Tag Archives: 26th SUnday in Ordinary Time

My Way

He’s not one of us
She doesn’t do it our way,
they’re not our kind.

How quick we are to decide
who is in or out.

But who says our way
is The Way,
the only way,
the acceptable way?
What if they are showing us a different,
equally valid,
even better way.

What matters is not my way,
our usual way,
but God’s Way.

And I can’t define that
by my way.

Lord, help me to be open,
to see you in other
different ways,
to encounter you anew
outside my boundaries.

May I not cause rejection
by my failure to see,
or bind others so tightly
in how I think things should be
that they cannot discover you for themselves.

There’s a Wideness in God’s Mercy

Mark 9:38-50 (CEV)

For or against Jesus

38 John said, “Teacher, we saw a man using your name to force demons out of people. But he wasn’t one of us, and we told him to stop.”

39 Jesus said to his disciples:

Don’t stop him! No one who works miracles in my name will soon turn and say something bad about me. 40 Anyone who isn’t against us is for us. 41 And anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name, just because you belong to me, will surely be rewarded.

Temptations To Sin

42 It will be terrible for people who cause even one of my little followers to sin. Those people would be better off thrown into the ocean with a heavy stone tied around their necks. 43-44 So if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off! You would be better off to go into life crippled than to have two hands and be thrown into the fires of hell that never go out.[a] 45-46 If your foot causes you to sin, chop it off. You would be better off to go into life lame than to have two feet and be thrown into hell.[b] 47 If your eye causes you to sin, get rid of it. You would be better off to go into God’s kingdom with only one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell. 48 The worms there never die, and the fire never stops burning.

49 Everyone must be salted with fire.

50 Salt is good. But if it no longer tastes like salt, how can it be made salty again? Have salt among you and live at peace with each other.

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Take It to the Lord in Prayer

A particular favourite hymn of ours, sung at all special occasions is What A Friend We Have in Jesus.  We sang it at our wedding and in thanksgiving for our children – because taking everything to God in prayer seems the right basis to found life on.

This passage from James echoes that sentiment.

If life is difficult – pray; if things are going well – pray.  If you’re ill, troubled, wandering – pray.  Whatever is happening in life, to God is the place to take it.

Prayer is not a last chance saloon, it is the place we can bring everything in our lives.  Our hopes, fears, joys and sorrows, the right place for whatever is happening is in the presence of God.

Prayer is not a magic formula, it is just spending time with God, sharing with him – and allowing him to speak to us, comfort us, challenge us, call us, heal us – whatever we need at that time.

So whatever is happening – we can pray.  God knows what is going on, but prayer is our opportunity to spend time with our friend, our Saviour, our Lord.

James 5:13-20 (CEV)

13 If you are having trouble, you should pray. And if you are feeling good, you should sing praises. 14 If you are sick, ask the church leaders to come and pray for you. Ask them to put olive oil on you in the name of the Lord. 15 If you have faith when you pray for sick people, they will get well. The Lord will heal them, and if they have sinned, he will forgive them.

16 If you have sinned, you should tell each other what you have done. Then you can pray for one another and be healed. The prayer of an innocent person is powerful, and it can help a lot. 17 Elijah was just as human as we are, and for three and a half years his prayers kept the rain from falling. 18 But when he did pray for rain, it fell from the skies and made the crops grow.

19 My friends, if any followers have wandered away from the truth, you should try to lead them back. 20 If you turn sinners from the wrong way, you will save them from death, and many of their sins will be forgiven.

This is My Moment

I am very capable of getting on my high horse, refusing to do something that I don’t consider to be my thing and digging my heals in.  Principles are all well and good, but sometimes sticking to them loses you a way in to a situation that otherwise you would not be able to help in.   Sometimes you just have to eat things you would rather not, go to places you would prefer not to, even be subjected to doing things that are not really your bag – but it gains the other’s trust and earns you a hearing that you wouldn’t get if your answer to everything was, “I’m not doing that!”  Coming across as too good or too special to do what others enjoy, or have to do to get by, helps no one’s case!

The Book of Esther is a cracking good story, full of intrigue, twit, plot and counter-plot (if you’ve never read it from beginning to end, do take some time to).  It also contains some elements that seem out-dated and demeaning of women with our 21st centaury eyes.  But most of all it is the story of one woman who’s life personifies living God’s ways. What a strength of character and faith she shows.

The cost to Esther was risk, leaving her life, perhaps ignoring her principles and better judgement at times.

And now, this her moment, her opportunity.  After all she has gone through to get to this place, all the beauty pageants, the grooming, the gaining the good will of the king – now she can speak.  What she did meant that she could be in the right place at the right time when her opportunity to speak up for God and his people came up.  The kings asks Esther what she wants, and because she has built up his good will, she is able to tell him of Haman’s plot and her people are rescued.  Her willingness to put herself in that place saves a whole nation – God’s people.  If she hadn’t of been in that place, that situation, she would not have been able to work for God in it.

Sometimes in life we have to do things we would rather not, sometimes we even have to swallow our principles for the greater good.

What is God needing me to do, that my natural inclination might be to say, “No way”?  What is he asking me to do for him that might open doors, regardless of what I think?  What attitudes of mine is he challenging?  What place is he asking me to go for him – not me?  What moment is he preparing me for?

Lord,
help me not to be so high-principled
that I miss your opportunities,
so fixed in my ways
that I miss your ways,
so convinced I know what is right
that I forget what is right for you.

May I hear your call,
follow where you take me
and be ready
and willing
to speak for you
in the places you take me to.

I couldn’t find a video for this song, but I’ll leave it with Noel Richards to sum it up:

Dangerous People

Here we are Lord
More weak than strong
Still believing
Still pressing on
Make us ready
With hearts that are brave
We will silence
The lies of this age

For such a moment
We have been born
We’re gonna rise up
Take this world by storm
Let evil tremble
We come in his name
Our God is with us
We’re dangerous people

All God’s heroes
Failed as we do
Sometimes doubting
All that is true
Yet he calls us
Great people of faith
Working through us
As history is made

Esther 7:1-10, 9:20-22 CEV)

Haman Is Punished

The king and Haman were dining with Esther and drinking wine during the second dinner, when the king again said, “Esther, what can I do for you? Just ask, and I will give you as much as half of my kingdom!”

Esther answered, “Your Majesty, if you really care for me and are willing to help, you can save me and my people. That’s what I really want, because a reward has been promised to anyone who kills my people. Your Majesty, if we were merely going to be sold as slaves, I would not have bothered you.”

“Who would dare to do such a thing?” the king asked.

Esther replied, “That evil Haman is the one out to get us!”

Haman was terrified, as he looked at the king and the queen.

The king was so angry that he got up, left his wine, and went out into the palace garden.

Haman realized that the king had already decided what to do with him, and he stayed and begged Esther to save his life.

Just as the king came back into the room, Haman got down on his knees beside Esther, who was lying on the couch. The king shouted, “Now you’re even trying to rape my queen here in my own palace!”

As soon as the king said this, his servants covered Haman’s head. Then Harbona, one of the king’s personal servants, said, “Your Majesty, Haman built a tower seventy-five feet high beside his house, so he could hang Mordecai on it. And Mordecai is the very one who spoke up and saved your life.”

“Hang Haman from his own tower!” the king commanded. 10 Right away, Haman was hanged on the tower he had built to hang Mordecai, and the king calmed down.

9:20-22

The Festival of Purim

20 Mordecai wrote down everything that had happened. Then he sent letters to the Jews everywhere in the provinces 21 and told them:

Each year you must celebrate on both the fourteenth and the fifteenth of Adar, 22 the days when we Jews defeated our enemies. Remember this month as a time when our sorrow was turned to joy, and celebration took the place of crying. Celebrate by having parties and by giving to the poor and by sharing gifts of food with each other.