October 2022

Sermon for the Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost

Scripture Readings

In the section of Luke’s Gospel leading up to our reading this morning, Jesus has been asked by some Pharisees when the kingdom of God would be coming. Somewhat startlingly, Jesus responds by saying, in effect, that the kingdom of God has come, and that it is among them already, though not necessarily easy to discern and certainly not welcomed by everyone.

Jesus then goes on to speak with his disciples about another event, the revealing of an intriguing character he refers to as the Son of Man. This revealing seems to refer to the conclusion of the present age, an age which has continued since Jesus’ time on earth, and which is characterised by the suffering and rejection of the Son of Man and of those who would follow him into the kingdom he has come to establish. The Son of Man is thus to be identified with Jesus himself, who is warning his disciples that there will be difficulties associated with following him under the prevailing conditions.

These difficulties will require perseverance in prayer and steadfastness of heart, and are such as to leave Jesus seemingly uncertain as to whether faith will endure until the end of the age. Jesus chooses to illustrate his point by telling a story about a widow and an unjust judge, a judge for whom the gospel of the kingdom would be anything but good news. There is humour in the story, which Jesus’ original audience might have appreciated more readily than we are able to.

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Sermon for Oct 9 (Proper 23C)

(Readings for the day)

Part of the joy of using a lectionary to determine the readings for any given Sunday is first that somebody else has done the work of selecting texts so… one less thing to think about. And second, that it causes us to consider texts together that we might never consider otherwise. The reading from Kings and from Luke are certainly an unlikely match. And yet the lectionary asks us to consider them together…

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Camino Completo

Together with a good friend, Br Daniel arrived in Santiago de Compostela on 2 October, having set out on the Camino from St Jean across the French border on 18 August. He attended the Pilgrim Mass that evening, which he found quite moving. As he was in his monastic habit, he was asked for blessings and thanksgivings from other pilgrims, which was a special experience. He then continued to Finisterre on the coast, which brought his pilgrimage to an end. He will be spending three days in Madrid before returning to southern Africa to continue his sabbatical in Namibia.

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Sermon for the Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost

Scripture Readings

In the first part of our first reading this morning, the prophet Habakkuk describes his experience in terms that we might use in our own time, and raises questions that we might be asking. He sees wrong-doing and trouble, destruction and violence, strife and contention. The law is too often slack, with justice not prevailing and judgement coming forth perverted. It all sounds quite familiar. Why are we made to see these things? How long do we need to cry for help before we are saved?

The prophet’s response is to stand and watch and wait. His observation is that the spirit of the proud is not right in them. There is something wrong inside all of us that needs to be put right, but the righteous live by their faith.

As if in continuation of Habakkuk’s writing, the first words out of the mouths of the apostles in our Gospel reading are: “Increase our faith!” This seems a reasonable request: if the righteous live by their faith and the world is in a mess, presumably what we need is more faith so that there can be more righteousness. The only problem is that Jesus doesn’t seem to agree, and provides a metaphorical response followed by an analogy that don’t seem immediately helpful.

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