I was unable to attend the service at Marsden Road Uniting Church today because of family responsibilities but I thought I would firstly pass on the hymns and bible readings that were being used in the service and then do a little reflection of my own.
The bible reading was Luke 24: 15 - 43
The hymns were from the Australian Hymn Book
138 And can it be
416 Father we give you thanks who planted
419 The Lamb's high Banquet
173 I will sing the wondrous story.
The reading from Luke wasn't from the Lectionary Readings set for the day but given that I wasn't present and haven't any idea of Chris' approach, I decided I would turn to the Lectionary Readings and write a few thoughts about them.
Proverbs 31: 10 - 31. This is a well known reading about the virtues of a good wife. The reading says such a wife is "more precious than jewels" and that her husband can put his trust in her and will gain from her presence in his life. The passage goes on to outline the sort of things that go to make such a woman.
She is up early, organizing the household; she procures food; she makes good investments; she stays up late spinning and sewing so that her household are warmly clad in cold weather; she and her husband are well dressed and admired socially; she also makes clothes for sale; she speaks wisdom. All of these attributes are put down to her devotion to God.
I'm exhausted. I couldn't keep up with such a demanding existence but perhaps the message is true, as is usual in the bible. Being diligent and organised usually means that we can live a more secure lifestyle than if we just meet the challenges of life as they appear before us. There's a well-known motto: Be Prepared. I'm not sure what the husband in the story did with his day but in today's world it is expected that he is as equally vigilant of the needs of his household as his wife.
In Australia, servants are a bit thin on the ground so it is good that both the male and the female of a partnership not only are skilled up and competent in tasks that are normally assigned to their gender but also can perform the basic tasks normally assigned to the other gender --- for safety sake and the sake of the budget. Women get sick so guys need to know how to get a meal on the table and wash and iron clothes. Not the ball gowns..but enough to keep the show in the road.
Equally, the ladies need to be able to change light bulbs and get the car serviced and filled with petrol. It also helps if you, like me, are past changing tyres (which I did a lot of in my youth) to at least know where the spare and the jack is and the tools are to do the job. We will all benefit from strong team work.
Psalm 1 is a reading that resonates with us all. It's a bit like eating well. We know how much better we feel when we are eating the correct foods. Then why don't we do it all the time? And we are all the better from following God's way for us.
"Happy are those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or take the path that sinners tread or sit in the seat of scoffers; but their delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law they meditate day and night...In all that they do they prosper." Ps 1.
The peace of mind and comfort of heart that comes from doing it God's way, can't be beaten. Anyone can do it. It's sometimes difficult discerning what God's way is, but prayer, reading, talking with holy friends are some ways of finding that way.
James 3: 13 - 4: 3, 7-8a This reading makes you wonder what the people were up to. They don't even sound civilized and yet the letter was addressed to "The Twelve tribes in dispersion" and began "My Brothers and Sisters."
If we read the list of sins of which these people are accused we need to be careful that we don't dismiss the ones of which we aren't guilty and forget to acknowledge the ones of which we are guilty. We can get into habits that really don't help anyone and dismiss such acts as "that's just me". Come on! With God's help we can all be more like Jesus.
Mark 9: 30-37 This passage begins with Jesus' prediction of his death which nobody could understand but then moved on to his having to straighten out the disciples about "how it is". Given the objections of the people to the self-importance of the various authorities it is amazing they were seeking importance for themselves. Jesus laid it out.
The rules of this world are reversed. It is easy to get the basic message into our heads but applying it in every aspect of our lives can be very inconvenient and difficult to do. It's very hard to welcome people we don't like or people who do things differently or worse still, people who think differently. We know how it should be..they have to fit in with us.
Maybe we have something to learn from them.
Blessings upon you all. Have a safe and happy week.