Meditations for Sunday morning service 14/8/22

Peter- Difficult questions

Of all the times, all the places, today was a tough one. I could listen to him for hours, and we often did, and the teaching, the miracles, the healings, well you couldn’t help but be inspired. And when so many people followed him, hanging on every word, clamoring for healing, well it felt good to be by his side, I knew in my heart it had been right to leave my nets and follow him.

 But today, today was tough.

It started off well enough, teaching the crowds with parables about rich men with barns to fill and stories of lilies being more beautiful than Solomon’s finery and we were all lapping it up, we understood, it all made sense.

Then he drops this stuff about watchfulness, wedding banquets and returning masters, as if he was talking about him not even being here, or returning, where from I’ve no idea.

I didn’t get it- asked him if he was still talking to the crowds or to us- because, to be honest, if I didn’t get it, how would the crowds, who hardly knew him compared to me?

And he turned to me…and it got worse! Asking if I, and the disciples would look after his servants whilst he was away, then going on to tell us that him being here was sowing division, that he came to put one family against another, that he was here to bring fire to the earth.

How can he say that, when he was just saying he’d come to bring love and justice and peace?

Then he turns to the crowd, but I’m sure he was talking to me too, and said we’re good enough at judging the weather but we haven’t a clue about the times we live in.

That brought me up short. I’m a fisherman, so I’m pretty good at reading the sky, the wind the dampness in the air, the lake even and know what the day will be like. What did he mean about judging these times we live in?

And I began to find a way through. I mean, when the sky is peaceful, glowing red in the morning over the still lake, I know it’s not always a good sign- that red skies in the morning often means bad weather to come. Maybe all his talk of peace and love is a sort of warning about how bad the day is, or will be, the conflict he speaks of, the division, despite the peace he speaks of.

Those people who don’t want that, where it doesn’t suit their needs. The greedy ones he spoke of in his parable, the ones obsessed with fancy clothes and how they look, the ones who abuse their workers for their own gain, the ones who don’t treasure the right things. Who aren’t much going to like all his talk of peace, and justice and equal sharing and everyone valued the same, healed the same, loved the same by our Father God.

All the leaders out for their own ends, their own riches, their own power, instead of looking out for the people.

I guess that’s what he was talking about.

Judging the times we live in, seeing the reality, the corruption the …well the evil of leaders, of some people, the selfishness, the corruption and all that goes with it.

But if we live his way, the way of peace and justice and love, if we’re the fire he was talking about, if we speak out, like he does, then we’re going to clash with them, they’ll be trouble ahead, maybe even for him.

Will I stick by him in that? You bet I will, through thick and thin.

After all, who else is there who speaks that truth?

©David Stolton 2022   ref   Luke 12, 49-5

Jeremiah- who’d be a prophet?

My name, my name is Jeremiah, the prophet, although I’ve been called a lot of other things.

Prophets might seem always to be in the limelight, the public eye, but often we’re in the shadows, listening in for the news of the day, the word from the synagogue, from the palaces, from the temples to those obscene idols. When people do call me Jeremiah the Prophet, when I’m being a bit more obvious or dramatic, it’s often with their lip curled and a sneer in their voices.

Being a prophet’s not just about prophesying, you know, you’ve got to listen to what’s going on, read the times, understand the culture, hear the gossip, really know what makes people and society work. Know where their values are, their beliefs, or lack of them.

And believe me, it’s not good right now.

When you know, it’s not too good. People have forgotten about God, as if you can do that, Conveniently. Sure, they still attend Synagogue, sometimes, say the right words, go through the actions- then some of them disappear off to the temple of Baal, or the temple of their own selfish desires, and do the same thing! Hedging their bets, they think, as if they can somehow gain credit either with the true God, when they’re plainly unfaithful, or with some gold statue, with supposed miraculous powers. It’s not true faith or even religion, it’s superstition. And the rest of them think they don’t need God at all, think they can do it all on their own.

And it’s most of them, you know, seems to be all of them sometimes. And God wants me to stand up against them. Just me. Sometimes I hate that God put’s it all on me, other times when I hear the hypocrisy and the false prophets, I’m driven, like a wildfire, to speak out.

And those false prophets, they make me mad. Fawning up to the leaders, the rich men and the like, telling them what they want to hear, but only after they’ve been well paid. With their tricks and so -called magic, their deceit and double talk.

Telling them that they’ve seen in some made-up dream that those who have paid them will have great riches, win battles, be favoured by the Gods- just what they want to hear and what they then use as some sort of justification for further corruption or unjust taxes or yet another battle against another warring faction.

And when I tell them they’re on the wrong path and they are heading for destruction- well I guess that’s why I’m none to popular.

But God’s real, not like their idols, he’s here, he’s everywhere, he knows all that I see, I hear, the corruption the evil, the false prophets, the injustices, he sees the selfishness and the shallow worship they don’t really mean, he sees the backhanders and the shady deals that people think are hidden. He’s not God in the sky, distant, unseeing, he’s here amongst us. He is. I feel him, I hear him, I know he is here, and he puts his words in my mouth.

And his word is like fire, that burns to chaff all that is evil and purifies, like silver all that is good.

And my name, my name is Jeremiah, the prophet.

After all, who else is there to speak that truth?

© David Stolton 2022 ref Jeremiah 23,23-29