MESSAGE: 14th Sunday after PENTECOST B 29th August 2021
THEMES: Reigniting the Passion
When you hear the word, Passion – what do you think of?
When you hear Reigniting the Passion of God – what do you think of?
Luscious imagery unites the passage from Song of Solomon with the psalm this week.
We smell the fragrance of flowers and oil, hear birdsong and music, and see the beauty of God’s world and the king’s court.
We are invited to come and be anointed with the oil of gladness.
A world of such abundance calls us to live faithful lives filled with righteousness and equity—hating wickedness and all evil intentions, speaking carefully, and caring for those in need.
God calls us to respond, not with outward ritual, but with a deep dedication of our hearts, embodying God’s word in our actions and renewing our Passion to love and serve.
It’s easy for faith to become about what goes on in our heads. We speak of believing largely in terms of having the right ideas about God, and following Jesus as adhering to a set of rules. Especially when we’ve been people of faith for some time, we can fall into religion as a habit, with little of the power and passion remaining.
But this week the readings speak directly to our hearts.
This means that our relationship with God is not just about what happens in our heads, but is meant to be a passionate love affair with our Creator.
In the Gospel reading for this week, the religious leaders confront Jesus because his disciples don’t wash their hands before they eat. Immediately Jesus points out that such legalism results from hearts that have grown cold. The religious leaders, Jesus implies, have lost their passion, and all they have left is a set of religious rules that they must defend. Whenever we see religious people pointing fingers at others, defending rules and ideas, or claiming some sort of special privilege with God, you can be sure that you’re dealing with a heart that has grown cold. The challenge this week is for us to keep the flame of passion alive in our hearts as we worship God and follow Jesus.
Rules are easy to work with. That’s why relationship with God so often deteriorates into a religion of rules. Rules can become like a “to do” list, where all we have to do is put a check mark next to each item to feel like we are good people who deserve to be rewarded by God. Throughout the history of the church there have been people who began with humble and passionate hearts, but became cold and heartless as their faith became legalistic and rigid.
This is what Jesus faced with the religious leaders of his day. The law had always been the heart of the Temple’s worship, but it had become an instrument of power and control, and a way to divide those who were “in” from those who were “out.” The ministry of Jesus challenged this legalism, and called God’s people to return to the spirit of the law, which was a passionate love for God and for God’s grace and justice. That’s why, when the religious people were upset about Jesus’ disciples failing to wash their hands before eating, Jesus taught that what comes from outside is incapable of defiling us. Rather, it is what lies in our hearts that makes us clean or unclean. If we harbour hatred, judgment, jealousy, violence, greed, or pride in our hearts, we will be “unclean” and our lives will stain and harm those around us. But when our hearts our filled with love, grace, humility, joy, peace, generosity, and compassion, we are “clean” and our lives will bring life to others. Where is your heart “clean” and where is it “unclean” today?
Do: In any love relationship, our hearts grow cold and “unclean” when we refuse to admit when we’ve been wrong. The same is true of our relationship with God. Today, take time to confess the “uncleanness” in your heart, and allow God to cleanse you and reignite your passion.
Vision, not laws
In the final analysis, each one has to discern for themselves just how, in given circumstances, they can best love and serve Christ. It calls for a great deal of honesty, integrity and a high level of real freedom, the freedom to choose what is good, what is better, what is more loving. The Gospel is not a code of laws. It provides a vision of a truly human life lived for God among other people. It is focused on relationships rather than individual actions.
This very day we will have many opportunities to love and serve Jesus in various situations. Instead of being anxious what I may do wrong (“Is it a sin?”), ask rather, “Where and how can I, you, we as a faith community be a more loving, caring and compassionate person this day?”
Anglican Comprehensiveness – VISION and VALUES
God’s New Creation Project.
Where we work with the Holy Spirit to transform the world.
The Anglican Church Southern Qld’s Vision: Flourishing faith communities, proclaiming, serving, worshipping, and learning.
5 Core Values – Focus areas:
- Faithful – Steadfast in our love in God and each other and steadfast in purpose to undertake God’s Mission.
- Imaginative and Creative – Being intentional about reforming culture and traditions for God’s world. The Holy Spirit is active and moving in us all. What love mischief could we do with God?
- Courageous – To risk new things and where necessary, to make bold decisions.
- Authentic – Being genuine and confident in living and speaking about what we believe as followers of Christ. Jesus is a verb. Jesus is the body language of God. What are we reflecting? Do people see Christ in us? To empower the presence of Christ. Called to practice kindness, joy, authentically humble, passionate and faithful – who Christ is. Is what we speak and do reflect the author of life?
- Comprehensive – Being welcoming and respectful of a broad range of ideas, people and approaches and open to dialogue, listening and learning from each other.
The Anglican Church living to transform and redeem the world in God.
Anglicanism reflects the character of God revealed in Christ – welcoming and loving unconditionally.
Where and how can I, you, we as a faith community be a more loving, caring and compassionate person this day?