Bible readings & reflections

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Weekly Bible Readings and Reflections

13th Sunday after PENTECOST – Sunday 8th September 2019

Jeremiah 18:1-11: Jeremiah is instructed to observe the potter at work, and God explains how God works – how good that is promised may not happen if a nation turns to evil, and bad that is prophesied may not happen if the nation repents and turns back to God. Then God’s people are called to turn back to God.

Psalm 139:1-5, 12-18: A song of celebration for how intimately and completely God knows us – God formed us before we were born, and knows the path God wanted us to follow.

Philemon 1-25: Paul writes to Philemon asking him to “do the right thing” and accept Onesimus, his run away slave, back as a brother in Christ, without judgement or punishment.

Luke 14:25-35: The cost of following Christ is everything, and Jesus encourages us to count the cost before committing ourselves to him.

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

The essential message of this week’s readings boils down to two things for me: 1) We are constantly faced with the choice to do the right thing or not; 2) Doing the right thing (or following Jesus, if you will) is very costly. Unfortunately, in our world, expediency, short-term thinking and prosperity preaching have all made the Gospel of counting the cost very unpopular. But, in truth, life is not found in quick fixes, or in pandering to our appetites – we know this. Life is found in following Christ’s sacrificial, life-giving ways – which is what it means, really, to do the right thing.

Will we choose life and good and God, or death and evil and “not-God”? – for us to think about it from a different perspective and explore it at a deeper level. A basic reality of life and faith is this question, and the way we answer it will determine how we live, and the consequences we must face (Jeremiah). Choosing life does not guarantee health, wealth and happiness – no matter what the prosperity preachers tell us.

Faith is not a protection from life’s struggles and suffering. Rather, the gift of choosing God’s life is the wisdom, the resources and the capacity to give of self that leads us into fullness of life, and into knowing the reality of God’s reign in our daily lives – no matter what we may have to deal with.

The big challenge in this week’s readings is the recognition that following God’s way is difficult and costly (Luke). Doing the right thing, while it leads us into God’s abundant life, is often counter-intuitive, and goes against our natural inclinations and reactions (Philemon). But we have the assurance that God knows us, loves and seeks the best for us (Psalm 139).

If we are to find the courage to pay the price of following Christ, we need to learn to lean into God’s love and grace.

May our worship lead us to count the cost, and choose to be people who always seek to do the right thing.

Blessings as we live a Gospel-centered life! Rev Tania