Tag Archives: Lectionary

17th January

I’m not sure when I’m going to be able to post some of my lectionary based blogs again, so for the moment I will link to what I’ve previously written on this Sundays readings.  Hope that is some help.

Isaiah 62:1-5

God is Pleased With You

1 Corinthians 12:1-11

Using What You’ve Got

Have you Got the Missing Piece

John 2:1-11

Saving the Best

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Sitting in Judgement

How does the idea of being judged make you feel?  To feel that someone is weighing you up against their standards and norms?  I’m not very good at it.  It makes me feel immediately defensive and as if I have to justify myself and my actions – usually wrongly.

On the other hand, how good I am at sitting in judgement on other people… Imagining I know why they do what they do, where they are coming from, comparing their actions with ‘what I would do’ – because of course I know best.  How foolish I am.

Of course I do what I do mainly because I believe it to be the right thing.  It fits in with my understanding of the world and myself.  But does it fit in with Gods?  If I look at my actions through his eyes, might they seem different, less satisfactory, not sharing his ideals?

God is probably the one person entitled to sit in judgement on us.  The one who holds the big picture, who understands our motives, who sees people trying to do their best – and those trying to make everything fit their way.  Where would I fit in that picture?  How does my behavior weigh up?  I might think I will be vindicated and shown to be right all along.  I wonder…

Amos 5:18-24 (CEV)

When the Lord Judges

18 You look forward to the day
when the Lord comes to judge.
    But you are in for trouble!
It won’t be a time of sunshine;
    all will be darkness.
19 You will run from a lion,
    only to meet a bear.
You will escape to your house,
rest your hand on the wall,
    and be bitten by a snake.
20 The day when the Lord judges
will be dark, very dark,
    without a ray of light.

What the Lord Demands

21 I, the Lord, hate and despise
your religious celebrations
    and your times of worship.
22 I won’t accept your offerings
or animal sacrifices—
    not even your very best.
23 No more of your noisy songs!
I won’t listen
    when you play your harps.
24 But let justice and fairness
flow like a river
    that never runs dry.

We don’t like to think of God sitting in judgement.  We want him to be a nice God, always on our side.  Yet if God is God, he has a Grand Plan, a right and wrong way for things to be done.  Not because he is high and mighty, but because he truly knows what is best for us, loves us and cares for us; and longs for us to have the best.

So, God is not looking for us to say all the right things, but to actually do them; not to just put on a good front, but truly aim to live his ways; not to make a lot of noise, but to live those things out.  God looks, not at the show we put on, but the reality of our lives lived day by day.

They are the only criteria anyone should be judged by.  And the judging is not ours, but Gods.

Forgive me Lord,
the times I am quick to sit in judgement,
believing I know what is best,
or what is in the heart of another.
Forgive my arrogance,
my short-sightedness,
my focus on me.

Forgive me Lord,
when I have got things so wrong,
yet believed I was so right.
When I have missed the point,
not understood
or failed to ask.
When I have been so focussed
on what I thought,
that I have failed to hear your voice
or ignored it
and gone my own way.

Thank you
that you are a God of forgiveness,
of hope,
of renewal,
and of new possibilities.

I offer myself anew to you today.
Help me to hear your voice clearly
and respond to all you ask of me.

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