July: God’s Kingdom changes what we do and how we do it
One of the most abstract, but important, questions we can wrestle with is the goal of life. Humankind has struggled with this question throughout its history. Luke turns from mission and discipleship to basic attitudes the disciple is to possess. In a series of three passages he addresses attitudes toward neighbor, spending time with Jesus and prayer to God.
3 July: Luke 10:1-20
Jesus was committed to offering the grace of God’s Kingdom to any and all who would receive it. But the parameters Jesus sets around the manner in which the labourers are to go into the harvest would seem to make it even more challenging!
In a reversal of more common recent missional strategies, Jesus sends his workers out in a deliberately weak manner. They go out not from a position of power or dominance, but from a position of vulnerability and need.
The people who respond to the labourers with grace and generosity will enjoy (in their response) an experience of participation in the Kingdom, even as they are hearing of it.
But there is to be no grovelling to those who resist making a response of welcome. This would be to unwittingly affirm the power structures that the non-respondent has entrusted themselves to.
The more vulnerable sign is to indicate respect for their decision — and loss — as a result of their lack of reception.
When have you seen the gospel most powerfully effect a person/group/community?
Were those bringing the good news dominant or vulnerable?
10 July: Luke 10:25-37
Life is much easier/clearer when we have precise parameters around things. The lawyer in this story wants a ‘final ruling’ from Jesus about who he was responsible to care for. If he could nail that down, the lawyer could fulfil those requirements and rest assured in his good efforts.
Jesus’s story of the Good Samaritan messes with the lawyer’s strategy. Rather than setting manageable limits around the category of ‘neighbour’, Jesus does away with any sense of limit at all. Anyone you relate to in a neighbourly manner falls into the category of neighbour!
The kingdom grows as we allow more and more ‘others’ to become our ‘neighbours’, by the way in which we treat and relate to them.
How do you respond to such an infinite call to love and care for others?
What makes unending opportunity manageable for you?
17 July: Luke 10:38-42
The clash between business as usual and the arrival of the Kingdom is well illustrated in this domestic scene.
Martha responds seamlessly to her culture’s expectation that she attend to her guest’s physical comfort. This response is so profoundly integrated in her sense of what is right and good, Martha has little capacity to understand how Jesus can just sit there and let Mary get away with not helping her.
Jesus’s response is not what Martha expected. He turns the cultural norm on its head. There is something more significant than the established culture at play here. Mary is the one who is on to the really important thing … soaking up Jesus’s wisdom and values.
To what extent are you distracted — or distract others — in your efforts to serve Jesus?
24 July: Luke 11:1-13
Jesus’s encouragements in the area of prayer are ‘refining’. If we keep our intercessions to the straightforward and concise pattern he indicates, our agenda is quickly exposed. Generally, agenda is obscured by the multiplication of words.
Jesus’s persistence motif is also very refining. We persist at length only with those things that matter a great deal to us. The activity of persisting also gives us opportunity to refine our motives and requests before God.
The most useful prayer is a dialogue in which God gives us the desires of our hearts … new desires in our hearts (in keeping with God’s desires)!
What has been your most fruitful experience of prayer?
What made it fruitful?
31 July: Luke 12:13-21
Greed is such a part of how our society functions, it can be hard to recognise. Our economic system relies on greed. ‘Need’ is a category that has become interchangeable with ‘desire’.
Jesus counsels us to BEWARE! (almost as if greed is stalking us). It is not passive but aggressive. If we do not watch out it will take hold of us. Of all peoples and generations, we should know life never consists of our possessions. We have more than ever before, yet we are not more satisfied — many would say we are less so.
Do not allow your possessions to possess you! The gesture of freedom par excellence is generosity. It indicates we are not enslaved by our stuff. Giving is what we do when our possessions are ours to dispose of as we wish.
When have you discovered you have been a fool in relation to you possessions?
What are the clearest indications of where your treasure is?
What is the lectionary?
The lectionary is a pre-selected collection of scriptural readings from the Bible that can be used for worship, study or other theological uses. Some congregations of the Christian Church use the Revised Common Lectionary which follows the liturgical year in a 3-year cycle and provides scriptural recommendations that compliment the current season of the liturgical year.
These reflections were prepared by the Rev. Dave Gore from Mustard Seed Ultimo Uniting Church