This week we revert to what is termed The Ordinary Time of the Year. Many of you will know that I have never been comfortable with this terminology. Yes, I...
OLD TESTAMENT READING [EXODUS 17: 3 – 7] presents us with two particular thoughts on which it is worth reflecting. The most important is the question posed at the end: “Is the Lord among us nor not?” The answer we give is very basic – the sole foundation of our discipleship.
Here we must not introduce the confusion of occasional doubts, the odd times when we ‘feel’ the Lord is far away or that we have been forgotten! What is our core belief? Is God with us or not? In the face of sometimes harrowing hardship or sorrow do we believe that the Lord
IS STILL WITH US? The Creed we profess each and every Sunday begins with the words I believe in God! What exactly does this statement really mean to and for you?
What exactly do we expect from God-in-Christ
? Are the expectations realistic? Do we, for example, see him as a magic wand to be waved when we call, or do we see and accept him as a strong companion on our journey through life – a faithful, loyal, loving and assured companion through thick and thin?
The other thought presented by Exodus arises from the words …. “because of the fault finding of the children of Israel.” Does
OUR faultfinding undermine our faithful acceptance of the fact that the Lord IS among us?
I wonder if there is a calculator somewhere which is capable of producing the accurate total of the number of times I have been asked – ‘Father, why has God allowed this to happen to me?!’
Perhaps we should make a daily prayer and reflection of the second stanza of
TODAY’S PSALM [95 or 94]. “O come; let us bow and bend low. Let us kneel before the God who made us, for he is our God and we, the people who belong to his pasture.“ How well do our actions ‘fit’ the phrases emphasised …. how firm is our faith that we do belong to him – that he is among us? Our faultfinding must surely undermine the faith-approach expressed by this stanza from our Psalm?
THIS SUNDAY’S NEW TESTAMENT READING [ROMANS 5: 1 – 2. 5 – 8]
speaks volumes in our overall context. “We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Faultfinding undermines our peace in relation to anybody – but especially God-in-Christ. In all of this do not overlook the assurance that “hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into hearts …” So, again – “is God among us or not?”
The Israelites in the desert frustrated Moses, they had lost hope in the assurances the Lord had given them, and had forgotten everything he had so far done for them. They expected quick-fix solutions and instant visible and tangible responses. Very often we, too, are guilty of the same approach. We have unrealistic expectations.
THIS SUNDAY’S GOSPEL READING [JOHN 4: 5 – 42]
records one of the longest personal encounters between Jesus and an individual. Two interesting points should not be overlooked. One, it is a dialogue with a woman – and two, the woman is a Samaritan. On both counts we see that Jesus casts aside two social barriers. The contemporary world of the Lord regarded it as somewhat risque for a single man to settledown to a private exchange with a female. Hear the question the woman asks of Jesus at the first moment of their encounter – “how is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me a woman of Samaria?” In addition, that a Jew should spend considerable time in conversation with a Samaritan was unheard of. The Lord brushed aside both social taboos. He was interested in the person, made time for her, listened, exchanged views and opinions. At no stage is there any sort of judgement, condemnation or expressed disapproval. THERE WAS NO FAULTFINDING – no unrealistic expectations! Here is an example of true dialogue at its best.
At once I am reminded of a very brief (less than 5-minutes) address of a new, recently appointed, bishop after his ordination. He asked everyone present to make a friend of Jesus, make a friend, and then introduce your friend to Jesus. He then added: ‘remember that cold butter does not spread’. What a splendid summary of our Gospel reading?! At the same time go back to this Sunday’s teaching of Saint Paul when he proclaims that “we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
It was the dialogue that led the woman to proclaim the truth that she had no husband, and prompted Jesus’ reply that “this you said truly.” The truth emerged through transparent, honest, dialogue. In addition to the emergence of the truth there came an acceptance of the truth.
As today’s Psalm proclaims: “O that today you would listen to his voice! Harden not your hearts.”
COLD BUTTER DOES NOT SPREAD.