MESSAGE: Nineth Sunday after Pentecost 7 August 2022
THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK –
What does it mean to receive God’s blessings?
This week we explore what it means to be blessed to be a blessing.
That may sound like a silly question, but in the Bible the way blessing works is very different from how we tend to view it in our time.
In our world, blessings are seen to be given to individuals for their own use and enjoyment, and we may even fall into the trap of thinking that health, wealth and happiness are signs of God’s blessing, while poverty and suffering are signs of God’s curse.
But, throughout the Bible we see a very different understanding of blessing that undermines this individualistic view.
Biblically, those who are blessed are equipped to be channels of God’s blessing to others.
Blessings are given not to individuals, but through them to the community.
In worship today, from Luke you will have noticed that Jesus calls his followers to always be ready to give to those in need, and to be alert to the coming of Christ (and of God’s Reign) at all times.
This element of “readiness” is as we give and serve that we help to manifest God’s Reign in our communities, and as we watch for the signs of God’s Reign, we will inevitably find ourselves participating in its work through giving and service.
In our world, storing up treasure for ourselves is presented
as the wisest of truth.
We are constantly warned to make sure we are financially secure.
Jesus, with the wisdom of a patient shepherd, diagnoses the key factor in discerning one thief from the Other: fear (verse 32).
But, for Jesus, security is found elsewhere – in a community in which we all serve and give generously to one another.
Building our lives on such mutual generosity is what Jesus called storing up treasure in God’s realm, and it frees our hearts to be captured by the values of Jesus instead of being caught up by what we can possess.
Then, because our hearts are captured by this new way of being, we automatically live it out more and more each day.
This is what it means to be “dressed for service” and to “keep your lamps lit” (verse 35).
When we live with alertness and readiness, it’s not that we’re waiting
to be evacuated from this planet to go to an otherworldly bliss.
It’s that we’ve learned that God’s presence is always coming to us, and
God’s Reign is always breaking into our world, and so we must
always be ready to see it, receive it, and share it.
But, if we’re only concerned for our own well-being, we are unable to store up treasures in heaven, we are unable to recognise God’s Reign when it comes in surprising ways, and we are unable to give ourselves
generously so others can experience God’s blessing.
How are you storing up treasures in heaven today?
Do: The simple message of Jesus is to be generous in giving of our
resources, and in giving ourselves in service. Today, don’t just give
a bit of money to some collection in a church service. Be generous
with your love, with your resources, and with your abilities, and in
this way bless those around you.
Pray: Through my giving, Jesus, I store up treasure in heaven.
The Lord calls us today to be people of justice and mercy. Our worship is hollow if it focuses only on our own gratification. The Lord asks that our words of hope become actions of peace. Thanks be to God who challenges and calls us. Let our ministry together bring peace and justice. Let our lives reflect God’s love and mercy.