Isaiah 42: 1-9

In his book A Grief Observed, C S Lewis talks powerfully about the experience of being forced into the position of onlooker in a situation involving the suffering of another; of what it feels like to be relegated to the sidelines while a tragedy unfolds. And in particular, he describes the particular, impotent rage which the observer in these situation experiences: the desperate desire to be somehow empowered or equipped to intervene, to be able to change the course of events so that the suffering ceases or the tragedy doesn’t occur.  And Lewis also describes the terrible sense of isolation and loneliness which this situation engenders: of how one desperately cries out to God for answers and solutions; and of how, instead, in the midst of our terrible pain, it only feels as though God has slammed the door shut in our faces, and all we can hear are the bolts being driven home on the other side. Continue reading “Isaiah 42: 1-9”

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Luke 17: 5-10

In the classic television series Yes, Minister and Yes, Prime Minister, the cynical public servant, Sir Humphrey Appleby, was often wont to observe that politicians like busyness and activity, it being their substitute for actual achievement. Of course, this cynicism highlights the fact that busyness and activity can often be a smokescreen for the fact that while we think change is occurring and achievements are taking place, in reality the status quo remains. Continue reading “Luke 17: 5-10”

Luke 21: 5-19

There’s an old story of which I’m fond, and which I’ve shared with you on previous occasions. It’s the story of a man who, every morning, would take his Bible and, with eyes closed, open it at random; whereupon, he would place his finger on the page, open his eyes, and read the passage upon which his finger had alighted. He did so because he believed that this was God’s personal, inspiring message to him each day. Continue reading “Luke 21: 5-19”

Luke 16: 1-13

It is recorded elsewhere in the Gospels[1] that Jesus taught the disciples and the crowds who followed him in parables precisely because they were not able to understand what it was he was trying to tell them. Jesus thus used parables in order to illustrate his message and provide for his audience a means toward understanding. However, this being the case, I must confess that in today’s reading from The Gospel According to Luke, we have a parable that probably requires another parable in order to make sense of it! Indeed, we are presented with a parable that is possibly one of the most obscure and difficult of all of Jesus’ teachings.    Moreover, the fact that you and I struggle with this reading is reflective of the fact that, for 2,000 years, Christians everywhere has found this passage problematic. Continue reading “Luke 16: 1-13”

1 Timothy 1: 12-17

In his book Heretic, the Scottish minister, Peter Cameron, observes that the text which is now known as Paul’s First Letter to Timothy is something of an oddity in the Scriptural canon. Cameron notes that in particular, two passages in First Timothy amplify this oddball status.  The first is 1Timothy 5:23, which declares: No longer drink only water, but also take a little wine for the sake of your stomach and many ailments – a passage which Cameron suggests has been a source of consolation to generations of ministers![1] (And on that note, might I say that last Friday was International Buy A Priest A Beer Day – and, alas, I was once again disappointed by the returns!) Continue reading “1 Timothy 1: 12-17”