Monthly Archives: October 2012

Completed through suffering—Sunday 30, Year B (28 October 2012)

Job 42.1-6, 10-17
Hebrews 7.23-28
Mark 10.46-52

You may have noticed that we’ve been concentrating on Mark’s story of Jesus lately; and that’s always a good place to be. At the same time, we have been hearing snippets from the Old Testament Book of Job. It’s time to talk about Job.

The story of Job is the tale of a good man—indeed, a ‘blameless’ man—who lived in a place called ‘Uz’ thousands of years ago. It’s long been the majority opinion of Jewish and Christian scholars that the story of Job is a work of fiction. If that bothers you, remember this: the world of fiction contains much truth. When we read Jane Austen or Charles Dickens or JRR Tolkien, we are immersing ourselves in truth within a setting of fiction. If the Book of Job is a work of fiction, it is nonetheless truth.

Now, Job had it all in the terms of his world. He had scads of children, servants, land, livestock. Job had riches beyond anyone’s comprehension.

But Job loses the lot in a very short space of time. His children and servants are killed, his livestock butchered or stolen.

His response to all this?

Then Job arose, tore his robe, shaved his head, and fell on the ground and worshipped. He said, ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there; the Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.’

But wait, there’s more! Next, he has ‘loathsome sores…from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head’. There’s no escape from these sores. Job is reduced to sitting in the ashes and scratching them.

We’re not fabulously wealthy like Job here, but many of us have known grief, pain, sadness, even suffering. Perhaps it’s hard to identify with Job the blameless gazillionaire, but maybe we can identify a bit more with Job in his suffering. Perhaps ‘the man from Uz’ feels more like ‘one of us’ now.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under church year, RCL, sermon

Come to serve—Sunday 29, Year B (21 October 2012)

Mark 10.32-45


Jesus said:

whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all.

It’s not easy to be a servant, but it is the Way to Life. There is a Native American story that might help us to reflect on how we should live. It begins like this:

A young brave goes to an elder and says, ‘I’m confused. My heart is filled with good and with bad.’

Like the young brave, James and John were filled with good and bad. They desired to serve Jesus, but they were being led astray by false desires.

Peter, James and John were Jesus’ three main men. Oh yes, there were twelve apostles, and there were others, men and women, who followed him. But they were a core group of three.

The Three had come from the same place, Capernaum in Galilee. Fishing was their trade, and they plied it on the Sea of Galilee.

They were loyal to Jesus, but there were deeper loyalties at work. James and John were brothers, they were the sons of Zebedee. They wanted a core group of two, not three. They wanted Peter demoted.

So they come to Jesus asking a favour:

Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you… Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.

Now, that is so understandable. Ambition isn’t wrong, right?

It’s so understandable—yet so wrong on so many levels.

Let’s look at what has been happening just before J&J came to ask their ‘favour’.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under church year, RCL, sermon

What must I do?—Sunday 28, Year B (14 October 2012)

Mark 10.17-31


Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?

That’s the question from the man we think of as ‘the rich young ruler’. In Mark’s story of Jesus, he is a man with ‘many possessions’ who really wasn’t all that young. Matthew and Luke add the other details.

Did you know it’s not the only time Jesus was asked that very same question? Anyone know who else asked Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life?

It was an expert in the Jewish Law and he said almost the exact same words:

Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?

Anyone know where that was? It is in Luke’s Gospel (10.25-37). In Luke, Jesus answered the legal expert’s question with a parable, the Parable of the Good Samaritan.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under sermon

The intention of marriage—Sunday 27, Year B (7 October 2012)

Mark 10.2-16 


Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.

Now that I have your attention…

Did Jesus really mean this? What about someone who perhaps has had an unhappy marriage, with physical or emotional abuse or an unfaithful partner? What about the situation where two people realise that getting married to each other was a serious mistake? Do we followers of Jesus only get one chance?

Shouldn’t someone like that be able to remarry once divorced?

Continue reading


Filed under Church & world, church year, RCL, sermon, Uniting Church in Australia