Tues 13th Oct- Term 4 begins
Dear Parents and Carers,
Rest for the Weary
At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do. All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:25-30)
As this week as the school term ends, I admit it may have been difficult to practise care and self acceptance. Whether it’s holidays now for some or non-term time for others, may I encourage reflection upon the above scripture and some consideration of the homily below.
Resist the assumption of scarcity: celebrate Abundance.
Jesus said, “A thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy. I have come that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10)
As we return to what it looks like for our community to live faithfully in the midst of the Pandemic and even to flourish, is it possible to consider that there might be abundance to celebrate?
Bearing in mind that, we are still in the Pandemic, we are in a Recession, we or people we know have suffered in many ways: ill-health, personal and family difficulties; the list goes on. Isn’t it presumptuous to talk about abundance?
Usually a school year is full to the brim of activity. Now, owing to restrictive measures, “abundance” sounds like an extremely odd word to be using.
Is it possible to have the abundant life?
In Ephesians 3:20, Paul writes about God doing “exceedingly abundantly, beyond all we can ask or think”. Page 2
Throughout Scripture, we see God blessing people, and promising blessing to people. The books of Joshua and Psalms speak to being prosperous. Many of the Proverbs reveal ways of becoming prosperous. The powerful passage of Hebrews 11 highlights people of great faith and blessing, but also reveals that many believers were tormented for their faith. Yet we find these struggling people spoke of a deep-seeded joy.
One thing that has caused me deep-seeded joy is to hear of so many thousands of people, many retired nurses and doctors coming back into the front line during these past months across the world. They are doing what the early Christians did in times of plague. In the first few centuries of our era when deadly sickness would strike a town or city, the well-to-do might well avoid and leave the city, but Christians would stay and nurse people. Of course, sometimes they caught the disease and died. The reaction was astonishing. What was this about, their response? “We are followers of this man Jesus. He put His life on the line to save us, so that is what we do as well.” Tom Wright, writes, “Nobody had ever thought of doing that thing before. No wonder the Gospel spread even when the Romans were doing their best to stamp it out”.
As the historian Tom Holland has argued in his recent book Dominion, much of what we take for granted in social attitudes now was Christian innovation. The ancient non-Christians didn’t do it like that. Medicine was expensive and so was education, and the poor were poor because they were lazy or unlucky. It wasn’t up to society to look after them.
Christians obviously disagreed. They followed the rule and law of life from the Jews and they followed the example of Jesus whose many actions were to do with the sick and the poor.
This precedent was set much earlier. After Pentecost, the first Disciples developed daily practices of hope and found joy in seemingly ordinary activities. They ate food with glad and generous hearts. In the midst of our present difficulties, can we, like them, discern signs of wonder? Recall from the New Testament, only when five thousand people were hungry did the crowd realise the little boy with loaves and fishes had everything they needed. Maybe we can enjoy the surprising people and skills that come to the fore at a time such as this. Try to resist dwelling on the familiar things that have stagnated and celebrate the many good shoots that are springing up. This is where flourishing can occur. In silence, name in prayer what day-by-day God has been adding to our lives.
Abundant life is not about what we have, gain or claim. Ultimately, abundant life is about what we receive as a gift from the Lord and to live knowing we are stewards of the blessings of God. Stewardship is not measured by what we have received, but by what we have given.
At the end of the day, perhaps that is how we know we have an abundant life—when we have shared our life with others. When we have enough of the blessings of God (mercy, peace, love, grace, wisdom) to share with others, and then actually do it. That’s when we truly have abundant life.
Abundance can be related back to the passage I have referred to many times previously this year – Galatians 5:22-23, the Fruit of the Spirit: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-Control.
“Be still, and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10)
Take care and God Bless.