2nd Sunday of Lent 24.3.13 Luke13.31-end

17 02 2013

The Fox and Hen

Jesus expresses the anger, anguish and agony which characterise his relationship with Jerusalam and all it stands for.

Luke 13.31-end

At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to him, ‘Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.’ 32He said to them, ‘Go and tell that fox for me, “Listen, I am casting out demons and performing cures today and tomorrow, and on the third day I finish my work. 33Yet today, tomorrow, and the next day I must be on my way, because it is impossible for a prophet to be killed away from Jerusalem.” 34Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! 35See, your house is left to you. And I tell you, you will not see me until the time comes when you say, “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.” ’

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 motivating the Pharisees in verse 31?
  2. Why would Herod want to kill Jesus?
  3. Why is Jerusalem so important?

Heart Questions

  1. What do you feel when Jesus calls Herod a fox?
  2. How would you encapsulate Jesus’ feelings about Jerusalem?
  3. Do you like the image of the hen? Why?

Hand Questions

  1. Is there someone in power whom you need to confront?
  2. What place might you be inclined to lament?
  3. Whom might God be calling you to care for or protect?

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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1st Sunday of Christmas 30.12.12 Luke 2.41-end

23 12 2012

Anxiety and Astonishment in the Temple

This is a shocking story for any parent to read, and it is easy to get stuck at the emotional level of response. Yet maybe it teaches us that growth in wisdom often begins in something which astonishes some and causes great anxiety to others.

Luke 2.41-end

Now every year his parents went to Jerusalem for the festival of the Passover. 42And when he was twelve years old, they went up as usual for the festival. 43When the festival was ended and they started to return, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it. 44Assuming that he was in the group of travellers, they went a day’s journey. Then they started to look for him among their relatives and friends. 45When they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem to search for him. 46After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. 48When his parents saw him they were astonished; and his mother said to him, ‘Child, why have you treated us like this? Look, your father and I have been searching for you in great anxiety.’ 49He said to them, ‘Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?’ 50But they did not understand what he said to them. 51Then he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them. His mother treasured all these things in her heart. 52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and in years, and in divine and human favour.

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. Read through Luke’s gospel quickly, picking out all Jesus’ encounters with the Temple. What story emerges?
  2. Jesus listened and asked questions. Good boy. Questioning makes for better listening. What’s your question about his questions?
  3. Jesus was obedient to his parents after this. What are the implications of that?

‘Heart Questions’

  1. How did his parents feel when they noticed Jesus was not among the group going home?
  2. How do you feel about Jesus’ single-minded pursuit of wisdom?
  3. Notice the word ‘astonished’ when his parents found him. This is an important word in the gospels. What astonishes you? How does that feel?

‘Hand Questions’

  1. This passage is framed by the observance of tradition. Is that something you value highly enough? How might you be challenged to be more traditional?
  2. How are you going to become a wiser person in the course of 2013?
  3. His mother ‘treasured’ all this. That was a mature response. How can you learn to treasure more challenging and anxiety-generating experiences?

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.





Pentecost 27.5.12 Acts 2.1-21

20 05 2012

Sensing the Spirit

Pentecost invites us to attend to the Holy Spirit. It is difficult for human beings to do that directly and so we focus not precisely on the Spirit but on the impact of the Spirit. It is impossible to get even that properly into words.  But with the Spirit’s help we can be better communicators than we think.

Acts 2.1-21

When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. 2And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. 4All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.

5 Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. 6And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. 7Amazed and astonished, they asked, ‘Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? 9Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 11Cretans and Arabs—in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.’ 12All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, ‘What does this mean?’ 13But others sneered and said, ‘They are filled with new wine.’

The icon depicts the descending of the Holy Sp...

The icon depicts the descending of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. This icon is the part of the iconostasis of the Greek Catholic Cathedral of Hajdúdorog, Hungary. The icon was painted around 1810. This icon is the last one in the row of the Great Feasts of the iconostasis. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

14 But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them: ‘Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. 15Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning. 16No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel:
17 “In the last days it will be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh,
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions,
and your old men shall dream dreams.
18 Even upon my slaves, both men and women,
in those days I will pour out my Spirit;
and they shall prophesy.
19 And I will show portents in the heaven above
and signs on the earth below,
blood, and fire, and smoky mist.
20 The sun shall be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood,
before the coming of the Lord’s great and glorious day.
21 Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Reflections and Questions

‘They were all together in one place’ v 1 It is easy to overlook this point.  When people talk of Pentecost as the birthday of the Church they are  not usually thinking of the importance of gathering in one place.  Maybe they are missing out on something vital.

How important is it that ‘all gather together in one place’ in the life of the Church?  In your view, is the Spirit’s primary work to gather or to disperse God’s people?

‘a sound like the rush of violent wind.’ v2. The word ‘Spirit’ also means ‘breath’ or ‘wind’.  Look up Ezekiel 37.9-10 and remember John 20.22 where Jesus breathed on the disciples and said ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’.  But here we have wind – and violent wind at that.

How forceful do you believe the Holy Spirit can be?  What is your experience?

‘divided tongues, as of fire’ v3  More imagery, signalling both communication and danger.

Why should the communication of the Spirit be like fire?  Can you offer both a Biblical and a personal answer?

‘these are not drunk, as you suppose’ v14 There is an implicit symbol in this, suggesting a kind of intoxicating effect of the Spirit. But there is no poison here. They are not out of their minds, but in their most right of minds.

What does the accusation to which Peter is responding tell us about the onlookers? And what does it add to the impression we have of the disciples’ actions and attitudes?