Posted in Lectionary Yr A, Uncategorized

When did I do it? Matthew 25:31 – 46, Christ the King! November 26, 2017

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Matthew 25:31 – 46

This is the 3rd week in a row that the Lectionary compilers are getting us to look at a lifestyle parable. Now sometimes when Jesus tells a funny story you just have to do funny things.. In case you can’t guess this is the parable of the sheep and the goats..

It is interesting what people take away from a parable.. I am surprised how many people focus on Jesus in judgement. For me what I notice is the whole discussion around the sheep and the goats.. Why sheep and goats I wonder? If you work with these animals I would love to know what you think about this and what insights you can share.. For me I hear about ordinary things that helped the people of the time live, they provided food, wool, milk.. It is interesting that sheep are seen to follow along, one goes and they all go. Where as goats most of the time I have seen them more as solitary animals.

But that is not the most interesting bit in the story for me. It is the response from both the sheep and the goats.. When Lord did I help your children and when didn’t I help your children? Neither knew what they had or hadn’t done, they just did or did not..

It got me thinking about my life, when was it in times that I helped that I didn’t realise and when was I so caught up in other things that I missed the chance.. What I hear in this story is busy people like me trying to get on with their life, going about thier business and it was in that way that they got it or missed it. Again like last week I hear a challenge to think about how we live out these values all the time, being ready or prepared, but not as a chore but as a natural way that we live out our lives. We become so used to doing it that we no longer notice when we do it. We see the hungry and give them something to eat, see the thirsty and give them something to drink, meet strangers and invite them in,  see the naked and  clothe them, encounter the sick and look after them, know someone is in prison and go to visit. Because when these become second nature when it is a natural assumption that this is who we are, they are no longer as they are named. When you have an attitude of welcoming the stranger, no one is ever a stranger again they are just the yet to be met friend. When sharing a drink or some food is just having a meal with a friend. 

I wonder how often we read this reading as almost a welfare understanding of the world, I must do this good to help that needy person. They are the victim, I will be the saviour.  This reading is not about saviours it is about sheep hanging out together. It is interesting when you spend time with people who have hit hard times you realise very quickly this could be me. It could have been me that couldn’t pay the rent for whatever reason, who’s clothes are missing, who are sick or have ended up in gaol (yes it too could happen to us). They are not victims to be pitied or rescued but people who are loved and it is hard not to love them when you get to know them (well mostly sometimes God needs to help alot with this!)..

This is why I think the sheep don’t notice because these people aren’t naked or sick or hungry they are their friends who need a hand..

I feel for the goats, I feel for me on my goat days.. Those moments when I am too busy to see, too caught up in my own stuff to know. It is moments like this that I am so grateful it is Jesus on that throne, not me or others, because I would be in trouble. Jesus on the other hand taught us about grace.. So you might have had a goaty kind of day or maybe you have been a goat for a long time.. Good news if you are still breathing there is a chance to open your life to the world of generous hospitality.  The irony you’ll probably find yourself guest alot more often than you actually get to be host. I wonder who my next new friend will be ?

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Posted in Lectionary Yr A, Uncategorized

Dig it up and hand it round! Matthew 25:14-30, Pentecost 24, 19th November.

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Matthew 25:14-30

Another one of those challenging readings for the week! It’s funny how you can read a reading over and over again and it just doesn’t seem to make any sense then one day, it is like you see the story through a new lens and it makes sense.. It was like this for me with this reading.. I never understood why the master got mad at the guy who buried the treasure. In an economic sense, investing can always be a gamble, it is possible to lose money, as well as gain it.. So at least the guy protected what he had. The master ended up with exactly what he had..

Some people read this being about social justice.. The master was a hard man harvesting where he did not sow, some see that the servant was trying to give the master a lesson on what is fair and ethical.. Maybe, maybe not..

In the last couple of weeks I have had an interesting insight into this reading.. What if this reading wasn’t actually about money.. What if it was about treasure, the sort of gifts and treasures that we all have that God has given us.. and what if that treasure is not actually your treasure but God’s and in turn the communities.. It was left with the community, you are given stewardship of it but it isn’t just for your benefit it’s actually for the community’s benefit. By burying the treasure we might hold to the authenticity and integrity of the treasure but it’s true purpose was not served.

I would be really annoyed if that happened to me. If I gave someone a gift, trusted them with it, expecting that my generosity would be shared with others, like I had been generous to them and then they bury it or hide it or hang on to it so that we are the only ones  who benefit from it. What a waste!!! I would be so mad!! I finally get why the master was angry, the stewardship was not about taking care of the gift for only the master, but taking care of the gift for the whole community. Even if he had lost all of the money someone in the community would have benefitted or at least he had given it a go..

I wonder if this is what it is like for our faith.. We have this gift that we treasure so much we want to hang onto it soooo tight or bury it so that we can keep that special gift.. But buried treasure quickly loose their appeal and get forgotten or turn us into Golum..”It is mine unless you are just like me you can not have it!!”

The treasures from God are God’s not ours, we are merely given stewardship of them for our time.. So if they are God’s and God intends them for the benefit of all how can we lose? Because surely if it is God’s and we share it with all of God’s beautiful children it will grow and change and multiply. It will inspire others to share their treasure or maybe even help them find a treasure they did not even know they have. Life will be invested in and in God’s economy we cannot loose!

So friends dig up that treasure box, pass the gold around and see what God can do with your treasures when freed to change the world.. Be warned it will probably not end up looking the same as what it did when you buried it, but boy will the world be richer for sharing and so will you!!  I reckon that’s what really makes the Master happy, because all of a sudden you will be reaping where you did not sow and enjoying fruits from trees you did not plant, but that is what happens when we are generous!

 

 

Posted in Lectionary Yr A, Uncategorized

Just can’t keep my eyes open, Matthew 5:1-13,Pentecost 23,12th November 2017

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Matthew 25:1-13

Whenever I read this passage in the past, I imagined it was about staying awake far beyond your bedtime! I envisioned a bunch of women with matchsticks in their eyes staying awake to meet the Bridegroom..  The message it gave, which for me as a woman was not a very healthy one, you have to be ready even if it kills you!

With a bit more wisdom, I come now to the text a bit differently.. It wasn’t that the other women went to sleep that was the problem but that they were not prepared.. They assumed this was going to be a quick problem to solve or more likely they just hadn’t really thought that much about it at all.. They were just excited and caught up in the moment..

I was trying to think of a modern example and thought of those people who line up all night for tickets to their favourite show or concert.. I am always so impressed with those people who are super organised with sleeping bags and beanies..

I wonder how this relates to our faith and being ready for the return of Jesus? I wonder how often our faith is about making sure we pull of those special moments, the impressive bits that we can get caught up in. The all night spectacular waiting for the concert tickets. I wonder if this parable is a reminder to us, faith isn’t just about that moment or that place but about the everyday faith. The one where we try to live it in the little ordinary things, being prepared to act in a God way whenever the opportunity arises.

So people put away the matchsticks, it doesn’t matter if you need to rest. It is important that when the moment happens where God asks you to show someone the way, you have enough oil in your lamp that you can show them..

Shine those lights you beautiful people – Our world sure could use it!

Posted in Lectionary Yr A, Uncategorized

Keys, knots and where is that special brick? Matt 16:13-20 Pentecost 12

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Matthew 16: 13-20

Have you ever noticed that there are keys in the Bible? This must of meant people could lock things up, doors, boxes, things that held special and sacred things.  Or they were also there to protect people.. Keys and locks always seem to be about keeping people out and special things in for those who are special enough to be allowed near it.

Our reading today is a conversation between Jesus and Peter, the topic – who do people say that Jesus is? Peter runs through the various theories that people are offerring, then Jesus says who do you think I am ? Peter who has been hanging out with him for a while says that he is the Messiah, Jesus says you are on the money and it is God who has shown you this. Then we get to the bit about the keys, Jesus hands over the keys to the Kingdom. Jesus trusts Peter the cornerstone with the way into Jesus and God’s sacred things. It is no longer about being kept out or away but opens the door for the Fisherman to come in..

Wow Peter is in…

Not only does Peter get handed over the keys but Jesus says that anything he binds on earth will be bound in heaven and anything he loosens on earth with be loosened in heaven. I wonder how often as Christians do we realise that we have the power to effect what happens in heaven.. Our attitudes and actions could be having an impact in the perception of the world from Heaven.. I don’t know about you but this is scary stuff, what a huge responsibility!

But hang on why would Jesus say that??  I do wonder if Jesus knew that over time the world would change and humanity would learn much about ourselves.. I wonder if this was Jesus acknowledging that what was said then needs to be considered in the context of now..

But wait there is more.. Peter is the cornerstone of the Church. In building a building the cornerstone is important. It sets which direction, how to line the house up. It is key.. But when was the last time you noticed the cornerstone of a building? When you see the building complete it fades into the great wall, a brick like any other. For one that was so important, it gets put together with many others and 2000 years later that cornerstone has created a church that impacts on millions.  Yet isn’t that the big picture of God? We belong to a greater calling, we seek a greater vision. How do we know what that is to look like? Let’s look to our cornerstones, Jesus, Peter, Paul all of them thier lives so transformed by love they would risk everything to be able to cut those keys and share them around.. Even to the point of death. The Kingdom of God no longer about keeping people out but about helping people get in.

As Christians how are we holding those keys? Do we use the power we have to control and keep out or are we using them to let people in.. We have those keys because God thought we would make good key cutters, not so we could hold onto it like a precious item never to leave the chain around our necks. What we have in the Kingdom of God is an incredibly precious treasure, unlike other treasures the more we share it the more we have.

May this week find you being generous and wise, as you carry the keys you have been given .May the responsibilty of the power God has given us, make us slow to judge and help us to continually line ourselves up with those cornerstones that set our direction. May you get a glimpse of the bigger picture we are part of!

Blessing people glad you are part of my wall!

 

Posted in Lectionary Yr A, Uncategorized

Shattering stereotypes. Did Jesus change his mind? Pentecost 11, Matthew 15:21-28

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Matthew 15:21 – 28

A couple of weeks back I shared my new understanding of original sin. That in fact every child is born into a culture and that no culture is perfect is an important reflection in the reading this week. It would seem that in the story Jesus changes his mind.

Whether we like to admit it or not he was a product of his culture.. The view he had fitted nicely into the box that he knew. The Cannanite woman shatters this. The view of God that meant the outsiders could see God but never really be close to God, cracks open and the love of God oozes through to all.

This woman was a desperate outsider, surrounded with suffering, sadness, pain and chaos.. When our children are hurting it is very hard not to hurt too and we want to do everything we can to make things better. And she had tried everything. and then she realised that Jesus had something that she had not known or experienced in anyone else. To my amazement in the midst of this terrible suffering this woman wore hope, she would not give up.

She reminded Jesus that even the puppies get to eat the scraps from the table.

We have two dogs. One only a year old and one much older. They are both very cheeky, they are quick and take any opportunity they are given to get what they need. I have a fussy eater in my family, so often there are scraps from our table.. It again raises the issue for me that sometimes those who are most blessed by God actually don’t appreciate what they have and take it for granted..

I wonder who the puppies and the children are in our time? and in our places? I wonder who has too much food to appreciate and who is so desperate, they will try anything to get it?  I wonder who I would like to feed from the table, hidden from the other important people but just as in need of food?

I wonder again about the cultural things we hold onto that actually blind us to the way of God that we think is God’s? If Jesus changed his mind I wonder if we can too? I wonder what boxes I have that need a few cracks in them??

I pray this week if you are hungry you are fed , if you are super blessed with too much you find a way to sneak stuff to those under the table who need it and if Jesus shatters your box you can be gracious enough  to change and not use the broken glass to harm but allow God to ooze through. Surely if Jesus did maybe we all could too.

 

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Here comes another one. Thump. Matthew 14:22-33, Pentecost 10

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Matthew 14:22-33

I wonder if people who work on boats for a living, get sea sick in a storm? I have been in rough water a couple of times in our boat. It is tough sitting in the front, you go up and down with a thud. On your way up you can’t see what is in front, just lots of water. This was the image I was imagining as I read the text. The rough water, going up and down, the wind howling and  occasionally getting a glimpse of a person standing in the middle of the water.

The first time, you would definitely think I must be imagining things, Thump..

The next time you look closer, surely not. Thump…

It must be a ghost.. Thump

Nope not a ghost definitely a person,  what are they standing on? Thump..

Are we in trouble heading for rocks? Thump

What? that is Jesus in the middle of this storm? Thump…

The next question for me is what in the world was Peter thinking when he got out of the boat? Thump..

The storm, the rough water, had not died down.. Did he think he was dreaming? Thump…

This story seems to be life transforming for the disciples in the boat, they had a new perspective on Jesus after seeing him walking on water. Jesus response seems much more, of course what else would I be doing?

Thump..

It reminds me of the storms of life that we are often faced with.. Things are never a one wave and it is over, but seem to be a series of thumping waves that just keep coming. In the boat it is fun for the first 5 minutes but very quickly I get cold, wet and have a sore back..  Then the Thumps just get harder and harder..

Yet it is here that Jesus walks to meet us. At first we get glimpses of something unusual out in the distance, something that catches our attention. There is a bizarre calm about Jesus, a kindness, a willingness to let us, like a child, be like him.

Some days in amongst the storm the power of God’s presence means we feel like we can walk on water, we can overcome all things, we are brave and courageous.

Then it gets even colder and more windy  Thump… and no matter how much we try to set our eyes on Jesus we begin to sink. Thump…

Does Jesus disappear into the continual on-coming waves? disappearing like a ghost, punishing us for our lack of faith? Nope. He jumps into our boat, calms the storm and remains with us till the night passes.

I love the raw honesty of this story.. The weariness from the storm and travelling all night. The sense of delusion that comes with seeing something in a way it does not fit.  This is faith .. The bizarre knowledge that we are not alone, that there is something profoundly deep and calm in the middle of our storms. That our God jumps in the boat with us and remains with us to see the journey through..

My prayers for you and yours, who may be being hammered by the constant thumping of the waves, in it all may you notice out of the corner of your eye, the One who journeys to meet you and stays with you, till your journey is done..  Blessings K

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Fishes and loaves! Untapped potential, Pentecost 9 Matthew 14:13-21

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Matthew 14:13-21

A couple of weeks back I was asked to provide food for an event. We had 5 people registered the day before, I had a feeling we might get a few people turn up that had not registered and it was for a light dinner.. I took a stab at overcatering to cover 15 and was willing to wear the consequences. We stopped off on the way to the event and picked up the BBQ chickens and I bought one more just in case.. When I got there we had 21 people at the event. To my surprise (seriously!) we had enough food for everyone, nobody went hungry and they had their fill, there was even a little left over. It really was my fishes and loaves experience!

I know that my experience was nothing like what happened with the disciples and Jesus , they fed 5000. I truly have no idea how that happened and there are many theories on that, but I want to think for a moment about those fishes and loaves in the disciples hands, about how each of them had the potential to bring about so much more. Each fish 100’s more, as with the loaves, placed in trusting hands, blessed by God, given away..

I wonder what we have in our hot little hand that we might be hanging onto that Jesus is asking us to hand out. There wasn’t even enough to feed the 12 disciples, and yet they started.. What fish do we look at and think how ridiculous and futile is that, there is no way, 2 fish and 5 loaves are going to even dent the sides of these starving hoards. I wonder, both as a church and individually what these things might be, that we stop from even starting because we don’t believe it can really make a difference.

I think for me this lectionary doodles is a bit like this.. I just doodle what I see when I sit with the text.. Sometimes the drawing feels incredibly lame and my reflections like a luke warm cup of tea. I wonder whether it is useful to anyone and then God sends someone along to remind me that it is not all about me. That I just need to put my fish and loaves in the mix, pray it will be a blessing and give it away. Those leaps of faith are not always easy, some can seem so trivial but when you’re giving up your dinner for the night for the sake of everyone it can make sense to want to totally hang onto it. What about me and my family? What if I put it out there and it is just left in a smelly pile the next day rotting in the sun? It’s funny to say the most extreme isn’t it, cause we know that if nobody needed it the disciples would have just picked it up and eaten it themselves, we all know that nothing is ever wasted when we give it over generously to God.

Jesus didn’t ask them to do the equations, or source the supplier, he just asked them to use what they had to make a difference and somehow it works. So I pray this week that you will be brave and courageous to hand over those fishes and loaves with amazing potential and see what God will do.. What is the worst that can happen? You’ve got dinner already sorted for tonight! Nothing is every wasted with God. What’s your fishes and loaves?

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Weeds and wheat, let them grow! Matthew 13:24 – 29,36-42, Pentecost 7.

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Matthew 13:24 – 29, 36-42

I spent a couple of weeks reflecting on this passage. I have heard many interpretations over time,some say you couldn’t actually tell the weeds and wheat apart at first until it was too established, maybe, maybe not.

The thing that shocks and surprises me is, who would go and save the seeds from weeds so that they can sow it in another’s field.. Surely people would not really do that. Tragically, like most things in humanity that I struggle to  beleive a human is capable of, they are..  I wish it wasn’t true, but it is.. I don’t understand how or why, (mind you when my pup wees on the floor in the middle of the night and I walk in it I kind off can!!). A friend once told me it is a good thing I don’t understand. The truth is, we all have days when we make a mess of things and it often has  bad consequences for others, and even those we love.

Often when I have heard this story before, people highlight the getting bundled up and thrown into the fire bit, this time I noticed the life time of opportunity.. A chance to have things different.. This is the God we worship, the one that says don’t you mess with the good work that is being done, those weeds, they may take a bit but do not weaken the goods opportunity to bear fruit..

I wonder too whether there may be just a little bit of lets give those weeds a chance to turn things around, a whole lifetime no less, but know that in the end justice will come. For those who have been harmed and damaged by the weeds in our world there does need to come a point for justice, a hope that their suffering has been seen and noted and understood. I don’t want to see anything thrown into the fire and hope for everyone to produce much great fruit but I also longingly pray that justice will be done.

So this week I hope that if there are weeds in your field that the are not taking too much, stay strong in the value of the fruit you are producing and pray that people take the chances given before justice must come.. Grow well friends!

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Seeds sown.. Matthew 13

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Matthew 13

Hi all! I am back at it again.. This week was the parable of the sower. If you are anything like me you have heard this story often and sometimes I think the fact we are given an explanation of this text means that we can easily sit back and categorise ourselves, ticking the boxes and feeling like we are done for the week.

It has proven to be a great discipline again to draw the text.. So what did I notice this week? I started with reflecting on the rocks..  I was thinking about how hard rocky soil is.  My front garden is quite a rocky bed, it was designed to keep the weeds out but has meant that it is really hard to establish any new plants in it. I almost have to get a pick ax to it smashing away to get to the good soil underneath. This got me to thinking about my life. Where is it in my life that is an absolute no go zone for God. What practices and habits do I have, assumptions that I am so tightly wedded to that no see however strong it is can penetrate, and even if it did it would last long. As I ponder this question, I am moved to ask do I want that rocky soil cracked open anyway or am I happy with it providing the barrier  to areas I am not willing to face.

When reflecting on the seeds on the path, I was reminded of an article I read about original sin.  Now I am not a big fan of babies being born in sin, they are not even aware to make choices. The author (sorry I don’t remember who you are) suggested that we are all born into sin, we are born into a specific culture and world view, all of these are human constraints and none of them are perfect.  Now before you say hang on Karen we are a Christian household and live perfectly according to the Christian understanding of the world and it is from God. If this had no taint from humanity we would all be in total agreement about how to do this and there would be no need for denominations. But that is not the reality. All of us are part of a culture that teaches us the world is a certain way and none of them bring life in abundance fully to everyone. There are some parts of us that we don’t even notice when the seeds are bouncing to the side and being eaten by birds. I think it s great to hear from other cultures about faith because they can show us those areas we cannot see.

So then we get to the weeds..  In a ponderous state as I was, I began thinking about the things that threaten my ability to let the seeds of God grow to full fruition in my life. What are the weeds that steal the things I need to really make my faith blossom. I am amazed how often following this trail I get to a place of fear. What will people think? What if I pray and people aren’t healed? What if I say something about faith and it threatens my friendship. I can’t afford to be generous as I need to be able to support myself and my family.  It would be nice if faith was simple, if I just do this and it will all be good. But it is complex,  the reason the weeds are there and they stay is because sometimes it can be hard to tell the difference between the weeds and the plants. Fear has power because sometimes it is true, sometimes it doesn’t matter how hard we pray people still die, sometimes if we are generous with our last penny we can have to go with out. But sometimes people are healed and sometimes when you think you are not going to make it something unexpected and generous comes back to us.

Which brought me to the reflection on the good soil. It was interesting as I drew this image, the flower with the seeds actually overcame the weeds. They were still there, looming but the joy of being whole and present actually shows the true place of those fears which can stop us. When we have what we need and we stretch our roots deep and our leaves high towards the sun we can blossom. Note I said need here, not want. I have found myself recently being grateful, grateful in the morning on waking, grateful as I go to sleep. It took a while for this habit to kick in, at first it was hard to silence the weeds and notice the good, but it has worked, now it is no longer a discipline but a beautiful habit of naming the things that have impacted my day.

You may have noticed the footprints across the bottom of the drawing this week. It was a reminder that no matter where in the field the seeds of God have landed the footprint of God is present. May you notice the footprint of God with you this week.

Posted in Lectionary Yr A, Pentecost, Uncategorized

The fire of God, present within us. Pentecost

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John 20:19-31

I have done a lectionary doodle closer to the reading here  if you want to take a look. This year I decided to reflect on what happened as a consequence of the coming of the Holy Spirit.

I was pondering how the disciples hidden and afraid defeated from Jesus death, not knowing how to move forward, were miraculously transformed from the encounter with the Holy Spirit.  They were no longer ruled by fear and instead were so confident in the faith they would not stop proclaiming the Good News that Jesus delivered to the world that for most of them, it cost them their lives.

I don’t know what the church is like where you are, but a lot around me are seeing the church aging and the lack of young people coming or staying in the church and they are very afraid. What will  the future become? What about this church? What are we to do? This weekend we celebrate Pentecost, one of my favourite seasons, swarming with red and orange and flames. The symbol of the spirit that of fire from the acts reading.  The promise that God chooses to remain with us even today!

We have pretty bad fires here in Australia they are really powerful. They destroy homes, lives and property and move so quickly that you cannot out run them. I discovered recently that Churches are particularly bad in a fire they burn very hot and very quickly because of the big open spaces in them. Last week I talked about the Spirit as companion but this week I want to reflect on the Spirit as fire. You cannot control it, it changes the landscape in a moment. This companion who journeys with us  is not one we can control but holds within the fast paced powerful creativity of God that transforms.

I wonder what would happen in the people hidden in their churches afraid if this weekend they were blessed with the reminder of the Spirit that was within them, one that blows thier thinking in a whole new way, one that gives them the courage to speak where for so long they have been silent. What have we got to lose people? The land is barren and dry the seeds cannot sprout until the heat and the flames pass over it. That breathe that fire is still with us today. The disciples lives were so transformed they were never the same again, no longer hidden in fear, but courageous in action and word. I wonder what would happen if we stopped holding the spirit so tightly as our companion who journeys with us alone and let ourselves be open to the courageous acts of love service and word that maybe we have been too afraid to do. My prayer is that small hidden frightened band would transform my city, which would spread the fire of love across the planet. Wouldn’t that be amazing!

May this week as we sing and celebrate how brilliant it is to have God’s presence with us  may we have the courage to let it go a little and see what God can do even within us!

Blessings people!