September: “I will be with you”

September: “I will be with you”

Sunday 3 September

Exodus 3:1-15

Jungian interpreter Richard Rohr describes the critical point in the male spiritual journey as the crisis when, for whatever reason, life comes crashing down around us. For Jung, such experiences are a cause for celebration, because now that the ego is stilled, transformation can occur.

And so Moses, in self-exile from the courts of Pharaoh to escape punishment for murder, finds himself confronted, in the midst of everyday work, by divine revelation. The critical point here is when Moses says “I must turn aside and look…” God, seeing that he has Moses’ full attention, now calls him by name.

Moses does not want to hear what God says next. After all, going back to confront Pharaoh would have to be about the most unsafe thing he could do. But God has the answer: “I will be with you.” The rest, as they say, is history.

In our own critical moments, “turning aside to look” can take many forms. It is in so doing that we might see something different in the everyday, and find ourselves called to a new path. For Christians, this is the Way of Jesus.

Sunday 10 September

Exodus 12:1-14; Matthew 18:15-20

Today’s lections confront us with difficulties for a Church that turns to ancient texts to inspire and inform its spiritual life. If we claim for them literal verbal infallibility, how do we reconcile a God who slaughters innocent children with the waiting, forgiving father of Jesus parable? And how do we understand the injunction to shun a recalcitrant church member as a “Gentile” or “Tax Collector”, when Jesus turned attitudes to such outsiders upside down?

One way through this conundrum is to read difficult texts in the wider context of biblical inspiration. We worship a God who liberates the slaves, stands up for the little ones, reconciles enemies and restores communities to wholeness. These abiding biding principles of just compassion help inform us in understanding difficult texts.

Our ultimate revelation of God is Jesus Christ- known to us in Biblical witness, revealed by his presence in the community of the church, and experienced as we follow in his Way. The answers to the difficulties of life are not delivered on a plate, but shine through the struggles and complexities of the journey

Sunday 17 September 2023

Romans 13:8-14, Matthew 18:21-35

What makes a particular hill important enough to die on? Surely not issues of what one may or may not eat (though the Pharisees might have disagreed). One sign of Christian maturity is the ability to discern between that which is of relative rather than ultimate concern.

Focussing on minor differences of religious conviction can be a way of avoiding much more critical issues of faith and action. When it comes to being accountable to God, (Romans 14:12) what are the things that really matter? Is it about what is going into someone else’s mouth, or is it what is coming out of ours? Is it about preferencing one day of the week over another, or honouring God in the everyday?

Jesus’ Parable of the Unforgiving Servant teaches that living justly as forgiven people is critical to our spiritual well-being, as well as making a big difference to the lives of others. It is also a reminder of the heart of the Gospel- “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” This is elevated ground- an excellent place to take a stand!

Sunday 24 September 2023

Matthew 20:1-16

Nothing seems to trigger complaints quicker than seeing others getting more than they deserve at our expense. One middle class lament in response to the May Federal Budget was ‘There is nothing in it for me”. A common argument against the Yes vote for the “Voice to Parliament” is that Aboriginal people are getting an opportunity not available to the mainstream. To the economic rationalist and unionist alike, this parable is a nightmare.

We understand the resentment of the 9am starters at the generosity of the landowner in paying everyone the same for unequal hours worked. The demand for equality sounds like a compelling ethical argument. In fact, the Biblical imperative is equity (see Psalm 9 vs. 8), which seeks to lift the needy to a more level playing field.

Matthew does not explain why some arrive late for work. Why do we assume this to be indolence? Perhaps Jesus hopes to lift his hearers from their prejudice and sense of entitlement to a more generous spirit of caring for others, even those who cannot seem to get themselves organised! As Brendan Byrne points out, the latecomers too have a family to feed.

These reflections were prepared by Rev. Brian Brown.


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