Notices for Sunday 14th August 2016

“I’ve come to start a fire on this earth—how I wish it were blazing right now! I’ve come to change everything, turn everything right side up—how I long for it to be finished!.
Luke 12:49-51 (Message)

Father God, help us to see that things are not the way you intended. Help us to see the injustice, the poverty, and the suffering that is so prevalent all around us and to work to put it right.
Amen

Our service this morning is a Local arrangement led by Elizabeth and Bob
After service tea hosts Val and Betti

Our thanks for the flowers this morning which are given by Elizabeth Coulton in memory of her brother Richard Down and Aunty Marie
Organist: Lydia Edwards

Sunday 21st August
11.00am        Mr Carl Squire
Vestry Steward – Elizabeth
Door Steward – Warren
Tea Hosts – Warren and Vera

Diary Dates

August
Tue 16th       Every Day with Jesus Study Group 10.30am
Fri 19th        Party in the Park at Riverside Park, Llangollen through to Sun 21st
Wed 24th     “Time Out” a monthly reflective worship at Hope Parish Church  7.30pm (4th Wed in the month)
Tue 30th      Coffee Morning at Llangollen 10.00am to noon

Please pray for the following:
Isobel Holroyd
Dorreen Holroyd
Vanessa Woolrich
Pete and Ruby Kasprowicz
Michael Shipley
Keith and Myra Baugh
Evelyn Taylor

All those who care for those in need.
We thank God for answered prayer and ask that he helps us to understand that all things do work together for good.

Blinders
Luke 12:49-56

Most of us have some type of blinders that keep us from seeing the real world around us. We may not want to admit it.  We may prefer to think that we have our eyes wide open, that we have a realistic appraisal of life, and we are not hiding from any aspect of the truth. But, truth be told, we all have on some kind of blinders. It’s an unavoidable aspect of being human. We interpret the world around us through the lens of our own experience. Factors of race, gender, class, education, and even location profoundly affect the way we understand our world. And they also determine what we see and what we don’t see.

The problem with this arises when the majority of us look at things from a certain perspective, which means that there are aspects of life that we choose not to see. Perhaps we choose to ignore them. It’s incredibly difficult for those who have never had to wonder where our next meal is coming from to understand what it’s like to live in poverty.  It’s much more comfortable for us to just to close our eyes to the poverty around us. It’s incredibly difficult for those of us who came from families where education was not optional to understand the reality that for many people who live around us, education is not an option. And that means they have no means to lift themselves out of poverty. But again, what we don’t understand, we prefer to just ignore. We are comfortable with what our blinders allow us not to see.

I think this has a lot to do with our Gospel lesson for today.  It’s a text that forces us outside our comfort zones and makes us take off our blinders. Jesus says, “Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division!” (Lk. 12:51). It’s a shocking statement. We’re used to hearing the angel’s Christmas song about “peace on earth” (Lk. 2:14). We tend to forget that at his dedication, Simeon told his parents that “This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel” (Lk. 2:34). Our Gospel lesson for today seems to throw our views about Jesus and his mission into question. How can Jesus be the one to bring peace and at the same time the one who brings division?

Some will say that Jesus really didn’t come to bring peace at all. They quote Matthew’s version of our lesson for today, “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword” (Mt. 10:34).  And they relate that to the fact that many in Jesus’ day sought to overthrow their Roman oppressors by violence. They conclude that the “real Jesus” advocated violently overthrowing the system of injustice that oppressed so many in his day.

That the economic, social, political, and religious system of Jesus’ day oppressed the majority of people is beyond question. However, if Jesus advocated violent revolution, why did he enter Jerusalem humbly mounted on a donkey instead of riding a magnificent horse? If Jesus expected his disciples to take up arms against their oppressors, why did he rebuke Peter for doing just that (Mt. 26:52)?  If the “real Jesus” really wanted to overthrow the system of injustice that oppressed so many in his day, why did he allow himself to be crucified?  It doesn’t make sense.

So what business did a Messiah who was going to sacrifice his life on the cross have talking about bringing division? It seems to me that, while Jesus did not advocate overthrowing the unjust systems of his day, he did not shy away from exposing their injustice. He told parables that pointed out how the religious leaders had enriched themselves at the expense of the people, in direct violation of the Torah they claimed to uphold. He pointedly confronted them for abandoning the commandments of God when it was convenient, and yet insisting on keeping the letter of the Law when it suited them. Jesus didn’t refrain from directly confronting the “powers that be” of his day.

When anyone has the nerve to look at the way things are and say, “this isn’t right,” it has an unavoidable effect: it divides people. Those who benefit from the status quo will fight tooth and nail to oppose anyone who tries to change things.  And they will adamantly keep their blinders firmly in place to avoid having to see the reality of injustice. It seems to me that’s the kind of division Jesus was talking about. He didn’t retreat from the Gospel of peace; he just realized that the cost of peace is justice. And he warned his disciples that they would face opposition if they followed him in advocating that kind of peace.

So what does all this mean for us? Well, I think Jesus summed it up pretty well when he insisted that the people who gathered to hear him teach pay attention to more than just the weather. He insisted that they take their own blinders off so they could see that things were not the way God intended. I think that’s at least a place for us to start.  Whatever our background, whatever our place in life, Jesus challenges us all to take off our blinders and at least see the injustice, the poverty, and the suffering that is so prevalent all around us. Make no mistake: we are surrounded by hurting people. And the first step toward doing something about it is to take a long, hard look at their suffering by removing the blinders that keep us comfortable.

Alan Brehm, Hickman Presbyterian Church, Nebraska, USA

 

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