Thought for the month
Our readings this month include Luke’s record of three of the many parables told by Jesus. On Trinity 15 we read about the lost sheep and the lost coin, which Jesus follows (in a passage we don’t read this year) with the parallel story of a lost son, the “prodigal” that has been the subject of so many sermons.
Ken Bailey suggests that, in these parables, Jesus is declaring both his responsibility to find and restore his people, and our responsibility to repent, which Bailey defines as “accepting being found”. Easy enough to understand with regard to the prodigal … but the lost sheep?
Realising that it is lost, a sheep will freeze, and can only bleat. Even when it hears the voice of the shepherd, it can’t move because it is terrified, so has to be carried back to the fold. A difficult, dangerous task in rugged terrain, which hired hands will baulk at, and only a good shepherd will do with joy. Which is why a shepherd carrying the sheep back to its fold was one symbol used by the early church, rather than the symbol of the cross.
Do join us for worship, as we rejoice that we have all been found through God’s love.
Our first Gospel reading this month – the Parable of the Rich Fool – is a reminder that “one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions” and that we need to be “rich towards God”. Whilst most of us would say that we don’t have enough laid up to take it easy in the same way(!), the questioner whom Jesus was answering by telling this story is actually being warned against all kinds of greed, and advised to concentrate on things that have eternal value. After all, we can be assured that God will provide for our everyday needs. [The passages that follow have complementary themes: if you haven’t read them for some time, an easy way is to use this link]
As we start preparing for the many tasks that lie ahead during autumn and winter, should we all perhaps make sure that we don’t focus too much on the demands of the here and now? To help keep your priorities right, do join us for worship!
Taken together, the readings from Isaiah 66 and Luke 10 used on Trinity 5 present us with a picture of a river of peace flowing out from the Lord, mirrored in the Gospel as the flowing of the disciples as they are sent out in pairs on their first mission. From the Lord of Peace, others, like ripples in a pool, flow out carrying his simple message: “Peace to this house!”
Notice in the picture that each disciple is carrying a cross. Although strictly an anachronism, this is a reflection of the Galatians 6 passage, where Paul repeats his boast in the cross, a thought central to Paul’s life and ministry: by becoming part of the mystery of the cross, each of us is a new creation in Jesus.
As we move into July, for many a time of refreshment and relaxation, let us share peace with those we meet on the way. [Our thoughts this month have been adapted from an original at this link]