Tag Archives: love

Be a Blessing

This is the transcript for my post for today on our circuit ‘Going Deeper’ daily posts.

I’m just going to go straight in to the reading today.  It is ‘one of those’ passages in the bible.  You might have a knee jerk reaction to it, but we need to look further than that, beyond the first sentence.  Anyway, here goes.

Wives and Husbands

In the same way you wives must submit yourselves to your husbands, so that if any of them do not believe God’s word, your conduct will win them over to believe. It will not be necessary for you to say a word, because they will see how pure and reverent your conduct is. You should not use outward aids to make yourselves beautiful, such as the way you fix your hair, or the jewelry you put on, or the dresses you wear. Instead, your beauty should consist of your true inner self, the ageless beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of the greatest value in God’s sight. For the devout women of the past who placed their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful by submitting themselves to their husbands. Sarah was like that; she obeyed Abraham and called him her master. You are now her daughters if you do good and are not afraid of anything.

In the same way you husbands must live with your wives with the proper understanding that they are more delicate than you. Treat them with respect, because they also will receive, together with you, God’s gift of life. Do this so that nothing will interfere with your prayers.

Suffering for Doing Right

To conclude: you must all have the same attitude and the same feelings; love one another, and be kind and humble with one another. Do not pay back evil with evil or cursing with cursing; instead, pay back with a blessing, because a blessing is what God promised to give you when he called you. 10 As the scripture says,

“If you want to enjoy life
    and wish to see good times,
    you must keep from speaking evil
    and stop telling lies.
11 You must turn away from evil and do good;
    you must strive for peace with all your heart.
12 For the Lord watches over the righteous
    and listens to their prayers;
    but he opposes those who do evil.”

1 Peter 3:1-12

“Use today’s set reading from the Prayer Handbook” the Superintendents said.

Nothing controversial to see here – at all!  When I had stopped laughing, I did look more closely.

Perhaps the most important part are the first four words, “in the same way”.  Before we get our chunter on, we ought to find out to what Peter is alluding.  This is not the start of the letter, but part way through.  We are not reading this passage in isolation; it follows on from the chapter before.  He has been giving instructions to different people about how to live out their Christian faith.  This is new to all of them, they are all working it out, and so Peter is sharing some helpful reflections on how that might be, based on how Jesus lived, and died.

So, in the same way as what?  He is pointing to Christ’s suffering, all that he gave for us, and that being our model for Christian living, especially amongst those that do not have that faith.

It would probably surprise most people to know that when Paul and I married 35 years ago, I opted to have the “honour and obey” vows in the service.  It was an option, but I deliberately chose to do that.  I think I shocked most people at the time doing that!  Perhaps it is especially because I am, and always have been known to be  a ‘Strong Yorkshire Woman’ that it seemed important to me to make that point, that we were in this together, it was not, and is not my show.

The rationale Peter gives behind this instruction is that it is about your conduct, how you live.  This passage is actually written in the context of a believing woman being married to a non-Christian husband.  She is not to use her faith as an excuse to pull against the marriage or her husband, but by quietly getting on with it, working together, she will bear testimony to that faith.  Living in the kind of way that makes someone else ask questions about why you behave as you do and seeing God in that, is a powerful lifestyle.

The next part becomes is equally as contentious – don’t use adornments to make yourself beautiful.  I do not live in the world of false everything and the latest high fashions, but I do like to look nice.  Something we have all stressed about during lockdown is our hair, and I have certainly been glad to get mine mowed and back into some sort of tidiness, if different.

I take this advice to pertain to not wasting time, energy and resources on all manner of ‘improvements’ when your life is not right.  We know the saying that true beauty comes from within, and I think this is what Peter is getting at.  True beauty comes from doing the right thing, living a good way – God’s way, sharing, loving, and seeking to bless others.

The advice does eventually turn to men, and how they should live as husbands.  In the time it was written, this would have been quite revolutionary news to men.  They would have been used to treating women as possessions, required to do their bidding.  But if a woman is being asked to obey her husband, he has to be acting the right way for that to be safe and sensible. 

So man are asked to treat their wives with respect.  Life is a joint effort with God.

The whole premise of this is then widened out much further – love one another, be kind and humble, don’t pay back evil with evil, but with a blessing.  All a very sound sensible way to live for all of society – essential if you are a Christian.

So from anger, frustration, despair at how outdated this advice is, perhaps we have managed to glean some important things for human, Christ based, living for today.  And that can never do us any harm!

Lord,
you ask us to love,
to live beautiful lives,
to live your way.
To live together
in mutual respect.

Teach me
to learn to live your ways,
to be a blessing
with those I live amongst,
may my behaviour point
always
to you.

Today’s song suggestion: Love God Love People by Danny Gokey

When Other Becomes Our

Henry Ossawa Tanner – Moses in the Bullrushes

Then, a new king, who knew nothing about Joseph, came to power in Egypt. He said to his people, “These Israelites are so numerous and strong that they are a threat to us. 10 In case of war they might join our enemies in order to fight against us, and might escape from the country. We must find some way to keep them from becoming even more numerous.” 11 So the Egyptians put slave drivers over them to crush their spirits with hard labor. The Israelites built the cities of Pithom and Rameses to serve as supply centers for the king. 12 But the more the Egyptians oppressed the Israelites, the more they increased in number and the farther they spread through the land. The Egyptians came to fear the Israelites 13-14 and made their lives miserable by forcing them into cruel slavery. They made them work on their building projects and in their fields, and they had no pity on them.

15 Then the king of Egypt spoke to Shiphrah and Puah, the two midwives who helped the Hebrew women. 16 “When you help the Hebrew women give birth,” he said to them, “kill the baby if it is a boy; but if it is a girl, let it live.” 17 But the midwives were God-fearing and so did not obey the king; instead, they let the boys live. 18 So the king sent for the midwives and asked them, “Why are you doing this? Why are you letting the boys live?”

19 They answered, “The Hebrew women are not like Egyptian women; they give birth easily, and their babies are born before either of us gets there.” 20-21 Because the midwives were God-fearing, God was good to them and gave them families of their own. And the Israelites continued to increase and become strong. 22 Finally the king issued a command to all his people: “Take every newborn Hebrew boy and throw him into the Nile, but let all the girls live.”

The Birth of Moses

During this time a man from the tribe of Levi married a woman of his own tribe, and she bore him a son. When she saw what a fine baby he was, she hid him for three months. But when she could not hide him any longer, she took a basket made of reeds and covered it with tar to make it watertight. She put the baby in it and then placed it in the tall grass at the edge of the river. The baby’s sister stood some distance away to see what would happen to him.

The king’s daughter came down to the river to bathe, while her servants walked along the bank. Suddenly she noticed the basket in the tall grass and sent a slave woman to get it. The princess opened it and saw a baby boy. He was crying, and she felt sorry for him. “This is one of the Hebrew babies,” she said.

Then his sister asked her, “Shall I go and call a Hebrew woman to nurse the baby for you?”

“Please do,” she answered. So the girl went and brought the baby’s own mother. The princess told the woman, “Take this baby and nurse him for me, and I will pay you.” So she took the baby and nursed him. 10 Later, when the child was old enough, she took him to the king’s daughter, who adopted him as her own son. She said to herself, “I pulled him out of the water, and so I name him Moses.”

Exodus 1:8-2:10

He didn’t know
why there were so many Israelites in Egypt.
He didn’t know
how Joseph had saved us,
that it is because him any of us
are still here,
that he was the one
who organised us
in our fight against the famine,
he was the reason we didn’t starve.
His family prospered
only because we all did.

But
this king
knew nothing of that.
he saw only
those he perceived as ‘foreigners’
overrunning ‘his’ land;
People he thought of as ‘other’
prospering
where he thought his people
should be.

In fear
he acted to keep them down,
crush their spirit,
make life difficult,
reduce their numbers.

Yet the more he oppressed them,
the greater they grew.
Hard work,
menial tasks
and slave labour could not keep them down.

So he thought he would
go straight to the route of the problem.
Get rid
of every new born male.
That should soon
bring them into line,
stop them growing.

But he hadn’t reckoned
with the love of one woman,
unwilling to let her child go,
and another
who felt the same.
A baby
kept safe by his mother,
discovered by the Princess
and kept safe.
However much her father
considered him other,
she now called him her own.
One of the very children
the King was trying to rid himself of,
ultimately brought up under his own roof.

Man plots,
but God will always find a way.

Forgive me Lord,
when I fear the other,
their success
and well being.

Save me,
when I jump to conclusions
without finding out
the truth.

Forgive me
when I act from what I think I know
and make others suffer.

Thank you for those who love
and those who have courage
to stand up for that love.

Bless those
who are care givers,
whatever the situation.

Thank you
that you
are always working.

1. Almighty Father, who dost give
The gift of life to all who live,
Look down on all earth’s sin and strife,
And lift us to a nobler life.

2. Lift up our hearts, O King of kings,
To brighter hopes and kindlier things;
To visions of a larger good,
And holier dreams of brotherhood.

3. Thy world is weary of its pain;
Of selfish greed and fruitless gain;
Of tarnished honor, falsely strong,
And all its ancient deeds of wrong.

4. Hear Thou the prayer Thy servants pray,
Uprising from all lands today,
And o’er the vanquished powers of sin,
O bring Thy great salvation in.

Meeting Me As I Weep – Taking Me To A New Place

John 20:11-18 The Message 

11-13 But Mary stood outside the tomb weeping. As she wept, she knelt to look into the tomb and saw two angels sitting there, dressed in white, one at the head, the other at the foot of where Jesus’ body had been laid. They said to her, “Woman, why do you weep?”

13-14 “They took my Master,” she said, “and I don’t know where they put him.” After she said this, she turned away and saw Jesus standing there. But she didn’t recognize him.

15 Jesus spoke to her, “Woman, why do you weep? Who are you looking for?”

She, thinking that he was the gardener, said, “Mister, if you took him, tell me where you put him so I can care for him.”

16 Jesus said, “Mary.”

Turning to face him, she said in Hebrew, “Rabboni!” meaning “Teacher!”

17 Jesus said, “Don’t cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go to my brothers and tell them, ‘I ascend to my Father and your Father, my God and your God.’”

18 Mary Magdalene went, telling the news to the disciples: “I saw the Master!” And she told them everything he said to her.

 

The Message (MSG)

Copyright © 1993, 2002, 2018 by Eugene H. Peterson

 

He called my name,
gently,
lovingly,
that tender voice I knew so well.

I knew it was him.

This was no figment of my imagination,
a hallucination in my distress.
This is him – Jesus.

Different, but still my Jesus.

Here with me.
In all that is going on,
and all that will be.
Ever present.
Knowing me.
Loving me.

He stands by me in my weeping
and takes me on.

He is here.

He’s not dead, he’s alive.
He still knows me and calls to me.

I’ve got to go and tell.
They’ve got to know.

 

I hear you Lord,
calling my name.
Into my confusion,
my despair,
my pain,
my questioning.

You stay with me
in my weeping.
You call my name.
Tenderly,
reassuringly,
filled with love
and comfort.
Bringing hope
and peace.

I hear you,
find you,
know you afresh.

And in my time
I go
and tell
that you are here.
you are not gone,
distant,
dead

you are alive

On this most poignant of Easter days, God remains with us. He has not gone, but stands with us in our weeping and leads us on. Hope dawns again.