Isaiah 5:1-7. A metaphorical prophecy of judgement against Israel and Judah, pictured as God’s vineyard, for their lack of justice.
Psalm 80:1-2, 8-19. A Psalm of repentance for abandoning God, and praying for God to once again tend and protect God’s people as a vineyard that is well cared for.
Hebrews 11:29-12:2. A reminder of the “great cloud of witnesses” – people of faith who suf-fered for their message and stayed committed to God through great trial and heartache – who surround us. They encourage us to stay firm, and follow Christ – the one who endured the cross – faithfully.
Luke 12:49-59. Jesus grieves his coming suffering, recognising the conflict that will arise over his message, and challenging people to discern the true nature of the time they live in, in the same way that they interpret the weather.
Rev Tania writes:
It’s not a comfortable week, this week, but it is a significant one. This week we really have an opportunity to be confronted with the powerful implications of living a Gospel-centred life in the real world. The essential challenge this week has to do with seeing the world truly – seeing the signs, as Jesus put it – and refusing to ‘prophesy lies’ or pretend everything’s alright when injustice is being done.
The Gospel reading this week is a difficult one, a deeply uncomfortable one, but a very significant one. The key is in Jesus’ call to discern the times, which in the Gospel refers to the growing frustration with Rome’s rule over Israel, and the inevitable destruction that would result if the people choose to try and resist Rome (which is, of course, exactly what happened).
The division that Jesus speaks about flows from our responses to the times we live in, whether we will do the work of discernment or not, and whether we will choose the way of God’s Reign – the way of the cross – or not. When justice is ignored, and the poor and vulnerable are oppressed, God is angered, and, as indicated in Isaiah’s prophecy.
The image of the well-tended vineyard that is allowed to be destroyed for failing to produce good fruit is a powerful metaphor for this judgement. In the face of such injustice,There will always be those who refuse to do the work of discerning the times that Jesus called for, and who will prophecy what is untrue, comfortable and expedient.
However, there will also always be those who will repent, as in Psalm 80, and who will embrace the sacrifice and rejection that comes from speaking the truth, confronting injustice and working for a more compassionate, peaceful world.
Unfortunately, there will always be division between truth speakers and truth deniers, between defenders of justice and defenders of the status quo. This is the cross we are called to carry.
May your worship this week inspire you to see clearly and live with ruthless clarity and honesty.
Blessings as we live a Gospel-centered life! Rev Tania