Archive for October, 2012

“God’s Jigsaw Puzzle”

Tuesday, October 30th, 2012

Christian life week

Ephesians 4:1-6

“God’s Jigsaw Puzzle”

Growing up in South Australia back in the dim and dark ages when I could manage to participate in sport without feeling like a I’m about to have a heart attack, there was no such animal as is the case now with the Australian Football League (The AFL).

Back then each state had its own league that wasn’t just a recruiter’s field of dreams; but was the pinnacle of the sport. The pinnacle that if you reached you may get selected to play against the enemy-the dreaded Victorians. If fortunate enough to make that team, it didn’t matter if the week before you had beaten each other half to death, against Victoria, all past grievances were forgotten as the whole state came together as one. It was them verses us. Much like the emotion NSW and QLD still are fortunate to be able to enjoy in State of Origin Rugby League.

Years later at the urging of a friend of mine I went to Melbourne to simply watch some Football at the MCG, and it was all that he had said it would be, even empty there is something about that stadium-it seems to breath, to be alive. But more than that, the thing that got me was whether it be checking in at the motel or shopping at the markets, that when I replied to their question of why I was visiting, being that I had simply come over to watch some football, I was accepted like a prodigal son. It was amazing. Make no mistake they are fierce in support of their tribes, such St. Kilda vs. Collingwood and so forth. But under the banner of Australian Rules Football they stand side by side. The rich and the poor, the upstanding and the not so highly regarded by society stand together, unified in their love of the game.

Indeed I experienced the same thing in Coober Pedy when a football team was started for the first time. A team that brought together those with light skin, with dark skin and all the shades in between, and during that season we became as one. Far from them and us, we came to understand and enjoy the uniqueness of each other’s outlook on life. Through that initial bond of wanting to play football it became much more and on the five hour bus trips each way to and from our home games (there was no grassed oval in Coober Pedy) we got to know each other-to understand each other and to respect each other-and I came to love those guys-Just as they were.

(As a side issue, the police told us that by the end of the season, crime rates had dropped by 50% in the town).

In our reading from Ephesians Paul talks of our unity in Christ:

“I urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit-just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call-one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”

We are all called to the one hope, our blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. On our last day when we meet in person our Lord and Saviour, we won’t be ushered into the Anglican, Roman Catholic, AOG, the traditional Lutheran or Liberal Lutheran sections and so forth, we will be as one-as we are now. One in Christ, and all saved in only the one, Jesus.

Just lately I’ve seen the same here in our region. In the seven months since arriving I have been part of funerals of the Lutheran, AOG, Anglican and Church of Christ denominations-and from what I could see, there was only one thing in view, one thing that truly mattered-more than hope, but the surety of salvation in Jesus our Saviour. But those words of Paul, what doesn’t he say. He doesn’t say that we have to be like clones. And nor should he, because our individual thoughts and gifts are unique to us, they are gifts from God.

We are all many parts of the same body of Christ. From denomination to denomination, parish to parish and within, each particular Sunday gathering. Each is unique, as is each of the people that gather. Each with gifts that God uses in various shapes and forms so that His message of salvation in His Son will be heard and received by people in various shapes and forms. The absolute and over whelming love of God for each of us, no matter who we are or where we’re from is seen up front and personal in His Son Jesus, that he gave that we may live. But also we see His sincere love displayed in His giving us a brain, the ability to think and make decisions for ourselves and dare I say it, the ability to make wrong decisions-to bring division, to harm others and to follow the way of sin, the world and its flaws. That’s just how it is, because we carry the burden of sin. We sin and make mistakes, yet, we are still one in Christ.

During the American Civil war. Robert E. Lee the leader of the South was attending worship and during communion he rose to approach the alter to share in the Holy Feast. As too did a black man, a slave who upon seeing the general rise, sat back down. As he walked past this man, Robert E Lee, the leader of the South who among other things was fighting to keep slavery legal-put his hand on the man’s shoulder and said come up with me-before our Lord, we are all equal. In our world, through earthly eyes and judgements we are far from equal. I could have been born in a struggling country that may have seen me on a leaky boat risking my life to get illegally into Australia, but I wasn’t-I was born here. I could have died at a young age like some of my friends, but I’m still here. If situations were different I may have made a living from playing sport, but now I talk to you as a Pastor. If I had met a nice young Anglican girl instead of a nice young Lutheran girl I may had taken this address earlier on Sunday night at the Anglican Church. If I had turned that way instead of this way-I may be lying in the gutter with a near empty bottle of cheap wine. But I’m here, as are you.

We are what we are and how that came about doesn’t really matter. What matters, is that whether it had been one those other outcomes or what has actually eventuated, is that we know the truth-that no matter what seems to be in our world, it is nothing when compared to what is, that Christ died for our sins and that on our last days-we will join together in unending joy before and with our Lord and Saviour. That is the truth, the truth that has set us free-the Lord has given us the freedom to live today among his other children, those found and those yet to be found. The freedom to live among those found and encourage them in their faith that we may remain one in Christ, and the freedom to live among those yet to be found, that with our different skills, gifts and placements given to us by God, that when he brings them before us-they too may hear the truth, and that they too may become one in Christ. Amen.

 

MY GOD. THEY KILLED HIM!!

Tuesday, October 30th, 2012

Reformation Sunday

John 8:31-36

“He wasn’t just whistling Dixie”

The 1969 moon landing did not take place but was put together in a film studio as part of the cold war propaganda. Lee Harvey-Oswald did not act alone and the overthrow of Saddam Hussein was about gaining access to Iraq oil.

Ah, who doesn’t love a good conspiracy theory?

I saw a good one about twenty five years ago where this reporter after having investigated the term being thrown at the time around called “The new world order” found out that there was a grand global design in place, and that in regards to Australia, we would basically become like a giant resource pit where after being mined, the resources then would be sent to developing countries, manufactured into goods and then we would buy them back and that this would obviously dramatically effect our production lines was considered collateral damage.

Bruce Springsteen once sang blind faith in your government will get you killed. As Lutherans we believe that our leadership are provided by God for our benefit. I do not argue that at all, but that does not mean that we should not question their actions because they are actually human like the rest of us, and like the rest of us-fallible. When we look at some of the world’s past historic events, it doesn’t surprise that people are led to think of conspiracies. Let’s start the ball rolling by quoting lyrics from Kris Kristopherson:

“There was a man named Mahatma Ghandi

He would not bow down, he would not fight

He knew the deal was down and dirty

And nothing wrong could make it right away

 

But he knew his duty, and the price he had to pay

Just another holy man who tried to make a stand

MY GOD, THEY KILLED HIM !

 

Another man from Atlanta, Georgia

By the name of Martin Luther King

He shook the land like rolling thunder

And made the bells of freedom ring today

 

With a dream of beauty that they could not burn away

Just another holy man who dared to be a friend

MY GOD, THEY KILLED HIM !

The only son of God Almighty

The holy one called Jesus Christ

Healed the lame and fed the hungry

 

And for his love they took his life away

 

On the road to glory where the story never ends

Just the holy son of man we’ll never understand

MY GOD, THEY KILLED HIM !”

If you are going to take on the establishment, whether it is at your work place or at the very top-be prepared for the consequences. People don’t like change, or the truth when it comes at their cost-whether it is financially or status. Being a whistle-blower is not all it’s cracked up to be if you want to just sit back and smell the roses. But there are those people that put it all on the line, not for their own prestige, but because it’s the right thing to do, you could say it’s what they have been called to do-no matter what the cost.

With my brother, I once went to the funeral of a quirky and fallible lady. She hadn’t been “perfect” in perfects sense whatever that is, but she had touched many, many people and after the crowd had dispersed, looking down at her last resting place my brother commented that “this is holy ground”. Martin Luther was a whistle-blower, quirky, fallible and not perfect, but he desired for all to hear the truth, to bring to light the truth of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. A rule of warfare whether in victory or defeat, is to have pre-planned an exit strategy. Wise thinking I would suggest even in our daily lives. Whether to invest in this company or that, to start a business, to change jobs or to take out a loan to purchase a house, it will help greatly to think of “what then” if things turn out pear shaped, or vice versa if things exceed beyond belief of how to remain true to your beliefs and integrity instead of being swallowed up with pride. But then there are people and occasions where there is no such luxury of any exit plan being available. William Wilberforce who lobbied in government against slavery, Nelson Mandela against apartheid, that guy that stood before those army tanks in Tiananmen Square and of course Martin Luther and his band of merry men.

Today is our reformation service and give me half a chance I would just stand here quoting Martin Luther all morning. But I won’t because Martin Luther was never about Martin Luther. So I’ll only give you two of his quotes that display what he was about. The first that shows what he was not about, being not about himself

“I did nothing, I could have just sat here drinking Wittenberg beer with my friend Melanchthon and God would have got someone else to do it”.

And a small quote of ten words that encompasses the whole of the truth in which he risked his life for:

“Faith must trample under foot all reason, sense and understanding”.

There is the truth. The fight against what is dished up to us as logic. Which I might add is logical you our human way of thinking. Being that to be accepted by God we need to earn His favour. Being that with our long lists of failures we’ve blown it. Those two suggestions that are placed before us continually are certainly reasonable; they make sense and are easy to understand. Those lies make much more human sense than the truth. The truth that a man on a cross, a thief who he said himself was “getting what he deserved” yet after seemingly simply to “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom” is told by Jesus himself that “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise”.

There was a time in the reformation that the churches were trashed in the belief that things like the cross on our alter were being looked on like idols and Lutheran’s have been at times accused of viewing Luther like a God.There is but one God, one Saviour and one truth: “That in faith alone are we saved”. These other things, this wooden cross, Luther, your good works are but gifts that God gives us and others to point to that truth. Luther was prepared to give his life for the truth, but he didn’t have to. God was prepared to give His only Son Jesus for the truth, and he did. Jesus was prepared to lie down his blameless life for the truth, and he did.

The truth that has set us free. George Fox, the founder of the Quakers wrote of when he understood the truth that set him free:

“Then, O Then, I heard a voice which said, ‘There is one, Christ Jesus that spoke to my condition. And when I heard it my heart did leap for joy, and then the Lord did gently lead me along and did let me see His love, which was endless and eternal and surpasseth all the knowledge that men have in the natural state or can get by history or books’”.

We have received that truth at a great cost, the life of our Lord and Saviour who asks that in regard to salvation we trample under foot all human reason, sense and understanding and just believe in him, and why he came: To hear his truths, so, let us do so

“Let these sayings sink down into your ears: for the Son of man shall be betrayed, and delivered into the hands of men: and they shall kill him; and the third day after that he is killed, he shall be raised again.

 

It is finished.

 

I am the door: by me if any person enter in, they shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.

 

I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.

The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. I and my Father are one.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life”. Amen.

 

The great detour.

Sunday, October 21st, 2012

Mark: 10: 35-45

“Biting off more than we can chew”

Have you ever as the saying goes, “bitten off more than you can chew?”

Last Monday Josh and I set of at 10.00am heading to Sydney to pick up some second hand furniture from two different locations in a rented three ton removal van. We had no GPS but we had our maps printed out from the internet and farewelled Cathy with the remarks that we should be home at about 11 o’clock that night. Unfortunately, we ran out of rugs, rags and cushions and so to stop the furniture from rubbing against each other we used our jumpers-but that was O.K. because it was a beautiful sunny day. After getting a little lost and doing an additional 420km’s further than our itinerary, at 4.30am the next morning we arrived home from Sydney via skirting past Canberra, Josh with my T-shirt on over his T-shirt to try and at least get a little warmth and with me with no top on and with the window down trying to stay awake. Having only driven once in Sydney before, and that was not through the middle, and not rushed-as we were driven along the Hume Highway with the signs reminding us that Melbourne was fast becoming as close as Dubbo, pitch dark, no GPS and with no map it crossed my mind that in my lack of preparation and naivety of just what we were undertaking, that on this occasion, while “I may not have bitten off more than I could chew”, my jaws were getting decidingly tender.

In today’s Gospel, the apostles James and John not understanding or naive to what was about to unfold, bring before Jesus their desires concerning their rank and standing within his kingdom “Grant unto us that we may sit, one on your right hand and one on your left hand, in your glory”. And after Jesus responds with “you do not know what you ask”, He tells them of what they are seeking, far from asking for high rank as they saw it; they are asking to share in his cup of wrath and in his baptism of blood. They were biting off more than they could chew because they did not truly understand what was to come. But in that unknowingness, their response was to say yes, we can do it-and they were confident they could. Yet as we know, over the next week as Jesus walked to the cross they came to see themselves in reality as they all fell away in fear and weakness. Their fear and weakness that made them feel shame. But their weaknesses and shame that brought strength. Strength and reliance not upon themselves, but on Christ. Reliance on Christ, reliance in his strength that would allow them to not run in fear when they too would later suffer terribly-but to face that suffering not in their own strength, but in Christ. Their weaknesses that became their strength. Their weaknesses that led them not to boast of themselves, but of Christ.

You would have heard the saying that “sport builds character”, but I read a different version of that from the legendry American Football Coach Vince Lombardi who said that sport “doesn’t so much build character but allows you to display it”. Great coaches are not just about winning the game, they are about building people to be something other than just sportspeople and though I’m not fully conversant with Rugby League I understand Newcastle Knights coach Wayne Bennett to be of that calibre. So too Kevin Sheedy. The now coach of Greater Western Sydney who was approached by one of his young players back when he was coaching the Essendon Football club, who asked him if they could talk. This player after being drafted had been doing all the work but kept getting injured, and in his own words was “looking for a bit of sympathy”. They met over lunch and he told his coach that because of his injuries and the hardship they brought him, that he was considering giving up. But far from getting a “oh you poor thing” response, Sheed’s told him how it was and said (I cannot remember word for word but along the lines of) “You weak and selfish person. I selected you from among hundreds just as good as you and have given you a chance that others dream off and would beg for. But you are finding it too hard because you’re having some tough times. Leave then, and I’ll go and get one of those boys who would die for the chance you’ve been given.” Not quite what he expected. But he got it the point and went on the play 200 hundred odd games. And how did he get the point? Because it was true. He wasn’t one of the Garry Ablett type of footballers who come along once every generation. For sure he was good-just like the other thousands that don’t get the chance, that miss that chance by the slightest of margins.

St. Paul suffered from an ailment that he described as a thorn in his flesh. People have guessed that it may have been physical, or depression or so forth. We are not told what it was but it must have been terrible as it led him to ask/beg the Lord to take it away. And the well-known response he received: “My grace is sufficient for you: for my strength is made perfect in weakness”. Those words of Kevin Sheedy, “I gave you something others would die for and when it gets tough, you want to walk away, how dare you”. Thorns in our flesh. Cravings for power, money, addictions, and desires of the flesh-These are thorns in our side that we live with. They desire to be fed and we desire they be taken from us. A desire to run from them. To take back that seemingly insignificant moment from years past that now can be seen for what it was-the first acknowledgement of the thorns that have grown in us.

In the Garden of Eden, the human race bit off more than it could chew-sin. Sin, the thorn in our side that we feed, but also run from. The thorn in our side that we fall too, that attracts us-that we enjoy, yet we also abhor. The thorn that brings us to our knee’s and shows us our plight in our utter weakness-our weakness though that allow us to see the truth-the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ-our servant, and our Saviour who brings us his grace, and that, more than being enough, is everything. The grace that we now live under in our weaknesses, your weaknesses that in Christ have brought you strength. Strength to live with those thorns in your flesh. Strength to call on the Lord for forgiveness when they overpower you. And the strength to serve God and his people with the gifts that you have been given. Your weaknesses that in Christ have set you free, that in Christ alone, you may be strong. Amen.

 

Show me the money.

Sunday, October 14th, 2012

For the love of money!

Mark 10:17-31

Today is our annual picnic and it’s so great to be outside and see the kid’s enjoying themselves and having fun. Oh to be a child again. Not to be weighed down by all our adult stuff. To remember that innocence and just taking the ups and downs of life as they come without worrying too of tomorrow.

I remember watching on T.V. an interview with a champion Australian surfer in his Sydney flat. Near the end the interviewer noticing the sparseness of “things” quizzingly remarked “Surfing is now a well-paid professional sport, but looking around all I can see is the lounge we are sitting on and a television” to which he remarked “my dad always said there are no roof racks on a hearse”.

Similar, back in 1992 while having lunch in my car I heard the interviewer talking to an American baseballer who had just been signed up on the highest paid sporting contract in history and asked if he thought he was worth it, said “no way, no one’s worth that money but it’s just come along and I’ll take it”. For both these guys the money was only a by-product of what they really loved, their sport. And both of these guys bring meaning to one of the most misquoted pieces of scripture in the Bible.

1st Timothy 6:10 does in fact say that “money is the root of evil” as many quote it, except what many leave off is the preceding four words “For the love of “which change the whole understanding.

Money’s not the problem, it’s the “love of money” that’s the problem. More specifically, it’s the love of anything that gets in the way of our relationship with God, be it money, status, career or the like.

Are these things wrong? Absolutely not.

If you were to become the Prime Minister of Australia would you have power and status? Of course you would, just like King David had who was described by God in Acts 13:22 as “a man after my own heart”. Abraham was extremely wealthy and what about Noah, after getting of the Ark, Noah and his family essentially had the whole earth at their disposal-that’s quite a chunk of Real Estate. The “thing” is not the issue, it’s the place that it holds in our life that can become the problem.

Remember the Scrooge McDuck comics. He was one rich duck, but that wasn’t the problem. The problem was that he loved his money so much that he was a scrooge and showed no generosity or love for others so that he could get and keep as much money as he could so that he could enjoy what he loved, just sitting in his vault counting his money all day. It’s a funny satire of how in our lives we can wonder from what is really important and meaningful in our lives.

In today’s Gospel Jesus is getting this point across. A weathly man who has outwardly kept the commandments as probably best anyone could have, asks “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” and as we have heard, Jesus says give all your money away and come and follow me. But he couldn’t and after he walks away we hear those famous words from Jesus “How hard it is to enter the kingdom of God. It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for the rich to enter the kingdom of God”. This piece of scripture I’ve heard thrown (and behind their back normally) at wealthy Christians. The problem is, that if it’s actually money, then every one of us here today is in big trouble because we are all financially wealthy beyond belief, you’re millionaires. Do you agree? Maybe not but O.K, sell all your stuff and take your money with you and go live in a third world country or not so affluent country, you will be able to “live like a king”-you will be the rich “guy”. Jesus is not talking about money, status power or the like, because they are all relative to your environment, the big fish in a small pond type of scenario.

For a camel to pass through the eye of a needle is impossible and as yet I haven’t seen anyone single handily move a mountain which in Matthew 17:20 Jesus told his disciples they could “if they only had faith the size of a mustard seed”. I always thought that in these statements Jesus is overstating things to get the point across-but in doing this message, I realised it’s more the opposite as in a sense, in regards to eternal life he’s understating things as we see in his words to the disciples after they quiz him in today’s Gospel and ask, well “Who can be saved?” And Jesus looked at them and said, “With human beings this is impossible, but all things are possible with God”

So there’s our answer: in us no chance, but in God all things are possible. Which leads to the obvious question, how to make that possibility become so. Love God with all our heart, adhere to the commandments and try and lead a good life? Absolutely and I think we would all agree to those things, but they are not the starting point, they are a response. We see the starting point in today’s Gospel. What happened before Jesus said to the man to give his money away, immediately before we are told that “Jesus looked at him and loved him”. Loved him so much that he saw that this good man needed to be freed of his own trappings. To get rid of his plan B, his sought of back-up of security, other than just trusting God in all parts of his life.

Not so long ago, in the papers it was well documented of the troubles, many of which were self-inflicted of a highly paid sportsman and similar, his manager. Both individually seemed to be in a downward spiral from their actions and of course the media and society judged them harshly. It was like a real life soap opera. But one thing came out, that in this day and age I found remarkable. Beautiful even, as when the manager was questioned of their relationship through all this, responded with “Ever since I have been his agent we’ve disagreed many times” and went on to say “ever since I’ve managed XXXX we have never signed a contract because XXXX said from day one “my word is my contract”.

And he has proved it true and never went back on his word. But even, if not more so unbelievable, his manager/agent who makes his income from commission on the players wages trusted him and agreed to work without the security of a contract in place. No legal security or fall back plan, he just had to trust in his players promise. In this day and age is that not unbelievable.

Jesus says to each of us, black or white, large or small, poor or rich, just trust me. I won’t let you down and what’s more, so that you don’t need to wonder if I’ll change my mind I’ve even given you a contract that cannot be broken. A contract that is signed with my own blood from my death on the cross. In me your fate has been sealed, that in me you have eternal life. Trust me and have faith for you are mine and enjoy the by-products that my peace brings. Enjoy the gifts you receive in life, use them for the good of others and yourselves. Whether in great wealth or little, happiness or sadness, whether shooting for the stars or wishing to remain where you are, be a witness of my love for you by living your life where you are now and where you maybe will be tomorrow. In moments of shouting of me from the mountain tops or just hanging on with your fingernails-you are mine and I will not forsake you.

I have given you eternal life,

that you too may also have life today.

Amen.

 

How low can you go?

Sunday, October 7th, 2012

“Sooner or later, we’ve all got a Job to do”

Based on Job 1:1, 2:1-10 & Hebrews 1:1-4

& Mark 10: 15.

Proverbs 9:10 tells us that “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.

Fear of the Lord the beginning of Wisdom, and knowledge of Him is understanding.

I thought to myself earlier in the week that I think I need to lighten the load, to concentrate my message not on the trials we face, but only on what’s good in our world. A sought of “oh to be a Christian, everything’s so lovely”.

Them I read the first scripture message for the week, Job. Who would have thought my predetermined thoughts would clash so much with the Word that God had placed before me to work with.

A quick 101 summary of the book of Job.

Job is an exceptionally good man. God himself stated in chapter 1, verse 8:

“..my servant Job, there is none like him on earth, a blameless an upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil”.

And he had been blessed with a wife, seven sons and three daughters together with great wealth. A pastor who once said to me “to be a Christian doesn’t mean to go looking to get persecuted, but to face it when it comes” could have well been describing what was about to unfold for Job as for no apparent reason, Job is plunged into terrible suffering. In a series of disasters, his children are taken from him, his property and assets are either taken or destroyed, he loses his health and is inflicted with painful sores from head to foot.

The only thing he would seem to have left was his long suffering wife who also had lost all she had and buried all ten of her children. Who through this was led to tell Job to “curse God and die”.

Yet through all this, it is recorded that Job did not blame God for any of his misfortunes but answered with “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord”.

What a guy.

But as he sits there on an ash heap, lost all his children and covered in sores, Job is visited by four friends. Each of whom try and help him understand why this has happened-which in summary was basically that he must have brought this ruin upon himself.

Eventually, despite Job’s insights and legendary patience he cracks and states his case to God as he recalls his life in detail. A life led so blamelessly that no wonder he cries out “Oh, that I had someone to hear me. I now sign my defence-let the almighty answer me.” (31:35)

And he gets his wish, God replies. God shows Job the splendour of his creation and that all he has done. Things that no human can really understand and then basically to Job finishes with: Maybe you have some advice to offer, perhaps you would like to take over and run the world better.

Ouch. Poor old Job gets the picture and repents in replying:

“I am unworthy-how can I reply to you. I put my hand over my mouth (40:4) I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can ever be thwarted. Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know.

At the end of the day, Job, us, must let God be God.

Proverbs 9:10 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.

That the book of Job is the first in the series of the wisdom books in the bible seems not to have happened by chance and through all his misfortune Job has been brought to wisdom.

And that wisdom, as we hear it todays Gospel, from verse 15:

“Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it”.

Job has learnt this wisdom.

And what of the second part of that proverb: “knowledge of the Holy One is understanding?”

Is given to us in the reading from Hebrews, chapter one: “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophet, but in these last days he has spoken by His Son., through whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom he created the world. He is the radiance of the Glory of God, and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power”.

Is anyone still awake? I know that was a bit long winded but what we see that’s gone on here is still happening.

I’m not putting this in the same boat as Job, not even the same ocean but what does the world say of God. It blames God for everything that doesn’t suite their plan-that they know better, that they are their own God. Unfortunately this not only applies to the world, it applies to us.

Yet ironically, non-Christian’s, atheists and other religions, even though they will not attest to Jesus as the Saviour, agree that he was a good guy. Stood up to the crooked authorities, cared for the unfortunate, led from the front and was an inspiration of a person.

Blame God but cheer Jesus. But from Hebrews: “Jesus is the exact imprint of God’s nature”.

You see how ironic that is.

The gaining of wisdom and that child-like faith to put two and two together, that Jesus and God-the same, the same who see our suffering and, it must hurt, and both that are not about payback, but the simple truth that they want you to be saved.

There is so much we don’t understand, but like Job, it’s not really our business. Let God be God and ourselves, ourselves.

Many years ago my darling wife, the daughter of a pastor once said to me that her dad said everyone will have one great challenge in their lives, and it looks like mine is in your suffering. And there we see God, seeing how hard it is, but suffering with us to bring some peace. Peace in the truth-that forget all the theology it comes down to one thing, no matter what your disposition, when we are brought to our knees and realise it is true, that the gospel is true, and that like Job we can say and truly believe that no matter what may seem, our God wants for us to be with him, and if he must suffer with us, for no matter how long, so be it-he will do it.

A God of love that doesn’t enjoy our struggles, but lives with it just like us, that through this, maybe, just maybe we will see the truth, and when we do, nothing will ever be the same when we bow down, like Job and simply say the hardest words that can come out of our mouths-your will be done. Amen.