October: How can we keep the faith?
Across the various Scripture passages each week during October, common themes emerge. Take time to consider each separate reading, and pray about how they will impact your daily life.
2 October — Lamentations 1:1-6, 3:19-26; 2 Timothy 1:1-14; Luke 17:5-10; Psalm 137
By the waters of post-Christendom, where we are seated now, and some may weep and remember when Christianity ruled Australian culture… Are we not called by Christ to have faith? Yet, might not we also be as culpable as Israel for the state of decline in our denomination? We have a humbling from Christ in the reading from Luke. Before we cover over our sin with grace and start to talk up our faith, it might be good to sit in our brokenness — not wallowing or indulging in self-pity — but to find the grit that faith requires from us, on the way of the Cross.
9 October — Jeremiah 29:1, 4-7; Psalm 66:1-12; 2 Timothy 2:8-15; Luke 17:11-19
How many times does Jesus find faith outside the nation of Israel and the so-called ‘People of God’? Perhaps this is something worth flicking through the gospel and taking a count of. Faith is for the faithful, but the faithful are not always the religious or those presumptive of their own righteousness with God. What might this mean for us as we come towards the end of another liturgical year? How might we keep the faith, as opposed to being ‘keepers’ of the faith?
16 October — Jeremiah 31:27-34; Psalm 119:97-104; 2 Timothy 3:14-4:5; Luke 18:1-8
Faith plays a key part in the readings this week. ‘When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?’ In these times of denominational decline, we might seek to blame others, for ‘people will not put up with sound doctrine, but having itching ears, they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own desires’. (2 Timothy 4:3) We might blame people in the Church for their failure to grow the faith. However, are we not called to look to ourselves and live well as individuals and communities? Surely, we are reminded of the potential for log-in-eye syndrome. Maybe we should focus on Paul’s reminder to Timothy, ‘As for you, always be sober, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, carry out your ministry fully’ (2 Tim 4:5) — for we all have gifts by the Spirit and there is no gift without a corresponding ministry (Par 13, Basis of Union).
23 October — Joel 2:23-32; Psalm 65; 2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18; Luke 18:9-14
Again, the theme of humility in faith continues, as Jesus tells a parable ‘to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt’. (Luke 18:9) This is such a difficult passage — not to understand, but to accept and comprehend. Isn’t it hard not to say to ourselves, ‘I’m glad I’m not like that Pharisee?’ So what is it we think justifies us before God? May God help us to continue to find our repentance.
30 October — Habakkuk 1:1-4, 2:1-4; Psalm 119:137-144; 2 Thessalonians 1:1-4, 11-12; Luke 19:1-10
It doesn’t take much for people of compassion to identify with the writer of Habakkuk and his lament to God at the ill in the world. What is our response to injustice and wrongdoing? Perhaps, we forget sometimes that injustice is the work of people — even individuals. The story of Zacchaeus (in Luke 19:1-10) reminds us that the salvation and redemption of Christ is less about judgement and condemnation, but a grace lived and experienced. Salvation is transformational and redemption is relational, and Christ calls us into transformational and redemptive relationships of compassion and grace. This is a key way that justice and the communion of God in Jesus is established.
These reflections were prepared by Rev. Jon Humphries, Chaplain at Ravenswood School for Girls