21st Sunday after Trinity 20.10.13 Luke 18.1-8

13 10 2013

Faithful Nagging

This is a very short story about not losing heart.  It’s an important subject, never more relevant than today.

Luke 18.1-8

On the way to Jerusalem Jesus was going through the region between Samaria and Galilee. 12As he entered a village, ten lepers approached him. Keeping their distance, 13they called out, saying, ‘Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!’ 14When he saw them, he said to them, ‘Go and show yourselves to the priests.’ And as they went, they were made clean. 15Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. 16He prostrated himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan. 17Then Jesus asked, ‘Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? 18Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?’ 19Then he said to him, ‘Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well.’

Reflection

To help give shape to the reflection here are three types of question: head questions, heart questions and hand questions. They are about our intellectual response, our emotional response and our practical or behavioural response. I hope that you will want to work at all three levels.

Head Questions

  1. What is your definition of prayer?
  2. Is it fair to say that the widow was nagging the judge?
  3. What is the significance of the question in verse 8?

Heart Questions

  1. Can you identify with those who might ‘lose heart’ in prayer?  What does this feel like?
  2. How deep and passionate were the widow’s feelings?
  3. Can you describe the judge’s emotional journey through this episode?

Hand Questions

  1. What might your prayer-life look like if you were convinced that the road to justice lies through prayer?
  2. The words ‘cry out’ are typical of a strand of biblical teaching about prayer.  Does your prayer, or the prayer of your community, have this quality?
  3. What is your most earnest, pithy and repeat-worthy prayer?  i.e. What do you want to nag God about?

Finally

These questions are intended to challenge you to engage more closely with the passage and to hear and feel what it has to say to you. That’s more than a five-minute task. And so is the follow-up, working out what you might want to say to others as a result of engaging with the passage with head, heart and hands. Take your time.

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20th Sunday after Trinity 13.10.13 Luke 17.11-19

6 10 2013

Ten Percent

This story of the ten lepers, only one of whom returns to glorify God, sticks in the mind.  Maybe because we nod with recognition when we hear it and think, “Yes, that’s the way it goes”.

Luke 17.11-19

On the way to Jerusalem Jesus was going through the region between Samaria and Galilee. 12As he entered a village, ten lepers approached him. Keeping their distance, 13they called out, saying, ‘Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!’ 14When he saw them, he said to them, ‘Go and show yourselves to the priests.’ And as they went, they were made clean. 15Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. 16He prostrated himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan. 17Then Jesus asked, ‘Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? 18Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?’ 19Then he said to him, ‘Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well.’

Reflection

To help give shape to the reflection here are three types of question: head questions, heart questions and hand questions. They are about our intellectual response, our emotional response and our practical or behavioural response. I hope that you will want to work at all three levels.

Head Questions

  1. What range of diseases does the word ‘leper’ refer to here?
  2. What meaning do you put on the word ‘mercy’ here?
  3. Is this primarily a story of healing, gratitude or faith?

Heart Questions

  1. The lepers use the word ‘master’ when approaching Jesus.  What does that suggest about their supplication?
  2. Can you describe the emotion journey of the Samaritan leper from beginning to the end?
  3. What of Jesus’ feelings through the whole episode: how do they come and go?

Hand Questions

  1. If you were asking for ‘mercy’ in the sense here, what would it be for?
  2. Do you owe gratitude to anyone?
  3. For what in your life might you give glory to God more overtly?

Finally

These questions are intended to challenge you to engage more closely with the passage and to hear and feel what it has to say to you. That’s more than a five-minute task. And so is the follow-up, working out what you might want to say to others as a result of engaging with the passage with head, heart and hands. Take your time.





19th Sunday after Trinity 6.10.13 Luke 17.5-10

2 10 2013

Give Us Faith

There seems to be no real answer to the question asked by the apostles.  Presumably, when it comes to faith we must simply do it.

Luke 17.5-10

The apostles said to the Lord, ‘Increase our faith!’ 6The Lord replied, ‘If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, “Be uprooted and planted in the sea”, and it would obey you.

7 ‘Who among you would say to your slave who has just come in from ploughing or tending sheep in the field, “Come here at once and take your place at the table”? 8Would you not rather say to him, “Prepare supper for me, put on your apron and serve me while I eat and drink; later you may eat and drink”? 9Do you thank the slave for doing what was commanded? 10So you also, when you have done all that you were ordered to do, say, “We are worthless slaves; we have done only what we ought to have done!” ’

Reflection

To help give shape to the reflection here are three types of question: head questions, heart questions and hand questions. They are about our intellectual response, our emotional response and our practical or behavioural response. I hope that you will want to work at all three levels.

Head Questions

  1. The word ‘apostles’ is used.  What’s its meaning compared to ‘disciples’?
  2. We know that mustard seeds are small.  How small?
  3. Why does Jesus connect faith with service?

Heart Questions

  1. What life experiences might make you ask for more faith?
  2. What does it feel like when you feel your faith is, in fact, quite strong?
  3. How do you feel about your best efforts being described as those of a ‘worthless slave’?

Hand Questions

  1. Who could you ask for help with becoming deeper in faith, or increasing your faith?
  2. How would you help someone who said their faith had become thin?
  3. You don’t need to prove your faith by works – but what sort of action would best demonstrate it?

Finally

These questions are intended to challenge you to engage more closely with the passage and to hear and feel what it has to say to you. That’s more than a five-minute task. And so is the follow-up, working out what you might want to say to others as a result of engaging with the passage with head, heart and hands. Take your time.





18th Sunday after Trinity 29.9.13 Luke 16.19-end

24 09 2013

Mr No Name

Jesus tells the story of Lazarus and the rich man in a lot of detail.  Maybe we should pay it more attention.

Luke 16.1-13

 ‘There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. 20And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, 21who longed to satisfy his hunger with what fell from the rich man’s table; even the dogs would come and lick his sores. 22The poor man died and was carried away by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried. 23In Hades, where he was being tormented, he looked up and saw Abraham far away with Lazarus by his side. 24He called out, “Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in agony in these flames.” 25But Abraham said, “Child, remember that during your lifetime you received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in agony. 26Besides all this, between you and us a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who might want to pass from here to you cannot do so, and no one can cross from there to us.” 27He said, “Then, father, I beg you to send him to my father’s house— 28for I have five brothers—that he may warn them, so that they will not also come into this place of torment.” 29Abraham replied, “They have Moses and the prophets; they should listen to them.” 30He said, “No, father Abraham; but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.” 31He said to him, “If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.” ’

Reflection

To help give shape to the reflection here are three types of question: head questions, heart questions and hand questions. They are about our intellectual response, our emotional response and our practical or behavioural response. I hope that you will want to work at all three levels.

Head Questions

  1. Why is the rich man given no name while the poor man is named?
  2. Is this a good story?
  3. Why is the great chasm fixed?

Heart Questions

  1. How do you feel about the rich man’s lifestyle?
  2. How do you feel about his attitude?
  3. Is this a story of hope or despair?  How does it leave you?

Hand Questions

  1. What do you need to say to the rich?
  2. What actions of yours might help you identify more with Lazarus?
  3. What could you do to break down the chasm between rich and poor today?

Finally

These questions are intended to challenge you to engage more closely with the passage and to hear and feel what it has to say to you. That’s more than a five-minute task. And so is the follow-up, working out what you might want to say to others as a result of engaging with the passage with head, heart and hands. Take your time.





17th Sunday after Trinity 22.9.13 Luke 16.1-13

20 09 2013

Shrewd Business

If only we could hear this story with fresh ears!  I wonder how deeply scandalized we’d be?

Luke 16.1-13

Then Jesus said to the disciples, ‘There was a rich man who had a manager, and charges were brought to him that this man was squandering his property. 2So he summoned him and said to him, “What is this that I hear about you? Give me an account of your management, because you cannot be my manager any longer.” 3Then the manager said to himself, “What will I do, now that my master is taking the position away from me? I am not strong enough to dig, and I am ashamed to beg. 4I have decided what to do so that, when I am dismissed as manager, people may welcome me into their homes.” 5So, summoning his master’s debtors one by one, he asked the first, “How much do you owe my master?” 6He answered, “A hundred jugs of olive oil.” He said to him, “Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it fifty.” 7Then he asked another, “And how much do you owe?” He replied, “A hundred containers of wheat.” He said to him, “Take your bill and make it eighty.” 8And his master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly; for the children of this age are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light. 9And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of dishonest wealth so that when it is gone, they may welcome you into the eternal homes. 10 ‘Whoever is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and whoever is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much. 11If then you have not been faithful with the dishonest wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? 12And if you have not been faithful with what belongs to another, who will give you what is your own? 13No slave can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.’

Reflection

To help give shape to the reflection here are three types of question: head questions, heart questions and hand questions. They are about our intellectual response, our emotional response and our practical or behavioural response. I hope that you will want to work at all three levels.

Head Questions

  1. ‘Manager’ or ‘steward’ – does either word work adequately?  What might be a better one?
  2. What does the word ‘unrighteous’ mean?
  3. When is unrighteousness praiseworthy?

Heart Questions

  1. How does it feel to be caught out when you have squandered things?
  2. What mental image do you get of a man too weak to dig and too ashamed to beg?
  3. How do you feel, deep down, about the manager’s unauthorized debt forgiveness?

Hand Questions

  1. Have you been squandering?  What will you do if found out?
  2. Do you need to hold someone more closely to account than you have been of late?
  3. How could you make some friends with dishonest wealth?

Finally

These questions are intended to challenge you to engage more closely with the passage and to hear and feel what it has to say to you. That’s more than a five-minute task. And so is the follow-up, working out what you might want to say to others as a result of engaging with the passage with head, heart and hands. Take your time.





16th Sunday after Trinity 15.9.13 Luke 15:1-10

23 08 2013

Reason for Rejoicing

Grumbling, it seems is as old as the hills.  But Jesus reminds us that simple things can cause us to rejoice.

Luke 15.1-10

Now all the tax-collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him. 2And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, ‘This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.’3 So he told them this parable: 4‘Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it? 5When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices. 6And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbours, saying to them, “Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.” 7Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who need no repentance.8 ‘Or what woman having ten silver coins, if she loses one of them, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? 9When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbours, saying, “Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.” 10Just so, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.’

Reflection

To help give shape to the reflection here are three types of question: head questions, heart questions and hand questions. They are about our intellectual response, our emotional response and our practical or behavioural response. I hope that you will want to work at all three levels.

Head Questions

  1. What do you understand by the word ‘sinners’ in this context?
  2. Why the emphasis on ‘one sinner who repents’?
  3. Which of the two stories is the more satisfactory in your view?

Heart Questions

  1. Can you recall an occasion when you were summoned to join a group that were ‘rejoicing’?
  2. How do you feel when you have lost your house keys?
  3. What life event has given you the greatest shot of joy?

Hand Questions

  1. In your context, what does it mean to seek the lost sheep?
  2. Why don’t you find an excuse for a party?
  3. Are you, in fact, a sinner who needs to repent?

Finally

These questions are intended to challenge you to engage more closely with the passage and to hear and feel what it has to say to you. That’s more than a five-minute task. And so is the follow-up, working out what you might want to say to others as a result of engaging with the passage with head, heart and hands. Take your time.





15th Sunday after Trinity 8.9.13 Luke 14: 25-33

23 08 2013

Looking Forward and Giving Up

Jesus is stirring the pot all the time.  His eyes are set on the future, where we no longer need to cling to things.

Luke 14. 25-33

Now large crowds were travelling with Jesus; and he turned and said to them, 26‘Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple. 27Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. 28For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not first sit down and estimate the cost, to see whether he has enough to complete it? 29Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it will begin to ridicule him, 30saying, “This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.” 31Or what king, going out to wage war against another king, will not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to oppose the one who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32If he cannot, then, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for the terms of peace. 33So therefore, none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions.

Reflection

To help give shape to the reflection here are three types of question: head questions, heart questions and hand questions. They are about our intellectual response, our emotional response and our practical or behavioural response. I hope that you will want to work at all three levels.

Head Questions

  1. Jesus used the word ‘hate’.  What does he mean?
  2. How does what he says about himself relate to the instruction ‘to love your neighbour as yourself’?
  3. How does the story about building a tower connect with carrying a cross?

Heart Questions

  1. What feelings does the word ‘hate’ arouse in you?
  2. Can you imagine standing next to a half-built tower with no cash left?
  3. How attached are you to your possessions?

Hand Questions

  1. What does this passage imply about the way you relate to your close family members?
  2. What does faithful planning look like in the light of this passage?
  3. Are there any possessions you can now, practically or even publicly, renounce?

Finally

These questions are intended to challenge you to engage more closely with the passage and to hear and feel what it has to say to you. That’s more than a five-minute task. And so is the follow-up, working out what you might want to say to others as a result of engaging with the passage with head, heart and hands. Take your time.