1 Kings 8:1, 6, 10-11, 22-30, 41-43 and Psalm 84 OR Joshua 24:1-2a, 14-18 and Psalm 34:15-22; Ephesians 6:10-20; John 6:56-69
COLLECTFor the Twenty First Sunday in Ordinary time ....
Enlighten our minds, almighty God, that we may be led into the truth and that our faith may grow in the midst of the things hard to understand, difficult to accept. Keep us from turning away from you and your Son because we are offended by something our twenty-first century minds cannot accept without some humility. Spare us from our pride and from the bread that does not lead to eternal life. This we ask in Jesus' name. Amen.
THOUGHTSPerhaps the most important scripture for my mature adult faith would have to be 1 Corinthians 1:18-2:5. This passage was to become the foundational paradigm of my faith. The most important thing I had to know was, 'Jesus Christ, and him crucified.' Essentially I had to answer the question in today's gospel, just like every disciple has to, 'Does this offend you?'
In my everyday walk I hear and see folks straining out gnats and swallowing camels. I often wonder why they go to so much trouble to construct a spiritual house that is but a holographic sham - all glitz and techno-drama, no substance. Why bother indeed? If what I believe in has no foundation beyond a morality anchored in good will, I am to be more pitied than all humans.
1 Kings 8:1, 6, 10-11, 22-30, 41-43
Way back when, in the mists of history, our spiritual ancestors had difficulty with the notion of anchoring God to a particular spot to dwell in. The God of all creation fitting into a temple? It seemed daring and presumptuous. Solomon, acknowledges God's total 'otherness' in his dedication prayer. However he and his people seemed to have need of a place to focus their worship and their prayers. Solomon's prayer revolves around asking God to pay attention to and honour the prayers prayed here.
'For the glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord....' When was the last time you felt the 'sacredness' of your place of worship? When was the last time you were filled with awe in worship? What was it like? When you think about where God is located, what comes to mind? What does that tell you?
I was struck by the sense of longing in this psalm. What was it about worship in the temple that the psalmist was missing?
We carry around in our hearts the 'strength of God' that comes with communal worship. 'In whose heart are the highways to Zion....' This is the knowledge that will lead us home, the memories of our joy that carry us through the hard places and help us to transform our surroundings. If my faith does not affect my attitudes, does not impinge on my choices and decisions, then what kind of faith is it? What is it in?
Joshua 24:1-2a, 14-18
Decisions and choices are - directly and indirectly - the theme of today's readings. Choose which way you will go. Who will you serve? One could meditate on the proposition at length to his or her profit. Joshua is a good preacher. He outlines the choices then says what he chooses. I can think of several forks in the road on my life's journey when I was literally forced to choose who or what I would serve. In those times I often thought of Robert Frost's poem, The Road Not Taken.
There are no guarantees in this life that our paths will be smooth and without difficulties. On the contrary, the guarantee appears to be that I won't have to walk it alone. No matter what my circumstances, I will be rescued in the midst of them. Perhaps not a rescue that the world understands. Perhaps more the peace that passes understanding.
Who or what is my enemy? What am I putting armour on against? I don't think you can be properly armed unless you know what it is you are fighting, what is that you are up against. Naming the 'powers' in your life helps. Next, it is very important to know that one is not alone in the battle, in the struggle against the forces of spiritual evil. 'Be strong in the Lord, be strong in the strength of the Lord's power.' That strength is mine and it is yours the moment I (and you) choose who it is we will serve. When we make up our minds that there is a choice... then we know that there is a battle and we are called to arms.
What interesting armour it is that we are called to fasten upon ourselves! We are called to take up the whole armour of God. As you think of the armour, think of the riot gear the police use. First there is the belt of truth around our waists. Then there is the breastplate (bullet proof vest) of righteousness. For our feet we are called to put on whatever footgear, whatever high tech hiking gear will make us ready to proclaim the gospel of peace. Then we are to pick up and carry the shield of faith to quench to fiery darts coming at us. On our heads we are to place the helmet of salvation. The last piece and the only thing that can be classified as a weapon is the Sword of the Spirit - which is the word of God.
I often wonder why some folk are so opposed to memory work. I have, over the years, hidden many of God's words in my heart. They have come back to me at crucial moments and I have discovered the precious legacy of treasuring things in my heart. It is something no one take from me. With this treasuring of words and with my attendance at worship with the Body of Christ and with my study of the Word I have been polishing that Sword of the Spirit and learning to effcetively use it.
Last, but not least, in the whole armour of God is prayer! Persevere in prayer. Pray in the Spirit - allow God the freedom of your heart. Ask and seek in prayer. Persevere in intercession for others, for all the saints. Keep alert for prayer opportunities.
Does this offend you Charlene?
Yes, it offends me. It sounds like cannibalism. It feels bloodthirsty and unrefined. It brings things down to the level of flesh and blood, heat and flies buzzing, to reality. Yes, it offends me. It asks me to choose. It places me on a fence and says I have to jump, I cannot stay there. And I know that there will be no going back to the innocence of before.
Ordinary ThoughtsThe importance of Sunday morning worship, Sunday morning liturgy, cannot be over-emphasized. It is what we do on Sunday morning (and on every other worship occasion) that is essential to the Church. We, in worship together as community, constitute and make up, with our Risen Lord Jesus, the Body of Christ. We cannot be the Church without our Sunday and other worship times. When we come together in worship something very very momentous happens in our spirits and we need to grasp the essence of this. Our work in the liturgy is our 'opus dei' (our work of God). We are called to come to the banqueting table, to the table of our health, to the anticipation of eternity. Come!
copyright - Charlene E. Fairchild - Spirit Networks, 2000 - 2006
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