November 3, Luke 19:1-10
There is playfulness in this story — the spectacle of a grown man, supposedly dignified, up a tree. The incongruity of this picture passes without comment because the focus is on getting to see Jesus. The scant details are just sufficient to awaken us to Zacchaeus’ passion to get close.
To what extent do matters of social convention or concern about what others might think impact your willingness to do whatever it takes to get close to Jesus?
In contrast to today’s Christian mythology, the tell-tale sign of Zacchaeus’ salvation is not simply his welcoming in of Jesus. Rather, it seems to have more to do with the way Zacchaeus — in response to Jesus — makes the very tangible decision to change the way he does life. To Jesus, this is the giveaway that Zacchaeus has not simply welcomed the proximity of a celebrity preacher, but has shifted his trust to Jesus’ way of “doing life”.
What do you look for in yourself and others, as the sign that a person is on board with Jesus’ way of “doing life”?
Jesus’ declaration that Zacchaeus is indeed “a Son of Abraham” is intended to convey at least two themes:
1. Zacchaeus is a genuine member of the family of Israel.
2. Jesus wants to highlight Zacchaeus’ faith. In this, Jesus offers a deliberate contrast with those who rested in their “blood connection” with ancestor Abraham, but they actually know little of the patriarch’s faith.
To what extent do you understand your Christianity as a living faith? Does your sense of Christian identity come primarily from the way you engage with people, or from the fact that you belong to a church? Or from somewhere else?
November 10, Luke 20:27-38
You’ve got to admire the Sadducees capacity for complex creative thought. They clearly had too much time on their hands; a common burden of the wealthy. There is an arrogance intrinsic to the sort of assumption put forward by the Sadducees in this passage of Luke 20. The assumption that we could have the details of God and His kingdom so clearly sorted in our own minds. “Now we (only) know in part,” Paul admits in a very poignant manner (1 Corinthians 13:12).
Theological conundrums can build assumption upon assumption. It can feel as if the more we know of God, the less certain we are (and feel the need to be) about most of our theological positions.
Where do your theological certainties come from? If your answer is scripture, who do you trust to show you how to understand scripture?
Has the way you understand/encounter/know God become static — or is it continually developing?
November 17, Luke 21:5-19
The temple must have been a very impressive sight in its day. It certainly seemed to inspire a sense of awe in the disciples who were talking with Jesus. It seems to be a default in our human experience that meaning drifts from “content” to the “structure” we have placed around it.
How is your notion of God affected when life is not turning out as you had anticipated?
Being aware of the upheaval that is par for this course of life does help us know that God has not forgotten us when life is challenging. All the events listed in verses 10-19 have been happening since the day Jesus spoke about them.
What would be some examples of where you have lost sight of the original meaning of your religious activity and transferred the meaning into the activity itself?
November 24, Luke 23:33-43
Jesus was never in need of “saving” himself. He continued to participate in fullness of life, even in his death. Those who jeered him were expressing their preference for a status quo existence, over fullness of life (perhaps because the path to that life was through the uncertainty of death).
How do you experience death and resurrection in your day-to-day life?
This reflection was prepared by Rev. Dave Gore, Minister at Manly Village Church and Presbytery Chairperson for Sydney North.