of..  I am sure you have noticed with the new technology that all of a sudden if you do a search on something, every page you look at is advertising what you were looking for. (unfortunate when someone uses your computer for a search for something you are not interested in!) The problem with this is that there is few things that actually then challenge us to think differently..  We can go on our Merry way assuming everyone then is like us..

It takes courage to unlock our doors and our hearts to those who are different, those who are uncomfortable, or who seemingly have nothing to offer us..  The reading says we will be rewarded in heaven if we invite these people to our table. I would say we are often rewarded in the now when we have the courage to to open our doors and hearts to those who are different.

So the questions for me who is sitting outside my door that I am not too keen to let in? Who are the people that I am vying for the attention of and why? I was at a conference today and watched the people move around the tables.. The interesting thing I noticed about myself in this is that often I choose to sit with people because they make me feel safe and it is only when I am feeling safe and confident that I have the courage to open my life to those I don’t know… Somedays we need to be that person.. Somedays we just don’t have the strength to go there. But we are never supposed to go there in our own strength.. We are always sitting at the table with God first!

An after note… Did you notice that the empty space in the picture is in the shape of a cross? I found it interesting that the door is in the centre of it.. It challenges me to think that maybe it should be Jesus who decides who is in and out..

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August 21, 2016: Proper 16 / Ordinary 21 / Pentecost +14

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Luke 13:10-17

10Now he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath. 11And just then there appeared a woman with a spirit that had crippled her for eighteen years. She was bent over and was quite unable to stand up straight. 12When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said, “Woman, you are set free from your ailment.” 13When he laid his hands on her, immediately she stood up straight and began praising God. 14But the leader of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had cured on the sabbath, kept saying to the crowd, “There are six days on which work ought to be done; come on those days and be cured, and not on the sabbath day.” 15But the Lord answered him and said, “You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger, and lead it away to give it water? 16And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen long years, be set free from this bondage on the sabbath day?” 17When he said this, all his opponents were put to shame; and the entire crowd was rejoicing at all the wonderful things that he was doing.

I wonder what it means that a woman had a spirit that crippled her? I assumed it meant she was bent over with a bad back.. But what if it was depresssion or anxiety?

I found the people’s response interesting.. If the woman was coming to be healed by God surely the best day to be healed by God would be on God’s day.. I wonder why it annoyed them soo much that she wanted to be healed? Were they jealous? Were they annoyed that this woman took Jesus away from the important task of teaching them.. or were they in the middle of a great thought and she interupted!

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August 14, 2016: Proper 15 / Ordinary 20 / Pentecost +13

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Luke 12:49-56

49“I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! 50I have a baptism with which to be baptized, and what stress I am under until it is completed! 51Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division! 52From now on five in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three;53they will be divided: father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”

54He also said to the crowds, “When you see a cloud rising in the west, you immediately say, ‘It is going to rain’; and so it happens. 55And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, ‘There will be scorching heat’; and it happens. 56You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?

When I was younger I never really understood this verse.. Why would Jesus want to cause conflict in families? and have them divided against each other?  As an adult I understand a lot better. As I have got older I have watched and found myself and my family developing certain views about things.. How we raise our kids, what to do about money, how we treat people of different races, our politic views, what we think about God.. Even people who have been raised in the same family can end up with very different world views and ideas about how things should be done..

The way of Jesus is very counter cultural, Jesus says greed is not good, western culture needs greed to keep the economics of the world to keep moving. Be compassionate to the stranger and the downtrodden, in a culture of fear and individualism only look after those you love and trust.

The next section of the reading doesn’t make sense out of context.. Leading up to this Luke has been going back and forwards between relax, God loves you and will take care of you to be ready be prepared if you are not found doing the right thing you will end up punished for it.. For me the next verse (57) makes it all make sense… “And why do you not judge for yourselves what is right?”  This tirade comes out of a man coming to Jesus to ask him to sort things out with his family over a will.. If people are living for justice, compassion and if everyone is working on this agenda it should all be simple, right?.. But it is not.. Not everyone is working towards the same agenda.. Ironically too is that sometimes we can be working towards the same agenda but have very different ways of going about it..

The challenge from Jesus, why are you not judging for yourself what is right, you are smart cookies  you can know a whole bunch of things about the world around you, So where is the wisdom? The thing I noticed in drawing this reading this week is in these two examples he gave they were about seeing something and know what was going to happen as a consequence of that.. I wonder if Jesus is asking us to look at all of our lives and ask the same question?

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7th August 2016 Proper 14C / Ordinary 19C / Pentecost +12

img050Luke 12:32-48

32“Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. 33Sell your possessions, and give alms. Make purses for yourselves that do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. 35“Be dressed for action and have your lamps lit; 36be like those who are waiting for their master to return from the wedding banquet, so that they may open the door for him as soon as he comes and knocks. 37Blessed are those slaves whom the master finds alert when he comes; truly I tell you, he will fasten his belt and have them sit down to eat, and he will come and serve them.38If he comes during the middle of the night, or near dawn, and finds them so, blessed are those slaves. 39“But know this: if the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. 40You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.”

41Peter said, “Lord, are you telling this parable for us or for everyone?”42And the Lord said, “Who then is the faithful and prudent manager whom his master will put in charge of his slaves, to give them their allowance of food at the proper time? 43Blessed is that slave whom his master will find at work when he arrives. 44Truly I tell you, he will put that one in charge of all his possessions. 45But if that slave says to himself, ‘My master is delayed in coming,’ and if he begins to beat the other slaves, men and women, and to eat and drink and get drunk, 46the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour that he does not know, and will cut him in pieces, and put him with the unfaithful. 47That slave who knew what his master wanted, but did not prepare himself or do what was wanted, will receive a severe beating. 48But the one who did not know and did what deserved a beating will receive a light beating. From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and from the one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded.

I have a thing for bags and wallets, I like them but I don’t treat them with a lot of respect so they break, often.. So the concept of making purses for yourself that don’t wear out quite appealed to me.. As a sew – er I thought what would it be made of? and immediately came to mind a little purse I had as a kid, it had one of those metal clips on them that as a kid was really hard to open, my one was quite plain but in my mind I saw a beautiful patchwork one made up of all the bits and pieces you pick up along the way, stitched differently every time.. little peices of fabric like treasured memories.

It is interesting my little purse came to mind that was so hard to open because I do think this is what the reading is about. When the purse is closed there are two things that happen, no new things can go in and the things in there are not terribly useful. They are only useful when they are pulled out and given to another.. We like to hold onto things for a rainy day, but how often when it is raining do we actually use it or are we second guessing that this is the right time? For me the purse needed to be open, the contents available to share with others but also the space is made for God to be able to add more treasures into those things of our heart, because that is what God wants to do, give us the things of the kingdom. I love how often when we have the courage to be open and generous, prepared to share and care, how often that comes back to us threefold, which for me is what the next section of the reading is about, when the master serves the slave.

One of the  things that stands out in all of this reading, is the reminder that faith is not a Sunday only , or a “when people are looking at me”experience, it is something that needs to be lived in everyday and every moment.. The being prepared, not being caught off guard, challenges us to ask how is what happening now in our life reflecting kingdom values?

The drawing this week raised a number of questions for me, what are the purses we make? where are the things of my heart stored?  What are my treasures? What do I need to let go of?  and  what would I like to work on collecting? I have left the coins blank so if you want to you can draw or write on them the things you treasure, the things you hold onto or the things you need to let go of ,or you may like to ponder the things you would like to treasure. I love the various ways we can have conversations with God!