Tag Archives: 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time

Do As I Say, Not As I Do

Do as I say,
not as I do.
Follow my sense,
not my stupidity.

May I not be a piler of burdens,
making your lot worse;
but a lifter,
a sharer
of the load you have to carry.

When I long to show off,
to make sure everyone sees me
and knows my achievements,
may I show only God –
all you are.

As I feel
that I deserve special treatment,
a little honour
and some appreciation of my worth,
may I treat others in the way
I would like to be treated,
and not worry about me.

You Lord
are my guide,
my teacher,
my leader.
May I follow only your ways.

Not my ways,
not the ways that sound impressive,
but lead only to the putting down of others.

Lord,
always,
may I do
as you say
and as you show.

Matthew 23:1-12 (CEV)

Jesus Condemns the Pharisees and the Teachers of the Law of Moses

23 Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples:

The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law are experts in the Law of Moses. So obey everything they teach you, but don’t do as they do. After all, they say one thing and do something else.

They pile heavy burdens on people’s shoulders and won’t lift a finger to help. Everything they do is just to show off in front of others. They even make a big show of wearing Scripture verses on their foreheads and arms, and they wear big tassels[a] for everyone to see. They love the best seats at banquets and the front seats in the meeting places. And when they are in the market, they like to have people greet them as their teachers.

But none of you should be called a teacher. You have only one teacher, and all of you are like brothers and sisters. Don’t call anyone on earth your father. All of you have the same Father in heaven. 10 None of you should be called the leader. The Messiah is your only leader.11 Whoever is the greatest should be the servant of the others. 12 If you put yourself above others, you will be put down. But if you humble yourself, you will be honored.

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On Not Being a Burden

‘Being a burden’ has to be one of the biggest fears in our society.  We don’t want to reach the place where we can no longer control our own lives.  We don’t want to have to rely on anyone else.  We desperately don’t want to put anyone else out.

1 Thessalonians 2:9-13 (CEV)

My dear friends, you surely haven’t forgotten our hard work and hardships. You remember how night and day we struggled to make a living, so that we could tell you God’s message without being a burden to anyone. 10 Both you and God are witnesses that we were pure and honest and innocent in our dealings with you followers of the Lord.11 You also know we did everything for you that parents would do for their own children. 12 We begged, encouraged, and urged each of you to live in a way that would honor God. He is the one who chose you to share in his own kingdom and glory.

13 We always thank God that you believed the message we preached. It came from him, and it isn’t something made up by humans. You accepted it as God’s message, and now he is working in you.

Paul seems to make a big thing here about not having been a burden to the Thessalonians.  He is keen that they know that he was making his own living, not relying on them for income.

This is interesting.  Historically and generally the Methodist Church pays its ministers a stipend.  This is not a wage, but money paid to you so that you can meet living expenses without having to do other work, in essence so that you are free to fulfil your calling – a calling that the church has set you apart for.  So as someone who has lived off a stipend in the past, I have a bit of an uncomfortable wriggle in my seat at this point.  Though I hope I was no burden and fulfilled my calling!  I was also very grateful that was the case and realise how fortunate I was to be freed in such a way.

Anyway, I digress from the point.  This passage made me think about being a burden.  Specifically, are there times in which I am a burden to my community?  As someone with chronic illness, I can easily perceive myself as a burden.  I need help and lots of it, I rely on other people to do things that I would much rather prefer to be able to do for myself, I can’t offer all I long to. But I hope that is not truly being a burden and is incorporated as being part of a healthy community.

But are there other ways I can be a burden?  Being unhelpful?  Dragging others down by my attitude?  Being bolshy (a particular specialism of mine!)?   Not doing what I could?  Not sharing what I have?  Not letting others help me, when it would help them to do so?  Being protective of my gifts?  Letting others get on with things without helping?  Thinking I’m a special case?  I’m sure the list could go on.  These are ways of being a burden that are choices.  Decisions that make anyone a weight or a carrier of weight.

Am I a burden on my community?  On my church fellowship?  On the world?  Am I weighing down when I should be lifting up?  Expecting others to carry me, when I should be doing the carrying?  Or can I stand before God and his people in the knowledge that I do all I can in the best way I can for the service of him and the world?

We are called to be burden bearers, not burden makers.

Forgive me Lord,
the times I have got in the way,
held things back,
dragged things down
and not pulled my weight.

Forgive me when I have been a burden
to you,
your work,
my community
and ultimately myself.

Lord,
I want to be a burden bearer.
Show me how I can carry the weights of others,
the needs of my community,
the burdens of your world.

You are the great burden-bearer
who carries all our weights,
may I find my strength in you

Rescue Me

2014-06-06 21.23.45

So much is going wrong Lord,
who can I turn to,
where can I go?

Will you rescue me,
save me,
protect me?

Where are you God?
I can’t find you.
You are lost in the pain,
the frustration,
the anger
that builds inside me.

Guide me Lord,
lead me,
help me find my way
to you.
There will be protection,
as I find you
and myself in you.

When I can see clearly,
I know that you help me,
I know that I can trust you.
I take my courage
and rest
in you.

Psalm 43  (CEV)

A Prayer in Times of Trouble

43 Show that I am right, God!
Defend me against everyone
    who doesn’t know you;
    rescue me from each
    of those deceitful liars.
I run to you
    for protection.
Why have you turned me away?
    Why must enemies mistreat me
    and make me sad?

Send your light and your truth
    to guide me.
Let them lead me to your house
    on your sacred mountain.
Then I will worship
at your altar
    because you
    make me joyful.
You are my God,
    and I will praise you.
    Yes, I will praise you
    as I play my harp.

Why am I discouraged?
Why am I restless?
    I trust you!
And I will praise you again
    because you help me,
    and you are my God.