Thought for the week - 27 September 2020

When I first moved to ‘The North’ a few things took me by surprise! One was how, in a short visit to a local shop the shopkeeper could, by the time I left, know my life history, and probably my hat size too! Another was how true the statement is that people hereabouts call a spade a spade if not a blinkin’ shovel!  We get a sense of this kind of directness in our Gospel passage. We get the sense that Jesus is running out of patience with the carping of the Chief Priests & Elders. As is so often the case though, as we read the Gospel we gradually realise that the questions apply to us!


Two Questions then, from the Gospel with which we need to grapple today. A question about authority and A question about obedience At our Confirmation we are asked, and we make answers similar if not identical to these: Do you turn to Christ as Saviour? I turn to Christ. Do you submit to Christ as Lord? I submit to Christ. Do you come to Christ, the way, the truth and the life? I come to Christ. How do respond to that now? Do we really submit to Christ as Lord? Do we subject all of our life decisions to his will? Is everything done with Christ in mind? Or are we rather selective about that? And do we really see Christ as our Saviour – or do we quite often think we can save ourselves? Will you continue in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in the prayers? With the help of God, I will. Will you persevere in resisting evil, and, whenever you fall into sin, repent and return to the Lord? With the help of God, I will. Will you proclaim by word and example the good news of God in Christ? With the help of God, I will. Will you seek and serve Christ in all people, loving your neighbour as yourself? With the help of God, I will. Will you acknowledge Christ’s authority over human society, by prayer for the world and its leaders, by defending the weak, and by seeking peace and justice? With the help of God, I will. This second set of questions we have to look at in a similar way. Let me repeat them  Will you continue in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in the prayers? Will you persevere in resisting evil, and, whenever you fall into sin, repent and return to the Lord? Will you proclaim by word and example the good news of God in Christ? Will you seek and serve Christ in all people, loving your neighbour as yourself? Will you acknowledge Christ’s authority over human society, by prayer for the world and its leaders, by defending the weak, and by seeking peace and justice? Teach,  repent,  proclaim,  serve Christ in ALL people (not just those we like!),  defend the weak,  seek peace and justice.  That is what we have promised to do. But which of the brothers in our Gospel are we? None of us would want to do any other would we? They are like motherhood and apple pie. But in reality, how faithful are we in actively carrying them out? The easiest way out of course is to answer as did the hearers of Jesus’ questions. We can turn aside from the pain of the answers we know to be true. We can say we don’t know. But if we do that, should we expect any more than the short shrift Jesus gave then?!

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St Stephen on the Cliffs, Holmfield Road, Blackpool, FY2 9RB

An Anglican church in the Diocese of Blackburn

 

St Stephen on the Cliffs PCC Reg Charity No 1131959

Friends of St Stephens Reg Charity No 1120454

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