September 2019

Sunday 1st September:  Trinity 11:  Luke 14 1, 7-14

One Sabbath, Jesus went to eat in the home of a leading Pharisee, and those in attendance were watching Him closely. …  When Jesus noticed how the guests chose the places of honour, He told them a parable:  “When you are invited to a wedding banquet, do not sit in the place of honour, in case someone more distinguished than you has been invited.  Then the host who invited both of you will come and tell you, ‘Give this man your seat.’ And in humiliation, you will have to take the last place.  But when you are invited, go and sit in the last place, so that your host will come and tell you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’ Then you will be honoured in front of everyone at the table with you. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”  Then Jesus said to the man who had invited Him, “When you host a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or brothers or relatives or rich neighbours. Otherwise, they may invite you in return, and you will be repaid.  But when you host a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind, and you will be blessed. Since they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

In Jesus’ time, the Pharisees placed great emphasis on people’s status, according those with higher status to be entitled to greater privileges.  For them, it was important to be seen to be ‘better’ than other people and they made sure they were seen to be so when amongst others.  When we were young we all liked to think we were doing well; that we were friends with the right people; that we could compete at the same level with those we met.   Yet how far is this from God’s plan for us?  He wants us to love others as ourselves – that is, to love everyone we meet, regardless of how well they are doing in life, or how much they have or give.  So easy to forget in this busy competitive world and tend to judge others on appearances and quick impressions.           

Do we even now judge people too quickly?  Do we tend to keep to our own ‘safe’ group of friends/church/societies/activities?   Are there people we meet to whom we could offer our friendship and fellowship, even if perhaps they look and think differently to what we are used to? – in Jesus’ name.

 

Sunday 8th September:  Trinity 12: Luke 14: 25-33

Large crowds were now travelling with Jesus, and He turned and said to them,  “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple.  And whoever does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple………...  In the same way, any one of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.

At first, these must have seemed to have been harsh words from Jesus – urging people to ‘hate’ their parents and families.  To be cautious before undertaking any planned project in case they could not complete it.  Jesus is trying to get his listeners to put the right things first – to put God first in their lives, even if this meant coming into conflict with family and friends, with convention and upbringing; with the leaders of the day.  We are still challenged to do this – to make God’s plan for us our way of living.  But we know that we do this with his help.  We are not alone in whatever task he sets before us.

Do you have the courage to follow the way you feel God is calling you?  To have faith in his promises? To step out into the unknown, trusting he will be with you at all times?  It is a big challenge – but God never lets us down and he provides unlimited resources.

 

Sunday 15th September:Trinity 13:  Luke 15  1-10

Now all the tax collectors and sinners were gathering around to listen to Jesus. So the Pharisees and scribes began to grumble: “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”  Then Jesus told them this parable: “What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the pasture and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders, comes home, and calls together his friends and neighbours to tell them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my lost sheep!’  In the same way, I tell you that there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous ones who do not need to repent. Or what woman who has ten silver coins and loses one of them does not light a lamp, sweep her house, and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls together her friends and neighbours to say, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my lost coin.’ In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of God’s angels over one sinner who repents.”

We all know the delight we have when finding something precious to us which has been lost – the joy after the hard work of hunting for it.  Jesus is trying to encourage his listeners to search, and keep, the important things in life, thus encountering great joy and satisfaction.  The important things are those which God wants us to have, to be, to do – his plan for our lives.  This is the ultimate goal for each of us – and following his plan, even when it entails giving up something we perhaps feel was important or essential, does in fact result in a deep peace and satisfaction.

Are you following God’s plan in your life?  Or are you hesitating, because perhaps it involves giving up something you enjoy?  Or perhaps taking on something you don’t want to do?  Taking that all important step will result in so much more life-satisfaction – with God’s help as you walk.

 

Sunday 22nd September  Trinity 14: Luke 16: 1-13

Jesus also said to His disciples, “There was a rich man whose manager was accused of wasting his possessions.  So he called him in to ask, ‘What is this I hear about you? Turn in an account of your management, for you cannot be manager any longer.’ The manager said to himself, ‘What shall I do, now that my master is taking away my position? I am too weak to dig and too ashamed to beg.  I know what I will do, so that after my removal from management, people will welcome me into their homes...’ And he called in each one of his master’s debtors. ‘How much do you owe my master?’ he asked the first. ‘A hundred measures of olive oil,’ he answered. ‘Take your bill,’ said the manager. ‘Sit down quickly, and write fifty.’ Then he asked another, ‘And how much do you owe?’ ‘A hundred measures of wheat,’ he replied. ‘Take your bill and write eighty,’ he told him. The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly…… Whoever is faithful with very little will also be faithful with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. If, then, you have not been faithful with worldly wealth, who will entrust you with true riches?  And if you have not been faithful with the belongings of another, who will give you belongings of your own? …….The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all of this and were scoffing at Jesus.  So He said to them, “You are the ones who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. ……

How important are our possessions to us?  In this day and age, the acquisition of material things seems to take up a large amount of our time and money – not necessarily in itself a bad thing, unless of course it takes over our lives.  Possessions, as such, don’t matter – it is what we do with them that is important.  Everything we have in life comes from God – so in effect, everything really belongs to him.  God wants us to use his gifts wisely – not selfishly keeping things for ourselves, but giving them and using them for the benefit of others.

Is there something you could give away today to help someone else? – time which perhaps you hoped to spend on yourself?   The use of skills which usually benefit you but which could be so much appreciated by someone who doesn’t have such abilities?  Money you have saved for something special, given to someone in real need?  God is calling us all to share.

 

Sunday 29th September: St. Michael and All Angels:  John 1: 47-51

When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, He said of him, “Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is no deceit.” “How do You know me?” Nathanael asked. Jesus replied, “Before Philip called you, I saw you under the fig tree.”  “Rabbi,” Nathanael answered, “You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” Jesus said to him, “Do you believe just because I told you I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these.” Then He declared, “Truly, truly, I tell you, you will see heaven open and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” 

God knows each and every one of us – our strengths, our weaknesses, our gifts, our skills, our characteristics.  All of these were made by God – and he loves the resulting person regardless of how successful, or attractive, or busy, or well-known they are.  He loves us regardless of how many mistakes we make, how often we turn away from him, how often we follow our own way rather than the path he is calling us to take.

Can this knowledge – that God loves you, just as you are and where you are – help you to go where he is leading?  Regardless of how big a challenge this is?  He is there for us at all times.




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