Fourth Sunday after Trinity 23.6.13 Luke 8.26-39

16 06 2013

Meeting Legion

As soon as he puts a foot on dry land, Jesus is met by a most alarming man. But the way he deals with the situation seems to alarm people even more.

Luke 8.26-39

Then they arrived at the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee. 27As he stepped out on land, a man of the city who had demons met him. For a long time he had worn no clothes, and he did not live in a house but in the tombs. 28When he saw Jesus, he fell down before him and shouted at the top of his voice, ‘What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me’— 29for Jesus had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many times it had seized him; he was kept under guard and bound with chains and shackles, but he would break the bonds and be driven by the demon into the wilds.) 30Jesus then asked him, ‘What is your name?’ He said, ‘Legion’; for many demons had entered him. 31They begged him not to order them to go back into the abyss.

32 Now there on the hillside a large herd of swine was feeding; and the demons begged Jesus to let them enter these. So he gave them permission. 33Then the demons came out of the man and entered the swine, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned.

34 When the swineherds saw what had happened, they ran off and told it in the city and in the country. 35Then people came out to see what had happened, and when they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind. And they were afraid. 36Those who had seen it told them how the one who had been possessed by demons had been healed. 37Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them; for they were seized with great fear. So he got into the boat and returned. 38The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him; but Jesus sent him away, saying, 39‘Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.’ So he went away, proclaiming throughout the city how much Jesus had done for him.

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. Where is the country of the Gerasenes?
  2. Who wants to be near Jesus and who wants to  be distant?
  3. What word would you use to describe the man’s problem?

Heart Questions

  1. How would you feel if you came across such a man?
  2. Do you feel anything for the pigs?
  3. How would you feel if you observed all this as a disciple?

Hand Questions

  1. How could you reach out to those wo suffer like this man?
  2. Who needs to hear this story?
  3. Could you find ways to use the question, ‘what is your name’ to greater effect?

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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Third Sunday after Trinity 16.6.13 Luke 7.36-8.3

9 06 2013

Reverse Hospitality

The events at the home of the Simon the Pharisee show what happens when Jesus encounters human vulnerability and fragility. When they are owned they are healed. When they are not, they are exposed. In both cases God’s transforming love is shown.

Luke 7.36-8.3

One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and took his place at the table. 37And a woman in the city, who was a sinner, having learned that he was eating in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster jar of ointment. 38She stood behind him at his feet, weeping, and began to bathe his feet with her tears and to dry them with her hair. Then she continued kissing his feet and anointing them with the ointment. 39Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw it, he said to himself, ‘If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what kind of woman this is who is touching him—that she is a sinner.’ 40Jesus spoke up and said to him, ‘Simon, I have something to say to you.’ ‘Teacher,’ he replied, ‘speak.’ 41‘A certain creditor had two debtors; one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42When they could not pay, he cancelled the debts for both of them. Now which of them will love him more?’ 43Simon answered, ‘I suppose the one for whom he cancelled the greater debt.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘You have judged rightly.’ 44Then turning towards the woman, he said to Simon, ‘Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has bathed my feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. 45You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not stopped kissing my feet. 46You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. 47Therefore, I tell you, her sins, which were many, have been forgiven; hence she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.’ 48Then he said to her, ‘Your sins are forgiven.’ 49But those who were at the table with him began to say among themselves, ‘Who is this who even forgives sins?’ 50And he said to the woman, ‘Your faith has saved you; go in peace.’

8Soon afterwards he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. The twelve were with him, 2as well as some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, 3and Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their resources.

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 does it mean (v39) that ‘she was a sinner’?
  2. What sort of forgiveness is given here?
  3. What do the first three verses of chapter 8 add to this reading?

Heart Questions

  1. What is your emotional response to the anointing?
  2. What is the tone of the relationship between Jesus and Simon the Pharisee?
  3. How did the woman feel in the three phases of the story?

Hand Questions

  1. Great things can happen when there is hospitality: how can you be more hospitable?
  2. How can you sow greater generosity of spirit?
  3. Is there any way you can help release someone from the burden of their sins?

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.





Second Sunday after Trinity 9.6.13 Luke 7.11-17

2 06 2013

Compassion in Action

Jesus’ journey continues and we are given a detailed account of an important incident. People notice. Word gets out…. This is exciting.

Luke 7.11-17

Soon afterwards Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went with him. 12As he approached the gate of the town, a man who had died was being carried out. He was his mother’s only son, and she was a widow; and with her was a large crowd from the town. 13When the Lord saw her, he had compassion for her and said to her, ‘Do not weep.’ 14Then he came forward and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, ‘Young man, I say to you, rise!’ 15The dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. 16Fear seized all of them; and they glorified God, saying, ‘A great prophet has risen among us!’ and ‘God has looked favourably on his people!’ 17This word about him spread throughout Judea and all the surrounding country.

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. How far is it from Capernaum to Nain?
  2. What, precisely, is your understanding of compassion?
  3. In v 13 Jesus is described as ‘the Lord’. Later he is described as a prophet?  What’s the difference – and how are things developing?

Heart Questions

  1. What sort of situation is most likely to draw a response of compassion from you?
  2. Does it matter that Jesus touched the bier?
  3. The emotional response to the miracle was fear. How surprising do you find this?

Hand Questions

  1. Is God inviting you to notice some local sadness and feel compassion?
  2. Is it conceivable that there might be way for you to reunite a mother and a son?
  3. See v 17. How might you be better able to spread the word?

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.





First Sunday after Trinity 2.6.13 Luke 7.1-10

26 05 2013

Authority, Healing and Faith

We return to the gospel of Luke and as ‘ordinary time’ continues will be making a more linear journey through it.  We begin with a famous story that raises many issues for us today by touching on two of our obsessions, authority and health, and connecting both with faith

Luke 7.1-10

After Jesus had finished all his sayings in the hearing of the people, he entered Capernaum. 2A centurion there had a slave whom he valued highly, and who was ill and close to death. 3When he heard about Jesus, he sent some Jewish elders to him, asking him to come and heal his slave. 4When they came to Jesus, they appealed to him earnestly, saying, ‘He is worthy of having you do this for him, 5for he loves our people, and it is he who built our synagogue for us.’ 6And Jesus went with them, but when he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to say to him, ‘Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; 7therefore I did not presume to come to you. But only speak the word, and let my servant be healed. 8For I also am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to one, “Go”, and he goes, and to another, “Come”, and he comes, and to my slave, “Do this”, and the slave does it.’ 9When Jesus heard this he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, he said, ‘I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.’ 10When those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the slave in good health.

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 think the Centurion was expecting when he asked for healing for his slave?
  2. Can you list the Centurion’s virtues?
  3. How do you connect the Centurion’s understanding of authority with Jesus’ authority?

Heart Questions

  1. What was in the heart of the Jewish elders who acted as messengers?
  2. What did the friends who followed with the second message feel?
  3. How did the Jewish elders feel by the end of the episode?

Hand Questions

  1. How does this passage challenge your response to authority?
  2. How does this passage challenge your exercise of authority?
  3. How does this passage challenge your faith?

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.





Trinity Sunday 26.5.13 John 16. 12-15

19 05 2013

All Truth

This is a very short gospel reading. Its very brevity makes you wonder how many words it takes to tell the truth.

John 16. 12-15

Jesus said, ‘I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15All that the Father has is mine. For this reason I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.’

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 can the disciples not bear the ‘many things’ yet to be said to them?
  2. Can you begin to imagine what ‘all the truth’ might be like?
  3. What does Jesus mean by saying that the father will ’take what is mine’?

Heart Questions

  1. How are the disciples feeling at this stage in Jesus’ discourse?
  2. Do you believe that the doctrine of the Trinity is something your heart can connect with?
  3. How do you feel about the idea that the three persons of the Trinity have the same heart?

Hand Questions

  1. What one action of yours could speak volumes of truth?
  2. What are the ethical implications of believing in the Trinity?
  3. What does the Spirit of truth require of you at this stage in your life journey?

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 19.5.13 John 14.8-17 [25-57]

1 05 2013

The Holy Spirit

Jesus is asked a question – but as usual the question is not good enough to get a direct answer. But fear not, the spirit of truth is coming.

John 14.8-17 [25-57]

Philip said to him, ‘Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.’ 9Jesus said to him, ‘Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, “Show us the Father”? 10Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. 11Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves. 12Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. 13I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.

15 ‘If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you for ever. 17This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you …

25 ‘I have said these things to you while I am still with you. 26But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you. 27Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.

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 do you think Philip asked that question (v8)?
  2. ‘Another Advocate’: what is your sense of the meaning of ‘paraclete’?
  3. What might it mean to do ‘greater works than these’ (v12)?

Heart Questions

  1. Do you find the prospect of the ‘Spirit of truth’ comforting – or is there a bit of threat in there for you?
  2. What do you feel about Father and the Son coming to make their home in you? Are you that hospitable?

Hand Questions

  1. Do you have a ‘Philip question’ in you that you need to ask someone?
  2. Can you identify the works that you do?
  3. Can you find one practical way to obey the commandment to love your real-life neighbour?

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.





Seventh Sunday of Easter 12.5.13 John 17.20-end

1 05 2013

Sharing Unity

The words of Jesus invite us to explore the depths of unity and to become reconciling people.

John 17.20-end

Jesus said,  ‘I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, 21that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, 23I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. 24Father, I desire that those also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory, which you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.

25 ‘Righteous Father, the world does not know you, but I know you; and these know that you have sent me. 26I made your name known to them, and I will make it known, so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.’

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. Who are ‘these’ in verse 1?
  2. How do you explain the idea of ‘unity’ expressed here in plain English?
  3. To what extent does the word ‘unity’ do justice to the mutual indwelling described here?

Heart Questions

  1. Do you find the idea of unity liberating or constricting?
  2. In verse 24 Jesus expresses his desire in prayer. Do you?
  3. What does it feel like to be at one with others?

Hand Questions

  1. To whom can you take the word of the Gospel?
  2. What practical action of yours might facilitate Christian unity?
  3. What are the qualities of a reconciling person?

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.