The theme of our Café Church services throughout January in Kiama is Healing and Renewal – Where does it come from?
Often we make New Year’s resolutions because we want change in our lives.
On your tables talk to others about New Year’s resolutions – what they may be? Why do you make them or even why you don’t make them?
What is behind a resolution?
- Desire for change
- Desire for challenge
- A desire to improve
- A wish to renew or reinvigorate
Often it’s about creating change in our ways, attitudes, habits and relationships – often to seek a better outcome.
It is something God desires for us – in order that we may grow, be renewed and refreshed.
Over the next weeks we will look at the many ways that healing and renewal and refreshment occurs.
Today we begin by reminding ourselves that ‘challenge’ of ourselves and of others, often starts the renewal and healing process.
We start with making sure we always reflect inwards before projecting outwards.
Here’s what we read in the Gospel as spoken by Jesus
3 ‘Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, “Let me take the speck out of your eye,” when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
Ask, seek, knock
7 ‘Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
I think this reading says we all have work to do – asking, seeking, taking the plank out of our own eye (otherwise rendered as the ‘log’ or the ‘beam’ – maybe even the beam of the cross) before removing the speck of sawdust from another’s eye.
How does this reading speak to you today?
Do you have an example you can share at the table?
We may picture Jesus meek and mild, but if you want to look at a challenge to others – full of the ‘POW’, ‘WHACK’ and ‘BAM’, one needs to go no further than Matthew 23.
Likewise Luke gives this example of ‘Challenge’ to the authorities.
Jesus heals a crippled woman on the Sabbath
10 On a Sabbath Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues, 11 and a woman was there who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all. 12 When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, ‘Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.’ 13 Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God.
14 Indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, the synagogue leader said to the people, ‘There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath.’
15 The Lord answered him, ‘You hypocrites! Doesn’t each of you on the Sabbath untie your ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water? 16 Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?’
17 When he said this, all his opponents were humiliated, but the people were delighted with all the wonderful things he was doing.
Note that Jesus does not use hate but rather- anger, to make his point. We can get angry with those we love as John reminds us in 1 John 4: 20-21:
20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.
I was an avid fan and viewer of the TV series West Wing some years ago. It was a fictional drama about US politics centred around the President but it was uncanny how it mirrored real life events around that time – even up until today.
In the scene we are about to watch, we see mirrored much of what we read in Jesus’s challenges to others written in all the gospels but particularly the scriptures we have heard today.
Perhaps it also speaks to us in the Uniting Church as we continually wrestle and pull ourselves apart by the same ongoing marriage debate.
Love of ourselves and others;
Challenge of ourselves and others.
That is the wrestle we are meant to have.
Go forth in joy and be led forward in the peace that says Christ’s spirit goes with you.
Go out – looking for healing, renewal and growth by looking inward and outward and then acting to change the world, one prayerful footstep at a time.