Sunday reflection

Our readings are from Amos 5: 6 – 7 and 10 – 15, and Mark 10: 17 – 31

“Seek good and not evil that you may live and that the Lord of Hosts will be with you”

 Seek, what is it that we “seek” for in our life? What makes us get up in the morning, what are our last thoughts before we go to bed at night? What are we about in life, and what are we about as people?  Seeking is what gives us meaning, it’s our longing, what we want to be, our raison d’être if you like.

 Do you remember Rickie Fulton when he did Rev I M Jolly, he was always at the grey end of life magnifying his own troubles, and highlighting those of his congregation, He would start by asking “What king of year have you had? I’ve had a terrible year”.  We all know these types of people. I remember when I first became an elder, and a lady in my district was always looking on the negative side of things, she had the ability to suck the last bit of joy out of the scene of life, the last bit of hope. I used to challenge myself before going to visit that somehow I’d get her to laugh at something, and would come out with the most ridiculous things to see if I could get her to crack a smile, and the closest I think I ever got was one day she said “Aye it’s a gid job you can laugh right enough” in that tone of voice and without the slightest hint of a smile. We all know these people, they are really happy being miserable, they are all around us, and sometimes we too can be that person. But one thing’s for sure, they are hard work, for they can suck the joy out of life like blotting paper draws in ink! Like the dementors in Harry Potter, they swallow up all hope.

Back to them later…

In Mark, we see Jesus speaking to a young man who was rich and wealthy. The young man asks what can he do to inherit eternal life? To all extents and purposes the man had lived a perfectly good life, he had kept the Jewish law, had never stolen, had honoured his father and mother etc. In fact he had lived an almost exemplary life. But Jesus turns round and says to him something that would cut him to the bone. For he knew his real reason for being, his reason for getting up, his real seeking. He was rich, and had wealth and status! Jesus could see his raison d’être and he asked him to give it up, give it all up, riches wealth status the lot, change his ultimate longing and seek the kingdom of God, seek Jesus’ way of love.

We don’t know if the rich man had ever given to the poor, perhaps he had, but Jesus challenged him to give it all away. When we look on it like that, we start to realise just how big a challenge God is making. For it’s not just money or wealth, it’s a change of our whole life’s meaning. The things we seek for, that give us our meaning, make up what we are as people. But they can also weigh heavily on the scales of our life, and Jesus is asking us to walk away from them, to be really free to love and cherish the life we have around us, and to love those around us as ourselves.

When we are tied down with the weight of seeking wealth, or power, we are not free to really love. We live too tied to the things of this world and a struggle seeps in that we see all around us. We see it in the work place, we see it in the church, and we see it yes often in families - a one upmanship seeking the top dog position. It’s human nature, it’s always been with us. As we read in Amos “They hate him who reproves at the gate who speaks the truth”. God is showing us the error of the ways of human nature of selfishness and greed, he goes on “”Therefore because you trample on the poor, you have built houses but you shall not live in them, you have planted vineyards but you shall not drink their wine”. But Jesus turns our systems upside down when he says “but the first will be last, and the last will be first”. What Jesus is saying is that we have to give up what we really struggle for. There would be no real point in giving away lots of money if we would never really miss it. We need houses to live in, and we need to be able to enjoy life, and God’s gifts to us. But these things should be our reason for being, we need to give up what we seek, what is closest to us to be able to truly love and follow God.

Back to the Dementors in Harry Potter, and those happiest when being miserable, who suck the joy and hope out of life, and want everyone else to be like them in a grey and melancholy huddle. Jesus is saying to us and to them, leave all that behind, walk away and change, change what we get up for, and free ourselves up to love and live. Whatever we truly seek be it being miserable, and trying to manipulate others by making them miserable too, be it status, power, wealth, property, if that is your raison d’être, give it up.

So let us examine our hearts this morning, see what it is that we truly seek, but that is too heavy for us to be free, and lay it down, and walk away and not even glance back. It’s not any easy thing to do, to shift our focus, our reason for getting up, but as Jesus tells us we don’t do it alone, for God will be alongside us, alongside us in the risk e take and vulnarabilty we feel for “for God all things are possible”. Gods spirit of life which brings change and new experiences will be with us around us and in us, were not alone in this. As the words of the old hymn say “If cast on shores of selfish ease or pleasure I should be , Lod let me feel Thy freshening bress and I’ll put back to sea”. So lets trust God, in letting go what holds us back from really working for his kingdom on earth. Lets trust the holy spirit to blow us out of what makes us comfortable, to seeking new things.This will bring freedom and joy like we have never experienced before. As Jesus said “Truly I say unto you, there is no one who has left house, bothers or sisters or mother or father, or lands for my sake and the sake of the gospel who will not receive a hundred fold now in this time”. It’s a risk. Are we ready to take it?

Let us pray:

Loving God, help us to seek . . .and to find.

To seek bread for the hungry and a welcome for the stranger,

To seek solace for the mourning and comfort for those that weep,

To seek peace and a way forward in the midst of raised voices or clenched fists or opposite sides unwilling or unable to change,

To open our hearts and hands and minds to hear the voices of the silenced or the timid,

The abused, the bullied, the forgotten,

To seek times of rest and moments of reflection for ourselves,

Allowing us to heal and enjoy and be made whole.

For in seeking these things, we find them,

Discovering the kindness of strangers,

The company of neighbours, the goodness of humanity,

And in our company, all along – we find you, our God and our companion,

Our comforter and challenger,

Our friend and our saviour, and for that we give thanks.

Loving God when we get lost and lose our way,

when we are overwhelmed by worry or seek wealth only for ourselves,

when we lives by rules but not by compassion, in safety rather than faith,

when we want to show off and believe ourselves to be self reliant and all powerful,

nudge us gently to remember who and what we are – your people,

loved and loving, forgiven for the mistakes we make,

understood for the silly things we do, and offered new life and possibility and love,

in your company and the company of those around us, life that we offer to others as we pray together in the words you taught us, saying:

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, forever. Amen.



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