August 1, 2023

MESSAGE – Ninth Sunday After Pentecost – A – 30 July 2023

MESSAGE – Ninth Sunday After Pentecost – A – 30 July 2023

If we were tempted to think that being part of God’s reign required nothing of us, we will be deeply challenged by this week’s readings because the idea of “obedience” flows through all of them.

Jacob’s love for Rachel is a wonderful metaphor for how obedience works. He was willing to work long years in obedience to Laban because he loved Rachel so much that the years flew by like days.

In Psalm 105 God’s gracious and mighty works on behalf of God’s people are celebrated, with the clear understanding that this should result in loving obedience.

Paul does not specifically mention obedience in the passage from Romans, but he does indicate that God’s Spirit prays for us and works in us so that God’s purposes can be fulfilled in our lives – which is what obedience is about – and again, God’s initiative in loving us is shown to be the catalyst that leads us into lives of following and serving Christ.

Finally, Jesus reveals what the Kingdom of God is like by telling stories of it’s subversive influence – the small things that have big influence – and the people who are willing to sacrifice greatly in order to attain it. Finally, he drives the point home when he indicates that not all will recognise or receive the kingdom, and these will ultimately miss out on the life it brings.

Obedience, which is so often seen as religious legalism, or a dry and rigid compliance with the letter of the law, takes on a new vibrancy and attractiveness in the light of these readings. What the Lectionary is seeking to do here is to invite us into the kind of relationship with God where God’s loving action in our lives is recognised and celebrated, and in which, because of our love, we seek to do what God would want of us, and to open ourselves to the life that God seeks to give us.

May our worship lead us deeper into God’s love this week, and lead us out into lives that embrace God’s ways.